Linkin Park's Brad Delson: 'It's Like the Record We Might Have Made Had We Not Made 'Hybrid Theory''

"Guitar solo fans will get more than their money's worth," says California six-piece's axeman.

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Founding Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson has recently talked to Music Radar about the band's upcoming sixth album.

According to Brad, "guitar solo fans will get more than their money's worth."

"There's a lot of guitar solos on the album!" he says with a laugh. "And this is from someone who was quoted early on as saying I hated them.

"Not that I hated them as a listener," he caught his own words. "I just don't want to play any; I shirked guitar solos. Early on, I felt as though the songs we were making aesthetically didn't want them. This new batch of songs, to me, always want solos. I feel like every song has one."

He revealed, that there's "way, way more guitar" album, than the previous stuff, including 2012's "Living Things," described by Delson as the record that "certainly had a balance and energy, and it brought together the sounds of a lot of our different chapters in a new way."

"This record is really a musical experiment and creative endeavor unto itself," says Brad on the upcoming record.

"I thought this was kind of funny: Mike [Shinoda] actually described it almost a prequel to 'Hybrid Theory.' There's a lot of records that were influential to us - some hardcore stuff, some heavy, punk-oriented stuff - and that spirit is there. It's like the record we might have made had we not made 'Hybrid Theory.' It definitely goes down a different path, and it is guitar driven - that's not an accident."

"There's a lot of heavy music out there, and there's a lot that's experimental, and there's a lot of great songwriting, too. Our DNA and our mission as a band is to make something specifically our own that combines these things in such a way that we're suited to do; especially our emphasis on making that visceral, unapologetic music but still bringing to bear our love of songwriting and melody. That's what we've been slaving away at every single day for the last six months."

Brad also discussed the roots of new direction. "Per the latter, Mike demoed some stuff and has said that when he listened to it, he didn't like it and threw it all out. One of the reasons for that - and I'm paraphrasing him, in this case - was that he felt the demos were derivative of the music he likes to listen to, but they didn't fill a void.

"In scanning the landscape of new music, I think the void in what we heard is what motivated us to make the kind of record we've made. That's sort of been the premise even when we started as a band. There's a particular sound or a combination of things we're not hearing. Sure, you could say, 'A lot of groups are combining hip-hop elements and rock elements,' but there was a very specific sound we were making and were hearing, and nobody else was doing it in that way.

"That's what motivated us to make the first record, and I would say that same hunger and desire to fill a void is what motivated us to make, for us, a heavy record with a lot of technicality to it. It's extroverted and unapologetic and demanding, and at the same time, it's song oriented.

"In terms of the vision of this record, Mike wrote a blog for Pigeons & Planes - it was a response to an article, 'Rock Music Sucks Now and It's Depressing.' Essentially, the original article said that rock music is herbivorous, and Mike was like, 'It doesn't have to be.' This was around the time that he threw out his original ideas and changed course."

During the chat Brad touched the topic of going without a producer. First two, nu metal-vibed, Linkin Park albums were produced by Don Gilmore, while three last, more controversial records, had Rick Rubin and Mike Shinoda at the helm of production. This album is fully produced by Mike Shinoda with Brad Delson handling co-producer's duties.

"Technically, we're capable of it because we're very hands-on. We've been that way in the studio throughout our entire career. Those creative with whom we've worked, it's always about shaping the vision and even augmenting the creative firepower.

"You were asking if the album is conceptually driven, and yes, we had a very specific conceptual mission, and we knew what it was and were technically able to do that. It just came down to keeping ourselves focused and making sure that we were setting the bar high enough and getting over it."

The rest of conversation touched the band's newest single "Guilty All the Same," its early release, legendary Rakim's guest spots and the other guest appearances and the gear the band uses in studio.

"We wanted to get music out sooner than later," said Brad on "Guilty All the Same." "The timing just felt right with this song. We finished two songs relatively early in the process, and 'Guilty All the Same' seems to inform the spirit of the record. For us, it's the perfect lead offering to set the tone for the album as a whole.

"Even at this stage, it's interesting talking to people like yourself and hearing people's reactions to the first song. I can tell you that certain people, when they first heard it, said, 'Are you guys f--king crazy?' For real. Certain people got it, and everyone ultimately came around and is on the path. To be fair, a lot of people were like, 'The song is six minutes long. What do you mean it's gonna be your first single?' But for us, it's the best thing that we've made that represents where we are creatively. That's what we're putting our weight behind.

"And then to top if off, to have a one-of-a-kind verse from arguably one of the greatest rappers of all time, that doesn't hurt. And it's so topical, too. Sometimes with a guest, you'll hear a verse on a song, but it's got nothing to do with the song the verse is on. Rakim and Mike and Chester [Bennington], who obviously worked on the lyrics, had a creative mind meld in terms of elucidating the themes of the song. Rakim takes it in his own unique a direction, and it's just beautiful. I'm so grateful to him.

"I want the song to speak for itself, but even the fact that you're listening to 'Guilty All the Same' and you think you know what it is, and suddenly Rakim shows up ... I wouldn't say there's a convention for that on a six-minute borderline punk-metal song."

On the question about more guest spots on the album, Brad replied: "Yes, there will be [another guests on the album].

"There'll be a couple at least at this point, and that's also a rarity. Certainly we've done collaborations and tons of things with different artists, but in terms of a proper Linkin Park album, I don't think we've had any guests. On the one hand, it's been an insular process because we've made the record ourselves; on the other hand, it's been incredible collaborative because we've had a lot of creative people come in and out of the studio and share with us their process. At times, it's led to them bringing their DNA into our songs. It's been really full-on [laughs], and it's been fun and rewarding."

Finally, closer to the end of the chat, Brad touched the topic of the gear used by the band during studio sessions, stating that "you don't need 20,000 guitars or 20,000 paintbrushes – you can choose three and get the same result."

"We've got two keyboards. We've got a few guitars we're primarily using. We've got a couple of amps. You can actually do a lot with those things if you know how to use those instruments well. Our engineer, Ethan, has the list [see below], but from memory I can tell you there's a Fender Custom Shop reissue Strat that's my go-to every time. Because of the way it plays, I feel like I'm a better guitar player - I can play more elegantly on it. That's high praise for an instrument. There's also an SG. Those are the ones that stand out.

"An Orange is our primary amp. It's funny: We're always trying to improve the tone. Sometimes Mike will hear something, and he'll say, 'What was that?' And the subtext is always 'How many heads and cabinets and guitars were used?' And the answer, kind of later in the process, is the Strat through the Orange. That's it.

"The other thing that helps to make the sounds on the album is this unique collection of pedals. A lot of them are Ethan's. They're almost one of a kind, not in that only one exists, but kind of. There are things that he's curated and collected from some random and remote places. We have about 20 or 30 of them. A lot of times I'll want to get an unconventional sound, and Ethan will know just what to do, and those are the instances where Mike might say, 'Is that guitar?' He's very discerning, so if you fool him then you've done something interesting."

According to engineer Ethan Mates, who has worked with Linkin Park since 2006, the main guitars being played by Delson and Shinoda in the studio include two of his own pieces, a 1962 Fender Stratocaster Masterbuilt Reissue and a 1978 Gibson SG. Additional guitars for tracking are a PRS SE245, a PRS Custom 25 (owned by Delson), an MJT Telecaster-style guitar and Shinoda's '90s American Standard Telecaster with a maple fretboard.

Main amps for Delson and Shinoda are an Orange TH100, a Bogner Twin Jet, a Chandler GAV19T and an Engl Fireball 100.

Effects-wise, the core pedals include two by Electro-Harmonix, a Holy Grail Reverb and a HOG (Harmonic Octave Generator/Synthesizer); a Z.Vex Super Hard On preamp; a Dr. Scientist Reverberator; a Caroline KiloByte delay; and two pieces by Earthquaker Devices, a Disaster Transport Sr. (Advanced Modulated Delay & Reverb Guitar Effects Pedal) and a Hummingbird tremolo.

In case you've missed it, listen to the newest Linkin Park single in the player below.

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24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Despite this article's god awful grammar, it's actually got me really pumped to see what they come out with next. Guilty All the Same wasn't bad, and if they're continuing down that road, this might be something I'll have to keep an eye out for.
    Brad Delson, the one member of LP that actually kept his mouth shut all these years and just went along for the ride, finally speaks. And I LIKE what he has to say <3
    Ummm ... he gave interviews about Living Things, A Thousand Suns, Meteora and Minutes to Midnight.
    A guitar oriented record? No way. I'm really looking forward to this album. This is what Linkin Park used to be. If what Brad says is indeed true, then they'll bring back a lot of the fans that were shunned after Meteora.
    please tell me where linkin park had actual guitar riffs not 2-3 repetitve chords or notes, they were alright for their first 2 albums but instrumentally ? they are a band who can't play well but play well together.
    Whoever wrote this should be fired. It makes your entire site look so unprofessional.
    It's good to see that they are going back to their roots. Their experimental stuff was ok but they went off reservation with their last album. I'm looking forward to it. At least he didn't say it was going to be "pantera heavy" like he did with Meteora. It was a good album but his comparison was so off.
    I don't think I've ever heard Brad say anything before, but his excitement is really rubbing off on me. Really looking forward to hearing more from this.
    The best part of that new single was Rakim who undoubtedly is one of the most influential and technical emcees of all time. The rest of it was eh at best.
    Agreed. I thought "Guilty All The Same" might grow on me, but it really didn't. Rakim was by far the best part of the song, and even that was average. Still holding out on hope for the new album, though! I like the direction... it's just the execution. For example, "Victimized" off Living Things - I like what they were trying to do, but it was an absolute mess of a song. Hopefully this new album will be a real turning point for them. The "prequel to Hybrid Theory" quote excites me; but I'll try not to get my hopes up!
    Gave the new song a listen, actually not too bad, lets see how the rest of the album sounds when it hits
    Through it all I didn't really like the new song so I'm not sure how I'll feel about the album. I'll wait for another track.
    Well, he is using Korn's Head "it's a guitar driven album"... Anyways, I was not impressed by "guilty all the same", I don't think that this band, at this point of their career, has enough "malice" to put up a solid rock album. They missed this opportunity a life time ago.
    I have higher hopes for the album after reading what Brad had to say about it. As long as it doesn't sound forced, it should be good.