Mike Shinoda Looks Back on Meteora: “We Didn’t Identify With the Tough Guy Sh*t”


Meteora, Linkin Park‘s massive sophomore album, just celebrated its 20th birthday week. As we examined in our Revisit Review yesterday, it’s a singular musical document and one that reflects the sounds of the time. In a lengthy interview with Vulture, frontman Mike Shinoda discussed the album in depth, covering a variety of related topics.

Shinoda discussed Linkin Park’s rise through the scene and the initial trepidation from labels to sign the group, chalking it up to confusion about what to do with the group, who didn’t fit the “macho” presentation of other nü-metal groups.

“Here’s what I assume they thought: Our thing, the combination of elements, was too esoteric. We loved DJ Shadow, Fatboy Slim, Moby, Aphex Twin, and Portishead. I’m missing a ton … the Prodigy. With that stuff in the music, labels were like, “Who’s going to listen?” And then on top of it, we were more introspective. What we didn’t like about what was going on in the scene was that it was very frat rock. It was toxic masculinity. We didn’t know the term yet. We just didn’t like how everything was about tough-guy shit, and we didn’t identify with tough-guy shit. So nobody wanted to sign us because we didn’t fit. They couldn’t see us onstage. Somebody said to me, “If you guys were to open up a show with Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit, you’d get beat up.” It was a joke, right? But probably true, at least for me. I would’ve gotten beat up. Chester wouldn’t have gotten beat up. He’d fuck somebody up, too.”

Shortly after, Shinoda explains that Linkin Park’s music was always intentionally emotional and meant to cover topics that nü metal and hip hop didn’t generally.

“I think that was the point. It was always the point. While I loved and I grew up on very macho hip-hop, I was also, at that phase in my life, finishing college, more in tune with a more complex palette of subject matter in what I was listening to. I wanted to put that into my songs, like bands like Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails did. I was listening to a lot of U2. None of those are, like, “Hey, I’m going to kick your ass” songs. Those are all, “Oh, I got ass my kicked. This isn’t fair or this feels bad or maybe it’s my fault.” We weren’t hearing those emotions as much in music that was out there. And when we did hear it, I liked what I was hearing. I should give groups like Deftones and Korn more credit. They were doing that. I liked how Jonathan Davis was just an open book putting all of his most fucked-up stuff right out there in the lyrics.”

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