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Interview with "Phoenix"

Linkin Park bassist Dave "Phoenix" Farrell isn't afraid to say that some of his band's music doesn't make the grade.

"Anyone who's honest and does something that requires creativity has to acknowledge the fact that [they don't feel] all their stuff is their best," Farrell said.
"You have stuff that you're really excited about and you like how it turned out. And you have things that may have started out as good ideas but you just couldn't complete it. … You have to kind of be honest with it, I think."

While recording its latest album, 2003's "Meteora," Linkin Park whittled down 80 songs to 13, including the hits "Numb" and "Somewhere I Belong," as well as the Grammy-nominated instrumental track "Session."

"It's funny because with 'Meteora,' we probably wrote 80 different songs in the process of doing that record, Farrell said. "We wrote maybe 40 and trashed all of it with the exception of a couple small ideas that we still liked and we moved on from there."

Just before the kickoff of its current tour with P.O.D., Hoobastank and Story of the Year, Linkin Park "quietly" worked on material for its next album.

"I feel like we're just starting that process again where we're writing a lot of stuff and trying to establish a direction and seeing where things go. At the same time, there's a lot of garbage that has to come out, I think, before you really start honing in on what you're excited about."

Farrell talked to about what excites Linkin Park, the new album and the band's history with its tourmates.

liveDaily: How did you chose the bands for your tour?
Actually, P.O.D. was a band that we toured with quite a long time ago--in early 2000--before our first record, "Hybrid Theory," even came out. They took us out with them. We all got along really well, had a great time and we wanted to tour with them pretty much ever since. It's been maybe four years, and it's finally come together. They're just kind of old-time friends. We're really looking forward to that.

Hoobastank, a couple of the guys in our group actually went to school up in the valley of L.A. They've known each other for quite some time; a couple of the guys maybe as long as 10 or 15 years. Story of the Year is a band that we heard their record, and really liked what they were doing, researched them a little bit and figured they would be a great addition to the tour. It's a great record.

It should be a great tour. We are definitely excited about it.

Last summer you toured with Metallica. How did that go?
That was probably the first time we had toured the U.S. in like seven or eight months. Obviously it was Metallica's tour. It's just that much more fun once you're on your own tour because things are kind of catered to you. Things are just easier. You have access to the best dressing room, which means it's closest to catering, little things like that. When you're out for six weeks at a time, it makes a lot of difference.

Was the tour with Metallica difficult?
I didn't know what to expect going into it. I was almost a little bit nervous about it. I had been a Metallica fan for such a long time. I didn't want to have the type of experience where you meet them and it would almost be a disappointment. The second night of the tour I got the opportunity to hang out with everybody except James (Hetfield, lead singer). I was blown away at how awesome they were. They're obviously a great band, and I think they're one of the best bands that's ever been. At the same time, they're just really respectful, humble guys. They're still totally down to earth.

A couple days later, when we got to meet James, it was the same thing. It's one of these experiences where you meet these people you respect, and it turns out they're good people. It just makes you that much more excited about what they've done and what they hopefully will be able to continue to do.

It seems like touring with someone like Metallica would be quite the learning experience.

It is. It's a learning experience for me more in the sense of it's inspirational. You see guys who have been around each other for as long as they have, playing music for as long as they have and they're enjoying it. It's not a job to them. I'm sure they have their highlights and low-lights just like everybody else does on tour. But they can still go out every night, and you can tell they still enjoy playing music. That's something right there. I feel it's something to shoot for.

Tell me about the songwriting process with Linkin Park.

The music and the lyrics, they come about in somewhat different ways. The music always comes first for us, and it always comes together a little bit differently. I would say for most of the stuff, Mike (Shinoda, MC/vocalist) is somewhat of a point person. That is just to say, somebody will sit down with Mike at a Pro Tools rig and either put in a guitar riff idea or a drum idea--whatever it is--and things will just get built from that starting block. Different guys will work in pairs or work individually.

You'll kind of come back to things as new things get added to it. For example, "Somewhere I Belong" started with Chester (Bennington, vocalist) just wanting to record this chord progression that he had come up with on an acoustic guitar. He sat down with Mike and recorded it. Mike ended up taking that chord progression, reversing it, effecting it a little bit, and that became that sweeping sample you hear in "Somewhere I Belong." From its original starting point, it ended up going through 40 different rewrites over a course of 18 months to get to where the finished product was on the album itself.

So, that's how the music goes. It just kind of flows and moves and goes through everybody in the band. When it comes time that the music is, we feel, maybe 95 percent done or at least pretty solid, then Chester and Mike sit down together and work collaboratively on coming up with a theme for their lyrics and kind of bounce ideas back and forth and write their lyrics together.

Have you started working on the follow-up to "Meteora"?
We're quietly starting to work on it right now. The way we write, we're kind of always writing. We've always used Pro Tools and digital recording equipment to get ideas down as we have them. That being said, writing "Meteora" was a little bit over an 18-month process. I think I would imagine that the next record will be somewhat of the same. It's going to be awhile. We plan to be touring through the end of this coming summer. We still have a bit of time before a next record will come out.

Much has been said about how you're one of the few bands that doesn't have swearing in their lyrics. Is that something that's a big deal to you or did it just come out that way?
Our joke is we save it all for the live show. [Laughs] By no stretch of the imagination could anyone ever believe that swearing does not occur around Linkin Park and the guys involved, which is funny, obviously, if you listen to the records because obscenities are absent.

Really what it came down to for us is when Mike and Chester would sit down to write their lyrics, there was a challenge laid down to them both by the band and Don Gilmore, the producer of "Hybrid Theory," to express themselves to the utmost of their ability. Part of what came with that was when they had the feeling that they wanted to use an obscenity, there's always a better way than swearing to express yourself, if you have the time to sit down and think it through. It was almost a byproduct of that process. It wasn't even intentional that at the end of that process, there wasn't any swearing on the record. I think that that tradition has just continued on. Who knows if there ever will be, and who knows if there ever won't be. But it isn't necessarily a focal point for us or the music.

Congratulations on your Grammy nomination for the song "Session." How do you feel about the nomination? Is that something that's important to you?
Yeah, for me it's mixed. It's nice to be recognized. I really appreciate that. I think a Grammy, for me, is obviously a great honor and something I'm excited about. But at the same time, there's also part of me that--almost like the music purist or whatever you might call it--feels a little weird about the awards for music in general.

So, it's nice to be recognized. I don't think that a lot of our thought process in what we're doing and a lot of our writing is ever really mindful or thoughtful of being recognized for it in that sense. But it will be fun. The Grammys this year are on my birthday [Feb. 8] so they better give me a Grammy birthday present or I'll be pissed.

Just kidding. - February 4, 2004



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