They're at it again! Chester, Mike and the rest of Linkin Park released another phenomenal album titled Meteora. Sophomore albums are famously tricky affairs. Musicians have their entire lives to pen their debut album, the theory goes, and a relatively short time to follow it up. But what if the debut in question is the biggest selling album in recent memory? And what if the music industry has Hollywood-like expectations for another instant blockbuster? That was the scenario Linkin Park faced when they entered the studio to record Meteora, the follow-up to their multi-platinum debut Hybrid Theory.
To those outside the band, the pressure to follow up that success might have seemed insurmountable. But within Linkin Park, vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, turntablist Joseph Hahn, drummer Rob Bourdon, and bassist Phoenix weren't sweating it in ways you might expect. Instead of dwelling on outside expectations, they set to work, meticulously crafting each moment of each song to their own exacting standards. The bigger picture developed accordingly.
"We don't ever want to have the mindset where we need to sell 10 million albums each time out. That's ridiculous," says Bennington. "It's a blessing to sell that many albums; it doesn't happen very often in this business--even once in your career is an achievement. Our obligation is to our fans. We're not going to get too comfortable and say it's a given that people will run out and buy our albums." "And if you know us, you know the biggest pressure came from within the band," says Shinoda.
"We just wanted to make another great album that we're proud of," says Bourdon. "We focused on that, and worked hard to create songs we love. We're our own harshest critics." If you doubt that, consider this: Shinoda and Bennington wrote 40 unique choruses for Meteora's poignant first single, "Somewhere I Belong," before arriving at the best possible version.
The entire band, in fact, sounds more fully realized on Meteora. It's a rare achievement: A full integration of six members that still retains the unique qualities of each individual. The end result is the thumbprint style known as Linkin Park. "We don't really analyze the chemistry," says Bourdon. "We're just lucky and grateful that we found each other and that we work so well together."
"The collaborations are more seamless now," agrees Bennington. "Mike, for instance, knows more about me as a person, and I know more about him, so it's easier to write lyrics together. It's not possible to have secrecy in our relationship. You have to open up, because you want the other person to be on the same page. We're all that way with each other."