By: Cara Carriveau
Touches of hip-hop, modern rock, and spooling electronic vibes all characterize the music of Linkin Park, an alternative metal quintet from Southern California. The band became one of the most successful rock-related acts of the new millennium, yet Linkin Park’s formation took place years earlier, when drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson, and MC/vocalist Mike Shinoda formed a tight friendship as high-school students. Shortly after graduating in the mid-’90s, the teenagers formed the band Xero alongside bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell and DJ/art student Joseph Hahn. Hybrid Theory became the band’s new moniker in 1998, but the musicians settled on a final name, Linkin Park, when singer Chester Bennington joined the lineup one year later. With Bennington and Shinoda sharing vocal duties, Linkin Park became a regular act at such SoCal venues as the Whisky. Warner Bros.’ vice-president, Jeff Blue, ultimately signed Linkin Park in 1999.
Taking a piece from their past, Linkin Park named their debut album Hybrid Theory and released it during the fall of 2000. “Crawling” and “In the End” were massive radio hits; the latter song even topped the U.S. Modern Rock Chart while peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, an example of the band’s crossover appeal. Linkin Park joined the Family Values Tour and also played shows with Cypress Hill, leading the group to log over 320 shows in 2001 alone. Come January 2002, Hybrid Theory had received three Grammy nominations and sold over seven million copies. (Sales later topped ten million, earning the album “diamond status” and making Hybrid Theory one of the most successful debuts ever.) Despite their meteoric rise, Linkin Park spent the remainder of the year holed up in the recording studio, again working with producer Don Gilmore on a follow-up album.
The sophomore effort Meteora was released in March 2003, featuring a heavier sound and stronger elements of rap-rock. Although the record spawned several modern rock hits, songs like “Numb,” “Somewhere I Belong,” and “Breaking the Habit” furthered the band’s crossover appeal by also charting on the Hot 100. Linkin Park once again supported the album with ample tour dates, including a spot on the second annual Projekt Revolution Tour and additional shows with the likes of Metallica and Limp Bizkit. Live in Texas was released to document the band’s strength as a touring act, and Linkin Park embarked on their most ambitious project to date in late 2004.
Collision Course was a collaboration with king-of-the-mountain rapper Jay-Z; it also introduced the commercial world to the concept of “mash-ups,” or remixes that sample heavily from at least two popular songs. Jay-Z furthered his association with the band by asking co-founder Mike Shinoda to explore the possibilities of a solo hip-hop project. He did, dubbing the project Fort Minor and releasing The Rising Tied in 2005 with Jay-Z as executive producer. Linkin Park then reconvened in 2006 to begin work on their next album, which saw Shinoda sharing production credits with Rick Rubin. The resulting Minutes to Midnight arrived in 2007, debuting at number one in several countries and spawning the Top Ten single “What I’ve Done.” ~ MacKenzie Wilson & Andrew Leahey, All Music Guide