Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda was on hand Thursday (March 26) in Los Angeles as the Music for Relief organization announced a partnership with the Rock in Rio USA Festival to help aid in the reforestation of California burn zones through a fundraising auction. The bands taking part in the festival are signing guitars to be auctioned off at Charity Buzz with the proceeds going to help plant trees.

Loudwire had a chance to chat with Shinoda at the press conference and he discussed the partnership with the Rock in Rio USA festival, his thoughts of seeing Music for Relief's projects through to fruition and also recalls one of his favorite festival experiences as a fan. Check out the chat below.

First off, you're playing this major event -- Rock in Rio USA -- and you're collaborating through charity. Can you talk about the history there?

This event and this collaboration with Music for Relief and Rock in Rio is really a product of having met these guys and done some shows with them and hit it off to a certain degree. I wanna say they're the first festival to approach Music for Relief as a headline charity partner, so we're very grateful for that.

It's a great cause and Music for Relief is an organization that focuses on disaster relief and mitigation, so in other words we funnel attention and money to the people that need it after they get hit with a natural disasters and we're involved in climate change, prevention and eco awareness efforts. For many years we've donated, for example, like a dollar from every ticket to plant a tree at our shows and I think we've raised over a million dollars and planted a million trees, I want to say like a couple years ago. So yeah, it's been a deep kind of relationship.

I love what you've done over the years with Music for Relief. What's the feeling and satisfaction for you once you see the outcome of where the money has been going?

Some of the most impactive memories for me were after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan a few years ago. We got a chance to visit the schools that had been the recipients of the equipment and funds that were collected on that campaign. And the students were coming up and showing us their kits and we went to the music class where they bought instruments and they had these soft emergency padded head wraps so in case there was another earthquake or debris falling, part of their routine was they would go under the desk and put these things on. I remember they would try them on and then Chester [Bennington] tried one on too and they were all laughing at how silly we all looked. But, you know, just hearing from them the difference that it made, that's really powerful.

Speaking of looking silly, I saw your Music for Relief birthday challenge with you and Phoenix. The loser had to wear a costume of the other's choosing. How did you end up with Grumpy Bear?

Yeah!!! So Dave and I last year donated our birthdays to Music for Relief and the winner got to dress the loser for a day. But we actually kind of forgot to do it at a certain point. We kept thinking up ideas of how to dress each other but we forgot and Whitney [Showler], who runs Music for Relief, told us this year, "You guys still haven't done it yet." But it was good timing though. We got to punish each other with a hilarious outfit and now Joe [Hahn] and Chester [Bennington] are actually donating their birthdays this year. Hopefully they won't take as long to wrap up their campaign, but I think the loser gets a cake in the face.

If you want to be involved in that too, for fans that want to donate to that, and support either Joe or Chester and screw the other guy, then I think they can go to Musicforrelief.org to vote and donate to vote.

Obviously, playing festivals is a big deal for you. But I want to know what was your first ever festival experience as a fan before you ever played one with Linkin Park?

My first festival experience as a fan was Lollapalooza. This may not have been the first first one that I'd been to, but it was definitely at the time one of the more memorable things I'd seen. It was that year that Lollapalooza had Ice Cube ... I think it was Ice Cube and Ministry. They were really pushing it as far as a genre-bending lineup. And I remember going to that show and personally loving so many of those bands, in particular Ice Cube and Ministry, and feeling like the crowd was going to boo if you were there to see one instead of the other and it didn't go down that way. I saw a stereotypical big biker dude ... big, big dude ... get up on his seat and cheer for Ice Cube and that was one of those moments that was really like a definitive moment for me in my musical listening identity.

Rock in Rio USA has some major bands and just wanted to get your thoughts on the lineup as well.

Look, we thankfully have played with Metallica a number of times. They took us out on tour years ago and we hit it off and have luckily had a chance to run into those guys a number of times. They're great dudes and obviously a band that we totally look up to. That's always like my No. 1. Anytime we get to play with Metallica, I always watch the show. If you see when they go up on the big risers behind Lars' kit, like if James is up there singing, I'm usually behind him watching or taking pictures on Instagram. [Laughs]

Our thanks to Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda for the chat. To learn more about Music for Relief, click here, and for info on the Rock in Rio USA festival, check here. You can currently bid on signed guitars from the Rock in Rio USA acts at Charity Buzz. And speaking of festivals, look for Linkin Park headlining the inaugural Loudwire Music Festival in June. Details can be found at this location.