Linkin Park is an American rock band from Agoura Hills, California, formed in 1996. Since their formation, the band has sold more than 50 million albums and won two Grammy Awards. It achieved mainstream success with its debut album, Hybrid Theory, which was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2005. Its following studio album, Meteora, continued the band's success, topping the Billboard 200?s album charts in 2003, and was followed by extensive touring and charity work around the world. In 2003, MTV2 named Linkin Park the sixth greatest band of the music video era and the third best of the new millennium behind Oasis and Coldplay.
Having adapted the nu metal and rap rock genres to a radio-friendly yet densely-layered style in Hybrid Theory and Meteora, the band explored other genres in their next studio album, Minutes to Midnight. The album topped the Billboard charts and had the third best debut week of any album that year. They have also collaborated with several other artists, most notably with rapper Jay-Z in their mashup album Collision Course, and many others on Reanimation.
Early years (1996?1999)
Originally consisting of three high school friends, Linkin Park?s foundation was anchored by Mike Shinoda, Brad Delson, and Rob Bourdon. After graduating from high school, the California natives began to take their musical interests more seriously, recruiting Joe Hahn, Dave "Phoenix" Farrell, and Mark Wakefield to perform in their band, Xero. Though limited in resources, the band began recording and producing songs within Shinoda?s make-shift bedroom studio in 1996. Tensions and frustration within the band grew after they failed to land a record deal. The lack of success and stalemate in progress prompted Wakefield, at that time the band's vocalist, to leave the band in search for other projects. Farrell also left to tour with Tasty Snax and other bands.
After spending a considerable time searching for Wakefield's replacement, Xero recruited Arizona vocalist Chester Bennington. Jeff Blue, the vice president of Zomba Music, had referred him to the band in March 1999. Bennington, formerly of Grey Daze, became a standout among applicants because of his unique singing style. The band changed its name from Xero to Hybrid Theory. The newborn vocal chemistry between Shinoda and Bennington helped revive the band, inciting them to work on new material. The band?s renaissance culminated with a change in name; from Hybrid Theory, the band changed its name to Linkin Park, a play on and homage to Santa Monica?s Lincoln Park. However, despite these changes, the band still struggled to sign a record deal. After facing numerous rejections from several major record labels, Linkin Park turned to Jeff Blue for additional help. After failing to catch Warner Bros. Records on three previous reviews, Jeff Blue, now the vice president of Warner Bros. Records, helped the band sign a deal with the company in 1999. The band released its breakthrough album, Hybrid Theory, the following year.
Hybrid Theory (2000?2002)
Linkin Park released Hybrid Theory on October 24, 2000. The album, which represented half a decade?s worth of the band?s work, was edited by music producer Don Gilmore. Hybrid Theory was well received by music fans; the band sold more than 4.8 million records during its debut year, earning it the status of best-selling album of 2001, while singles such as "Crawling" and "One Step Closer" established themselves as staples among alternative rock radio play lists during the year. Additionally, other singles from the album were featured in movies such as Dracula 2000, Little Nicky, and Valentine. Hybrid Theory was also nominated for three Grammy Awards, including best new artist, best rock album, and best hard rock performance (for "Crawling"). MTV awarded the band their Best Rock Video and Best Direction awards for "In the End". Through the winning of the Grammy for best hard rock performance, Hybrid Theory?s overall success had catapulted the band into the mainstream's attention.
During this time, Linkin Park received many invitations to perform on many high-profile tours and concerts including Ozzfest, Family Values Tour and KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas. The band also formed its own tour, Projekt Revolution, which featured other notable artists such as, Cypress Hill, Adema, and Snoop Dogg. Within a year?s stretch, Linkin Park had performed at over 320 concerts. The experiences and performances of the precocious band were documented in its first DVD, Frat Party at the Pankake Festival, which debuted in November 2001. Now reunited with former bassist Phoenix, the band began work on a remix album, dubbed Reanimation, which would include works from Hybrid Theory and Hybrid Theory EP. Reanimation debuted on July 30, 2002, featuring the likes of Black Thought, Jonathan Davis, Aaron Lewis, and many others. Reanimation claimed the second spot on the Billboard 200, and sold nearly 270,000 copies during its debut week.
Following the success of Hybrid Theory and Reanimation, Linkin Park spent a significant amount of time touring around the United States. The band members began to work on new material amidst its saturated schedule, spending a sliver of their free time in their tour bus' studio. The band officially announced the production of a new studio album in December 2002, revealing its new work was inspired by the rocky region of Meteora in Greece, where numerous monasteries have been built on top of the rocks. Meteora featured a mixture of the band's previous nu metal and rapcore styles with newer innovative effects, including the induction of a shakuhachi (a Japanese flute made of bamboo) and other instruments. Linkin Park's second album debuted on March 25, 2003 and instantly earned worldwide recognition, going to #1 in the US and UK, and #2 in Australia.
Meteora sold more than 800,000 copies during its first week, and it ranked as the best selling album on the Billboard charts at the time. Music videos for some of the album's singles, including "Somewhere I Belong", "Breaking the Habit", "Faint", and "Numb", received significant radio attention. By October 2003, Meteora sold nearly three million copies. The album's success allowed Linkin Park to form another Projekt Revolution, which featured other bands and artists including, Mudvayne, Blindside, and Xzibit. Additionally, Metallica invited Linkin Park to play at the Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003, which included well-known acts such as Limp Bizkit, Mudvayne and Deftones. The band released an album and DVD, entitled Live in Texas, which consisted of audio and video tracks of some of the band's performances in Texas during the tour. In early 2004, Linkin Park started a world tour titled the Meteora World Tour, supporting bands on the tour include Hoobastank, P.O.D. and Story of the Year.
Meteora earned the band multiple awards and honors. The band won MTV's awards for Best Rock Video ("Somewhere I Belong") and the Viewer's Choice Award ("Breaking the Habit"). Linkin Park also received significant recognition during the 2004 Radio Music Awards, winning the Artist of the Year and Song of the Year ("Numb") awards. Although Meteora was not nearly as successful as Hybrid Theory, it was the third best selling album in America during 2003. The band spent the first few months of 2004 touring around the world, first with the third Projekt Revolution tour, and later several European concerts.
Side projects (2004?2006)
Bennington appears on the band's behalf at MTV Asia Aid
Following Meteora's success, the band postponed working on a new studio album for the next few years. Instead, Linkin Park continued to tour and work on many side projects. Bennington appeared on DJ Lethal?s "State of the Art" and other work with Dead by Sunrise, while Shinoda did work with Depeche Mode. In 2004, the band began to work with Jay-Z to produce another remix album, entitled Collision Course. The album, which featured intermixed lyrics and background tracks from both artists' previous albums, debuted in November 2004. Shinoda also formed a new band, Fort Minor, as a side project. With the aid of Jay-Z, Fort Minor released its debut album, The Rising Tied, to critical acclaim. At the same time, the band's relationship with Warner Bros. Records was deteriorating rapidly on account of several trust and financial issues. After months of feuding, the band finally negotiated a deal in December 2005.
Linkin Park also participated in numerous charitable events. Linkin Park helped raise money to benefit victims of Hurricane Charley in 2004 and later hurricane Katrina in 2005. The band donated $75,000 to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation in March 2004. They also helped relief efforts for the 2004 tsunami victims by staging several charity concerts and setting up an additional fund called "Music for Relief". Most notably, however, the band participated at Live 8, a series of charitable benefit concerts set up to raise global awareness. Alongside Jay-Z, the band performed on Live 8's stage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a global audience. The band would later be reunited with Jay-Z at the Grammy Award Ceremony 2006, during which they performed "Numb/Encore", en route to winning a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. They would later go on to play at the 2006 Summer Sonic music festival, which was hosted by Metallica, in Japan.
Minutes to Midnight (2006?2008)
Linkin Park in Prague, 2007.
Linkin Park performing at 2007's Projekt Revolution Tour in Norton, Massachusetts
Linkin Park returned to the recording studios in 2006 to work on new material. To produce the album, the band chose producer Rick Rubin. Despite initially stating the album would debut sometime in 2006, the album was delayed until 2007. The band had recorded thirty to fifty songs in August 2006, when Shinoda stated the album was halfway completed. Bennington later added that the new album would stray away from its previous nu metal sound. Warner Bros. Records officially announced that the band?s third studio album, entitled Minutes to Midnight, would be released on May 15, 2007 in the United States. After spending fourteen months working on the album, the band members opted to further refine their album by removing five of the original seventeen tracks. The album?s title, a reference to the Doomsday Clock, foreshadowed the band's new lyrical themes. Minutes to Midnight sold over 600,000 copies in its first week, making it one of the most successful debut week albums in recent years. The album also took the top spot on the Billboard Charts.
The album's first single, "What I've Done" was released on April 2, and premiered on MTV and Fuse within the same week. The single was acclaimed by listeners, becoming the top-ranked song on the Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks and Mainstream Rock Tracks charts. The song is also used in soundtrack for the 2007 action film, Transformers. Later in the year, the band won the "Favorite Alternative Artist" in the American Music Awards. The band also saw success with singles such as "Bleed It Out", "Shadow of the Day", "Given Up", and "Leave Out All the Rest", which were released throughout 2007 and early 2008. The band also collaborated with Busta Rhymes on his single "We Made It", which was released on April 29.
Linkin Park at 2007's Novarock Festival.
Linkin Park's touring and live shows have, among other things, included a performance at Live Earth Japan on July 7, 2007. and headlining Download Festival in Donington Park, England and Edgefest in Downsview Park, Toronto, Canada. The band completed touring on its fourth Projekt Revolution tour before taking up an Arena tour around the United Kingdom, visiting Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester, before finishing on a double night at the O2 arena in London. Bennington stated that Linkin Park plans to release a follow-up album to Minutes to Midnight. However, he stated the band will first embark on a United States tour to gather inspiration for the album. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bennington said that the band had already begun writing new material for the album, and Shinoda too stated that the album could well be released in late 2009. Mike Shinoda also announced a live CD/DVD entitled "Road to Revolution: Live at Milton Keynes", which is a live video recording from the Projekt Revolution gig at the Milton Keynes Bowl the 29th June 2008, which was officially released on the 24th November, 2008.
Future direction (2008 onward)
Bassist Dave "Phoenix" Farrell performing at 2009's Sonisphere Festival in Kirjurinluoto, Pori, Finland.
In October 2008 Shinoda revealed on his blog that he, Phoenix and Hahn had begun working on two song ideas at Hahn's home, with studio recording to begin in earnest soon. In , Bennington announced that Linkin Park's fourth studio release will be a concept album. The band has not released many specific details about the album. In an interview with MTV in November 2008, Bennington stated, "It sounds a little daunting to me, so, I think my confidence level will drop, but when it was presented to us by this friend of ours, we liked the idea. It was an inspiring idea, and it was something we could relate a lot of the things we like to write about to". He also added that the band planned to begin recording in December for a six-week session. The album was expected in mid 2009, but in late March, Mike Shinoda wrote on his blog saying "We're hoping to have Chester's Dead By Sunrise album out this fall, and the new LP album out early next year."
In December 2008, Digidesign gave the band the opportunity to preview the new Pro Tools 8 software. The experiment resulted in an instrumental song performed by Shinoda and Bourdon.
In April 2009, Mike Shinoda revealed on his blog that Linkin Park will be working on the score for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with successful film composer Hans Zimmer. On May 7, it was further confirmed that the song recorded for the film is titled "New Divide," and was released as a single on May 18. A clip from the song can be heard 14 seconds into the new trailer. The music video for "New Divide" was released on June 12, 2009 and was directed by Mr. Hahn. On June 22, 2009, the band played a short set after the premiere of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The concert took play on the street in Westwood Village.
In May 2009, Linkin Park announced that they were working on their fourth album which will be released in 2010, with the aim for it to be "genre-busting". Shinoda also stated recently in an interview with IGN that the new album will have in comparison to Minutes to Midnight a bigger "thread of consistency" and will also be more experimental and "hopefully more cutting-edge". Additionally the band's other vocalist Chester Bennington confirmed in an interview with Taipei Times that Rick Rubin returns as the producer of the new album.
Both Hybrid Theory and Meteora combined the alternative metal, nu metal, and rap rock sound with influences and elements from hip-hop, alternative rock, and electronica, utilizing programming and synthesizers. William Ruhlmann from Allmusic regarded it as "a Johnny-come-lately to an already overdone musical style," whereas Rolling Stone called "Breaking the Habit" "risky, beautiful art".
In Minutes to Midnight the band experimented with their established sound and drew influences from a wider and more varied range of genres and styles, a process Los Angeles Times compares to a stage in U2's work. In it, only two of the songs feature rapping, and the majority of the album can be considered alternative rock rather than nu metal or rap rock. It is also their first studio album to feature guitar solos.
In concert the band has covered songs by artists as varied as The Cure, Deftones, Guns N' Roses, and Nine Inch Nails.
Linkin Park's use of two separate vocalists has become a large part of their music. Chester Bennington is most known for using screaming vocals common in various forms of metal and hardcore, while also using more melodic singing, and was placed 46th in Hit Paraders list of "Heavy Metal's All-Time Top 100 Vocalists".
Mike Shinoda is the group's MC and does all of the rapping. Mike has also done all of the backing vocals live, and in their latest album, Minutes to Midnight, he sings lead vocals on "In Between", "Hands Held High", and the B-side "No Roads Left". Shinoda has also been placed in Hit Parader's list of "Heavy Metal's All-Time Top 100 Vocalists" at number 72.
Chester Bennington performing at Sonisphere Festival in Kirjurinluoto, Pori, Finland.
Main article: List of Linkin Park band members
Chester Bennington ? lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Bourdon ? drums
Brad Delson ? lead guitar
Dave "Phoenix" Farrell ? bass, backing vocals
Mr. Hahn ? turntables, programming, samples
Mike Shinoda ? rapping, vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards