This time last year no-one had heard of Linkin Park. Twelve months on they're a multi-platinum selling force to be reckoned with and couldn't have had a better year. Guitarist Brad Delson refelcts on the events of 2001 and the future of his band...
It's 10am in Washington DC and 6pm in England when Total Guitar puts the call through to Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson. The Southern Californian six-string-slinger immediately apologises for any "incomprehensibility" due to his "lack of sleep." Has he been partying hard, we wonder? Oh no. It's just that his band are in the middle of the Family Values Tour with Staind and Stone Temple Pilots and he's broken his foot, which is keeping him awake at night. "My official comment is that my foot collided with the door," he deadpans, although MTVs website maintains that Delson became "increasingly agitated by technical problems he was having with his effects pedals and amps" during a radio show and kicked a steel door to vent his frustration. "I have to stay real still on stage at the moment," he says with more than a little hint of regret.
Despite Brad's injury, Linkin Park haven't missed one Family Values date, proving that even though they're now playing in the major leagues, the fans must not be disappointed and the show must go on.
We tell him that Linkin Park have been chosen as one of the
best bands to emerge this year, and ask him to nominate his own. "What's that song: 'doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo doo doo doo..." he hums the intro to Coldplay's
Yellow. "Yellow, yeah, that's a great song. I just like minor stuff," he enthuses before waxing lyrical some more about just how goo Coldplay are.
Linkin Park, it seems, are full of surprises. As Brad maintains, "The biggest misconception about us is that we're just a rock band." Instead, as the name of their debut Hybrid Theory suggests, the Southern Californian six-piece's musical influences are rich and varied and include the Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots, hip-hoppers The Roots and abstract tecnno pioneer Aphex Twin. Such tasteful stylings of rock, hip-hop and electronica earned the band a deal with Warners in spring 2000,
four years after high-school friends emcee Mike Shinoda and Brad recorded the group's first material. These guys are no overnight success, which must make their double-platinum status in the US all the more sweeter. Along with Limp Bizkit, Linkin is the T-shirt every teenager is wearing, Brad the guitarist everyone aspires to be. Over
the next few pages, he tells us just how he ended up becoming the player he is today...
We've transcribed One Step Closer and Papercut in the magazine this issue. What can you tell us about those two tracks?
It's interesting that you chose those two, because they were the last two songs we wrote for the record album [Hybrid Theory]. We wrote them in the studio and recorded them straight into Mike's computer - it was all quite stressful! I can see why you chose them as they're very guitar-heavy songs...
Yeah, in fact, One Step Closer is Total Guitar's most requested song this year. What do you think about that?
I'm really stoked. I love the guitar on both those songs but One Step
particularly has such personality. Like the intro riff... we usually try and play that song last at our gigs, and it kicks in really hard. The verse is awesome too; it's just super
heavy. It's in a drop D tuning but I tune down a half step from the beginning, so it's actually drop C#. When I wrote the main riff, I was like, 'Dude, this is going to be the
best riff on the record!' All the riffs are good, but that one jumps out, y'know? With Papercut Mike wrote some lyrics for it and then I moulded my guitar parts around them.
That was rad too.
Hybrid Theory is an album devoid of guitar solos. What are your opinions on them?
I loooove guitar solos. If I do a song and there isn't a burning guitar solo, it gets me down! Serious, I think they're appalling. I mean, sometimes they're tasteful but I prefer an interesting part that adds an extra dimension, a spark that works on the same level as the song. But if it'sjusi like, 'Check me out', then no. I always think that in a great
band, everyone should be a great player and that should be a given and that they should spend their time working on songs. So I think,on the whole, guitar solos are hogwash.
Is part of the reason why yo don't like them because of the band's strong affinity with hip-hop music?
Yeah. I mean, you could put a guitar solo in any pop song, but aestheti-
cally they don't work really. Hip-hop tracks are much more minimalistic usually, the reason being that you don't want all this crap going on underneath what you're saying; you want something that's repetitive, so that eventually you stop listening to the music but the individual words. But y'know. even if there was a bridge section where a guitar solo could appear, I'd rather have the vocalist do something lyrically, or for the whole band to do something musically. I don't see it as being, 'this is my time to show you that I
know the pentatonic scale.'
And in Mike -and Chester you have two great vocalists...
Yeah, awesome, And all the people who have been complaining thatthere's no guitar solos on the record, I'm actually going to put out a solo record of just guitar solos -
no songs, just solos. And I plan to do it in one take. It's gonna be a very short record!
You've expressed a big interest in hip-hop music. What do you think other guitarists can learn from it?
Good question. Well, Firstly, if you're a guitar player and in a band, if you just look to rock music, chances are you're gonna come up with some pretty dull stuff. But if you listen to other styles of music - hip-hop, techno, whatever - then maybe you're gonna be influenced by different traditions, which in turn will make you more interesting and versatile as a player. I listened to a lot of rock music when I was growing up - Metallica, to get the ihythms and all that - but that was like, over ten years ago. I don't listen to that stuff anymore; it doesn't interest me. I'm much more along hip-hop lines, even though I'm a guitar player.
How would you say hip-hop has influenced your own playing?
There's different elements of hip-hop - y'know, rapping, scratching - but when you listen to the music aside from the beat, the focus is on the lyrics, totally. The beat is getting you into it, but you're not paying enough attention to it musically, and it's definately noy competing with the lyrics. So when Mike's rapping, I want to play something very minimalstic or understated or I'll play something and we'll sample it. So that you're stoked on it, but eventually you're not listening to it. unlike with singing, where you might have two lines that go for a whole section that are really drawn out melodically. You have tons of words, tons of information, and you need to have room for that. So I might play something on harmonics like on the verse to With You.
Having said all that, you do seem to have a very positive attitude to the guitar music of the moment!
This last couple of years has been a really exciting time in music. And in the next few years, it should get even better. People have seemed freer to experiment with different styles; there's a strong music youth culture, too, at the moment and I'm happy to be part of it, playing to these kids, I love playing shows, you can really feel the energy.
Starsailor are one band we spoke to who said they thought you had a lot of energy.
Who? [TG explains who they are] Oh! That's real nice, I must check them out. Thank you.
You took guitar lessons for a few years. What was your main reason for taking them?
Because I had no idea how to actually make any sound out of a guitar. I had lessons for four years...I don't even know if my etachers know my band, y'know? At school I did music for fun and then a lot of my friends have called my machine recently and said, 'Dude! you're in Linkin Park?' But...anyway, I had some really rad teachers and eventually I ended up teaching myself and I have a column that I'm now writing in Guitar World. The other people who have columns are, like, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, the guy from Pantera and then I get a column. I'm not sure how long I'll have a column for [laughs], but I'm really ecited about it. I'm actually going to incorporate the stuff that I did with my students; music theory, which I think some people might hate, but I think a lot of guitar players don't have any theory basis. I'm not talking about jazz musicians level; just the fundamentals. I think it's really imortant, not just as a guitar player, but as a musician to have a grasp of the building blocks.
You've expressed an interest in song structures. Tell us more about that.
Structure is awesome; it's like my favourite thing besides playing the guitar. Maybe it's even equal to. It's something I've really studied and it's kinda like a strong point that I have. It's not necessarily about the timing; okay, all our songs are about four minutes long on the album, but it's more about getting your point across in the most succint and cool way possible. Songs are kinda like movies, y'know: they don't always flow and you end up losing people's attention and that's bad. The structure has to be really tight for it to be effective. One of the criticisms that's been levelled at us this year is that we're not a real band and that someone else 'did it' for us or something, that we couldn't have done it ourselves. But we did. and one of the biggest and most important things was working on our songs.
What do you think of Wes leaving Limp Bizkit?
I heard that! Is that confirmed?
Yeah, and they're looking for guitarists. Are you going to go along to the auditions?
[Laughs] I made a joke with my band, like. 'Sorry guys, I gotta audition. Don't take it personally.' Seriously, I think they're a rad band and Wes is a great guitar player, But
if I wasn't in Linkin Park, I'd probably be in law school. I wouldn't be thinking about auditioning for bands. That was never my thing: 'I gotta be in a band'. I just did music
with my friends, I couldn't picture me playing with anyone else.
You've got a remix album coming out.
Yeah, it's awesome. I haven't got to hear all the remixes yet, but I've heard a couple of them. We wanted to do it because our music's a hybrid between all different styles
of music, but we figured that we could take it one step further and let other people interpret it and basically do what they want with it. And we've got people from rock,
dance and hip-hop circles, people we respect. There's a couple of named people on it, but, really, the idea behind it is to make the kind of remix record we'd like to hear,
We've got Dan The Autornator, Marilyn Manson... Mike and Joe are each doing remixes... Jay Gordon from Orgy, Tirnbaland, The Crystal Method... We're also trying to get in touch with Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. I'm not sure about the structure of it, but I think, basically. all the tracks contained on our album are gonna be remixed. Oh.
and I'm pretty sure that Aaron from Staind is gonna sing on Mike's Crawling remix, just to add harmonies and stuff.
What about the new album?
We're working on our second record already on the bus - we have a studio out with us - but we want to put stuff out between to keep the fans happy. And we've also finished
our first DVD with all our videos on it plus stuff that hasn't been released. It's got a lot of backstage footage on there, and stuff like the making of the video for In The End.
It's coming out at the beginning of next year along with our remix record and our next album will be out next summer.
What does the new record sound like?
I can't really say that much. because all the songs are in quite basic Form at the moment. It's going to have all the elements of Hybrid Theory and it'll just be our sound continuing to evolve. We just want people when they hear one of our songs to just
go. 'Oh, that's Linkin Park'. The stuff I've heard so far is very vibey; Mike's doing a lot of stuff with layering the foundations for the samples at the moment.
Gear, then... You're a PRS and ibanez guy. Are you interestedin trying any otter guitars?
Yeah, but not just at the moment. On the album, I layered both guitars together. It's cool now 'cos we can afford more gear, but in the begin ning I was like, 'Don't touch that head! It's got. to last me the next three albums!'
As far as pedals go, I use Boss (compressor, sustainer, delay and chorus). They're really just to make my clean sound more full and interesting, and my heavy sound is just basically my guitar with the gain way up.
Why do you wear headphones on stage all your gigs?
If I told you, no-one would be interested in me any more. I'd be yesterday's news. I gotta protect my career. I'll tell you for $50.000 dollars - make it payable to my offshore account. And no, I don't sleepwith them!
Anything you'd like to add?
You people in the UK are dope. We did our biggest headlining show to
date at London Arena - isn't that crazy? We're popular in the States but by far the biggest show we've done so far is in the UK.