Mike Shinoda: 'Rock Music Has Gotten a Little Herbivorous'

"Rock music needs to take chances and innovate," says Linkin Park singer in an intriguing article he wrote.

Ultimate Guitar

An article titled "Rock Music Sucks Now and It's Depressing" over at Pigeons and Planes caught the attention of Linkin Park singer/guitarist Mike Shinoda, making him pen his own piece, explaining in detail his thoughts on the current state of rock genre.

Before giving any explanation, Mike cleared up a few matters. "'The guy from Linkin Park visits this blog?' you say," the singer kicked off. "Indie music purists may want to hate on this piece before I start, simply because I represent a mainstream music act which they think is at odds with their 'independent' or 'underground' aesthetic. If thats you, so be it; I know your deal."

After noting that he was somewhat of an "indie purist" himself back in the day, Shinoda remembered the time when Linkin Park made the big league with "One Step Closer" single. "Up until that point, we were playing for a couple hundred people a night," he said. "Suddenly, that number doubled. Then quadrupled. And one night, I looked out from the stage and something made me think: 'Oh my God, we probably have fans who love music that I think is terrible.'"

Stressing that he is by no means dissing LP fans, the vocalist continued by explaining that bands such as Mumford & Sons or Fun. clearly don't represent the rock genre. "I have absolutely no problem with the bands [original article author Ernest] Baker cites - in fact, they've released some of the better albums in recent years," Mike stated.

"But they're not who I think of when I think of 'rock,'" he explained. "Baker didn't include huge, active artists like Linkin Park, Muse, Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Green Day, the Black Keys, Jack White, Fall Out Boy, Of Mice and Men, Nine Inch Nails, and hundreds of others. But it doesn't matter which rock bands you're talking about. You can make any list of popular rock bands out there right now, and you'll find they truly have little influence, individually or together, on the zeitgeist."

The vocalist then asked, "Why is that? Firstly, it's in the numbers. I believe that these days, more than ever, it's hard to start a rock band. Want to start rapping? Pull up an instrumental on YouTube, and you have a track. DJing? The software you need is either already on your laptop or it's a few dollars and clicks away. Starting a rock band is a more complicated endeavor."

After naming financial issues and the matter of rock acts being outnumbered as some of the key problems, Shinoda focused on what he described as "the other half" of the problem - culture of segregation in the minds of bands themselves.

"Behind the scenes, more than any fan would ever imagine, there's animosity between rock bands, even if they don't say it," the article reads. "I ask my friends in other bands; their story is the same. A lot of bands are afraid to align with one another on record and on tour. Maybe it's a credibility issue, or a snobbery issue, or maybe it's just because rock bands are loners."

In Shinoda's opinion, "rock music needs to take chances and innovate. Want to compare rock's growth to other genres? Listen to a Rick Rubin production from the '80s which was the epitome of hip hop production at the time and compare it with the soundscapes and variety that Kanye West, Pharrell, Kendrick and co., A$AP Mob, Odd Future, Azealia Banks, and all the rest are using today.

"Listen to a track by the Prodigy or Fatboy Slim from the late '90s, then listen to Zedd, Knife Party, Glitch Mob, Skrillex, Deadmau5, Major Lazer, Avicii, Daft Punk, and TNGHT. And ask yourself: why isn't rock doing this? Sure, rock is evolving, but it simply doesn't have the vibrancy it could - and ought to - have."

Mike then admitted that the article author had a point in saying that rock music became "pussified." "Where's the rock that's about innovation, energy, aggression, catharsis, passion?" the singer asked. "Where's the explosiveness of 'The Shape of Punk to Come?' The ferocity of 'Master of Puppets?' The boldness of 'The Downward Spiral?'"

The frontman concluded, "A girl from Japan told me once that she was worried about men of the next generation being what they called 'Soushoku Danshi,' or 'Sheep Boys.' This description was invented to describe people as either 'herbivores' or 'carnivores,' the former group being described as soft, non-assertive, and indifferent. For me, rock music has gotten a little herbivorous.

"Where are the carnivores? At the end of the day, it will never be about one song, one album, or one band. A movement requires leaders who are restless, brave, and f--king disruptive. I'm in the studio right now. I'm looking for ways to do it myself. I hope my peers and their fans are as well, because it's the only way we'll be able to force Pigeons and Planes to write a post called: 'Everything but Rock Sucks Right Now and It's Depressing.'"

Read Shinoda's full piece here.

97 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Well said. And hes right. Alot of "rock" has lost the edge, the danger that got me into it in the first place, save for a few bands. Just my two cents.
    too bad he's a pure example of that... plus he raps
    yeah but just but the fact he makes that music, doesn't necessarily means he likes it. For example, Dave Grohl likes bands like Slayer and Metallica, but the music he makes doesn't sound like that.
    The only new band I've heard recently that has that edge is Heaven's Basement [UK band].
    just listen to them..... good, but i dont know.... it not "just" about new riffs and vocal lines..... its about overall feel of the song and passion..... the bests these days are definitely Black Keys or Queens of the Stone Age..... you feel passion and it sounds like nothing else..... i think raw guitar sound they use is much more versatile then kinda "squashy" metal distortion
    Check out Monster Truck. Nothing ground breaking but they damn sure bring the rock
    They're not 'new' but they're not well heard of. Zico Chain are pretty rockin'. Supported Velvet Revolver a few years back. Got that first album roughness.
    he's right, he's also disregards the fact that him and his bands, are a prime example of what he said.
    It's true, you turn on Kerrang and almost every band they feature now sounds, looks and acts exactly the same, all second rate 'metal' bands that cry about breaking up with their gf's and appeal to nobody except those annoying as **** teen girls who think BVB are the best thing to happen to rock music ever.
    I dont like new Linkin Park much, but this guy is repectable
    The way he's put it is ten times better than "Oh no! Rock is dying". At least their is hope of a "Carnivore" to show up and take the world by storm with Rock music
    am i the only one that finds this article a little hypocritical? he claims that rock has lost its edge, yet LP has watered down and commercialized their sound more than almost any band i know
    Funny thing tho... everyone decries nu-metal, but everyone wants LP to return to their earlier sound. Pretty messed up when u think about it.
    He may not be living by his words, but he is more right than I think anyone has ever been on the matter of rock's decline.
    Don't worry, it'll come back. Just think, everyone thought pop would kill rock, then everyone thought disco would kill rock, but it stayed here in thick and thin....
    Commercialized? No. As for LP, the music they were doing during ATS and MTM era was not commercial because of their name, which was built on the nu metal stuff.
    I really never understood the hate Minutes to Midnight gets. I can take or leave most of LP's material, but I think Minutes to Midnight has so many really well-crafted and unique songs.
    The guitar solos were great. Rest was only eh.
    Darth Crow
    Great guitar solos? You mean those extremely simple... not even solos, I'd rather call them fills... that I could play with one finger and eyes closed after two months of playing guitar?
    You sir, need to grow the f*** up. Just because a solo is easy to play, doesn't mean it isn't good. I takes talent to make a good solo, even a simple one.
    I'd hardly say the "commercialized" their sound. They just took to using more synths which a lot of bands have done. Their sound was already pretty damn commercial to begin with. Minutes to Midnight was probably their most watered down album but they stepped away from that with A Thousand Suns (even though I didn't like ATS, it is probably their most experimental release).
    no they haven't. They had to evolve otherwise they would have become stale. They have stressed upon the fact repeatedly that they never make music according to label or anything , they do whatever they like.
    I'd very much rather have Nu Metal LP than what they've turned into now. I stopped listening around Minutes to Midnight and I'm not expecting them to return to their roots, no matter what they say, anytime soon
    I almost read that as 2 Minutes to Midnight. damn
    pAWNlol is right. I used to be a big Linkin Park fan in my teens, but after they went more commercial I lost interest. I like my music heavy, not that Linkin Park were ever "heavy", but when they toned down they just weren't enough to give me that buzz I feel when I listen to metal.
    Darth Crow
    I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. AC/DC, Metallica, Kiss, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater... these bands never "evolved" in this manner and they are still not stale (those that are still playing).
    "comercialized" doesnt mean watered down. Also, when they started off.. there was already a wave of the same kind of music they started making selling more and more. HMM...
    I actually came here to ask why Mike Shinoda is qualified to speak on the state of rock music, but he makes a good point. I was also pleasantly surprised that he mentioned the Downward Spiral. That said, the only reason it seems like rock has lost its thunder is that the acts who still HAVE that thunder are no longer allowed to be mainstream. Converge comes to mind.
    Do Re Mi
    So many people say this. I have no idea what scene people are paying attention to but I go to plenty of vibrant shows and play with plenty of great bands in basements full of dancing people that love music. Mainstream sucks, get over it, go support your local scene and realize for once that music isn't always about "changing the world," it's about expression and art and community and smaller things that when you really think about it, mean a lot more than having good mainstream music on the radio. Music is great right now, I am continually amazed with acts of all genres and if you can't find it you're not looking hard enough. They have more energy and passion than Linkin Park, that's for certain. This guy is obviously projecting. "Pussified," "herbivore," what a bunch of macho crap. AND, it's not hard to start a band at all! Look at how many two pieces there are! Save up some money and buy some shitty gear, play in a rundown basement, you can do anything. Music is alive, "rock" is alive. Goddammit, open your minds and eyes and ears.
    I love the sound of a lot of modern bands. To name a few, Black Keys, Muse, Finger Eleven, Sheepdogs all tickle my fancy; but I agree, they aren't really pushing any envelopes.
    Muse formed 19 years ago and Black Keys formed over 10 years ago - I'm sorry I miss the 'modern' in that.
    Only a decade is still relatively modern. Muse are pushing it at this point but their first album was released in late '99 so you could consider them a 2000s band predominantly.
    They are modern because they only got into their prime recently. Their music is 'happening' now.
    I agree with the man and i think he wrote what he tough really well.
    I agree with him. Rock music hasn't really had much innovation over the past few years, now all I hear on the radio is hipster garbage. I don't even know the names of these bands anymore, I just call them "Men Without Testicles".
    I've been around for a little while now...Hell I have concert shirts older than Linkin Park...I agree with this guy on a few things. In my opinion its not that rock is dead, (you cant kill rock!!! haha..) its that we haven't had a band that came out and kicked our asses like we have in the past. think back to when Sabbath released BS or Paranoid that sh!t scared people or Jimi releasing Electric Ladyland monumental... Van Halen I. that changed electric guitar over night, literally. Metallica's Killem All, GNR Appetite.. were just not going to have an album impact the genre like that again (well I hope we do) because after those, along with too many more to mention everything else are just offshoots really. and that's not to say that some bands out there today don't just completely kick ass, they do. But we haven't had that step out band lately just blow our doors off, where is the next EVH?? or the next Freddie Mercury?? We don't even have "Rock Stars" like we used to. I think a lot of this has to do with the times though, in 69 Jimi WAS changing the game...in 78 VH was changing the game etc.. who ever comes next is going to have to be pretty standout to get us to notice...
    Might be an extreme statement to make but I don't think we'll ever have some huge act like that again. With the internet and international market people have the ability to find any band from any part of the world and build their own taste and join their own circles for even the most inaccessible obscure groups. A lot of the old acts became big from hype. If you were limited to your own local record store or radio you were more likely to hear the big acts rather than a small act that could be doing something just as good but couldn't get the exposure. Now it's kind of balancing out and waves of fame seems to come and go rather quickly.
    Does this means that Linkin Park is FINALLY going back to their roots on the next album maybe? I'm so glad Mike feels the same way as everyone else about Rock. Its current state totally blows. It needs a rekindling.
    In my opinion, the whole "rock is dying" thing comes from the fact that today, there is no dominating group of rock bands. Think about it: in the 70s, you had Zep, the Stones, Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Queen, and a shit ton more. In the 80s? You had AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Metallica, etc. The argument is simply that rock/metal is no longer the force it once was. Yes, they are still amazing bands, but when was the last time you saw QotSA (whom I love) headline an arena?
    Very well said, there are some cool bands out there, but nothing even close to a major force or a movement
    Rock Music is all well and good. Infact it may be as good as it has ever been from a creative and listening perspective. However it is not a chart perspective. Should i say that all Pop music is crap because One direction are currently riding the charts high? Or should i write off Mala because Skrillex is at the "Top" of the electronic game? No i shouldn't. And i'm not talking in a hipster cred "You wouldn't have heard of them" sense, But in the past 2/3 years we have had incredible releases from Deafheaven, Touch Amor, Pianos Become The Teeth, Basement, La Dispute, Deftones, Birds In Row, Brand New, The Saddest Landscape etc to prove that fury and creativity still thrives in certain scenes. Sure, Your pop rock scene and dad rock alternative metal may be fading out, But the Alternative Rock, Experiemental, Punk, Hardcore, and heavier forms of metal (Black metal, Sludge etc.) are putting out some fantastic releases. Listen to Battles latest album and tell me theres no creativity left in rock. Listen to Sunbather by Deafheaven and tell me there's no fury in guitar based music. All of these guys play to big audiences, are signed to labels and make a living from this. Just because they are not in the charts does not mean we should instantly shun them and proclaim the death of "Rock" (And all it's forms) music.
    Well we've got a bunch of shit "metal" bands that all sound the ****ing same and that's a ****ing issue with rock music now.
    Fuck genres. I just miss the ****ing attitude of "rock" "nu metal" "whatever-core". Gimme heavy guitars, and some ****ing good vocals I can understand.
    I actually have to say he makes somewhat decent points here. He's not saying rock is dead or some bs like that but he's right about the experimentation. I think really it's the fact that rock is not at the forefront of music anymore and a few decades of doing things with the same guitar/bass/drums/vocals setup has become a bit exhausted. There's still great rock bands doing great things but I don't think there's going to be some big revolution in rock music (at least for a while), and the bands doing new things will remain in even smaller circles than before.
    So, if you combine rock and EDM fluently, it might help? Taking two polar opposites and melding them together seamlessly. Actually, that could work.
    It seems to be where rock is going honestly. Kid A is famous attempt. I guess Linkin Park tried it too although they were already heavily influenced by electronics from the start. It would need some nice integration though as you said, not just bashing two genres together like KoRn and Muse tried to do recently with brostep.
    Le Fantome
    Muse have tried it on one song? And they mixed it with classical music actually. Not to mention the fact that it was basically just the same weird Kaoss pad stuff he has been doing for years. People only started complaining about it when they actually recorded it.
    Well they did the "rock" aspect by making the song with guitar/drum/bass instead of solely VSTs like Skrillex. And it wasn't Kaoss Pad stuff but just a partially automated Whammy pedal so it was pretty true to being guitar-based. Yeah they've done similar things before but Bellamy specifically described the song as being their take on the other genres. Keep in mind I actually really loved Unsustainable and I had a lot of fun learning it on guitar with all the MIDI sequencing. I just don't think it brought anything new to the table.
    I have to agree with him. I think part of the reason rock music has softened is because we live in this politically correct society where we mustn't sing or say things that might offend other people, so now everyone's either being too metaphorical or just singing about relationships (not to say the music is bad or anything, but its less edgy) and the music just doesn't stick with the greater audience. You wait, the next big rock band is going to be in your face about war, religion, social injustice making people question there daily lives. And there going to be popular because they wont give a F***, there going to offend and get people talking. Also, I think rock shows could improve across the board too, not many bands are thinking big anymore.... I was watching the black mages perform One winged angel with a full backing orchestra (on youtube)...and the energy is amazing (through my laptop). So there, offend some people and go big or go home.
    There are thousands of bands out there who have not lost it. People who write articles like that are too lazy to look for them. Rock is alive and very well, the people are those who are pussified.
    I hate people who say that there a thousands of good bands out there. but insist that we all search for them, why not tell people about these bands? This is one of the reasons rock is dying, because people are trying to be hipster about the whole thing.
    Azrael is absolutely right. The whole "rock is dying" thing is bullshit. No matter what you're into, there are good bands out there making music that you would love and the internet makes it possible for us to check out every single one of them. I'm not sure how much my tastes will line up with yours, but here are some modern bands that I think have that "edge": Every Time I Die, Deerhunter, Opeth, Foxy Shazam, Periphery, The Raconteurs, Protest The Hero, The Strokes, Meshuggah, Tera Melos, Lucero, Mastodon, Sithu Aye, Strawberry Girls, Syqem, Vildhjarta, This Town Needs Guns, Young The Giant... Saying that there's no innovation in rock music today is an insult to bands like these.
    Masta' Exploda'
    I love how you suggest band from a wide spectrum of music. Almost everyone can relate to one or another band from the list you posted. That's something rare on the genre battlefield that is UG. Props!
    YOU are the reason why rock music is dying because you need to be spoon-fed all the time. Since MTV isn't doing it anymore you have no idea what to do. And anyone who actually DOES take the time to listen to something that doesn't come with a recommendation from your friend/brother/mother/uncle/corporation becomes a 'hipster'. Just randomly start typing words into soundcloud or facebook and give a random band a listen!
    I label them hipsters because they don't actually share the bands they know, so these good bands remain virtually underground. So what i'm trying to say is that, YOU need to stop telling people just to search, and start recommending good bands and do us all a favor.
    ohh the Irony ...Linkin park it isnt evolving, the opposite
    Masta' Exploda'
    The opposite of evolving is staying the same. Since LP changed so much, saying they are doing the opposite of evolving is kinda paradoxal. That being said, you might want to say they aren't going in the direction you think is right, but as with anything it with only be your opinion and won't matter that much to anyone since you don't support it with proper argumentation.
    IMO, They are just experimenting. They also obviously don't give two sh*ts of what you think of them Gabriel.
    You think go from simple nu metal to really complicated harmonies and making the new sound, that they were not doing before, isn't evolving?
    Yeah, there's not many places for rock to go and be innovative yet still being called rock. Take for example 30 seconds to mars, they innovate to a new level each record and subsequently it's a whole level less rocky - and people complain about rock bands going less rocky. Rock is dead my friends, it has nowhere to go... Apart from Dead Letter Circus and Karnivool. They recently brought me back to rock.
    the fact that he explained the idea of the "evolution" that he thinks the rock needs with the relationship between The Prodigy's music and Skrillex makes me feel uneasy...
    Oh, shut it. EDM evolved the same way rock and metal did. Besides, I actually like Skrillex.
    Linkin Park isn't exactly rock and roll either. He's just pandering to the rockers and metal heads by sympathizing and trying to relate to them by saying this B.S. Someone should give this clueless twit the new Slash, Airbourne, Black Stone Cherry, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone age albums. Each one of them has lots of attitude and more teeth then any linkin park song. For the record, I think Linkin Park is extremely juvenile and their lyrics sound like the contents of an angry 15 year old girl's diary. Point being: What have they EVER known about being raw and dangerous rock n roll?
    Carl Hungus
    No matter what people are always going to want to pick up a guitar, bass, and drums and start band. This will be true until the end of time. Its just too much fun.
    Michael Stewart
    Both sides are right and wrong. Both rock and everything else sucks. That's why I listen to metal and older rock music. The best new act in rock music is Gemini Syndrome. I listen to a lot of mushroomhead and I never gave them a chance before this year. I ran a show with them and saw how they keep pushing forward with their stage acts and music. They're also very involved with their fans. Something most bands or "artists" of any genre can say.
    Where's Master of Puppet's ferocity? This dude's 200% oblivious of the underground thrash of the past 10-15 years isn't he?!
    Mainstream acts have always been about sales so it's not shocker that LP changed their sound to fit the market, they make what the mainstream wants to hear and right now that happens to be cheap, poppy electric crap.
    How is Mike Shinoda qualified to talk about this? He's in one of the major bands to have caused rock's downfall.
    Since 2007, the only thing associated with Linkin Park that resemble their early music is Chester's scream as he's being tortured in Saw 7.
    i get what he is saying but he has no right to talk about rock losing its Carnivorous quality. The last linkin park album was so electronic that it killed me. And this is comming from someone who likes electronic music from skirllex to kaskade deadmouse and daft punk. Everything is starting to bleed into everything else. Thats how were getting new genres these days by adding something to something else. there arent many new sounds to be heard today and its frustrating.
    Rock hasnt been the same since the 90's and early 2000's.Its one thing to have the progenators of a genre step down and a new one comes along. influenced by the sound of the times most of the newer generation lacks the edge of musicianship and drive that the old bands have and or had because there is a lack of ingenuity and originality.The resolve to create music is one thing,but to create truely original music that breaks the mold,requires a truely open perspective to absorb as much variety and experience as possible,otherwise you get dull,boring and repetitous sounds and riffs,with the inclusion of drab ideas.