5 – INTRODUCING OURSELVES TO THE LABEL…THE WRONG WAY
In the late ’90s, we had played for and been turned down by every major label (and many of the indies). Warner Bros. Records initially passed on us, but had a change of heart and decided to sign the band. Soon thereafter, we decided that we wanted to make an impression with our new “teammates.” We immediately put out a message to the entire WBR staff: we wanted to meet them. We set a date, and took over their conference room. We sat them down, exchanged pleasantries, and gave them some paperwork that outlined who we were, what we intended to do, and how we thought our music, marketing, and fan club should be treated.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a middle-aged record label employee with some experience in the “record business.” You’ve had some big hits, and you consider yourself to be good at what you do. Then, imagine a young, unproven, newly-signed artist meets you in your conference room, to hand you a stack of papers telling you how to do your job. What?
I don’t think we knew how risky it was to pull the stunt we pulled. Luckily, they were enamored by our “chutzpah,” and decided to roll with us. The entire Warner staff was suddenly talking about the new band they just signed.
(image: Chester and Rob before the Shanghai show, 2007)
4 – SHANGHAI STADIUM, November 18th, 2007
Upon arrival in Shanghai, we knew the show was going to be special…but we had no idea. When we were met at the airport, our promotion and label staff informed us that the last two rock bands to play China at the time were Nine Inch Nails and The Rolling Stones. They told us the largest concert by a foreign rock artist was The Stones show, which was attended by roughly 12,000 people. We were about to play a show at Shanghai Stadium, which was easily two times that size.
Upon arrival, we saw the concert was heavily guarded by national police. Every few feet, all along the perimeter of the venue–EVERYWHERE–stood an officer in uniform. I wasn’t sure if they were armed, but it was definitely different for us. We were informed that the police forces were all prepared to engage if there was any rioting, violence, etc…That scared the crap out of me. I pictured a few fans throwing something, the entire place erupting into violence, and foreign rock bands being banned from Chinese concerts for a long time. I thought it was a somewhat irrational fear. I was later informed that if a riot had occurred, the scenario above is exactly what would have happened.
Luckily, the Chinese fans–and our band and crew–never went down that path. it turned out to be one of the most exciting and important shows of our career so far. By the end, we even caught a few of the police guards nodding their heads to the music.
3 – LINKIN, NOT LINCOLN
Some of you know the story: when we were in the studio writing our first album, our band was called Hybrid Theory. Another band (on the label, I think) was called “Hybrid,” and they didn’t want us getting confused with them. We agreed. Sitting at our dirty, cheap rehearsal space in Hollywood, a number of names were thrown around. The only one we really liked was “Lincoln Park.”
At the time, less than half the people we knew had email addresses and access to the internet. Dial-up was aggravatingly slow. Bands’ “mailing lists” were all about phone numbers and home addresses. Someone (Brad, maybe?) suggested that it might be important to acquire lincolnpark.com. We tried, but it was taken.
At the time, it seemed like a small and simple decision to change the new potential band name from “Lincoln” to “Linkin” in order to get the domain.
I once heard it put this way: if you were to start at a center point and draw a one-inch line, then change direction one degree and draw a second line, the two end points would be close together. It may seem like an insubstantial thing. But draw those two lines out hundreds of miles, and the end points will be miles apart. Sometimes a small change or decision can add up to a drastic difference in direction.
2 – MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT
Fast forwarding to 2007: MTM was a special album for the band. Fans know that the songs and approach were different…but there was a deeper change that I remembered seeing, one that came from each personality in the band and multiplied by the guidance that Rick gave us. This was the exact moment where, creatively, the guys in the band came together more closely than ever before. There was more of a sense of camaraderie and collective creativity than ever before. Irrespective of the music, the band changed a lot in the 12-18 months we worked on that record. I think we grew up a lot, had a ton of fun making the album, and became much better friends.
Here are some photos that I just found of us hanging out at that time:
1 – THE RETURN OF PHOENIX
Our bassist Phoenix and guitarist Brad were college roommates. We all played and recorded together in the beginning…but Phoenix was also committed to another band. He had been close friends with those guys before we ever met him, and when they left on a small tour, he went with them. I think we spent nearly a year bugging him to come back to the band. Touring without him, the balance of personalities in the band felt like a constant nagging issue. We knew the chemistry was off.
Some people think that he came back because we were starting to see some success and money. I know Dave; that’s only a small part of the equation, if any part of it at all. He had made a promise to his other friends, and he fully intended to see that promise all the way through. He didn’t come back to Linkin Park until his other band had run its course.
I am positive that if he had not, the dynamic in our band during those early years would have caused an implosion of some sort, and our band would have gone a far different (likely very negative) course.
Especially in the early days, Phoenix was a calming presence, and a voice of reason. We were pretty lucky he was able to come back.
Hope you liked the list. These were things that stuck out to me as big things that few people consider “milestones” in the band’s career, but I know without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Looking forward to the new year, a new album, and whatever is to come in the next decade for Linkin Park. Happy New Year!