FEATURE - Off To A Good Start|
By David Farinella
Five songs into an ecstatic set at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, Linkin Park launches into "In The End." Something's not quite right. "Stop, stop, stop," vocalist Mike Shinoda orders. The crowd is shocked. "You guys are kicking our ass, and that wasn't right," he admits. "We want to live up to your standards."
The six-member band reloads and then kicks the tune up a notch. A couple weeks later, singer Chester Bennington explains, "We know how well we can play and we know what people hear. We try to match that as much as possible live. I'd say about 90 percent of the time we do; there's about 10 percent of the time that we don't, and we hate that. So it was cool for him to do that."
Apparently, that's not the first time the band has taken that approach. "There was this one time when the crowd started the song and they were so on. We skipped a beat and I stopped it, too. I said, 'This is about as punk-rock as we get, so we're going to start the song over.' We try to maintain a level of quality in our set."
Not only is Linkin Park--which also includes drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson, DJ/sample master Joseph Hahn, and bassist Phoenix--living up to personal and fan expectations, the band continues to justify its platinum existence one knockout show at a time. "We know how well we can play and we know what people hear. We try to match that as much as possible live. About 90 percent of the time we do; there's about 10 percent that we don't, and we hate that."
Linkin Park burst on the scene out of Los Angeles just last year with "One Step Closer," a catchy-as-hell blend of rock, electronica, and rage. By no means is this a one-hit wonder. "There are a lot of songs that I feel close to, and I think Mike would say the same thing," Bennington says. "Papercut," "Points Of Authority," and "Crawling" all make the list for their musical and lyrical impact.
Fans have given Bennington a handful of reasons why they click with the band. "It's not like every kid has told me this, but I think that one thing that kids really relate to is our lyrics, because of their honesty," he states. "It's not anything social, it doesn't classify anything to one specific class of people. It's kind of general, and that's what we wanted to hit: something that everyone in every spectrum of life can relate to."
Musically, LP is equally as attractive. "It's not the conventional way of doing it," Bennington says. "A lot of kids say they admire the way we melt the parts together. So I think between those two things, it's something new and the kids can relate to what we are talking about. I think that is what's connecting to them."
Perhaps there's also something to the fact that the men of Linkin Park are still wowed by their success. They jump into the crowd after a show and sign as many autographs as possible. "A lot of people that we meet are taken back by our whole demeanor about what's happening and where we are," Bennington explains. "We're pretty low-key and we're not very flashy. We don't flaunt who we are, and we don't walk around acting like, 'We're a platinum-selling act and you better treat us like that.' We're still pretty humble in that sense."