We Moved! WE MOVED

Rocktribe's Interview

Friday, February 11, 2005

Rocktribe's Interview

Barkin Park.
Joe Saunders joins an exhausted, but up for it Linkin Park for a conversation about nu-metal, creative control and pushing ice cream up guardsmen's arses. Ho hum.

At 9 o'clock on January the 12th 2001, Linkin Park began their Day Of Press. All of which means: a jet-lagged, homesick, physically exhausted group of five young men are paraded in front of the world's press. 4 songs recorded for a BBC session, MTV and VH1 appearances, handshakes, smiles and 24 hours of the same old questions, ("Where did the name "Linkin Park" come from") from the usual suspects, (Rocktribe nods wearily to eager young seekers after truth and jaded, drunken hacks in the lobby of Bailey's Hotel.) all of which the band, who by the time we get to see them are suffering from near terminal cabin-fever, are expected to take with courtesy, politesse and grace.

Well fuck all that, because while we know how to spell professionalism, its a concept that we infrequently actually employ. We join Mike (vocals,) Joe (Dj.) and Brad (guitar) in a trashed 6th floor boudoir where, to Rocktribe's eternal respect and admiration, 3/5ths of Linkin Park are crashed out on the bed, watching the bowling. (A uniquely British sport in which the aim of the game is to make it to the end of the round without keeling over of old age.)

I suggest spending our carefully allotted half hour discussing the relative merits of this fine old sport and the boys are up for it. Their press agent, however, is less than keen. We move, unwillingly, to the living area to conduct a hastily contrived "real" interview which, although it starts strongly, descends rapidly into farce. Excellent.

I advise Mike to strap on his fake smile so he can plough through another 30 minutes of predictable questions. He smiles affably, "Don't worry man, we've come up with some interesting answers." I learn later that several journalists today have gone through a half an hour labouring under the misapprehension that Mike is Joe, Joe is Brad and Brad is Chester. Oh these wacky Yanks.

First things first. Why are you over here?
Brad: We played Paris for the first time this week and then London last night. We're only here to do 3 shows, its kind of warm up for march when we come back with the Deftones.
How did the London show go?
Mike: Sick. Off the hook.
B: If you weren't there then just talk to someone who was.
M: You don't want to hear it from us,
RT: You're biased?
M: No we're not biased. We'll just go off.
B: Yeah man, we'll be the first to admit it when we suck and last night was one night that we didn't suck
RT: How long are you in town for?
M: We leave on the 14th for our headline tour with Taproot, at least I hope we do.
RT: What are you going to do in London? A few drinkypoos,
M: We actually got a present from our record company out here, they greeted us with alcohol. Cases of lager.
B: Which is great because some of us don't really drink so its nice, but like...
RT: Well, this is London
B: Well I'm not going to drink it...
M: You'd better drink it, or I'm going to force it down your throat.
B: ...Its like, great. vodka. Thanks.
M: Which just means that there's more for Joe.
Joe, who has so far been sitting in an enigmatic silence, pipes up suddenly, "Yeah. I'm a whore."

A band who've suddenly had the attention of the world's press thrust on them must be under considerable pressure to perform and act in a certain way. Glancing around the hotel room its clear that Warner's are lavishing a lot of money and attention on the band, but Brad is keen to point out the contradictions, "There's like this whole rock star thing where you're supposed to get drunk and party and all that. but if you think about it, all the great bands of the last few decades were destroyed by drugs and alcohol and for all the talk about the record industry being more responsible with bands who have problems, they actually want you to live up to this antiquated mystique about what a rock star should be." The Iggy Pop syndrome? "They almost encourage it, and I'm like, "that's not what I'm about." Not, Mike and Joe are keen to point out, that Brad's point of view is not shared by everyone, "Speaketh for thyself," drawls Joe, sprawled on the sofa, perhaps having indulged a little too freely the night before. Mike confirms this emphatically, "Joe is a rockstar." he says, beaming at the prostrate Joe."He has his own hairdresser, his own wardrobe case with all leathers in it, and he has to be doped up on something to do a show." The three of them then collapse into a hysteria borne of impending physical and mental exhaustion. This is not the first time that this will happen in the next half hour. This is, in fact, the best its going to get - Linkin Park's tiredness, and Rocktribe's famous lackadaisical approach to professional journalism both conspiring to make this more of a giggle-fest than an in-depth analysis.

Do you feel famous?
Brad: "Do you think we're famous? All I know is that at the show last night [ at the London show] we didn't have passes...and yet there were....a...OK...." he pulls himself up short, tongue-tied - and turns to Mike. "You tell the story."

Mike, the only member of the band with a functioning tongue in his head, fills in, "My story was that I showed up late. I was busy doing other things ..." Brad and Joe exchange knowing glances, "Mike is never late" says Brad, sarcasm dripping from every syllable. "Whatever, I showed up a half hour before the show and we got up to the door and the guy stopped us. he says "Where's your passes?" and I'm looking past him and there's like these 5 foot posters with our faces on and just for a second I was thinking "You idiot." but then my second thought was "Well cool, I can walk through this club right now and not get stopped by anyone."

You're turning into Spinal Tap already?
M: Only in the sense that we can't find the stage.
B: We try to be life imitating art as much as possible when i t comes to Spinal Tap.

And, as if by magic, at this point life really does begin to imitate art as Mike decides there's one aspect of British culture that he really needs clarifying, "You know those guards with the hats? The ones that don't move."
"The guards at Buckingham Palace?"
"Yeah. Can you touch them?"
"I think so."
"Can you, like, stick your thumb in their butts and they won't move?"
"At what point would they like, destroy you?" Adds Brad, helpfully.
"Why do you ask?" I enquire, bemused. Joe spells it out,
"In America we have an ice cream called a Big Stick and we want to stick one of those up their asses"
"Can I film it?"
There follows 5 minutes of laughter, phones ringing and tour managers with emails in which, while no questions are actually asked, I begin to feel that the interview is going swimmingly and regret that the aforementioned crates of lager aren't kicking around anywhere nearby. (Readers wishing to know how Linkin Park got their name, would do well to turn off now.)

So how important has the Internet been in your development.
M: Well, www.linkinparkporn.com has been a very important part of our lives....
B: "I always mention the website and we've put a lot of hard work into it."

"Hard work" must be an expression that Linkin Park are familiar with, having been touring with one band or another for something approaching the last six decades. Its a testament to what a tight unit the band are that they can hold it together for such long periods of time. The following question illustrates this, (unintentionally, as it turns out.) It turns out that Mike and Joe have had a large amount of creative control in the website's content and design. Rocktribe asks whether they'd also had an input in their video to "One Step Closer." Brad and Mike suddenly gasp in mock horror and put their hands over their mouths, "Uh-oh. Joe's gotta answer a question...." Joe, who seems like he gets a lot of this, ploughs on regardless."They let us do pretty much what we wanted to..." "Who's they?" chimes Mike, keen to ensure that Joe answers all questions with as much detail as he can. Joe winces with semi-serious irritation "The guys at the record company over there because they don't really have any creative people there anyway." Mike and Brad gape in open mouthed mockery at what must surely be the most sweeping statement yet made in any interview, "Dude, what are you saying!!???" "What? Our A&R guy?" says Joe, incredulous that he's getting abuse for speaking his mind. "Are you saying that our A&R guy couldn't direct a video?" says Mike. Joe shoves his head in his hands and gives up the ghost entirely, "I can't do this." he groans, "I don't know what's happening..." Life on the road being as it is, (moreso for "Hot Young Bands™,") there is little sympathy for Joe and Mike and Brad continue to rag him mercilessly throughout his answer.

"You directed the video?" I say.
"No, I came up with the storyboard." says Joe from behind his hands.
"Joe copped out on that answer." says Mike, like a protective big brother. Brad agrees, "If we answered every question like that..." "The fact is that Joe did the original treatment and he's just being modest." "At least I'm not being arrogant like you fucks." Joe says petulantly, and with that, the room once again collapses into giggles. A brief moment of lucidity arises as I ask Brad about whether he thinks its easier for a metal band to admit to influences outside of the metal world. (Brad has previously admitted to being a Depeche mode fan,) as opposed to always citing the ubiquitous Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. "I don't think any of those metal bands are our influences at all. I wouldn't describe our stuff as metal at all. Maybe in some of my guitar parts and some of Chester's vocals. Our aim is to be a hybrid between progressive hip hop, hard alternative rock and electronic. Naturally, what we've always strived for is not to be a metal band or a hip hop group, but to just be Linkin Park" A noble aim, sure enough, and one which, given a few weeks of uninterrupted sleep, shouldn't be too hard for them to pull off.