Monday is almost here.
Early Monday morning, our new single BURN IT DOWN will be released. The LIVING THINGS album pre-sale will begin. You’ll see the album cover, the track listing, and hear about some new tour plans. My bandmates and I are very excited for this week.
Many of you know our story up until this point. We built the band upon the idea of fusing all our favorite styles of music–as different as they might be–into one, signature sound. Our first two albums were the result of a lot of hard work, perseverance, smarts, and luck, to build a toolbox that would provide us with what we needed to make the best songs we could at the time.
Success came at a pivotal time in an industry that was about to take a nosedive, and we were able to establish ourselves before things changed drastically. Hybrid Theory became the best-selling album of the year, worldwide. After Meteora‘s success, we realized that we needed to step back and think about our future, in order to have one. We decided we had to had to veer away from the main thing upon which our success was built: the music.
When I tried to explain this pivotal moment to a friend of mine, he had a hard time understanding. He said, “It’s like you invented the Big Mac or the iPod, then decided not to sell it anymore. Why the hell would you do that?”
Trying to explain how personal and artistic choices factor in for a band like ours is difficult. As we finished up “A Thousand Suns” in 2010, I found myself having to try to do it often, in interviews and to myself. Before we even finished the songs, each guy in my band knew it was a polarizing and challenging album, one that people would probably love or hate. I suppose that it didn’t really matter if it made sense to anyone but us — for a while, we had to steer as far away from the early sound of Linkin Park as possible, or else we would be trapped making the exact same music over and over until we had to call it quits.
Thinking back: as we wrote Minutes To Midnight and A Thousand Suns, I would sometimes bring in demos that sounded like something from the first two albums. Those demos were always met with a negative reaction by my bandmates, and I tended to agree. I loved the journey toward a new, unknown sound. With each experiment, we discovered new ways to make songs, and we filled our toolbox with tons of new tools. With each song, we tried both cutting-edge and classic gear; we started with radically different seeds; and we approached the vocals with a virtual blindfold on. And, about a year ago, I realized that our toolbox was virtually overflowing with great tools.
But we were avoiding something.
In the early part of our career, we were inexperienced. We made decisions on all fronts that some of us regret (some times a little, some times a lot). And some decisions (like my fire-engine red hair back in the day) were things that I don’t really regret, but I simply wouldn’t do today. All those things spun together to create a complicated uneasiness about the past that the band wasn’t able to come to terms with for a while.
Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Over the course of the last year, the subject kept popping up, and we talked about how to tastefully bridge the gap between all the musical places we’ve been, to marry together all the ideas we’ve accumulated about how to make a song. And as LIVING THINGS began taking shape, the most powerful shift I saw take place was the acceptance and eagerness to use all the tools in the toolbox, not just some. Everything at once, together.
Some people have already compared our new album to the early ones. I suppose it depends on how you want to make that comparison (by the way, it’s certainly not about guitars). For me, it’s all about getting back to the real “hybrid theory” — not the album with that name, but the idea that the six guys in our band have drastically different tastes in music, and the blending of all those sounds into one is exactly what we built our band upon.
The single BURN IT DOWN and the album LIVING THINGS (presale) will be available tomorrow.