Hey guys. I’ve been getting some questions regaring my thoughts about the album release, so I thought that I’d try to address some of them.
To start, a quick review: about a year and a half ago, we made a conscious decision to take our music in a new direction. Once the music started flowing, it became a modern, alternative sound–an abstract, concept-driven, 50-minute journey. We predicted the album release would be incendiary; the new direction would be welcomed by some, and fervently resisted by others. Now, with that album out in stores, it seems that you guys are curious about our intentions behind the music, and our reactions to the noise being made about A Thousand Suns.
Let’s get the simple part out of the way. To the fans who like the new album: a million thanks for your support. There are some of you that have been with us for a long time, and are thrilled about the new sound; there are others who weren’t sure of the new album at first, but have given it a chance, and are now reaping its rewards. And there are others who have never been fans of Linkin Park, but are interested in the band for the first time with A Thousand Suns. We’re happy to have all of you on board, and we appreciate your good words and rave reviews.
A friend of mine told me a story from his childhood: when he was a little kid, his dad, who never had any facial hair, left for a trip and came home with a beard. His son took one look at him and ran away, demanding, “what happened to my real dad?”
So let’s talk about “haters.”
We’ll ignore the fact that there are people out there who would review and rate an album without really listening to it, who might preview some of the tracks and throw down an opinion (although I think the music stores and websites should keep the right to “rate it” limited strictly to those who have bought and listened to something). I don’t need to tell you that the internet can breed negativity-for-negativity’s-sake. So let’s skip that nonsense, and talk only about the people who were already Linkin Park fans, but listened to the new album and didn’t like it. As I write this, one of the most popular iTunes (US) reviews of A Thousand Suns is by Janxrod, who gives the album one star and asks “What happened to the real Linkin Park?” In response to this review, one knee-jerk reaction I found seems to be an assumption that people who dislike ATS simply love heavy metal and hate alternative / electronic music. But, in their defense, many of the “one-star reviewers” are not brainless cynics who talk shit because they’re bored.
I’m a curious guy, so I did some research about Janxrod. Although 7/10 of his favorite albums include stuff like Disturbed, Shinedown, and Dethklok…he also likes Daft Punk. He’s not opposed to a little variety. So what bothers Janxrod so much about A Thousand Suns? One reason is that, according to his page, we “write songs about how pissed off they are at their old fans, telling them to go f*** themselves. That’s not mature, that’s just disrespectful.”
Know what? I agree. That’s a bad message. The problem is: it’s not really our message.
Let’s clear it up: the other guys and I have said many things in the past, not all of it thoughtful or respectful (sorry, we’re human too). But let it be known that we love and respect our fans of all eras. And, just as we stand behind Hybrid Theory, we stand behind the work we put into A Thousand Suns, so we think it’ll be a rewarding listen if you decide to give it a chance (like Justin Lewis, Jeffrey Griffith, and James Montgomery did). And, in case Janxrod decides to give the album a chance, our door will always be open.
Some will always lazily claim that a band has “gone pop” or “sold out.” As far as I know, “selling out” means compromising the integrity of your band/music in exchange for money or popularity. Never before has this claim been so absurd. This is the opposite of a “sell out” album; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If money and popularity was the goal, the safe bet would be to try to make Hybrid Theory again. Outside our studio walls, the climate for music is different: according to Nielsen SoundScan, of the 97,751 albums released in 2009, only 12 of them sold more than one million units last year. Everyone in the world is buying music by the song, not by the album. So, more than ever before, to stand behind one whole 50-minute piece–asking the fan to listen to the whole thing rather than a couple songs–is unquestionably a big a request. (Some people want to color that request as a “marketing tactic,” that we are asking people to buy the whole thing instead of a couple songs. If that was the case, we’d be the worst marketers ever. Clearly, a collection of “hit singles” is a better reason to buy a whole album than a concept record.) Radio singles still sell an album. A concept album requires a leap of faith on the listener’s part. The whole “sell out” argument is wholly illogical.
So why did we make such a big change? “What happened to the real Linkin Park?” We’re still here. We look and sound different, but the intention behind the music is the same as it has been since day one: in the studio, we are constantly in search of new sounds that excite and inspire us.
Hearing that our album debuted at #1 in 15 countries gave us all a massive feeling of gratitude, but if being in this band has taught me anything in the past decade, it’s that you can’t base your happiness on things that are out of your control. The truth is, we’re believers that good, honest art will triumph at the end of the day. But the measure of real success isn’t sales, numbers, and chart position. It’s about a connection with a dedicated fan base and a chance to introduce people to a fresh new sound.
See you on tour, where we’ll be playing songs from “Hybrid Theory” through “A Thousand Suns.” Fans of every era are welcome.