Linkin Park Guitarist: 'Minutes To Midnight Is A Huge Departure For Us'

artist: linkin park date: 05/12/2007 category: interviews
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Linkin Park Guitarist: 'Minutes To Midnight Is A Huge Departure For Us'
Minutes To Midnight is the highly anticipated third studio outing by multi-platinum selling act Linkin Park. The band spent close to a year and a half crafting their latest opus. Co-produced by the band's Mike Shinoda and famed legendary producer Rick Rubin, it marks a change in the band's musical direction and approach. As Rubin stated recently when asked about the new record: "They [Linkin Park] really are reinventing themselves, it doesn't sound like rap-rock. There's very strong songwriting. It's very melodic...a progressive record." On the eve of the album release and just days before the band headed out on their current tour, Joe Matera spoke to Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson about the new album, vintage gear and haunted houses. Ultimate-Guitar: The band's third studio album, Minutes to Midnight sees Linkin Park moving away from their sound of old. It is more of a redefined sound for the band, was it a conscious decision or the result of a natural progression? Brad Delson: Minutes to Midnight is really a huge departure for us. We decided when we began writing this record that we really wanted to take the sound that we had established with Hybrid Theory and developed further with Meteora and kind of put it aside and really, almost, start from scratch in a sense with what the sound of the band could become. And through a lot of hard work and really smart guidance by our producer Rick Rubin, we were able to achieve what ultimately became this record. You spent 14 months working on the album and in that period amassed around 150 song ideas? Yeah but I would say it was more about a 17 month period. We started it about November of 2005 and then we worked on it and didn't finish the record until the end of last month [March]. There were definitely a lot of songs there that we had to work with. Some of them were good enough to be on the record but there were also a lot of stuff that you know, hopefully no one will ever hear because they were awful. There definitely is a lot of stuff that didn't make the record that may come out at some point in the future. Was there pressure on you with the success of the first two albums, to try and replicate that success with the new album? We put a lot of pressure on ourselves creatively to try and not rely on existing methods or formulas on how to write a song. We really wanted to, with this album, do something totally fresh and new and it took a long time and a lot of experimentation to find out to how we would achieve that. Speaking of experimentation, the band has utilized a lot of different instruments this time on the recording. There is everything from acoustic guitars to banjos to marimbas? In the past if you read the liner notes to the albums it would say Brad Delson - guitar, Mike Shinoda - keyboards etc. But this time when it came time to address the liner notes we really simply wrote, Linkin Park is because all six of us played really anything and everything instrument wise on this record. There were no boundaries in terms of what some one could contribute or how they could contribute to the creation of these songs. It was really a product of collaboration by all six of us.
"There is a lot of stuff that didn't make the record that may come out at some point in the future."
Rick Rubin co-produced the album with Mike Shinoda, what did Rick bring to the recording process? He brought in a lot of perspective and a kind of a really great way of being able to guide us through a really challenging process and to do so while simultaneously creating a really positive and open atmosphere. Rick is really a big picture guy. You know, he'll get immersed in the details when he needs to but in terms of basic tracking he usually relies on his engineers to kind of oversee that part of the process. So when it came to tracking guitars, I worked a lot with our engineer Andrew Scheps. You've never really been happy with the whole nu-metal tag, are you hoping with this album that it will finally free you from any of sort of labelling by critics? We definitely were in the past categorized in certain ways yet we never felt like we belonged to any clubsany musical clubs. Nor did we ever aspire to belong to any one genre too. The idea of our band when we started it was to try to really define any sort of classification. But we understand that kind of a lot of different bands grew out of this kind of particular of genre. A lot of groups incorporated a certain sound into their music, some of whom you know, may have been influenced by some of the records we had made. With this new record though we really wanted to totally move the playing field and really kind of let go in a way stylistically of where we were coming from. And that was definitely risking in the sense that we had a lot of success making songs with a definitive sound and style and so to really start over and to do something totally new and unproven was a huge risk for the band. And with great risk can also come great reward so our hope is that when people listen to this album that they can connect with as much as all six of us - really all seven of us when you include Rick - connect with each of the songs that we chose. Turning to the topic of gear, when it came to the recording process did you still use your famed Paul Reed Smith guitars? I did use my Paul Reed Smith guitars because they're so versatile. But I also supplemented them by relying on a lot of vintage gear. Stuff like a 1950s Stratocaster, a vintage Les Paul, a fender Jaguar, a Fender Telecaster and I completely abandoned the amps I was using. There really is no Dual Rectifier or any new Marshall on this record. I mainly used a vintage Soldano, a vintage Hi-Watt, a Sears amp and an AC-30 for my clean tones. I also had this really rare piece of gear which we called the Bo Diddley amp named after Bo Diddley himself who had this signature series of amps, I think he only had about 40 of them as he probably destroyed half of them. . It also had an analogue tape delay built into the back of the amp. Anyway our engineer had only seen this amp in a magazine before. He had never seen one in person and we were able to find one and rent it for the recording sessions. And it had this incredible clean tone. Did using the vintage gear play a major part in inspiring you toa different approach when it came to your guitar playing? Completely, especially when it came to guitar solos. With a lot of the textures in the past I didn't have really have any solos as I thought that they just sounded somewhat clichd in rock songs. And I felt that, at least in my tastes, popular alternative music has clearly come around full circle today and that in the case of this record some of the solos on the record really I think, made the song that so much more special. Did you experiment with trying out different combinations of amplifiers and then blending the sounds you liked to make one tone? Yeah, I found and got a lot of cool combinations between amps. I used a Soldano and Hi-Watt in combination and sometimes, I'd mix in like an old JCM800 amp where it created a really unique heavy tone. I wanted to do things differently with each song, so we weren't married to one particular setup. It was like whatever sounded the best. When it comes to touring the album how will you go about recreating the sounds you got on the album in the live environment? That is a great question. The problem is using all these kinds of different amps, a lot of them are rare and old and so they're delicate. And because we have multiple rigs, we also have to have back-ups. It is really impossible to incorporate these amps into our live rig. So I was thinking 'how are we going to do this? It could be so expensive and it could be unreliable'. And I found this incredible solution. Randall is making this new guitar tube emulator. It is an amp emulator that has actual tubes inbuilt into it, 6 inches wide and about an inch tall. And I basically fill a rack with these different types of Randall tube emulators and what I've been able to do is dial in all the sounds. So I've got basically the Soldano, the Hi-Watt and the JCM800, all the amps that I used in the studio, I've got those tones down in my rack via these tube emulators. And I can switch between them in my pedal board during different songs.
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves creatively to not rely on existing formulas on how to write a song."
Will Randall be making a signature Brad Delson emulator model? It is looking that way where I'll be having a signature guitar emulator with Randall. I've already done some new modifications on this brand new piece of gear and hopefully we'll be able to make available the exact tones that I made use of on this record. But also with the ability for the player who purchases these emulators to dial them in as however they seem fit. Do you get many song ideas when you're out on the road? In the past especially with Meteora, we started a lot of the ideas on the road. But for this record because we had some time off after the Meteora touring cycle had ended, we wrote and recorded this new entire album in Los Angeles. It was recorded at the Laurel Canyon mansion, which is one of Rick's homes that is actually situated across the street from the Harry Houdini house. It's been noted by other artists who have recorded there that the house is haunted. Did you experience any supernatural happenings whilst there? I think security that had worked in that house before on the System of a Down record told us that they had experienced some sort of paranormal activity. I personally didn't see any of that nature as I made it a point to keep the lights on! You're about to announce the return of Projekt Revolution this summer? Yes that is correct. We will be doing Projekt Revolution this summer for what I think is now the fourth time. It is going to be a huge summer tour going around the States and we will be announcing the final line-up probably in the next couple of weeks. Are you looking forward to hitting the road again to tour behind the new album? Absolutely and we will literally be starting the tour this week, which will lead us up to Projekt Revolution this summer. I can see us easily being on the road until the following year when we may do Projekt Revolution again. We will also be coming down to Australia at some point in time, hopefully either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. 2007 Joe Matera
More linkin park interviews:
+ Mike Shinoda: 'Whenever We Go Into Making a Record, We Try Creating the Best We Can Create for the Moment' Interviews 08/07/2014
+ Linkin Park: 'The Sound Should Be Epic' Interviews 06/16/2009
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