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Linkin Park boots hip-hop for rock on Revolution tour

For the past three years, Linkin Park was basically out of the spotlight as a four-year gap developed between studio albums from the chart-topping group. But it wasn’t just the band that went missing once touring behind the 2003 CD Meteora was finished. The group’s ambitious festival tour, “Projekt Revolution,” also went on hold.

Now that Linkin Park is back with a new CD, Minutes To Midnight, so is Projekt Revolution. The tour stops at the Tweeter Center on Saturday, Aug. 25. And, while the lineup is impressive as usual, Projekt Revolution has a notably different musical mix than it had in its first three incarnations. On the previous Projekt Revolution outings, the tour was as notable for its hip-hop flavor as for rock, as prominent acts such as Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill and Xhibit played key roles in bringing star power to the tours.

This year, only one hip-hop act, Styles Of Beyond, is in the mix, and that act plays the second stage. Instead, rock rules this year’s tour, with Linkin Park joined by My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, HIM, Placebo and Julien-K as the featured attractions on the main stage.

Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington is well aware that hip-hop is taking a back seat on Projekt Revolution this year. “I think, as a whole, we kind of just decided that these were the bands we wanted to go out with,” Bennington said in summing up the 2007 Projekt Revolution lineup. “Genres have always been kind of what we do, but I don’t think it’s absolutely what we have to do, all the time. … I personally noticed in the past with the exception of maybe Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg, there was enthusiasm of the hip-hop artists, but there really wasn’t a lot of overall excitement (in the crowds), and I personally felt like the show kind of went into a lull in some cases. And I really wanted this to be a really exciting, energy-filled (show). I want the bands to be able to feed off of the crowd. I don’t want to have to warm them back up after a (hip-hop) show.

“It’s tough to have a really kicking rock band come out and then have (the hip-hop group) the Roots come out on stage afterwards,” he added. “It can flow if they’re the right mix, but I think through trial and error we’ve realized that we want to put on a really energetic show and sometimes people don’t really want to have to think too much when they go to a concert.”

That’s not to say the bands on Projekt Revolution this summer merely provide mindless entertainment. My Chemical Romance, in particular, is touring behind one of the most ambitious albums of the past year, the theatrical, thematically linked The Black Parade.

Linkin Park and Taking Back Sunday don’t lack for ambition either. With Minutes To Midnight, Linkin Park has redefined itself after two studio albums, Hybrid Theory (2000) and Meteora (2003), that helped pioneer the rap-rock sound. On the new CD, though, there is little rapping, and the band mixes bracing (but tuneful) rockers like “Given Up” and “No More Sorrow” with melodic mid-tempo songs such as “Shadow of the Day.”

Taking Back Sunday, meanwhile, took a strong step toward escaping the emo rock label that had been hung on the group after its first three CDs. On its latest CD, Louder Now, Taking Back Sunday created a more timeless and harder-to-pigeonhole brand of hard-hitting guitar rock.

Unlike most tours, which are assembled by managers or agents, the members of Linkin Park – Bennington, drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson, DJ Joe Hahn, bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell and vocalist Mike Shinoda -- play a major role in setting the musical direction of each Projekt Revolution tour.

“It takes around nine months to a year to get one of these tours together,” Bennington said. “The way it starts is pretty much I sit down and I basically write down as many bands that I possibly can think of that I think are awesome and that I think could be really exciting to see together and I feel share something in common, but also bring something different.”

The lineup this year came together more easily than in the past, Bennington said, because nearly all of the bands that topped Linkin Park’s wish list agreed to do the tour.

“We only ran into a snag in a couple of areas in the second stage where bands felt like they should have been on the main stage,” he said. “But that’s just a judgment call on our part.”

Bob Bryar, drummer of My Chemical Romance, and Matt Rubano, bassist in Taking Back Sunday, who also participated in the tour’s conference call, said signing on for Projekt Revolution was an easy decision.

“We’ve always tried to take tours based on either touring with bands that we are either fans of, or friends with, and new opportunities, which this (tour) is pretty much a cross-section of all of those,” Rubano said. “I think this was - for a band that takes a long time to make decisions - this one was like a one-phone-call thing.” Both My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday have never toured before with Linkin Park. But both groups had long admired Linkin Park’s music and the way that band has gone about making music.

“To me it’s really inspiring and encouraging that people care so much about their art,” said My Chemical Romance guitarist Ray Toro. “I know that the videos, the ideas, everything comes from that band, and that’s kind of something that we respected and tried to do on our own as well.

“A lot of bands out there kind of feel like it’s really the (record) label behind every decision and the band has no say in their career, and I think those bands disappear quickly. And there is a reason why Linkin Park has been around and continues to do well and sell tons of records: because they put a lot of care and love into their music and every aspect of the band. So that’s the thing that’s always grabbed me about Linkin Park.”

The idea of bringing together bands that have not toured together before is one of the goals behind Projekt Revolution, Bennington said, and he hopes the tour will expose fans to some groups they had yet to discover.

He pointed to Placebo and Mindless Self Indulgence (the second stage headliner) as acts that deserve the platform a tour like Projekt Revolution provides.

“I’ve never seen Mindless Self Indulgence invited on any kind of summer tour, on any kind of festival, and they are a band that’s definitely worthy of taking out,” Bennington said. “I think that the fact that all these bands are just excited to play together, it makes it even more special.”

Philly Edge - August 23, 2007



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