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Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda Explains Absence + Return of Guitar Sound

Mike Shinoda
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

The new Linkin Park album ‘Living Things’ arrives in stores this Tuesday (June 26) and fans may be quick to notice there’s at least a hint of a return to the guitar sounds that populated their first two records.

Singer Mike Shinoda says the dramatic musical shift away from the heavy guitar sounds of the first few records was a calculated move and it’s only because they now feel comfortable with their past that they’re able to re-embrace it a little.

During a recent listening party, Shinoda confirmed that the group was hesitant to reclaim the sound, but felt now was the time to take it back a little. He added that the band had a really hard time with their perception when they first arrived on the scene and that was largely why the hard-edged vibe disappeared.

He recalled rumors that surrounded their debut and how he heard everything from the fact that they were a boy band created by the guy who founded Backstreet Boys to they were manufactured with a label person writing all their songs, and even that they named themselves Linkin Park so they could sit next to Limp Bizkit in CD cases.

Because of that, there was a lot of defensiveness in dealing with the media and having to defend themselves and their sound. He recalled, “We were heading into every interview like they wanted to fight us, like they wanted to destroy our band and we were angry and defensive and it sucked. And when people ask us, ‘Why were you straying away from that?’ It’s not as simple as just the music. There’s a whole life that goes on around being that band.”

Shinoda says that some have stated they went pop with their recent records, but he disagrees. He explains, “The real moment of truth for us was to say that we know that is acceptable and a lot of people like that thing, but we’re gonna go ahead and hit mute and put it away and not do it at all. And that was, that’s the opposite of commercial. That’s the opposite of what we could have done to sell records and we were f—ing terrified.”

Shinoda says that with ‘Living Things,’ the band is finally at a point where they’ve come to grips with that period in their life and can be okay with it, which is why there’s a few guitar-based nods on the album. The rapper concludes, “That’s what was going on and we had to come to grips with that to make this album in order to just be ourselves again and ignore like what other people thought it was. So that’s where it all comes from.”

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