We Moved! WE MOVED

Columbia Chronicle Interview

Friday, February 11, 2005

Jay-Z Plus Linkin Park Equals Fort Minor
January 2006
‘TRL’ staple Mike Shinoda looks to highlight his hip-hop roots with solo debut
When Linkin Park’s debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’ was released in 2000, it quickly became a staple of MTV’s “Total Request Live,” sandwiched between pop artists such as Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys. They earned their share of screaming teenage fans, and then, to the confusion of underground hip-hop fans, followed up with a series of high profile collaborations. They’ve worked with the likes of Jay-Z, The X-cutioners and Handsome Boy Modeling School, and now LP member Mike Shinoda wants to prove that he was worthy of such company. Under the moniker Fort Minor, Shinoda has enlisted even more top talent—including Chicago’s own Common—in an effort to silence any remaining doubts about his hip-hop credibililty.

Linkin Park was pretty dominant in the “TRL” pop scene, but you also worked with underground icons like Lord Finesse and Handsome Boy Modeling School. How did you maintain that balance?
Well, I’m friends with who I’m friends with. You know? They know where my heart’s at and that I’m a normal guy. I think what it comes down to is: Can you still just be yourself even though we get the attention that we do?

Would you call Fort Minor an attempt to distance yourself from Linkin Park?
I don’t mind the association so much as I want to just get back to those roots and show everybody what I do on my own. Although I am versatile and do different kinds of music, given the opportunity to do an album on my own, this is what I came up with.

The album is co-executive produced by Jay-Z.
I actually produced the record and mixed the record myself. I did every track. I played every note. I wrote every note. Actually, I think there’s one song that has a loop in it from a sound library, and a couple of kids online have been picking that out, like “Does that mean that other stuff was taken from libraries?” No. Other than that, I wrote all the stuff on the record. Jay’s role as executive producer—he basically helped me decide which tracks are going to go on the album. Some tracks needed a little work, and some were ready as they were. So he helped me by making those decisions.

The album features a lot of live instrumentation. Would you say it sounds more like a hip-hop record or a rock record?
Well, one of my goals with the record was to use a lot of live instrumentation and a lot of live playing to maintain that big sound that hip-hop records have. It’s obviously a hip-hop record, but at the same time, I do what I know how to do. I try to play to my strengths, and that is to say I know how to write music, and I play a lot of different instruments. In keeping with the idea of trying to make that big sound, I did incorporate some live strings and a live choir on the record, which obviously I didn’t play or sing those parts, but I did write them. I think the general rule on the album is I did all the music, and if you hear any rapping, then whoever is rapping wrote it. But if you hear any singing, then I wrote it.

Are you enjoying getting back to slightly more intimate venues on tour?
Actually, I enjoy the arenas, but I am really excited to see the fans face-to-face and get the opportunity to actually spend some time with people. It’s been some time since we did that. I had joked with the guys [in Linkin Park] that I was going to write an album that I could go around and do some small shows with. I was going to write a bunch of pop-punk songs, and we were going to play in a joke band and put masks over our heads and play only 100- to 200-feet rooms. They thought the idea was funny, but obviously no one really went through with it.

The artistic design for Fort Minor is fairly similar to Linkin Park’s, and I’ve heard that you’re responsible for that.
I personally don’t think it’s similar, but I guess my style is my style. I did a series of paintings for the album. Because it’s my project, I really wanted to be as hands on as I could be on it. I did a good deal of the graphics on the record. As I said, I did 10 paintings, and those are basically the backbone of the artwork. One thing to note is that there aren’t really any photos of me, and if there are, my face is kind of obscured. One reason why I named the project Fort Minor instead of going by “Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park,” and I put paintings instead of photos, is that I want people to focus on the music. I mean, people are finding out that this is my project, and the reason that I put these roadblocks between the two things is because I don’t want it to be out there as this mainstream success off of the name Linkin Park. I want to build it up as its own entity.

Will your show feature a live band?
Are you familiar with how Nine Inch Nails works? The similarities with Fort Minor and Nine Inch Nails is that in the studio, Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails and he leads the project. And then on stage, he leads the band. That’s pretty much how Fort Minor works. On stage, it’s me and three of the four guys from Styles of Beyond, a drummer named Beat Down and then three strings players and three backup vocalists.

Excellent. Anything else you’d like to say about the project?
If you’re curious abou the group, you have to see fortminor.com. I’m on there all the time; the Styles of Beyond guys and I post regularly.

thanks to lptimes.com