Jim Harrington [Bay Area News Group]: I saw you guys playing Hybrid Theory, and I remember at the end of the show that instead of playing an encore, like the traditional encore, you jumped into the crowd and signed T-shirts and, when I left, you guys were still signing T-shirts in there. That was real impressive. I’m wondering these days if you’re interacting with the fans, is that something you’re able to do? And if so, how are you doing it? And maybe through social media? Or what?
Chester Bennington: Well, I think, for us our fans have been the number one most important thing, and when we were jumping down and signing things for people, we were discovering each other. We were discovering our fan base, and fans were discovering the band, and it’s really exciting. But in the game, like you can jump down into a crowd that doesn’t know who you are and you can hang out all night. And these days, it would be much more difficult to do that. It would be much more difficult to do that these days and keep people safe or virtually impossible to find T-shirts for every person that remains at the stadium, for example.
When we were playing our music and stuff our production manager approached the band and said, “Hey, guys. We really appreciate what you guys are doing. It’s great. But you do this every single night, but we’ve been late for, like, the last four days getting out of here and we’re being charged an extraordinary amount of money for being late. And so, can you guys stop doing that?”
Mike Shinoda: I remember it differently. I thought it was because they were saying, like, first of all, like, we’re staying really late and the crew is getting tired because you’re extending the end of the show so far and so on. The crew is like getting tired- because they want to take down the barricade; and the security people, local venue were like, this is over. You’ve got to get these people out of here and all that. And then furthermore, like, people would get stuff signed and they just wouldn’t leave. They just stuck around to hang out and stuff. And it’s, like, “Okay. You’ve got way too many people just hanging out here. You guys have to stop. You have to cut it off.”
Chester Bennington: Yeah. It was literally like they were, “We can’t do our jobs because you guys are hanging out with the fans.” And so, basically we had to come up with a new way of, like, doing that. And so, we’ve done meet and greets with our fans every night, every performance we’ve ever done. For us, like honestly, like, meeting our fans is pretty mellow, so when we’re out on the street in our daily lives, we meet people all the time, every day who are fans, and us being accessible to a certain degree is really important to us. We’ve been able to thankfully keep our private lives private and share our professional lives with our fans and everybody’s been really respectful of all that. And it’s really cool to be in Linkin Park and kind of be a normal person at the same time. So, I appreciate that from our fans and it makes it that much easier to keep an openness with our fans as much as we possible can.
Matt Bishop [Rock Revival]: So, you guys briefly touched on earlier about the stage, the production and stuff for the show, but I’m watching the video for Final Masquerade and it’s just visually stunning. And I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit more on the visual element of the stage production and kind of translating your videos and stuff into the live performance and what fans can expect from your visual presence on this tour.
Mike Shinoda: Well, one important thing to start with is that the visuals on The Hunting Party were rooted in a handful of drawings and artwork [pieces] by an incredible painter named James Jean. James… I don’t even know where to start as far as how important this guy is or how incredible he is. You can look him up on your own. Joe [Hahn] is friends with James. James drew a bunch of stuff for us. In talking with him, we wanted to do something that has never been done with his artwork before and landed on the idea of converting it into an actual 3D sculpture, each piece into a 3D sculpture. So, although the sculptures live in the computer, they don’t exist physically yet, maybe someday they would, but at this point, we got them rendered in 3D art. Our amazing group at Ghost Town did those renders with James and then those built up the basic foundation of the artwork for the album. And that stuff, you’ll find it on the T-shirts, the website and you’ll find that in the live visuals as well. And then, it’s not enough to just throw the stuff up there. I mean, you can, but it’s beautiful. But I think that in the context of a live show, it’s really important to have something that lives and breathes with the show. And to some degree, one of the challenges that I posed to the production team was, based on what we decide to do with the show every night, if we decide to play something differently and if we decide to expand the part or whatever we want to do, I want the artwork to change with the performance. So, it needs to be malleable, and that’s where the real production challenges start to arise. Without getting geeky into it, and in fact I’m not really versed in the geeky stuff, I can just tell them, like, “These are the ideas,” and then, luckily, we have an excellent production team that can do that. And the guys at Ghost Town, again, the guys who are involved with rendering the stuff in 3D, they’ve been intimately involved, as has Joe, on creating these tour visuals. I think it’s gotten real great. I’m not going to spoil any surprises as far as how the LED stuff gets – what it’s actually being presented on, or as far as what the stuff actually looks like. You’re going to have to come to the show to see that stuff. But, like I said, it adapts with the show and the show is a work in progress; like, we are changing – we do change things usually steadily from show to show, and then from tour to tour, there might be some broader stroke changes. But, yeah, we take the live show seriously. It is, in some part of it, it’s as much a piece of art as the music is, so we want it to be compelling and fit with the overall kind of aesthetic of what the band is up to right at this moment.
Gary Graff [Oakland Press]: Talk a little bit about your touring partners; what your relationship is with 30 Seconds to Mars is and why it’s a good fit and which one of you is planning to somehow steal Jared’s Oscar during the tour.
Chester Bennington: [laughs] I think, for the most part, I think the relationship is more of a professional relationship. I mean, I’ve been friends with Jared for a few years – actually way more than a few years now, so we’re pretty friendly. But overall, I mean, it’s not like we’re all having birthday parties together and things like that.
Our respect comes from a professional level between each other and, for me, I know that we’ve been very close to our fan base for a very long time, asking questions and seeing who they want us to tour with and it’s been really interesting, but every time – for like, what, five or six times in a row, I think, 30 Seconds to Mars has either been the most popular band that they want to see us tour with or number two. I’ve never seen them out of the top three. So, it’s been a long time the fans have wanted to see us tour together. So, for that, I think not only has 30 Seconds to Mars grown tremendously over the last several years into a great studio band, writing great songs, but they’re also amazing live. And so, for us, at this point, our fans are really excited to see us play with 30 Seconds to Mars. And also, if I can say this [about AFI], I don’t know if you guys are listening to their most recent record, but it’s amazing. And they’re another band that not only are great guys, but they keep making amazing record after amazing record and are also known for their live shows. So, that’s kind of a simple kind of no-brainer. Luckily, this is one of those times where we were, like, “Hey, let’s ask 30 Seconds to Mars and AFI if they want to tour with us.” And they both said, “Yes,” at the same time. So, it all worked out really well.
Steve Rosen [Ultimate Guitar]: Mike, I was listening with great interest everything that you were saying in the Distortion of Sound film. We’ve been talking here about the layers of the record and the intricacy of it, recording by analog. With the obvious time you take to get these wonderful guitar sounds and vocal sounds and then, as you noted in the film, Mike, about people taking this and downloading mp3’s and listening on ear buds and computer speakers. How do you sort of rationalize that balance in terms of creating the most beautiful kind of audio sounds you can and knowing that people are going to go out and listen to the stuff and maybe miss half of what you’re doing?
Mike Shinoda: I think you know our band. You know that we’re all pretty, for better or worse, perfectionists. Just to give you guys a sense of the conversation and what you were talking about about with Distortion of Sound, it just occurred to me as we were talking to the folks making the documentary and everything that the point of the documentary is that really pretty much everything that everybody listens to when they go to listen to music, pretty much every time that we do that, we listen at a lower quality, usually a much lower quality, than the artists recorded it at. And that what was intended to be heard is lost to a large degree. It’s the same difference as me sending you, from my phone, a very small picture. When you try to send one, it says, “Do you want to send it small, medium, large, or actual size,” or at least when I’m sending it from my phone. If you send small, it’s like this weird low res. crappy little thing. And if you send large or actual size, you get something that you actually enjoy; you see it, you can print it out and whatever. And what we’re doing to ourselves, from an audio perspective, is we’re always listening to the small version. Most people don’t even realize that and that occurred to me that we’re all just doing that and not even, like, thinking twice about it. So, the conversation – just the idea that should get out there and people should be aware that that’s what they’re doing, at least if they’re making the decision consciously, that’s different than being, than doing it and not even knowing any better. When we’re in the studio, just to put it into perspective, like, we work nine months on average; nine months on an album. On this album, we did a large chunk of it to tape, which is higher quality than basically anything that you can get, even a FLAC file isn’t the quality of an analog recording.
And that’s because what happens is when it goes in the computer, it basically interprets that audio at the highest resolution that it can. So, when we recorded this stuff to tape, we then dumped it in the computer because of large portions of the process of getting it to the file format that you’re going to end up listening to. It has to go in the computer at some point, so what we decided to do is, like, double the resolution of our files when it gets imported. So then, the resolution of the actual audio is really, really, really high. Every time you lower that, by the way, for example, like, if it goes from 96 down to 48, it takes in half as much information. So, that’s half as much information, just by forgetting to switch or changing the setting. And so, those are those lengths that we went to – or that’s the idea of the lengths that we went to to ensure a high audio quality. And then the idea that somebody would turn that on YouTube and listen to it on shitty ear buds is kind of like you’re missing a lot of that information and, by the way, little choices that we make on the way. The whole point is people are going to do it anyway. I do it sometimes myself. I do it consciously. I choose to listen to higher fidelity stuff consciously as well, and we should just be aware that that’s what’s going on. When you listen to – the other guys at Harmon, for example, did an actual blind test with random fans and random music and so on, and different audio qualities and they found that literally, physically there was, like, I don’t remember what it was – it was like 150 percent increase or 125 percent increase in head nodding, people just bobbing their head along, because they increased the audio quality, people would bob their head more. I mean, that’s enjoyment of music. You know what I mean? If you’re taking that away from yourself, if you’re not letting yourself enjoy your own music, and like, if you care about your music, then obviously you would want to have that best experience.
Steve Rosen: Cool. And, Mike, just one quick follow-up question. I am wondering how you and Brad map out the guitar parts and kind of work out the tracks, that kind of thing?
Mike Shinoda: Usually I just take the easier part, because he’s a better guitar player, to put it really simply. I mean, occasionally we get to things that we can both play well and we just choose whichever one sounds better. Or maybe even sometimes, like, well, I’m going to have to do a vocal and this will look better if I’m doing the vocal and doing this part. From a presentation standpoint, I’m not saying anything like I have to be turned to my good side. I’m saying, like, if the crowd is there to watch me sing lead on a song and I’m struggling – like, if I’m, like, really having to focus on playing something and I can’t, like, deliver the song and make it fun, then I’ll ask Brad to switch parts with me. A funny thing: On the song Wasteland, there are two guitar parts. One of them is the main one that you really hear and the other one is a textural, like, higher pitch sound, and we were rehearsing it and I was playing the rhythm, which is what I usually play, and I’m playing and I’m playing the choruses and I’m, like, “Jesus, this is just so much work. Like, it’s so much movement.” And we had done it all day and stuff and we’re working it out, and I wrote that part, so I knew how it went. It’s just a lot to do while I’m trying to manage, like, the rapping parts and whatever. And I said to Brad, “When I came in, this part is crazy. Like, what are you playing?” Just wondering if we should maybe switch. And he hadn’t said a word the whole time; he’s just letting me, like, do my thing. And he showed me what he’s playing. I’m playing, like, my hands are all over the fret board. He’s literally playing “nee, nee, nee” on, like, one note. It was just, like, two strings. Just the most simple basic; like, you’re first guitar part you ever learned. That’s how simple it is. And I’m, like, “Dude, you are an asshole for not just stepping in and saying, ‘Hey, what do you say we switch parts?'”
Travis Failey [CBS Radio]: I just wanted to say thanks for taking our call. And you guys are playing at Steinbrenner Field, which was also called the Legends Field for many years down here in Tampa on Saturday. You guys know that there hasn’t been a concert at this venue since 1996 and you guys will be the first ones since then?
Mike Shinoda: I don’t think I knew that; I don’t think I knew that. If somebody told me that, I’ve somehow managed to forget that. That’s incredible. Thanks.
Mike Shinoda: Are we going to work…like, is the power on?
Travis Failey: The power is going to be on, because the Yankees play there. So, all the great Yankees come in and out of there for many, many years, so I think you guys will find it to be an interesting venue, to say the least.
Mike Shinoda: Oh, very cool.
Travis Failey: Absolutely. So, while you guys are on the road, are any of you guys in the band sports fans?
Mike Shinoda: Yeah. I mean, various guys, various sports and various degrees. So, it’s kind of all over the place.
Chester Bennington: I watch Sports Center probably half of my time that I watch television. Just because I want to hear people talking about sports in the background. That’s probably the most extreme version of the sports end of the band. The lowest time of my year is between the end of basketball and the beginning of football. That’s what I call “the void.” I just black that off on my calendar and then just black all those months out.
Travis Failey: You guys just did a video with XBox and Team Dakota. You guys see yourselves in the future working with them again to do something so extraordinary?
Mike Shinoda: I mean, we love gaming. I mean, at this point working and doing what we do, we don’t get as much of a chance to play; for example, a console game. It’s mostly, like, mobile. But given the chance, I would love to have, like, a week off just to play video games. But we have had a lot of really fun experiences, like, doing stuff with games; making our own games. We’ve got a game, like, currently out up on Facebook right now called, “LP Recharge.” In fact, it’s lprecharge.com to find it. And we’ve done apps and stuff like that and we’ve worked with groups, companies like EA, worked with Castle of Glass. We worked with the Medal of Honor franchise. So, I think there will be some [more] hopefully, we’ve had some great relationships with all the folks and I would love to do more in the gaming world. It’s just – it is where our fans are at. It is something we love to do and it’s a really natural fit for our band.