“We tend to make violent unpredictable changes from record to record and this one is no exception” - hmv.com talks to Linkin Park
Now seven albums into their career and with a cool 70 million records sold, Linkin Park don’t need to prove anything to anybody, but they continue to try new things.
Their latest LP One More Light sees the band moving away from the steel-plated riffs and into more ethereal pop territory
One More Light sees the band bringing in outside writers for the first time and the debut of a female vocal for the first time with a guest appearance for rising star Kiiara.
As the album hit shelves we spoke to guitarist Brad Delson about how the band radically reworked their approach to songwriting for One More Light...
How did making One More Light compare to making The Hunting Party?
“One More Light is very different from every album we’ve ever made, particularly The Hunting Party. Anyone who has followed her band since our inception will know that we tend to make violent unpredictable changes from record to record and this one is no exception.”
What way did you go this time?
“When we started working with Rick Rubin about 10 years ago, he asked us to talk him through our process and how the band worked. We do things more like a hip-hop project, the music is usually finished and then the vocals go on last.”
“He asked us if we’d ever try things the other way round, and we ignored him for the last three records, we had our habitual way of doing things and we stuck to it. But this time we really honed in on the vocals, they came first, every song is driven by the vocals, and we’ve never done that before and it turned everything upside down, it was like making our first album again.”
Did that mean it was a much longer process to get the songs together?
“Normally we’re painting with our instruments and the vocals have to find their way in. This was much more collaborative, a totally open door to any ideas, we got in new writers and composers and we had a really diverse cast of people. The writing was very stripped down, we’d finish the vocals and the structure and then move on so we wound up with about 70 songs and no arrangements. That was really unfamiliar, all these vocals and chords and no idea on whether the song was a country song or electronic song or rock song. It’s a real blend of genres this record.”
It sounds like a really invigorating process and you were pushing yourselves…
“Every time we go into the studio we know that it’s a privilege. We’ve never forgotten being a young band trying to get a record deal and how much we wanted to make an album and how exhilarating it was when we got to do it. Every time I step in the studio I feel like we just got signed and we’ll never take it for granted, that gives us a sense of purpose and freedom every time.”
‘Heavy’, your first single from the album, is the first Linkin Park track with a female vocal. Why did you decide to do that and to work with Kiiara?
“We’ve worked with female artists before, but this is the first track that isn’t a remix for Linkin Park. Mike (Shinoda co-frontman) actually got introduced to Kiiara by Zane Lowe and they became friends. So she came in and heard the song, just with Chester (Bennington, co-frontman) on it and loved it and we got to sing on it. The second we heard it we knew it was special.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Did working on vocals first mean the lyrics were done before you wrote the music?
“Exactly. It’s a very personal album, every time we sat down to write we’d ask ourselves how we were feeling, whether we were pissed off or happy or angry or whatever, we’d tell different stories every day. This album has an intimacy to it, it’s very conversational.”
When did you settle on the title of One More Light for the album?
“I don’t think we’ve ever named an album after a song before, we’ve resisted doing that. But it’s a beautiful song and it’s got a very specific meaning. We beat ourselves up over titles and when we landed on that title everyone just agreed, that never happens!”
What are your plans to take the record out live?
“We just finished our intensive period of rehearsing and we’ve been building a new show. The new songs are blending in really well with our older material, we’re going to be blending our whole career, we know fans like songs from right across our career and the goal is to make it seamless. I think this is the best show we’ve ever done, I’m so excited to bring it out.”