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Linkin Park: Alternative rockers show maturity on Minutes to Midnight

There came a time that you could not turn on the radio without hearing “One Step Closer” or “Somewhere I Belong.” A time when “In the End” was the music video constantly being buzzed about. Linkin Park ruled the airwaves and took over the musical world, stealing listeners from every genre to make a hybrid fan base of their own. The last time that happened was back in 2003.
While the Linkin Park heyday changed the band that hails from Agoura Hills, CA into a full-fledged musical force to be reckoned with, the band has not released an albums worth of new material since its second album, Meteora. However, as the band is minutes away from releasing Minutes to Midnight, the long-awaited follow-up to Meteora, Linkin Park is attempting to prove that its 15 minutes of fame is not quite up.
“This experience is killer,” explains lead singer Chester Bennington. “I can’t wait. We’ve been working on this thing for so long that I want to get it out already.”
Taking an unprecedented 15 months in the studio, Minutes is the release that Bennington and the rest of the crew (bassist Dave Farrell, MC Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, drummer Rob Bourdon and DJ Joseph Hahn) are hoping to use to show the world a more mature Linkin Park, and prove that the band is back and better than it has ever been.
“The thing is when we think of the last four years, we think of touring for three and a half years,” Bennington says in regards to what Linkin Park has been up to during that time. “We took six months off after we got done touring. In that time, we performed with Live 8, Mike started Fort Minor, I started my company, and we did Music For Relief. And then we started working on Midnight. We wanted to do something different; we wanted to challenge ourselves. We didn’t want to write a carbon copy of Meteora or Hybrid Theory.”
Just as Linkin Park anxiously awaits the drop of Midnight, it’s also been a long four-year wait for the fans, the majority of which have turned from wide-eyed high school youth to aged adults more attune to the ways of the world. But, just as the lives of the fans have changed, so have the lives of the members of Linkin Park. They’ve all wed and become fathers, bringing a new element to their music that wasn’t there before. Despite the change, Bennington claims that life never runs out of material to inspire.
“We fall in love, that’s inspirational; we fall out of love, that’s inspirational – different things,” Bennington explains. “Even though you have success with stuff, money doesn’t solve everything. The same things affect you regardless of financial status. Life just seems to get you the same ways.”
Bennington, himself, has been through much change since the band’s first magazine cover article, published in none other than No Cover Magazine.
“I remember,” chuckles Bennington, with a hint of nostalgia in his voice. “It’s pretty special.”
After divorcing his first wife in 2005, Benington has since remarried, had a son and adopted two others, bringing him to a total of four kids. He’s also nursed his baby, the tattoo chain known as Club Tattoo, into a slowly expanding chain of reputable tattoo parlors. On top of that, Bennington started another band called Death by Sunrise, who is set to pick up recording after Minutes has had some time in the music world.
“I’ve been working with Club Tattoo,” states Bennington proudly. “It’s a chain of tattoo shops that I own with some friends. We opened the door to the first shop 12 years ago, we’ve expanded in the last few years, four shops in Arizona, and were expanding out to opening one in Las Vegas. I have another project called Death by Sunrise; we started recording during the six month break that we took from Linkin Park. I started recording that record, but then my responsibility shifted to doing a record with LP.”
On top of that, Bennington has started a number of side projects dealing with apparel and fleshing out his career as an artist, not only in the musical sense but in the fashion sense as well.
“We created a premium clothing line that will launch in August called Ve’cel. We collaborated with Etnies, and that’s coming out in June,” Bennington says.
Despite the band members’ other ventures, listening to the excitement in Bennington’s voice proves that Linkin Park remains as passionate about the music as ever. However, the band has aged like fine wine, gaining in substance and body.
“It took a while to find ourselves in the way where we felt comfortable with the music,” Bennington states. “The older you get you kind of get wiser, and your views become more broad. We care about other things than ourselves. When you’re young you care about one thing, and that’s pretty much yourself. I think the biggest thing (is) the way that we’ve matured.”
The music has also grown up with the band. The work on Minutes far surpasses anything that Linkin Park has ever attempted or attained, and it showcases the collective talents of all the members of the band, proving that Linkin Park has once again risen to the occasion.
“If you are talking about maturity as a song writer, I think songs “The Little Things Give You Away” and “Go Between,” – those songs show maturity,” Bennington states proudly.
On the other hand, it is not all lyrically and musically that the band has matured. Their experiences have helped them grow as individuals, making the band stronger than ever.
“I think if you are talking about maturity on a personal level,” Benington says, “a song like “Hands Held High” or “Leave Out All the Rest”; those songs are really a statement on life.”
“I think there’s a difference there’s a progression, and I hope people feel that. We’re going to get a lot of mixed feelings about this record. It is different in a lot of ways. I think that people are going to get it right away or people are going to take time to grow into it. Either way it is fine with us.  It’s a natural progression for us. Stylistically, this record is the most diverse record that we have ever made.”
But, if there is anything that Bennington and the boys in Linkin Park want their fans, old and new, to take from their experience in growing up, it’s that no matter what, we’re all still the same people deep down inside.
“I hope people take away the sense that we are growing and that we have no boundaries,” said Bennington. “We roam wherever we want; stylistically and lyrically. We can live up to what we’ve been saying all along which is that we kind of feel that we know what belongs to the genre, that truly different styles, put it together and make it work seamlessly.” –Michelle Castillo

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