Don't call us Limp
03.05.2008The evidence suggests they're the biggest band in the world. So why do so few admit to liking Livid headliners Linkin Park, asks Dino Scatena.
It's too easy to be cynical about Linkin Park. Had they not staked such a serious claim to being the biggest band in the world today, we might have ignored them altogether.
To many, the Californian act probably remains indistinguishable from countless other nu-metal acts. Many a critic has crucified them for their particularly close alignment - both stylistically and alphabetically - to the undisputed worst band of them all, Limp Bizkit.
Like LB, LP's first hits, such as One Step Closer and In the End, felt and sounded like formulaic anthems of vacuous angst, set to a colour-by-numbers soundtrack of screeching vocals, metal guitar, some rapping and turntables. It was all a little ho-hum to anyone over 15. One British reviewer went as far as calling Linkin Park nu-metal's first boy-band.
Such jibes meant little to the six-piece, whose debut album, Hybrid Theory, has sold more than 14 million copies. It was the world's highest-selling album of 2001 and the fifth highest-selling of last year.
Earlier this year, Linkin Park released the follow-up, Meteora. It debuted at the top of the US and British charts simultaneously. It would have done the same in Australia but for Delta Goodrem.
Of course, just because you sell a lot of records doesn't necessarily mean you're any good. And the old suspicions about the artistic validity of Linkin Park don't immediately evaporate when you talk to a band member.
In interview mode, co-founder and co-vocalist Mike Shinoda - the one who provides the white-boy raps to Chester Bennington's purrs and squeals - comes across with the trained technique of an international statesman. Shinoda deflects any hint of criticism with ease. The nu-metal tag is the first to be swatted aside.
"When we make music, we're not thinking of being part of any genre," he says. "I think most people can tell the obvious differences between Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Limp Bizkit and us.
"There are similar elements, obviously, but when you break it down to the things that give each band their own sound, it's pretty easy and simple to tell each band apart."
However, unlike those bands, Linkin Park don't sit too comfortably with the common concept of youthful rebellion. They refuse to swear in their lyrics. They don't even claim to be anti-establishment.
Take their concert in Malaysia next week, where the band must adhere to government regulations that forbid artists from, among other things, leaping around onstage or performing "raunchy actions that conflict with pure values". Shinoda has no problem with that.
"I think our fans want to see us, so we're happy to go over there and play the show," he says. "I'm willing to play by the rules, but I can't guarantee what the crowd wants to do."
Helping balance out all the cynicism is that Linkin Park appear to be quickly adapting to their status as major international artists on Meteora. Recent hit singles such as Somewhere I Belong and Faint reveal an almost U2-like celebratory rock etherealness.
You hope that, come album three, Linkin Park will have grown up enough to produce something genuinely unique and great. For the time being, you can be guaranteed there will be a field full of teenagers at Moore Park tomorrow that believe Linkin Park's moment is right now.
smh.com.au - October 10, 2003