Sure You Check out The Best Band in New York City Morningwood!
Sophomore albums are famously tricky affairs. Musicians
have their entire lives to pen their debut album, the theory
goes, and a relatively short time to follow it up. But what
if the debut in question is the biggest selling album in recent
memory? And what if the music industry has Hollywood-like
expectations for another instant blockbuster? That was the
scenario Linkin Park faced when they entered the studio to
record Meteora, the follow-up to their multi-platinum debut
album-which Rolling Stone called "twelve songs of compact
fire indivisibly blending alternative metal, hip-hop, and
turntable art"--has shipped 14 million units worldwide
to date. It was the Number One selling album of 2001. It launched
three chart-topping singles including "In The End."
And in 2002 it received a Grammy® for Best Hard Rock Performance
for "Crawling," as well as nominations for Best
Rock Album and Best New Artist. After diligently pursuing
their craft since the band's humble origins in Southern California
circa the mid-'90s, Linkin Park now had the world's ear.
those outside the band, the pressure to follow up that success
might have seemed insurmountable. But within Linkin Park,
vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad
Delson, turntablist Joseph Hahn, drummer Rob Bourdon, and
bassist Phoenix weren't sweating it in ways you might expect.
Instead of dwelling on outside expectations, they set to work,
meticulously crafting each moment of each song to their own
exacting standards. The bigger picture developed accordingly.
don't ever want to have the mindset where we need to sell
10 million albums each time out. That's ridiculous,"
says Bennington. "It's a blessing to sell that many albums;
it doesn't happen very often in this business--even once in
your career is an achievement. Our obligation is to our fans.
We're not going to get too comfortable and say it's a given
that people will run out and buy our albums." "And
if you know us, you know the biggest pressure came from within
the band," says Shinoda.
just wanted to make another great album that we're proud of,"
says Bourdon. "We focused on that, and worked hard to
create songs we love. We're our own harshest critics."
If you doubt that, consider this: Shinoda and Bennington wrote
40 unique choruses for Meteora's poignant first single, "Somewhere
I Belong," before arriving at the best possible version.
knew we needed to fix a couple things on that song,"
says Shinoda with a shrug. "So we'd write a new chorus,
record it, mix it. Then we'd listen to it the next day, and
Chester and I would look at each other and say, 'I don't know...
I think it could be better.' And then we'd start again from
scratch. It was a lot of work. We probably wrote and scrapped
our sophomore jinx album somewhere in the mix. But we took
our time, remained critical, and wrote songs we knew were
good. Some people might have expected us to write a weaker
version of Hybrid Theory--water it down, stagnate. But that's
not what we're about."
winning results of that painstaking approach are instantly
apparent on Meteora. The twelve lean tracks display immense
growth from the road-honed band, while still showcasing the
rare chemistry that's been in place since Bennington completed
the line-up in 1999. Working once again with Hybrid Theory
co-producer Don Gilmore, the album came to life in a variety
of studios, including the band's beloved tour-bus facility
and each member's respective home set-up. This time Linkin
Park had the opportunity to experiment with a wider palette
sound, and an even more diverse array of styles.
married wildly distressed samples to heavy guitars on songs
such as "Somewhere I Belong." They arranged live
strings and piano for "Breaking The Habit" and "Faint."
They experimented with complex beats on songs such as "Easier
To Run." They even added a Japanese flute called a shakuhachi
to the hip-hop-driven "Nobody's Listening." Throughout,
the rich textures and dynamic arrangements serve to enhance
the moods created by Bennington's and Shinoda's powerful vocals--and
vice versa. The synergy invites repeat listens.
guiding vision for the 18-month recording process was evoked
by the album's title, Meteora. During a European tour in 2002,
the band stumbled upon a travel magazine featuring destinations
in Greece. On the cover, the word "Meteora " and
the accompanying photo caught their eye, and subsequently
fired their imaginations.
is a group of six monasteries perched atop rock pinnacles
rising 1500 feet above the plains of central Greece. As Bennington
puts it, "they don't seem of this planet." And it's
true. (To see for yourself, rent the Bond flick For Your Eyes
Only, in which Roger Moore kicks ass at one of the mountain
fortresses.) The Greek word literally translates as "hovering
in the air." It's a fitting term for the otherworldly
region, as well as for the album Linkin Park created with
the image in mind. "We wanted to write songs that lived
up to the energy that name exudes," says Bennington.
really epic and beautiful. It totally embodies the sense of
timelessness and expansiveness we wanted the album to have,"
says Shinoda. "We've since met people who've visited
Meteora," adds Hahn. "People go there for solitude
now--to find themselves. And that's what the album is about--finding
yourself. Each song is about looking within and letting out
time out, Bennington and Shinoda expanded the emotional range
heard on Hybrid Theory. That album dealt with frustration,
anger, fear and confusion from a younger person's perspective,
according to Shinoda. The goal: catharsis. By contrast, Meteora
reflects the accelerated lives the band members have led since
recording their debut. "We toured the world for two years.
That alone makes you step back and take a look at the bigger
picture," says Shinoda. "We've always been interested
in universal feelings, and that's what we focused on with
this album. But Meteora is different in the sense that we're
dealing with more facets of the human condition." "It's
still a very dark album, but there's definitely more optimism,"
says Bennington. "We're still the same people, but now
there's a light at the end of the tunnel."
"Somewhere I Belong," for example, the verses describe
fear and confusion, but the chorus takes that crucial first
step toward arriving at a solution. Bennington sings, "I
want to heal. I want to feel like I'm close to something real.
I want to find something I've wanted all along, somewhere
on "Breaking The Habit," he sings, "I don't
know what's worth fighting for. Or why I have to scream. I
don't know why I instigate and say what I don't mean. I don't
know how I got this way. I know it's not alright. So I'm breaking
the habit tonight."
again, the vocalists worked closely together to deliver a
broad spectrum of emotions as a unified front. Now, however,
Bennington and Shinoda draw upon a longer shared history.
Their voices and sentiments are practically indivisible. "Mike
is a computer whiz, and a formally trained musician,"
says Hahn, distinguishing the difference between the two vocalists.
"Chester brings the rawness--the emotion that needs to
come out. They complement each other that way. It's a true
entire band, in fact, sounds more fully realized on Meteora.
It's a rare achievement: A full integration of six members
that still retains the unique qualities of each individual.
The end result is the thumbprint style known as Linkin Park.
"We don't really analyze the chemistry," says Bourdon.
"We're just lucky and grateful that we found each other
and that we work so well together."
collaborations are more seamless now," agrees Bennington.
"Mike, for instance, knows more about me as a person,
and I know more about him, so it's easier to write lyrics
together. It's not possible to have secrecy in our relationship.
You have to open up, because you want the other person to
be on the same page. We're all that way with each other."
with collaborators like these, who needs a therapist?
says Bennington with a laugh. "That's why I joined a
band in the first place."
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