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Meteoric Opening

Nu-metal heroes Linkin Park continue their rise with the sophomore album Meteora


With its out-of-the-box success (810,000 copies sold during the first week), Linkin Park's latest album Meteora is living up to the expectations built by Linkin Park's 2000 debut, Hybrid Theory, which has sold 7.7 million copies.
Billboard director of charts Geoff Mayfield says, "When you have a rock act coming off such a huge debut, it's not all that unusual to find even bigger interest in its follow-up."

The pressure to deliver mega-sales can weigh heavily on a young band. But guitarist Brad Delson insists this was not the case for Linkin Park. "No one is going to readily admit to feeling the pressure to 'produce' under these circumstances, but the honest truth is that we didn't have that experience," he says. "If anything, we were more relaxed as we made this record. We knew that we'd have an audience to play these new songs for. That was inspiring and energizing, not frightening. We're prepared to spend the next year or so playing these songs for people. It's going to be cool."

The band spent a month this spring traveling throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe, playing small-venue gigs geared toward diehard fans. The trek ended March 24 with a show at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. A live feed of that show was offered to radio stations nationwide. After the gig, Linkin Park ushered in the release of the new album with a midnight in-store at Tower Records in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

The band then planned another leg of touring at venues in the U.S. and Europe before joining the all-star bill of Metallica's hotly touted Summer Sanitarium arena tour.

Now that Meteora has hit the street, Delson says the members of the L.A.-based band can focus on doing what they enjoy most: playing music.

"There's that period of time between making music and the release of an album where you feel in danger of being completely consumed by business," he notes. "It can be fun, like assembling a puzzle. But it's more fun when that puzzle is assembled and you can get back to your original intention as a band."

For Linkin Park, that includes crafting music that melds elements of hard rock, hip-hop and pop with lyrics that strive to cut deeper than average rock fare. The combination resulted in the breakthrough of Hybrid Theory, which spawned three hit singles, including "In the End." The band also scored a Grammy Award last year for best hard-rock performance for the track "Crawling."

Produced by the band with Don Gilmore, Meteora shows Linkin Park -- which also features vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, drummer Rob Bourdon and bassist Phoenix -- offering sounds familiar to Hybrid Theory fans while experimenting with a broader palette of ideas.

For example, the anthemic guitar attack of "Somewhere I Belong" is countered by the lush orchestration of the gentler "Breaking the Habit." Elsewhere on the set, "Easier to Run" is rife with left-of-center tribal rhythms, while "Nobody's Listening" combines hip-hop with Japanese flute lines.

"Everyone amped it up," Delson says. "We all had a lot of fresh ideas. The results, for us, are amazing."

He believes Linkin Park is a "career band" that will defy trends. "We're not a one-sound band, led by one voice," Delson says. "We're a collection of concepts and thoughts and influences by a group of people who have a hunger to always grow. That's what a great band does: grow. And I believe that we're on the way to being a great band that will stand the test of time."




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