Recently, Linkin Park legend Mike Shinoda appeared on The Howard Stern Show, discussing his band and the tragically deceased frontman Chester Bennington. In particular, the two discussed the band’s major hit song “In the End” from their game-changing debut album “Hybrid Theory.”
What’s interesting is that, according to Shinoda, the song initially had different lyrics. And it was he who decided to stay with the song over one night to work more on it. Although he only came up with the chorus that night, it was enough to persuade the rest of the band that he was onto something. He explained (transcript via Metal Hammer):
“My lyrics on the first version were different. But by the end of that night I had written the words to the chorus. The next day I played it for our drummer [Rob Bourdon]… and he was like, ‘Dude, this is the song that we’ve been waiting for, this is the best song we’ve got.‘”
And, funnily enough, Shinoda adds that the song didn’t feel like it was going to be the band’s major hit. He continued:
“It didn’t feel big to me, it didn’t feel like a hit song. I wouldn’t know what a hit song felt like, I was too young. I was feeling despondent, like, we’re doing all this stuff, we’re trying to realize some kind of identity or some kind of meaning, and it’s not working.”
Going more into it, Howard Stern found it odd that Chester Bennington didn’t think that it was a good song and he allegedly didn’t want to have it on the album. However, Mike Shinoda busts all the myths surrounding the song and explains how this was absolutely not the case. He explained with a laugh:
“He didn’t hate it. No, no, no, no. That’s actually a misconception. Some people think that he hated the song. He liked the song, he just loved really heavy stuff, and so when people were like, ‘This should be a single’, he was like, [shrugs], ‘Ah, whatever!’ It’s not the one that he would have chosen. He was born for this.”
Released in 2000, “Hybrid Theory” went down in history as one of the most impactful metal albums of its era. Although obviously different compared to the previously established rules of the genre, it’s far from an uncommon occurrence to hear someone mentioning Linkin Park as sort of a “gateway drug” into metal music.
And it’s this album, with songs like “In the End,” “Crawling,” and “One Step Closer,” that helped them achieve this status in the metal world. Over the coming years, Linkin Park would end up releasing a total of seven studio albums.
After Chester Bennington’s passing in 2017, the band has not been very active, apart from the tribute concert later that year. Although Shinoda has mentioned that Linkin Park could continue, there have been some contradicting statements from his side as well.
However, in February 2023, Shinoda mentioned that new music from the band was possible. Asked about how some fans are assuming that they could get back on the road in honor of 2003’s “Meteora” and its 20th anniversary, he offered:
“I’ll say it this way. Normally I’m really trying to manage expectations a little bit, especially in the last few years. There’s certain things that are going to be on the table, certain things that are off the table. With this release, shockingly, I don’t think there’s very much to say is off the table. Touring is the only thing [off the table]. We’re not touring right now.”
“The rest of their imagination, where I know their heads are going to go [in regards to] ‘can we do this’, ‘can we do that?’ I think to a lot of that, it’s yes.”
What’s also interesting is that the band officially released a previously unheard track last month. Titled “Lost,” it was from the “Meteora” sessions. In the official press release, he said of it:
“[It] was like finding a favorite photo you had forgotten you’d taken like it was waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.”
“For years, fans have been asking us to release something with Chester’s voice, and I’m thrilled we’ve been able to make that happen in such a special way.”
In another interview, conducted this February, Shinoda looked back on working with Chester Bennington, revealing what he was really like. Asked whether the singer was “difficult,” he responded:
“No, no. Not the whole time. Early days, it was more difficult because we didn’t know how it was gonna go. On early days ‘Hybrid Theory,‘ we were still getting started, we’d get a win here, we’d get a loss there…it was hard. In the midst of all that, having a guy who would sneak out, he’d just go missing and come back obliterated. You couldn’t even talk to him, he [was] just so wasted. But also kinda funny!”
“There was an element of Chester that was very fun sometimes when he was that way. And then usually, the next day, it would be so dark. He’s super hungover, he’s angry at everybody, yelling at everybody, and you’re kinda just like…’Let’s just get through the day.'”
The band’s final album, at least final so far, was released in 2017. Titled “One More Light,” it saw the band taking a noticeably different direction compared to their previous works. Although this came with predominantly negative reviews and backlash from the fans, the record still performed fairly well, selling around 111,000 units, most of which were pure sales.
Photo: suran2007 (Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda 2011 (suran2007) – Flickr)