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Mike Shinoda & Joe Hahn Speak Of Rage Against The Machine’s Influence On “One Step Closer” In New “Hybrid Theory” Track-By-Track Breakdown


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Linkin Park‘s vocalist, etc. Mike Shinoda and turntablist Joe Hahn have done a track-by-track rundown of the band’s debut album, “Hybrid Theory“. That outing was officially certified 12x mutli-platinum in the United States this past September and will officially turn 20 on October 24th. In separately conducted interviews with Billboard, the pair breakdown the stories behind each song on the record. Some excerpts from the feature can be found below:

One Step Closer“:

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Mike Shinoda: In choosing Don Gilmore as a producer, we were really hesitant. Don had more of these radio-alternative songs, and we knew that he would get that part of our sound right, but he knew nothing about hip-hop. Not a thing! And he said that to us when he met with us.

He was like, ‘Here’s the deal, the part of your sound that I can’t contribute to is the hip-hop part. I know that’s a big part of your thing. But I like how you do it, so I will try to just get out of the way in terms of the beats and raps and stuff, I will leave that to you.’

And we were like, ‘Okay!’ And that worked out great, because we didn’t know how to mic up and engineer a rock band in the studio. We didn’t know how to arrange, how to multi-track guitar and vocals, in a way that sounded like what we heard on the radio that we loved. So that was all us learning from Don.

As we got into it, we did have these real tense points of conflict, because since he was hands-off on some of the creative in terms of letting us dictate how the hybrid was supposed to work, when somebody from the label came in and said, “I don’t like what they’re doing with mashing up these things,” or if they came in and said “I’m not sure about the rapping,” then all of a sudden Don couldn’t definitively defend it.

He was like, “Uh, okay, well, that’s what the band thinks sounds good!” The power struggle became part of what making that album was. Some of the intensity and frustration you hear on the album is specifically album-related.

One Step Closer” was me and Chester literally writing about Don. We were so mad at him. The ‘shut up’ riff was literally Chester screaming at Don. We were losing our minds. At that point in the process, it was just like, why don’t you trust us? This is our album.

Our A&R guy doesn’t have to have his f–king name on the front of the CD, and play this music onstage everyday. We knew, if we put anything on this record that we don’t like or that we’re not feeling, we’re gonna have to live with it. Like, this is our career!”

“The “shut up” part in the bridge, I know one of my reference points was “F–k you, I won’t do what you tell me” [from Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name“], and we wanted a part like that in one of our songs.

And we were in the studio writing and re-writing “One Step Closer,” and eventually we got so mad that Chester was just writing words down about how mad he was at Don for making us rewrite shit.

And eventually he wrote down “Shut up” and I was like, “What if the bridge is just ‘Shut up’? What if it’s simpler than anything we’ve said so far?” Because we were just writing out lyrics. And he was like, “I think that’s gonna sound awesome!”

We went in and told Don, “Put up ‘One Step Closer,’ we wanna record the bridge.” He was like “Well, tell me what it is.” And we go, “No no no, it’s better if we just record it. Listen to it in its full concept.” [laughs] And Don was like, jumping up and down. I think he figured out eventually that the whole song was about him. At least in part — it wasn’t just about him, but part of it was inspired by how frustrated we were with him.”

With You“:

Joe Hahn: “We worked with the Dust Brothers on that — previous to that, they did [Beastie Boys’] Paul’s Boutique, so they were definitely a part of our history of music. They basically gave us a bunch of stems from an unused remix that they had, so we constructed that into the song. Some of the sounds at the beginning, like that ‘Dun-dun. DUN,’ some of the loops and drum breaks in there are from them.

I remember being really excited at that time, working with them, because it just represented a new way of making music, re-assembling parts that sounded cool into something totally different. It was fun to do that in a collaborative fashion.”

In The End“:

Shinoda: “The only part that we had a lot of drama around was my rap verses — my original verses were okay, but our A&R guy at the time was really an insecure guy all around, and he kept going around to everybody else asking what they thought about the rap verses on that song.

He’d play them and go, “These aren’t right, don’t you think?” And it was like, setting them up to pick something apart. He was the one who suggested that I not rap in the band, that I just be the keyboard player or whatever. Thankfully the guys, and Chester in particular, came to my rescue on that one.”

You can dig in further on each track over at Billboard. An expanded 20th anniversary edition of “Hybrid Theory“, complete with bonus demos, live material and more, will be out this Friday, October 09th. The band will also be streaming a previously unseen 2002 live performance this week, with more details available here.

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