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Linkin Park Set for Return to Staples Center

By Mark Fisher
Published: Wednesday, February 02, 2011, at 09:16AM
Linkin Park Jason Lemiere

Linkin Park performs during A Thousand Suns: World Tour

When hometown rockers Linkin Park first emerged on the scene in 2000, modern rock radio was overflowing with the nu-metal sounds of Limp Bizkit, Korn and Papa Roach. Fast forward to 2011 and times have certainly changed. It’s a completely different environment in rock music, yet Linkin Park has managed to survive the evolution of MP3 downloads, satellite radio and the abuse of auto-tune technology.

Even with the industry’s drastic decline in album sales, the L.A.-based six-piece defied the odds and ranked under The Beatles at No. 2 in rock album sales during the ‘00s. According to Nielsen/SoundScan, the band’s debut album Hybrid Theory has sold over 10,000,000 copies, which helped them beat out Jay-Z, Dixie Chicks and even Celine Dion in total album sales over the last decade. Love them or hate them, Linkin Park’s early success has undoubtedly earned them a future induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Despite selling over 50,000,000 records worldwide and nabbing two Grammy Awards, the members of Linkin Park have remained level-headed, down-to-earth and busy. After releasing 2003’s Meteora, the band collaborated with rapper Jay-Z on Collision Course and vocalists Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington broke off to do solo projects (Fort Minor and Dead By Sunrise respectively). Shinoda even turned to art in Downtown Los Angeles after releasing and supporting 2007‘s Minutes to Midnight. “Over a year ago, I was heavily involved in an art show that I held at the Japanese National American Museum called ‘Glorious Excess Dies,’” said Shinoda in a recent phone interview. “I put everything into that show and as soon as that was done, we were back into recording the latest album and out on tour.”

The group released their fourth studio album A Thousand Suns last September. It dropped in at No. 1, making it their third consecutive album to debut at the top of the charts. The experimental concept record (co-produced by Rick Rubin) received mixed reviews from both critics and loyal fans accustomed to the edgier and KROQ-friendly offerings from previous efforts. But this is an older, more mature Linkin Park and the group is soaking in less input from outsiders during the recording process. “I think along the way, we gained a sense of what it feels like to be creatively, like true to yourself,” said Shinoda. “As soon as we stopped relying on what other people want, we felt a lot better about the music we were making.” Even with the drop in album sales and change in musical direction, A Thousand Suns has already spawned two No. 1 hit singles (“The Catalyst” and “Waiting for the End”).

One of the group’s strong points is their ability to reproduce their studio sound live in concert without relying on programmed vocal backing tracks. Shinoda and Bennington (along with guitarist Brad Delson, bassist David Farrell, drummer Rob Bourdon and DJ Joe Hahn) shine live and are among the few acts that translate well from studio to stage. Anyone doubting this should hear or watch Linkin Park’s Live in Texas CD / DVD, which was recorded at two different NFL football stadiums in 2003.

Linkin Park has managed to maintain their loyal following by offering fans affordable ticket prices and the chance to purchase VIP packages. The band went from traveling in an RV in their early years to full-scale production tours with state-of-the-art visuals and sound. “I think playing in an arena is probably the best scenario for a band,” said Bennington. “The energy in an arena is so great when there’s a good show going; it kind of makes the experience almost supernatural.”

When they’re not performing in sold-out arenas at night, the band is spending their downtime on the road writing and recording new ideas for future material. “We’re always writing, so I think we benefit from the fact that music recording and writing technology has gotten so compact and easy to carry around in your laptop,” said Shinoda. “The best things that I’ve come up with on the last couple legs of this tour were actually on my iPad.“

Linkin Park has always been at the forefront when it comes to utilizing new technology. In 2002, the group released their successful remix album Reanimation in the experimental multi-channel DVD-Audio format. In December 2008, Avid (formerly known as Digidesign) gave the band the opportunity to preview their new Pro Tools 8 software, which resulted with an instrumental song called “Lockjaw.” The band has even released Linkin Park games and apps. “We’ve had a lot of fun dipping our toes into the game and app world,” commented Shinoda. “I really like the Linkin Park app that is on the iTunes store; it‘s not actually a game, but more of a Linkin Park aggregator.”

When blogdowntown asked the two frontmen whether Linkin Park has plans for 3D in the future, neither one hesitated to respond. “We’re totally looking into that technology,” said Bennington. “It’s exciting, accessible and good.” Bennington used 1983’s “Jaws 3-D” as a prime example of how the technology has advanced since the days of paper anaglyph glasses. “It’s kind of like a new tool in your toolbox or new toy to play with,” added Shinoda.

Linkin Park will be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live with host Dana Carvey on February 5th, 2011. The band will then return to Staples Center with their “A Thousand Suns: World Tour” on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011. Hardcore electro-punk rockers The Prodigy will open the show. The band is donating $1 from every ticket sold to Music For Relief. Each ticket will also come with a free audio download of the show. For more information, visit Ticketmaster or Linkin Park’s website.

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