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Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda Says His Band Is Not A “Legacy Act”, Speaks On Struggles Rock Bands Face


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Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda has wrote a response to this piece called ‘Rock Music Sucks Now And It’s Depressing.” In his response Shinoda outlines both his and his bands struggles with being embraced by the media, stardom and why it is more difficult to get a rock band off the ground than other genres.

Speaking through pigeonsandplanes.com on that, he stated:

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“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 that’s you, so be it; I know your deal.

I was the same way when I was younger. I leaned toward (and still lean toward) independent, underground music. And then one day, my own band was embraced by the mainstream, and I was forced to reconcile my feelings about the situation. I remember a specific moment when the issue struck me: we were playing four to six shows a week when our song “One Step Closer” first started getting played on the radio. Up until that point, we were playing for a couple hundred people a night. 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.”

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not dissing our fans—the vast majority were (and are) cool. I was seeing people in our crowd singing along to our music, who I didn’t have anything in common with, and it made raised questions about integrity.

What does it take to balance integrity and record sales?

Integrity is subjective. Numbers are not. Today, for those of you who aren’t up on the latest of Linkin Park, we haven’t slowed down. Linkin Park is one of the biggest bands on YouTube; we’re the biggest band on Facebook, and we still headline most major rock festivals in the world when we go out on tour.

We’re not a “legacy act,” riding out classic hits on tour like The Stones and Roger Waters, playing shows for nostalgic middle-aged crowd—instead, we’re constantly striving to innovate, in the studio and online with our fans. Every album we’ve released in the last 10 years has debuted at No. 1 in at least 20 countries.

Yet, even with things still strong and growing, we’re not in the real mainstream, the Kanye-Taylor-Gaga mainstream. And we don’t really want to be, as individuals or as a band. Our fans sit in the shadows, like little sleeper cells all over the world, loyally supporting the band at every turn. Pop radio doesn’t play us, and award shows ignore us. We’re not bitter—we actually work hard to keep the delicate balance.”

On the challenges musicians face in starting a rock band, he explained:

“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.

Do the math. If you want to start a rock band, you need more than proficiency and/or exceptional talent at your instruments. You also need some kind of production or recording experience, or access to it. You need chemistry.

You need a group of individuals who have are all aligned on their vision of what kind of music they want to make. You want to be The Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Rage Against The Machine? MGMT? Your band has to come to a general consensus about what “credibility” and “integrity” mean.

You need to be able to write good songs together. And when you finally start making songs for anyone to hear, you’re going to need to be able to get on a stage and play them well together. And for every aspiring rock band with four people who can manage to do all these things, there are four solo DJs and rappers trying to do it too (and probably finishing many more songs, many times faster).

Rock bands are outnumbered, and that’s only half the problem. The other half lies in rock’s culture of segregation—not in the fans’ minds, but in the bands’. Behind the scenes, more than any fan would ever imagine, there’s animosity between rock bands, even if they don’t say it. 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. Whatever the case, everyone else in every popular genre gets it, and they’re reaping the benefits. EDM, rap, pop, and even country artists are jumping from record to record because a.) it multiplies the fans’ interest, and b.) it’s fun.”

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