Hybrid Tastes and Success Theories:
An Interview with bassist Phoenix of Linkin Park
by Alicia Downs - September 2001
Linkin Park found themselves at an interesting crossroads this summer.
Basking in the limelight of a hit debut single, "One Step Closer," that fueled the band's debut album "Hybrid Theory" into
multi-platinum status, the band found themselves amid the sudden mainstream success and
controversy. It seemed like Linkin Park came out of nowhere and was suddenly on top of the
world with an invitation to play main stage on this year's Ozzfest edition.
Despite the flowers blooming, many thumbed their noses up at Linkin Park proclaiming them as nothing more than a cheesy rap/rock creation designed to ride the trend of the genre. Even Sharon Osbourne seemed fickle at their musical standing, reportedly referring to their place on the tour as being for the ladies.
Regardless, there were love 'em and hate 'em opinions of Linkin Park sharing the same stage as Slipknot and Sabbath - but, in the long run, Linkin Park's presence did not prove to be nearly as disastrous as the Ozzfest camp's decision to book Crazytown who found themselves being booed off stage on more than one occasion. In spite of the negativity surrounding their Ozzfest position, Linkin Park still managed to go out there every night and tear through the main stage- converting a few open ears along the way.
The interesting thing is that the attention and
hard core fan base surrounding Linkin Park comes from a decidedly unconventional Ozzfest crowd of MTV cronies and college frat boys. Why
they chose to do the tour seemed curious to me but Phoenix explained that, for Linkin Park,
it was an easy decision to play for a new audience amongst some other very talented bands.
They wanted to go out and covert - hell, why stop at multi-platinum? But Linkin Park's history as a band,
I soon learned, moved beyond the breakthrough hit "One Step Closer" hybrid with what
a hefty dose of controversy.
The band's song "One Step Closer" found itself in a media hailstorm after being associated with another incident of school violence in their home state of California. For a week, that single received heavy rotation on the evening news and MTV that dissected the lyrical interpretations. But Phoenix stressed throughout that Linkin Park goes beyond controversy as well as the critics' theories that their whole existence is nothing more than the result of marketing calculations designed to sell records without any musical purpose.
One theory that Phoenix dispelled was that the band's name was changed
to Linkin Park from Hybrid Theory in order to be closer to Limp Bizkit in the record stores. Actually,
Limp Bizkit suffered similar accusations of attempting to establish an alphabetical "link" with brethren Korn.
While the potential name history of Linkin Park did include Hybrid Theory, they started out as Xero. Hybrid
Theory came next but was changed because the label already had a band named Hybrid who was at
the time in legal disputes with a record label of the same name. Hybrid Theory was out and the new
name was suggested by Chester who thought of it when driving and coming across a hometown
park with that name. And thus, Linkin Park, the band name was born. After the name was settled
on and a record deal intact, Phoenix explained that Linkin Park focused early on
to use the Internet as their sedimentary promotional tool. As a result, the boys worked on converting one person
in every city all over the country into a Linkin Park fan. From there the ripple effect went into play as one fan
converted another and so on. If Linkin Park contrived anything as a band this was pretty much
the extent of it which was more of a self-promotional goal than anything else. But the pride of the band
extends beyond accomplishing self-promotion.
Phoenix beams when discussing their live performance, especially when explaining DJ Joseph Hahn's abilities. Hahn's performance involves watching him spin at lightning speed without the reliance of DAT recordings - the show is genuine and intense as the guys establish a symbiotic relationship of energy feeding with the crowd. All in all, Linkin Park has made it a point to try, and as many who saw them will tell you, succeed in giving the fans a show worth their time and money.
But, with Ozzfest 2001 a memory of the past, Linkin Park is also looking
forward to the future. For starters, they are finishing up the video for their third U.S. release "In The End" which was
co-directed by DJ Hahn. They are also debating whether or not they will be releasing a fourth
single from "Hybrid Theory."
Another milestone involves preparing material for a sophomore release. At present time they are looking to release the new album around this time next year. Phoenix noted that the band is very leisurely with their writing and have been throwing down and recording ideas throughout the Ozzfest trek. They anticipate doing much of the same throughout the Family Values Tour that they will be heading up next alongside Staind this fall.
But perhaps the most interesting thing that Phoenix reiterated throughout our conversation was that the band does not want to alienate anyone, especially the core fans that put them in the position that they are today. He encouraged people to bring out CDs if they want autographs and to just feel comfortable in general approaching the band. He ensured fans that they would make themselves available mingling with those that have supported them.
And that had to have been one of the coolest things that he could have said - especially because he was truly sincere.
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Copyright © 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights
Revised: 27 Aug 2002 01:56:58 -0500.