Linkin Park Proves Persistent
04.05.2008When Linkin Park released its new DVD in November, "Live in Texas," the timing seemed odd.
After all, the group had two singles in the top 15 on "Billboard" magazine's modern rock chart -- "Numb," which is now the No. 1 modern rock single, and "Faint," which only recently fell out of the top 20. Both songs come from Linkin Park's second CD, "Meteora," which has sold more than six million copies worldwide so far and shows no signs of slowing down.
In this situation, many bands would not want to do anything to take the focus away from a current CD. While live records generally don't approach the popularity of studio albums, it seemed plausible that "Live in Texas" could deflect some attention from "Meteora" and perhaps even interrupt the CD's momentum.
But Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington said he had few worries about "Live in Texas" doing anything to hurt "Meteora." In fact, he said the group already plans to release another single from the CD later this year.
"I really don't know if we can steal 'Meteora's' thunder," he said. "I think it's had a pretty big bang so far."
The continued popularity of "Numb" and "Faint" suggest that Bennington was right. "Meteora," which ended 2003 as the year's third best-selling CD in the United States, with sales of nearly 3.5 million, remains at number 24 on "Billboard's" album chart. "Live in Texas" meanwhile has topped 500,000 in sales and checks in at 45 on the latest album chart.
The DVD features a 70-minute live Linkin Park performance culled from shows this past summer in Houston and Dallas, when the band was featured on the Summer Sanitarium tour headlined by Metallica. A CD included in the package features 12 of the songs from those concerts.
According to Bennington, the decision to film the Houston and Dallas shows was made on short notice.
"It was really kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing when we decided to make 'Live in Texas,'" he said. "Summer Sanitarium was going so well for us and the crowds were responding to us so well that we decided this was the perfect opportunity to do this."
"We gave the guys free rein to run all over the stage with us, get right up in our faces and go out in the crowds and that kind of stuff," Bennington said. "We wanted to convey the energy that we put out on stage and we wanted to try our best to capture that on film."
That mission is accomplished on "Live in Texas." The DVD, which sticks almost entirely to the band's actual performances -- no interviews or superfluous backstage footage -- shows Linkin Park working hard to excite the mobs in the often sterile setting of an outdoor stadium. By the end of the show, a good portion of the crowd has definitely latched onto Linkin Park's melodic rap/rock groove.
Bennington said he felt Linkin Park delivered solid performances in both Houston and Dallas.
"Those shows were really consistent. It was like that for us almost every day," he said. "We had a great time on that tour."
While Metallica was clearly the biggest name on the Summer Sanitarium tour and the biggest draw on a bill that also included Limp Bizkit, the Deftones and Mudvayne, Bennington said he felt Linkin Park was responsible for bringing about 8,000 of the 40,000 people who on average attended the shows.
That drawing power would seem reasonable in light of the success Linkin Park has enjoyed since releasing its major label debut, "Hybrid Theory," in 2000.
The No. 1 selling CD of 2001, "Hybrid Theory" sold 14 million copies worldwide (eight million in the United States), making the Los Angeles-based band one of the most successful debut acts in history.
The CD spawned three top singles, including "Crawling" (a song that won a 2002 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance) and earned a pile of strong reviews for the way the group seamlessly blended rock, hip-hop and electronica within the CD's catchy, hard-hitting songs.
It's a sound that didn't immediately capture the attention of the record industry.
Formed in 1996 under the original name of Xero by drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson and MC/vocalist Mike Shinoda, the group later added sampler/scratcher Joe Hahn and bassist Phoenix (David Farrell) before completing the lineup in 1999 with Bennington.
Before Warner Bros. signed Linkin Park in 1999, the group had played more than 40 showcases for labels and got turned down every time. Even Warner Bros. passed on the band twice before taking a chance on Linkin Park.
Warner Bros. clearly is having the last laugh
Rather than failing to deliver on the promise of "Hybrid Theory," "Meteora" not only solidifies the band's rap-rock sound, it finds Linkin Park branching out on several tracks.
On the song "Break the Habit," for instance, a 10-piece orchestra was brought in to sweeten this brisk, electronica-tinged track.
Other songs, such as "Nobody's Listening" and "Somewhere I Belong" (the hard-rocking lead single which debuted at number two on "Billboard" magazine's modern rock chart), also feature some nifty sonic treats.
"("Nobody's Listening") has a Japanese pan flute that we kind of cut up and moved around," Bourdon said. "One of the sounds from 'Somewhere I Belong,' the first single, is actually an acoustic guitar that Chester was playing, and Mike cut it up into a bunch of different pieces and flipped it around ... (to create) the sweeping sound you hear in the beginning."
With the success of "Meteora," Linkin Park no longer has to worry about any talk of a sophomore slump.
"Even if it doesn't sell as many copies as 'Hybrid Theory' did, I think ("Meteora") itself has proven that we can continue writing good records," Bennington said. "I think our advantage was we didn't spend our entire lives together as one band writing that first record.
"We don't want to be in a bandwagon of any sort. We want to write songs that will stand the test of time, that have meaning, that have melody, that have structure and that make sense to people."
The Colombian - February 13, 2004