Interview with Mike Shinoda - One Step Closer
11.05.2008With a huge single now on MTV, a spot on Return of the Rock and the release of their well received, and much hyped debut album "Hybrid Theory" Linkin Park are climbing the ranks of their genre. Shoutweb caught up with a very sick Mike Shinoda, the "rapper" of the two vocalists, on the road in their touring RV.
Chester Bennington - vocals
Rob Bourdon - drums
Brad Delson - guitar
Joseph Hahn - DJ/samples
Mike Shinoda - vocals
Shoutweb: Where are you? They told me that you would be calling from the RV travelling across the country.
Mike Shinoda: We just got out of Dallas, the biggest and most confusing airport in the world. It's so big and so ridiculously complex. They don't need to make it as difficult as it is.
Shoutweb: What's complex about it?
Mike Shinoda: It's got too many driveways and all these ramps. You need to go on at least five ramps per street. Let's put it this way, I'm not used to it and it confused the hell out of me!
Shoutweb: You're not driving at the moment, are you?
Mike Shinoda: I am not driving. I'm in the back of the RV being car sick.
Shoutweb: Oh no!
Mike Shinoda: Yeah, I'm totally car sick right now. I was laying sideways or something. You know how when you read and you're driving, do you ever get that?
Shoutweb: Yeah, motion sickness. That's the worst.
Mike Shinoda: I'm ********. What's up there?
;Shoutweb: We have CMJ in town this week in New York so it's craziness. Plus the Limp Bizkit album came out today.
Mike Shinoda: There were quite a few kids of theirs going to get the midnight release at Tower Records for the Limp Bizkit record over at U of T in Austin. We were thinking of going in and checking out the scene. We already have the album.
Shoutweb: What do you think?
Mike Shinoda: I think it's cool. I like Limp Bizkit so I'm all about it.
Shoutweb: We have all of these bands in town. Some of them are playing at the new WWF venue called The World. They have that new WWF show on MTV now too.
Mike Shinoda: I love the WWF show! I think it's so funny. I love it.
Shoutweb: What would your name be as a professional wrestler?
Mike Shinoda: I'm not a wrestler. I'm a manager. Our wrestling partners are our other singer, Chester, and our DJ, Mr. Hahn... they're the Sugar Brothers.
Shoutweb: What is this I heard about him getting naked?
Mike Shinoda: Chester? He just likes to show his butt. He wouldn't have the tights that most wrestlers have. He would have a G-string.
Shoutweb: Does he at least work out? Does he have some buns on him or what? (laughter)
Mike Shinoda: No, he doesn't have any buns. He's a scrawny little guy like me.
Shoutweb: Well, I'm a photographer so maybe when we do a photo shoot we can explore that.
Mike Shinoda: That will be fun. Maybe he can give you a little butt-ocks.
Shoutweb: So, is everybody healthy?
Mike Shinoda: No! Not me. Germs and more germs in the camper.
Shoutweb: You have to keep the temperature cold so germs don't grow. You do know that, don't you?
Mike Shinoda: Why? This is a germ culivation facility! (laughter) We are culivating new strands of every illness that you can think of. You thought you had the cold that went around the block. We've invented five new mutations of that same cold.
Shoutweb: So they told me, "You're going to be interviewing Mike... the rapper."
Mike Shinoda: Yeah, "the rapper". That's all I do. I just rap.
Shoutweb: What is your rap, Mike? (laughter)
Mike Shinoda: When people ask I tell them that I'm the lead emcee and I'm the backup vocalist for Chester. He's doing the harmonies when I'm rapping so we're patting each other's backs.
Shoutweb: Chester's got some good vocals going on there.
Mike Shinoda: He's got some lungs.
Shoutweb: Yeah, some real pipes there!
Mike Shinoda: He's alright. We'll keep him. Did you hear how we ran into Chester and how we found him in the first place?
Shoutweb: No, you should tell us that for those that haven't heard. Do you know about Shoutweb or should I go into what we're about?
Mike Shinoda: Oh no. I've been there a number of times!
Shoutweb: Okay, because there are people from all over the world. People from Japan. People from Europe.
Mike Shinoda: I'm half Japanese. I like Japan.
Mike Shinoda: I'm half Japanese and half hick. That Japanese audience... those are my brothers and my sisters. Those are my peeps. (laughter) But yeah, I totally enjoy the site. We actually have a link to Shoutweb from our web site.
Shoutweb: Yeah, to the Top 40. That's cool. Do you work on the web site and on the bio on there?
Mike Shinoda: We work on everything. The web site is changing every week.
Shoutweb: So how did you find Chester or did Chester find you?
Mike Shinoda: The band has been together for over four years I believe at this point. I had the idea to start a band like this when I got out of high school. I thought, "These are my friends. This is what we're going to do." Brad, our guitarist, and I were friends since we were thirteen. Joe I had met in college and Rob, our drummer, we had known from a high school nearby. That was in the northern San Fernando valley area. That was all very natural but there came a point a couple of years ago where we wanted and really needed to find somebody who was just an amazing singer. We had been sending out demos and instrumentals. Chester got it and called us about it. He skipped his 23rd birthday party. He just lust left everybody there. He recorded his thing and called us the next morning and said, "Okay, it's done." We were like, "What? It's done already?" He said, "Yeah, how do you want me to get this to you? I'm ready." We said, "Can you play it for us over the phone?" So he played it for us over the phone and we told him to fly out. It was awesome and we were ready and totally convinced.
Shoutweb: When was that?
Mike Shinoda: That was almost two years ago. (Mike's got a bad cough)
Shoutweb: You sound like you're getting sick.
Mike Shinoda: Three shows ago I thought I was going to throw up all over myself. I'm not about to skip any shows especially for some stupid sickness. That was probably the hardest show for me to play yet.
Shoutweb: Where was that?
Mike Shinoda: That was Tulsa, Oklahoma. I played the Dallas show completely exhausted. The Austin show wasn't as bad but the Dallas show was terrible for me. Nobody knew I was sick but I just felt like crap. In Tulsa, Oklahoma I was sick as a dog!
Shoutweb: You're out with Kottonmouth Kings now?
Mike Shinoda: That is correct. We love the Kottonmouth Kings tour. The guys are the sweetest guys. They are totally fun to hang out with. Fun to play with. I don't know if they would describe themselves as such but I would say that they are the hippie Beastie Boys. They are all about peace, love, and marujuana and playing an amazing, energetic show that is so entertaining. There are massive amounts of kids that come to see them. The line-up is basically - Rehab, who plays first. They're awesome. It's a hip-hop duo a la Everlast, Kid Rock type of thing. We play, then Corporate Avenger and then Kottonmouth. It's a totally fun tour to be on. We're really stoked about it. This tour is going to end on Halloween so that's going to be a big, huge party. It's going to be in our hometown. They're from Orange County so we're going to be home on Halloween.
Shoutweb: What are you guys going to dress up as?
Mike Shinoda: That's a secret. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to wear. Chester knows what he's going to do but I don't know what I'm going to do.
Shoutweb: If it's your last show then you guys can go out as the Kottonmouth Kings.
Mike Shinoda: I thought of that. I swear I did! Rehab actually has two nurses who dance and take off their clothes. I told Chester that he and I should dress up as Brooks and Danny and Brad and Scott, our guitarist and bassist, should dress up as nurses. Nobody really went for my idea though. I'd do it in a minute. Chester would do it in a minute.
Shoutweb: Then you have P.O.D.
Mike Shinoda: Then we have P.O.D. That's going to be awesome. I can't wait. P.O.D. is a group that I've had their album and I've listened to it a lot. I'm so excited to be playing with them and (hed)p.e. and Project 86. It's going to be an exciting tour. A lot of our fans like those groups as well. I think it's going to be out of hand.
Shoutweb: You guys are "the buzz band".
Mike Shinoda: The "buzz" band... are we popular? Are we in with the cheerleaders? We're going to get some pom-poms and yell our name. (laughter)
Shoutweb: You're "the rapper" of "the buzz band". (laughter)
Mike Shinoda: What does that mean the "buzz" band? Let's label a few more things while we're at it. (laughter) I love it. We can talk about "the single" or "the video".
Shoutweb: I haven't even seen the video yet. I saw some quick commercial thing and it was all green hair.
Mike Shinoda: Yeah, I got red hair. The video is very green and very dark. It was shot in Los Angeles in an underground, abandoned subway tunnel that is adjacent to an abandoned V.A. hospital. It's an extremely scary place to hang out and shoot a video. The air was very thick and filled with minerals and dust and dirt. It's very hard to breathe down there. But we endured. We had a lot of fun. Somebody just told me that they heard that most bands don't have a good time shooting their video or they don't like their first video. I think we had a blast. Our DJ and I went to art school together. I graduated with a major in illustration at the Arts Center in Pasadena. He left after his first year to go do special effects in the film industry so when it came time to do the video, he was right there with the idea for the treatment for the video. He knew who he thought we should look into for directors. We hooked up with Gregory Dark who is amazing. Joe and Gregory hit it off. Gregory is an extremely experienced and talented individual and really helped us achieve our goals as far as a first video goes. Our budget wasn't so huge. It was our first try at being in front of a camera in that way. We had a lot of fun. It came out great. Joe did a great job. Gregory and everybody in the crew kicked ass. It was awesome. You'll see. It's very dark but it's really colorful at the same time. We have floating monks.
Shoutweb: (laughter) Noooo!
Mike Shinoda: I'm serious. We have floating monks. We have awesome artwork in the background by some friends of ours from school. Just in general, we were really happy with it.
Shoutweb: Did you study graphic art in school as well?
Mike Shinoda: I went for illustration. I didn't have a minor in graphics but I studied graphics heavily so when I got out of school I got a graphics job right away. I did graphics illustration and worked on that while I was starting the band.
Shoutweb: I heard also that you guys are going to be going out with Papa Roach in December.
Mike Shinoda: You know! That's a rumor... but it's a damn good one. And we like that rumor. It's looking really good. We are totally stoked to have the opportunity to possibly play with those guys. It looks really good. Not too many people know about that but it's looking really good.
Shoutweb: It's on Shoutweb already so a lot of people know about it.
Mike Shinoda: It will probably happen. I think that if it's not already confirmed then we're close. We met Coby and Toben, the other guys for only a moment, at the 99X Big Day Out show in Atlanta, Georgia. It was just awesome. Those guys are the coolest guys. They're such nice guys. They play an amazing show. We played with them also in Arizona. We saw them there but we never got to hang out with them there. We saw the show and were like, "Whoa, those guys kick ass!" Then we saw them in Atlanta and actually got to sit on stage with them and hang out with them. They sat on stage for our performance and of course we got no attention because everybody kept trying to talk to Coby. Just kidding. But there were some girls up front yelling, "Coby! Coby!" (laughter) We were like, "Okay girls, were trying to do a show here. Go to the side of the stage and do that over there. Do not interrupt what is going on up here." (laughter)
Shoutweb: It's all about the art, man. Come on, have some respect! (laughter)
Mike Shinoda: He's awesome. We hung out and had a great time. They are amazing performers and we had a great time.
Shoutweb: They just did Leno last night and they played "Broken Home". They were amazing. They did an awesome job.
Mike Shinoda: Did he swing the mic around? He throws that mic and it kills me. I think he's going to hurt somebody and he never does. He said he's got it down to a science now where he can project how long the cord has to be and throw it at the front row of the audience. He throws it at their head and it drops right in front of them without hitting them. Then he pulls it back up and swings it around.
Shoutweb: Usually he just bashes the mic into his forehead until he bleeds.
Mike Shinoda: Did he bleed for the camera last night?
Shoutweb: Just from this soul.
Mike Shinoda: He bled emotionally.
Shoutweb: Let's talk a little about the record, shall we?
Mike Shinoda: I love to talk about the record.
Shoutweb: I love all the songs. Of course "One Step Closer" is blowing up all over the place. I also love "Crawling", "Runaway", "In The End" and "Pushing Me Away" but I think it's because I am partial to Chester's vocals. I love them.
Mike Shinoda: We write a lot of the songs together. The choruses are so important for example that everybody has a little bit of a say in what goes on. You never hurt anybody's feelings by talking about any parts of the songs. Everybody has their say and writes the songs and we're all really proud of what we've come up with. Those songs are some of my favorites as well. I'm totally excited for people to hear them. We've been sitting on this record for a couple of months now. No one's had a chance to listen to it yet. I think I am going to have a fit when people have a chance to go into the store and buy it.
Shoutweb: October 24th is the day. You're our band of the week next week.
Mike Shinoda: Yea! We love Shoutweb!
Shoutweb: I love songs that you can sing along to and actually hear the vocals.
Mike Shinoda: We definitely want people to be able to hear the words. We wrote out all the lyrics in the album liners so when people pick that up they can read all the lyrics not to mention all the really cool artwork. In each song we are going in one direction. Never on this album do we go out in two different directions. We keep it consistent. We're both talking about the same thing. We want to give people a starting block with the lyrics so that they can relate their own story to it. Our songs come from something that happn to us or an emotion that we feel. We want it put it out there in a way that is as accurate to the way we feel as we can say it. Somebody said that to Chester the other day. That they felt that way a hundred times but they couldn't figure out how to say it. They thanked us for putting it in a way that they could relate to it. For saying it in a way that I wanted to say it. Now I've got that and I can use that. I totally apreciate that. I love that. To be able to put something out there that somebody can relate to and something that can make sense to them.
Shoutweb: Those are the songs that last too. It's a footprint in that part of your life or that relationship you're going through or that girl you could never talk to or whatever it is.
Shoutweb: The beginning of "A Place For My Head" has this guitar plucking thing. It sounds like a Spanish guitar. I get the feeling that Zorro is going to come racing through the door.
Mike Shinoda: It's weird because Brad, our guitarist, went to Ibanez and those guys were really helpful. They totally let him play around on a whole bunch of different guitars. I believe it's called a piezo. It's the term for the setting that they have. It's basically an electric guitar that to us sounded like an acoustic guitar. If you flip it off of that setting it will sound electric again. You can hit the distortion pedal and it will sound just like the heaviest Ibanez. When he first picked that thing up that was the first song he thought of playing that on and it totally worked. He loved it and they let us use one for the album. It was phenomenal. We were really happy to get that sound.
Shoutweb: How does he reproduce that live?
Mike Shinoda: He plays a clean channel one live. When he has the chance I think he will get one of those Ibanez guitars. At this point, we're not there yet.
Shoutweb: I'm sure there are a lot of guitar players out there that will have a lot of questions about that for Brad.
Mike Shinoda: They're going to have a lot of questions when they see us live. They are going to start to realize that a lot of things that sound like samples are not. He plays full melodies that are only harmonics on his clean guitar that sounds like a keyboard or sounds like a harp or sounds like bells. People have said that it sounds like a hundred different things and they're always thinking that it's not guitar and it is. The whole verse for "In The End" is harmonics. That high-pitched noise is Brad playing.
Shoutweb: I just feel like there is going to be a bullfight or something. (laughter)
Mike Shinoda: (laughter)
Shoutweb: Then it goes into this scratching. You definitely mix it up with all different styles.
Mike Shinoda: We love so many different types of music that it's hard to differentiate where we're getting our ideas from. We may write something and it doesn't neccessarily come from one genre. Sometimes it does and sometimes it comes from a bunch of different things. We have always wanted to do that within our band. When I first talked to the guys about starting the band it was always something like this. We wanted to do something that was a melting pot of these styles. I had said in an interview once that there was a theory of people in America being like a salad bowl or a melting pot. A melting pot is where they all come together and a salad bowl is where they hold their individuality and they exist together. At one point I thought our band was more of a salad bowl where each sound maintains its integrity and just exists in the song together but I totally have changed my mind. I think that it's a melting pot where we've got a lot of things that come together but in the end they all just gel and just become one song and that's what is most important to us. It's just a song. It's not the rap part and the rock part and the electronic part and the singing part and the rapping and the screaming and the whispering.
Shoutweb: So you're throwing everything in there. What about some pop?
Mike Shinoda: You know what? Our guiarist is a huge Britney Spears fan. We are all very embarrassed of him. He's not here right now so I can talk as much trash about him as I want. Out of everybody, he's pretty much the only one that will listen to the really poppy stuff. Which is cool because we need some of that in the group I guess because we're listening to everything else. Can't have the Aphex Twins and the Spineshank without the Britney Spears! And the Roots, and the Boyz to Men, and Radiohead... I could name all the things we listen to.
Shoutweb: Is that you at the beginning of "Cure For The Itch" doing the emcee part?
Mike Shinoda: No. It's not me!
Shoutweb: Who is it?
Mike Shinoda: That's someone else.
Mike Shinoda: That's someone else.
Shoutweb: You better tell. I'm going to tell everyone to e-mail email@example.com to find out the answer.
Mike Shinoda: Go ahead. I'll give you a good name. I will tell you it's Remy. Some day you'll figure out what that means.
Shoutweb: "One Step Closer" is the big single that is out now. It used to be called "Plaster"?
Mike Shinoda: Yes, "Plaster" was the working title. "One Step Closer" was maybe a little bit more descriptive. I actually wrote that and a bunch of people went "uh... I don't know". Even I went "ugh" and I thought for a minute that it wasn't a good idea to write that song and it sounded kind of bad but then we just went full speed ahead and said screw it. So far it's become one of the more memorable parts of the album. We're happy that people have something like that to hold on to as far as remembering. The song is generally about being at the end of your rope. It's very descriptive and I think that's why people gravitate towards it. It's a very self-descriptive song and it's easy to understand and probably very easy to relate to.
Shoutweb: Out of all the songs, not to blow your theory on that one, that's the one I'm not really writing down lyrics on. It's the music for that song. It's just great and addicting.
Mike Shinoda: Well, that's good!
Shoutweb: So tell me about the web site and the artwork for the record.
Mike Shinoda: The artwork for the web site came from the artwork for the album.
Shoutweb: What is up with the guy holding a flag?
Mike Shinoda: He's a soldier. It's funny because the name of the band used to be Hyrbid Theory.
Shoutweb: When did you change it?
Mike Shinoda: I don't know when we changed it exactly. It was not even a year ago. We had a little bit of a legal hassle with the name Hybrid Theory so we decided to change it to avoid the whole thing. We actually wanted Linkin Park because we could get the web site. We could get linkinpark.com and we liked that people could get to it and remember it. We had always grown up on the web and we've met most of our fans through the web. The web site has been our home as long as we've been a band. We communicate with all of our fans through the web site. The basic graphics for the band were done by myself and Frank Maddocks. Frank Maddocks did the graphics for the latest Deftones album and their whole campaign. He is phenomenal. The photos were taken by James Menchen. Frank and James are unbeatable. They are just an amazing team to me. I talked to Frank about the cover art. We had come up with a logo and basic idea but we needed an image for the cover. I sort of said to him that we're kind of a mix of heavy and delicate elements at the same time. That is kind of our newer understanding of the hybrid rather than just rap and rock.
Shoutweb: So Linkin Park isn't named after anything?
Mike Shinoda: There is a Linkin Park that we saw near Santa Monica, California that we liked; however, there's a Linkin Park everywhere. It was funny because we started in Florida and worked our way up to Chicago on tour and everywhere along the way everybody kept thinking we were local at every show because there's Linkin Park's in every town. So we're the nationwide local band.
Shoutweb: I usually try to read up on a band but wasn't sure which one you are in the photo.
Mike Shinoda: The ones you are seeing are probably not in color, huh?
Shoutweb: No, but I went to the web site to find out which one you are.
Mike Shinoda: My hair is actually Raggedy Andy doll red but you can't tell that in the black and white photos. For the last six months my hair has been bright red.
Shoutweb: What do you use?
Mike Shinoda: I use Special FX "Ruby Red" and occasionally Fudge "Rock Star Red" although I detest the label "rock star". I hate that crap. Although Chester does not. Chester will make no quams about people using the phrase rock star. He wants to be called a rock star. I don't want to be called a rock star. You know what's funny. There are little differences between us. We share the stage and exchange lyrics and once we're on stage we're basically back and forth in your face the whole time. The difference is the little personal stuff. He's totally crazy and he'll show you his butt. He'll flash cameras. He'll just completely act crazy. I'm a little more conservative than he. When it comes to putting on a show it's totally no holds barred but in the personal world I'm a little more conservative than he is.
Shoutweb: Being that you're playing with P.O.D. and Project 86 who are known to be bands who love God, I have to ask if there is a spiritual connection with Linkin Park as well.
Mike Shinoda: At this point we've gotten a lot of e-mail with that subject because we're touring with those bands. Project 86 apparently are on the more religious side of the spectrum. I don't know because I haven't talked to the guys yet. According to the e-mails we're getting those guys are Christian guys in a band. We are getting all kinds of e-mail asking us the same things. I don't know what to say. It's just like our music. It's not a simple answer. It's not like we represent one thing. Everybody in the group feels a different way about that stuff. I can tell them my personal point of view but I can't represent the band. I don't want to have a religious talk with them and besides I don't want to give some religious advice to some kid. Dude, I'm only 23. Go ask your parents. And if you don't like the answer they give you then go to a religious establishment that gives you the answers you're most interested in.
Shoutweb: I think in the bio for the band Chester makes reference to being blessed and that may have lead to some fans affiliating you with the God rocker bands.
Mike Shinoda: I was raised in a really, really liberally Protestant church. Two of the guys are Jewish. Joe was raised in little more conservative Christian church and Chester has his own really unique views on religion. In general, we are all over the place.
Shoutweb: So, you're in an RV?
Mike Shinoda: We're calling it "the camper".
Shoutweb: Are you guys being campy?
Mike Shinoda: No, but it stinks. It's a friggin' RV. It's not made for touring. It's made for camping. It's not made to have guitars and bags. There's like nine of us in this stupid thing. It sleeps six comfortably. It's ridiculous.
Shoutweb: You have to sleep in it?
Mike Shinoda: Oh yeah! Many times. You don't have many choices of where to sleep when you're making an eighteen hour drive between venues that are back to back.
Shoutweb: So you're trapped with dirty laundry and the germs.
Mike Shinoda: No, I'm trapped with Brad's dirty laundry. And that's for real. Brad's dirty laundry is literally in the cabinet right next to me and it stinks because he doesn't wash it enough and he doesn't put it in a bag either. It's out in the open. He's going to get into trouble.
Shoutweb: So, if you don't call yourself a rock star then what do you call yourself?
Mike Shinoda: We're just musicians. If people ask me what I do, I tell them that I'm a musician. I don't say that I'm a rock star. Number one, it's not rock. My intention for this band is not to get attention for myself. It's to share what I make with people who potentially could enjoy it. When we do a show, that's when we are most fulfilled. We like to play shows and share our music with the kids and talk with them afterwards and have them excited about what they're hearing.
Shoutweb: Have there been any casualties on tour yet?
Mike Shinoda: I chipped a tooth on a mic once. I hurt my back in the pit. Chester got spit on. We got human fesces thrown on us. We got a sign one time when we were playing with Union Underground a couple of months ago that said, "Go Back To The Suburbs". Chester held it up and said, "We love fan mail." In the beginning they were talking some trash but by the end they were signing up for our street team. Chester kissed both of them on the face. The kids standing around were rolling on the floor laughing. I'm trying to think because I know there have been way more casualties. We've been hit and broken things. Brad's guitar has hit me in the head before. I actually threw up in my mouth in Des Moines.
Shoutweb: Ew... gross!
Mike Shinoda: This is a good story though. We were playing in Des Moines, Iowa at Hairy Mary's. There was no air conditioning and it was during the middle of the day. The club is tiny. We showed up at noon and everyone who was going to be watching the show was already there drunk and wasted. We got there, set up our stuff, and got ready to play. People had been there for a while and it smelled bad. It was humid and horrible. We played a full set and two songs before the end I couldn't breathe. I was running around like a madman and got nauseous and threw up. I didn't want to throw up on anybody so I kept it in my mouth and swallowed it. And then I drank a fat glass of water to wash it away and continued with the set. Brad almost passed out. At the end of the show Brad was resting on his Marshall cabinet or he was going to pass out it was so hot. It was a very difficult show for us.
Shoutweb: It's still gross!
Mike Shinoda: I feel like we're a bunch of thespians. We act like a bunch of thespians. We act like a bunch of... performas (Mike imiates a fake British accent). And when saying "peformers" you have to say it with a fake British accent or your best Sheakspearean delivery. That's how we treat it. We treat it like the show is the most important thing and playing a good one is top priority - sick or not.
Shoutweb: Do you guys answer your e-mail?
Mike Shinoda: Absolutely. We have laptops on the road. We love our street team and our fans. We communicate with them as often as we can do it. If we get too many e-mails, we still have to answer them. We can't answer every one but try as hard as we can to get back to every fan. Aside from the e-mails we try to talk to kids as much as possible. For example, in Arizona, we had a signing booth for autographs. It was only scheduled for us for a certain hour. When that hour was over there were still more kids that wanted autographs so we decided to walk right over the table and took our stuff with us. We walked into the crowd of 15,000 kids and did our signing out there. That's the right thing to do. I don't want any kid to walk away feeling gipped. Not that my autograph is all that important.
Shoutweb: But to that one kid, it is that important.
Mike Shinoda: Exactly.
Shoutweb: Where are you guys headed next?
Mike Shinoda: Albuquerue, New Mexico. We have to pick up a couple of tires for the RV and get it serviced first. I think this is the longest interview I've ever done.
Shoutweb: If you let me talk then this could go on and on.
Mike Shinoda: It's good though because most interviewers get on the phone with me for ten minutes and ask the same ten stupid questions and get the same ten answers. They don't go any deeper than that.
Shoutweb: I don't like to give kids the same thing that they can read somewhere else. I mean, what's the point then? Anyway, tell me about the songs that I love then. "Crawling" is awesome. I love that song!
Mike Shinoda: The chorus melody for "Crawling" was originally the bridge of a song that sucked that we wrote. That other song we didn't like and we weren't going to use it so we had this melody. It just occured to me to take this melody that I liked and to write music around it. I did that and then Brad came in and added a little more and helped me out with it. Chester wrote some new words. Everybody worked around it. Every time we write a song it starts from something different. I wrote a song from a sample that Brad collected of a car alarm. He got woken up or something to a car alarm from a garage in the parking lot underneath his apartment. He recorded it. I sampled it. I looped it. He wrote a guitar part to it and we wrote a song around it. That was an older song of ours that is not on the album.
Shoutweb: What was the title of that song?
Mike Shinoda: That was called "Part of Me". It was part of an EP that we put out with a baby on the cover. That was a little project we put together when Chester first came to California. It was the first time we were in the studio. Actually it was with Mudrock who did Godsmack's tracks. He was someone we had met who was really nice and we could do something for a small amount of money.
Shoutweb: You guys are also on the "Return of the Rock 2" CD with "One Step Closer".
Mike Shinoda: That we are. I don't know much more about it except there are a lot of great bands on there. We're really thankful to MTV for being on it. The whole "Return of the Rock" thing has been really cool. Personally, I feel like this campaign has been awesome especially because it's not just rock. The rock they're centering on and the rock nowadays is so diverse. It really incorporates a lot of different styles. It feels great to be part of a moment in music which I feel is really progressive. I have been listening to Run DMC and Aerosmith and Red Hot Chili Peppers since their first album. When we first started this band, those things were the only checkpoints in the mixture of these different elements of music. There was nothing else to look at to say "this is how it is done". We had to make up our own style of mixing different things together.
Shoutweb: I was going to ask what made you want to do this?
Mike Shinoda: The first concert I ever saw ever was either in 1989 or 1990. I saw Anthrax and Public Enemy play the Killer B's tour. At the end of the show they did "Bring Da Noise" together. I saw them at Irvine Meadows and it was huge. Primus opened up. I saw a lot of shows after that but every time I saw a show I wanted to do something like that more and more.
Shoutweb: That was a big influence on what you're doing now then?
Mike Shinoda: Not necessarily those groups but that idea. It's something I was so excited to do. When it came time to put the band together we started thinking about a time period where there weren't any rap rock bands yet. The surge of rap rock that is so obvious today and so powerful today didn't exist when we were starting the band. We didn't even know what to sound like. We were just inventing our own thing. That's why our stuff sounds just a little bit different than all the rap rock stuff that is out there right now. We mix totally different things and we come from totally different styles and we didn't have anything to look at to say "Can we play with them?" or compare ourselves to established bands that were experienced. There weren't that many. It was before Limp Bizkit's "Significant Other" and Kid Rock. Those bands absolutely opened up a door for us. That we can bring something like this to the table and that the people who want it and the people who want to bring it to them have an idea of how to do that now. I'm sure when those guys came out no one knew who to sell this stuff to. Nobody who wanted to buy it knew where to go to get it. We're totally stoked.
Shoutweb: So then you get to be the new buzz band.
Mike Shinoda: What amazes me is that people talk about their excitement over the band and they don't even know what the album sounds like. They base what they're hearing on hearing the single. I like the single but I love the album. I am totally proud of the album.
Shoutweb: I think "One Step Closer" is enough to get people to buy the album but they are in for a surprise because the rest of the album is just so great. There are just so many textures on this record.
Mike Shinoda: I am so happy. I can't wait until everybody gets it!
Shoutweb: Have fun in the RV and stay healthy. I'll see you in a couple of weeks when you hit New York.