Brad Delson: 'These Songs Are All About Rediscovering the Guitar and Having a Lot of Fun With It'

Linkin Park axeman talks about the new approach to the recording, used during "The Hunting Party" sessions, as well as used gear.

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Linkin Park's Brad Delson recently talked to PremierGuitar about the new approach the band used while recording their upcoming album, "The Hunting Party," also discussed the band's studio gear with the help of the band engineer Ethan Mates.

The band is currently in Larrabee Studios in Los-Angeles, finishing the mix of their sixth studio piece. As the article notes, Linkin Park used a new methodology during the album making - writing from scratch while recording. On their first two albums, 2000's "Hybrid Theory" and 2003's "Meteora," Linkin Park worked in a more traditional way, writing songs before demoing them, and then rerecording everything in the studio. As Delson notes, the approach changed when Rick Rubin came up.

"When we worked with Rick Rubin [for 2007's "Minutes to Midnight," 2010's "A Thousand Suns" and 2012's "Living Things"] we brought him a bunch of demos along with the recorded versions that we'd spent days working on in a perfectly good studio environment," recalled Delson. "When Rick A/B'd the versions, he always thought the demos were more compelling. That was an expensive and painful lesson."

Delson also recalled the method he used during the previous albums writing - he often labored to compose the perfect backdrop for a track, only to discover that it didn't quite work as a song. This time, as the article states, after assembling a rough collection of riffs, he would submit the work to singer Chester Bennington for consideration. "We used to record the vocals last," says Delson, "but now we do that closer to the beginning of the process, so we know if a track will survive as a song. It could have the coolest musical elements, but if doesn't lend itself to a great vocal, then it's time to move on to the next thing."

Finally, the article author revealed hearing seven of 12 album tracks. He didn't mention their titles (however, stating that the album editor, Josh Newell, revealed the titles to him), but stated that "the winning strategy Linkin Park established on 'Hybrid Theory' - dovetailing spoken verses with melodic choruses - hadn't been discarded," clarifying, by the way, that "on all levels there was new depth to the music in the form of lengthier interludes, greater harmonic diversity, and uncanny guitar sounds that made way for brief, fitful solos."

"On the last few records I certainly played guitar in the studio, but I'd been focusing on other instruments," Delson stressed. "I've been playing guitar since I was 12, and it had become fascinating to learn keyboards, programming, and Pro Tools, which is like an instrument in itself. But these songs are all about rediscovering the guitar and having a lot of fun with it."

The solos, according to the article, despite their brevity, reveal Delson's formidable guitar skills and penchant for spontaneity. "There's an unpredictability to these songs that lends itself to me just picking up a guitar and playing insanity," he said. "Nothing is preplanned. For some of the faster solos I warm up, but not in an overtly methodical way. If I want to record a solo over at a fast tempo, I just noodle on that Strat for an hour until I'm hyper-fast. I don't want to merge onto the highway at 15 miles per hour. I want to be at full speed by the time I get thrown on to it."

The band's engineer Ethan Mates also appeared, showing the band's studio gear. As Mates said, "The core sound is created through Orange, Bogner and Engl amps, and we're also using a Chandler amp for overdubs and higher parts.

"Generally we have three microphones on each cab - either a Shure SM57 or Heill PR 30 next to a Sennheiser 421, and then either a ribbon mic like a Royer R-121 ribbon or a Neumann U47, to capture a fullness of sound. We use pretty standard miking techniques, close-miked for the most punk rock, in-your-face sound, although sometimes for an ambient sound we use a room mic on the drums, or throw loudspeaker cabs in a loud room and mic those.

"In front of the guitar chain we've kept things simple, using the Z.Vex Super Hard-On, or the Z.Vex Mastrotron for really chunky rhythm parts. We discovered that the Mastotron makes a really cool sound when the battery is running out, so we've been gathering as many dying 9-volts as we can find.

"On top of all that, we've been drawing from a much broader palette of tones. A lot of times Brad likes big stereo washes in the chorus, so we experiment by stringing together a bunch of different reverbs and delays, sometimes using two different heads with a different effect chain in each one. Also, Brad likes using the Electro-Harmonix HOG for synth-like sounds. We've been using all of these tools to breath new life into Linkin Park's sound."

As it was revealed before, Linkin Park's sixth studio album "The Hunting Party" will be released on June 17. The first single off the record, "Guilty All the Same," featuring the guest appearance from the legendary rapper Rakimwas dropped this March. The other guest spots on the album include Helmet's Paige Hamilton, producer Rob Cavallo and System of a Down's Daron Malakian.

This year the band will hit the road with 30 Seconds to Mars and AFI during their joint "Carnivores Tour" starting in August, also playing a few European dates this summer, as well as performing their debut album, "Hybrid Theory," in its entirety on the stage of Download festival.

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    it's great to hear brad bringing the guitar to the forefront again he's always had exquisite tone to my ears
    "We discovered that the Mastotron makes a really cool sound when the battery is running out, so we've been gathering as many dying 9-volts as we can find." LOL
    Anyone notice that the albums where they used the 'traditional' songwriting techniques were the more appreciated ones? I'm not trying to make a point. I'm just pointing it out. It's interesting to think about the implications.
    it probably won't ever be like Meteora or Hybrid Theory again but at least this is a step in the right direction and away from A Thousand Suns and Minutes to Midnight.