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New mettle

Linkin Park stays ahead of other nu-metal bands with its pop leanings, teen-friendly lyrics and manga-inspired music videos SOME fans want a piece of Linkin Park. Literally.

A couple turned up at three different concerts in the United States where Linkin Park was touring last year. They had the same request each time they showed up - drummer Rob Bourdon's worn socks.
'I laughed it off, but it was a bit creepy,' says Bourdon, 25, in a phone interview from Glasgow, where they were playing at a music festival earlier this month.

The band comprises vocalist Chester Bennington, 28; rapper Mike Shinoda, 27; DJ Joseph Hahn, 27, who is of Korean descent; guitarists Dave Farrell, 27, Brad Delson, 27; and drummer Bourdon. Bennington's screaming vocals back Shinoda's rapping, and are set against the traditional sound of metal guitar-rock interspersed with Hahn's turntable scratching. An integral part of the American nu-metal movement, which began in the late 1990s, the guys will be in town to perform this Tuesday at the Padang. This is the first time they will be performing in Singapore, though Bennington and Hahn were here last year to collect two awards at the MTV Asia Awards 2003.

'Chester and Joseph told us that Singapore rocked,' says Bourdon. 'The rest of us are excited to finally come.'

They also played a sold-out show in Kuala Lumpur last October. The Los Angeles-based band, named after a famous park in California, first started out in 1996 as a bunch of high-school and college friends who would record songs in Shinoda's bedroom studio. Bennington, then in another band, was recruited from his native Arizona and moved to LA to join them. Their debut album, Hybrid Theory, released in 2000, sold 14 million copies worldwide, making it America's best-selling album in 2001. The album also went triple-platinum (45,000 copies) in Singapore. Their second album, Reanimation, was a remake of songs on Hybrid Theory, and featured artists like Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis and Orgy lead singer Jay Gordon. The album sold over three million copies in the US and went platinum (over 15,000 copies) in Singapore. Their third album, Meteora, has sold 3.4 million copies in the US since its release last year, and has gone double-platinum (30,000 copies) here. Collectively, their albums have sold over 50 million copies worldwide. Yet there are those who say that theirs is a dying genre. Some argue that nu-metal, characterised by rap and hip-hop elements fused with metal rock, has reached a saturation point. By the time Linkin Park emerged in 2000, they were competing with bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn, which were producing the same sound. But Linkin Park's pop leanings, teen-friendly lyrics and manga-inspired music videos are perhaps what keep them popular. The latest albums from other bands are, however, currently weathering bad reviews and mediocre album sales.

'It helps that we're so focused on the music,' says Bourdon.

The band members do not indulge in partying or drugs - the usual activities that mark stardom, but would rather concentrate on writing songs. Bourdon himself is involved in a serious relationship, as are most of his bandmates. Bennington has been married for eight years and has a two-year-old son with his wife, Samantha. He reveals that the guys often go home after a day in the recording studio, and that they sit around for hours playing video games after a concert. But Bourdon says that they want to make a mark in history with a distinctive sound.

'Lyrically, we want to continue to inspire people and help get them through rough times,' he says.
He adds: 'We speak about human emotions, and I can only hope that we continue to make a connection with people that way.

Linkin Park will perform at the Padang on Tuesday at 8pm. Tickets at $85 and $150 are available at Sistic. Call 6348-5555 or visit

The Straits Times (Singapore) - June 17, 2004



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