Caught In A Halestorm At The Shindig! Exclusive Interview!

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(PCM) A few weeks ago we attended The Shindig Music Festival in Baltimore, MD!  The festival was an epic showcase that included some of the most hard-working and diverse bands currently in the scene. The line-up featured artists such as Jane’s Addiction, Rise Against, Gogol Bordello, Clutch, Halestorm, The Bots just to name a few.

The festival celebrated a sense of unity among both the artists performing and their fans. The music from each of the band’s performing in some way speaks to the soul of the everyday person and without a doubt we can all find ways in which we relate,.

During The Shindig we were able to catch up with Grammy-winning rockers Halestorm to discuss the band’s festival performance, work on their upcoming new album, tour plans with Eric Church and so much more!

You can view the interview below:

 Photography credit: Ken Schuler for PopCultureMadness.com

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Catching Up With Clutch’s Neil Fallon

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(PCM) I was recently out at The Shindig Festival which was held in Balitmore, MD and had a chance to catch up with Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon.

We spoke in-depth about the band’s latest album release, the phenomenal “Earth Rocker”. I expressed to Neil just how much we had enjoyed the album on vinyl, which I highly recommend that everyone check out given the opportunity.

Based out of Maryland, the band tore up the stage at The Shindig and were a perfect choice to be part of the line-up that featured an eclectic mix of artists such as Jane’s Addiction, Gogol Bordello, Rise Against, Halestorm and more.

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All of the bands playing, Clutch included, share a certain spirit that connects with everyday people and that common thread of unity was quite apparent at a festival such as The Shindig.

Clutch recently performed at all three Riot Fest dates in Toronto, Chicago and Denver prior to their appearance at The Shindig. Neil informed us that the band has some plans for the holidays and of course New Years Eve and are also hard at work on a new album that we could see sometime next year.

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You can watch the full interview below:

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Louder Than Life Is Living Up To Its’ Name!

Louder-than-Life(PCM) It is the inaugural year for the Louder Than Life Festival held at Champions Park in Louisville, Kentucky and thus far we can say that it is certainly living up to its’ name.

We have just gotten back to our hotel room to recover from day one of this monster of a two day festival which boasts a line-up that consists of rock n’ roll royalty. Day one brought us performances from bands such as Judas Priest, Korn, Stone Temple Pilots w/Chester Bennington, Limp Bizkit, Theory Of A Deadman, Pop Evil, Alterbridge, Otherwise, Thousand Foot Krutch and many many more!

Day one featured a fairly good sized crowd and despite the fact that temperatures dipped fairly low, especially after the sun went down the raw enthusiasm from the crowd never waned. However, that could have something to do with the fabulous variety of bourbon and other spirits that were on-hand throughout the entire day.

We were absolutely blown away by the performance from Judas Priest to close out the first day. Vocalist Rob Halford and the rest of the band sounded utterly fantastic. Halford is always one of my favorite performers to watch in the live environment, as his vocal prowess is second to none. Oh to be able to hit some of those notes … and he does it almost effortlessly.

The band is celebrating their 40th anniversary, however watching them perform it was as if no time had gone by at all and their set was filled with the classic metal staples that we all know and love.

I was able to catch Korn perform back on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival earlier this summer and I had commented after their show in Camden, NJ that I had not seen vocalist Jonathan Davis looking so excited and refreshed as he did during that particular performance. Well, yet again Davis appeared to have discovered some kind of new found zest and excitement just oozes off the stage when watching them perform.

There is definitely no phoning it in with this band and their performances have certainly did more than deliver. Always an epic live band throughout the years, however there is something about now that is working and whatever it is I certainly hope it keeps up, as we are super excited for the band’s upcoming co-headlining run with Slipknot!

Prior to both Judas Priest and Korn taking the stage, we caught sets from both Stone Temple Pilots w/Chester Bennington and Limp Bizkit. While I think that STP feat. Chester Bennington are fabulous, I could not help but note that they brought the energy level in the crowd down just a notch.

The band’s performance was solid and I have to admit that Bennington is certainly holding his own in the band, but after a blazing set from Limp Bizkit and gearing up for Korn, throwing STP on in-between the two just seemed a bit odd and slightly out of place in the days line-up.

Many people continue to have mixed feelings about Limp Bizkit, but I will freely admit that they have always been one of my very favorite bands. Their music, to me, is like a trip down memory lane and back to the late nineties. It was a time when their were more carefree days and Limp Bizkit was definitely part of the soundtrack.

Vocalist Fred Durst has showed no signs of slowing down as he bounced all over the stage, at one point even coming down to the barricade to become a little more up close and personal with the thousands of screaming fans in attendance. Guitarist Wes Borland sounded incredible and it without a doubt one of the most unique and versatile players in modern rock.

The only slight complaints I had about Louder Than Life, and I’m sure many of you who were in attendance will agree, were the incredibly long lines/not enough porta-potties and for some reason the sound on the Main Stage South was fantastic, but Main Stage North at times because a bit muffled and was incredibly heavy on the bass.

The best part about these two-day festival is that we get to go back and do it all again tomorrow!  Stayed tuned for more updates as we catch performances from Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Buckcherry, Chiodos, Hellyeah, Crobot and more!

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Finch Drop New Album! Exclusive Interview!

Finch1(PCM) Finch has just released their first full length album in nine years titled “Back To Oblivion” and without a doubt the band has truly outdone themselves with this brilliant release.

After listening to the album it is quite apparent that the band has pushed themselves above and beyond and what I love is that they are truly not afraid to take some risks with their music.

“Back To Oblivion” is a true statement to the band’s longevity and certainly showcased a deeper and more matured side to the band.

Recently we were able to catch up with Finch guitarist Alex Linares to discuss the band’s new album, touring plans, musical history and more!

We were certainly sure that the band was more than excited to get this highly anticipated album into the hand of listeners. Alex comments “Yeah, it felt like it was taking forever. It was finished a couple of months ago and I am so anxious for people to hear it”.

With this being the band’s first full length album in nine years were were curious about any challenges they may have faced in the studio. Alex tell us “Probably just writing together again. It has been almost ten years since we all sat down to write a whole album together. Before we split up, we tried to write a record and came up with nothing worthy of a third full-length record, but with this album it took about a year of us writing in secret. We were doing all these anniversary shows for the 10th anniversary of “What Is To Burn”, but we were always secretly working on the new material. We just didn’t want to announce it at that point”.

When speaking about tracks on the new album that can definite the mentality in the studio, Alex reveals “We worked really quickly and it was sort of over before it began, but I don’t know if there is really one song that captures the tone of us recording. I think maybe it would be “New Wave”, it is the last song on the record and it was one that was wholly created in the studio. Normally during the recording process each person records their parts separately and they are all put together, however for that song we were all in the studio together, at the same time, working on it, and we created it together. I think that might be an example of the new Finch where we are a bit more united”.

With “Back To Oblivion” Finch were definitely not afraid to experiment some with their sound and create a very unique new album. Alex says that he is “crossing my fingers and toes” that the fans take to it more than they did “Say Hello To Sunshine”. He felt that “Sunshine” caught most people off guard, although some people did love it.

Alex goes on to say ” I have ADD in the studio and I feel it is important for us to keep challenging ourselves with every record, so that will keep us all interested”.

“Two Guns To The Temple” is the first single off of “Back To Oblivion” and we were curious to know what led to the band’s decision for that track in particular to become the single and also if they ever get a feeling about a song and then are surprised by what the fans happen to gravitate towards. Alex comments ” I don’t even pretend to know which song should become the single, usually I’m like ‘Yes, that’s the one’ and the record label and manager types are like “You’re f**king crazy, dude … it’s five and half minutes and you don’t get to the chorus for three and half, so that doesn’t work’! The lead off single was really “Anywhere But Here” as the internet single and fit a little more into the traditional single format.”.

We also spoke in-depth about many of the changes that have taken place within the music industry over the years. Alex reveals ” Five years ago I didn’t want anything to do with a label, but I think how they function now, it makes sense, it works and we are more comfortable with it. So far, Razor & Tie has been a really good home for us. They have not made any sort of ridiculous demands that we have had to deal with from label in the past. They seem to really respect their artists and that is genuinely what artist really want … to be respected.

We also spoke about the up rise of social media and Alex commented “As much as social networks give you access to the band in ways that you or I didn’t have twenty years ago, I mean you had to buy Hit Parader if there was a cool picture of Marilyn Manson or Jonathan Davis in there, now you have this inside peek. You get to see backstage and see how boring it really is (laughs), I think it is kind of good and kind of not good sometimes. It takes some of mystery away.

He goes on to say “When I was thirteen, Korn was my favorite band ever and this last tour we were on tour in Australia and they were on it and seeing Jonathan Davis, like romp around backstage, he looked like the most mega-geek and that’s probably what most people involved with social networks these days really think about the artist’s they see. They take backstage photos and they are just sitting there with a book, reading or something. It’s like someone explaining how the magic trick works and it’s a f**king bummer!”

Currently the band is gearing up for a headlining tour run with Maps & Atlases that is set to begin in a few weeks. Alex also told us that there is some talk about the band headed back to England and some other parts of Europe as well and plan for non-stop touring for the next year and half of so in support of the record.

We mentioned to Alex that it would have to be difficult for the band to craft a set list each night and he replied “The only hard part is not wanting to put too much new material in there. I want to go out and play the new record from beginning to end but I know that would greatly annoy most people that paid for a ticket so I think we will play a good mix of both old and newer material”.

Alex also reveals that one of the great inspirations for the new album was the 10th anniversary show for their seminal album “What Is To Burn”. He says ” To play the album together again was bizarrely easy and running through all the songs, it was like muscle memory. I think feeling such constant enthusiasm for my band and just constant desire for us to not go away after this tour was a great motivator to try our hand at a new record.”

Often times certain information about a band may be misconstrued or misunderstood, we asked Alex if that had ever happened with Finch. He replied “So much!  Usually everything! (laughs) I am not actually a grizzly bear, most people think I am the offspring of some great grizzly mother … that’s not true! No, I’m kidding. People come up with the wildest things and it’s ridiculous. I think the worst on is that people actually think that I’m a d**k. People will come up and talk to me and be like ‘man, we heard you were a d**k, but you’re really great’.  I appreciate that … really.”

Well, we can certainly set the record straight! He is neither bear nor d**khead! Alex along with the rest of Finch are truly great guys that have put together a truly wonderful new album that we certainly urge you all to check out!

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Man Overboard Reveal New Music On The Way And More At Made In America Festival

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(PCM) We recently had the chance to catch up with Man Overboard while out at the recent Made In America Festival in Philadelphia, PA over Labor Day weekend.

The band has deserving earned the title of being one of the biggest bands on the pop punk scene. Forming back in 2008 the band hit the ground running and continue to go strong to this day.

They have been a staple during the Vans Warped Tour over the years, but it was awesome to catch the band performing a festival such as Made In America where they were able to hold their own on a line-up that featured mostly EDM, hip-hop and indie rock artists.

Chatting with the guys backstage at Made In America was a lot of fun and you can check out the full interview where we discuss the ways in which the band has continued to grow, their fan base, and of course some details about the new music which is headed our way soon.

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Steve Aoki Paints A Neon Future At Made In America Philadelphia

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(PCM) Words cannot even begin to express how excited we are for the upcoming new album “Neon Future I” the first installment of a dual release from Steve Aoki on September 30th!

The Vegas born producer/DJ recently performed at both Made In America Philadelphia on Saturday and then at Made In America Los Angeles on Sunday. When this man finds a minute to rest is completely beyond us!  His restless and creative spirit is always on the go and it shows.

His performances are truly a work of art and we adore an artist, especially in the world of EDM, who is not afraid to get up close and personal with their adoring fans, even if that does mean getting showered in both cake and champagne from time to time! Yum!

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It is also not everyday that you have rap icon (and Budweiser Made In America curator) Jay-Z and the infamous two-dollar bill man literally making it rain two-dollar bills during a performance as well…but with a Steve Aoki show, always expect the unexpected.

We got to hear some snippets of new material of the upcoming album which included a new collaboration with Afrojack. “Neon Future I” will also feature collaborations with Aoki and Empire Of The Sun, Fall Out Boy, Waka Flocka Flame and Machine Gun Kelly. We also loved his clever move of blending the opening of Kanye’s “Power” into the Chainsmoker’s “Kanye” as a way to almost welcome Kanye, who was up next, to the stage.

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We had the chance to catch up with Steve Aoki just prior to his incredible Made In America performance. We discussed the new album, the hectic schedule and the many places from which he draws his inspirations. Check out the full interview below:

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I’m Only “Happy” When It Rains…Pharrell And Kings Of Leon Bring Made In America 2014 To An Epic Close

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(PCM) Despite the imminent threat of inclement weather on the way, the Budweiser Made In America Day Two in Philadelphia kicked off with a hot and humid start with some amazing performances from Bleachers, Kongos, Penguin Prison, YG, Man Overboard and Awolnation.

As the day progressed the storm clouds began to roll in and just after Spoon took the stage a nasty thunderstorm began, forcing the band’s performance to come to an abrupt halt and the festival grounds to be evacuated.

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There was some mild protest from some of the more rowdy attendees in the audience, but it appeared that all were evacuated quickly and efficiently until the worst of the storm had passed. About 20 minutes later the gates were re-opened and the curfew was extended for a bit to allow the rest of the show to go on as planned.

Spoon took to the stage once again to finish out their set and I give both them and Girl Talk all the respect in the world for continuing their performances during some absolutely torrential downpours of rain, but hey…that’s rock n’ roll.

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Majority of the heavy rain had passed by the time that Pharrell Williams took to the stage and his performance was just brilliant. There is nothing we don’t love about Pharrell, as his performances are always both entertaining and thoroughly engaging. Opening with “Lose Yourself To Dance” and plowing through a hit filled set that included some throwbacks to tracks that he had produced including “Hot In Herre” and “Hollaback Girl” to name a few.

One of my favorite moments occurred when Pharrell was addressing the crowd and gave a shout-out to all the women in the house, claiming that his wish would be to see more women in positions of power including both government and the entertainment realm.

At the very end of his set Pharrell commented that he had wished that the media/photographers were still out there to capture what 100,000 happy people looked like from his point of view. Well, rest assured P…we were out there, just as happy as could be, dancing our way all over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and loving every moment. (See our past chat with Pharrell Williams and his N.E.R.D. bandmate Shay Haly here)

In our opinion not much could compete with Pharrell’s outstanding Made In America performance, but Kings of Leon certainly gave it their best attempt. I am not sure I always agree with closing out a festival with a slower tempo, however Kings of Leon provided a nice way to close out Made In America festival with a dose of good ol’ rock n’ roll.

The rain unfortunately shortened the band’s performance time by a bit, but they were very gracious to those that stuck it out to the very end and definitely made true on their promise to give it all they had till the very end!

More images from Day Two of the Budweiser Made In America Festival Philadelphia below:

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Concert Review: Uproar Festival 2014 Featuring Godsmack, Seether, Skillet And More!

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(PCM) There are so many summer touring packages that it can often times be hard to make the decision as to which show is worth spending you hard earned cash on a ticket. This year the 2014 edition of the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival provided plenty of bang for your buck with an line-up of epic proportions this year!

The 2014 line-up consisted of Godsmack, Seether, Skillet, Pop Evil, Buckcherry, Escape The Fate, 3 Years Hollow, Within Reason and Sons Of Revelry to name a few.

Godsmack were the perfect choice to headline this year’s festival as they were definitely missed during their hiatus of sorts and it was great to seem them back out on the road, refreshed and ready to rock.

The band has just released a brand-new album title “1000hp” which made its’ debut at #3 on the Billboard charts. As a fan it was fantastic to hear some new material making it’s way into the band’s set and the band appeared to be both excited and invigorated to finally be able to play some of these tracks in the live environment.

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The band even went as far as to open their blazing 90-minute set with “Generation Day”, a track off the new album, as well as, “Something Different” which was another “1000hp” track that was played early in the set.  Of course the crowd went crazy for fan favorites such as “Straight Out Of Line”, “The Enemy”, “Awake” and of course my personal favorite “Voodoo”.

As many times as I have seen Godsmack live I also do not think that I will ever tire of seeing the epic drum battle that takes place between drummer Shannon Larkin and front man Sully Erna, now being dubbed Batalla de los Tambores. It is always just incredibly fun to see!

Prior to Godsmack taking the stage to close out Uproar Festival 2014, we were also privy to some incredible performances from many of the other bands’ on the bill as well. Highlight performances came from Seether, Skillet, Buckcherry, Escape The Fate, and Sons of Revelry throughout the afternoon into the evening.

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Seether released their amazing new album “Isolate and Medicate” earlier this year and while their performance at Uproar sounded amazing, I was surprised that only one track from the new album, “Words As Weapons” made it into the set. They plowed through fan favorites such as “Rise Above This”, “Fake It” and “The Remedy”, and I am chalking it up to set time for the reason some more newer tracks did not make it into the performance.

We had a chance to catch up with Seether’s drummer John Humphrey prior to the band taking the stage. You can view our chat below:

Skillet also put on a phenomenal performance which was absolutely mesmerizing to catch. Skillet are a band that has the ability to take command of the stage and are able to hold the audience at full attention for the start of their performance to the very end.

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I adore the string players and the band just appears to be having a lot of fun while up on the stage. I would almost be willing to say that within the next few years we could possibly see Skillet as the top headlining spot for one of these mainstream rock festivals, if not already, as they have more than earned it!

We had a chance to catch up with Skillet front man John Cooper while out at Uproar. You can view our chat below:

There is truly nothing I don’t love about Buckcherry!  As headliners of Uproar’s second stage, the band put together a rousing performance that featured a perfect blend of both older and newer material.

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The band has just released their brand new EP perfectly title “F**k” and the songs are absolutely f**king brilliant!  We had the opportunity to catch up with Buckcherry front man Josh Todd before the band’s performance. You can listen to the full interview below:

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We were also able to catch up with Escape The Fate, who may have been the odd band out on the bill, but certainly did an incredible job at commanding the audiences full attention. The band is still currently touring behind their phenomenal album “Ungrateful” but have revealed that they have plans to start working on some new material shortly.

You can view our interview with Escape The Fate’s Robert Ortiz below:

 Up and coming band Sons Of Revelry were definitely another highlight from our day at Uproar Festival. We had a chance to speak with the full band…check it out:

We loved the 2014 edition of the Rockstar Energy Uproar Tour and we certainly can’t wait to see what they will have in store for 2015!

All photography credit: Megan C. Brooks Photography

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Kanye West Closes Out Made In America Festival Day One + Attends A Delaware Wedding!

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(PCM) Artist Kanye West closed out day one of the 2014 Made In America Festival Philadelphia and the man is without a doubt an artist in every sense of the word. Every part of his performance was mesmerizing and he definitely holds the audience in the palm of his hand.

Opening with “Black Skinhead”, West plowed through his hits in succession moving into “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “New Slaves” to get things off to a fantastic start.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Kanye West performance without some kind of diatribe, however this time his criticisms mentioned actually made a lot of sense. He spoke about the importance of not being judged by the things the media will say, not just for himself but for all artists. He went on to speak about his marriage to Kim Kardashian saying “I am in a highly publicized interracial relationship and it deserves to be respected”.

West went on to speak about the fact that “we are all in this together”, meaning artists and fans and he wants to be able to create more to help others. He said “What we as artists do is not a joke…we put our love, our hearts, our souls into what we do”

It was hard not agree with him on all of these points. He then launched into “Blood on the Leaves” which is normally the set closer….and don’t worry…he did play it again at the end of the set as well. Kanye also had some criticism for those “who think Kanye is a bad guy” saying you can’t criticize people like him saying he deals in “beauty, truth, love and helping the next guy out” .

Many thought Made In America curator Jay-Z would grace the stage with Kanye at some point during the performance as he was on site for most of the day, but alas we were disappointed.

Hearing dig back in his catalog was a huge thrill for me and the crowd absolutely erupted during “Jesus Walks” and “Touch The Sky”.

In other news, Kanye had the whole family in tow for Made In America and evening attended a wedding in Delaware with his wife Kim and baby North. No word on how Kanye knew the couple tying the knot, but the family’s appearance certainly created a bit of stir in the state, located right outside Philly.

Please be sure to stay tuned to PCM for more Made In America Festival coverage as well as our exclusive interview with Kanye’s first cousin, The World Famous Tony Williams, who has collaborated on every Kanye album and was performing with him at MIA.

 

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Linkin Park Give Us The Inside Scoop On The Upcoming Carnivores Tour And More!

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(PCM) In just a few short days, The Carnivores Tour featuring Linkin Park, Thirty Seconds To Mars and special guests AFI will kick off in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Words can not even express how excited we were when the news was announced that these bands would be partnering up for the co-headlining tour venture, as each has certainly earned their spot among some of the most highly engaging and entertaining live acts out there on the road today.

We were recently able to catch up with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda to talk about the upcoming tour, their brilliant new album “The Hunting Party” and more.

When speaking about the overwhelming amount of positive feedback the band’s new album has been receiving Chester Bennington tells us “It’s funny because I think probably more so than any other record, maybe other than possibly A Thousand Sons, I feel like critically the record’s been overwhelmingly positive. Like, I have yet to read anything negative about the record on a critical level that has been written, which is pretty amazing, and so for that we’re very grateful.

But at the same time, almost on a daily basis I run into Linkin Park fans and I’ll take pictures or say, “Hi,” whatever, and every single person that I’ve met since we released this record has told me that they love the record. They are super happy that it’s out like it is, that they’ve been waiting for the great rock record.

I’ve heard some other guys in the band that they feel like it is a record that really the genre needed and that they also appreciate the record that we’ve made, that it is progressive and it is something that they want to listen to. And I feel like we have accomplished our goal on this album.

I think not only creatively, but personally for the band, but also for a lot of our fans. Like, they appreciate what we do, but they’ve kind of been waiting for us to rock out for awhile, and I think they appreciate not only that we did rock out, but in the manner in which we did. I think that they can see that it was crafted in the same manner that we craft everything that we do.”

Both Bennington and Mike Shinoda claim that the band’s set list for the upcoming tour will feature a healthy mix of both old and new material. Shinoda says “It’s basically stuff from every record” to which Bennington adds “I think we’re playing Final Masquerade, Rebellion, those are the two that we haven’t played yet. So, there’s a lot of the new record in this upcoming tour, for sure.”

Linkin-Park2Everyone that has listened to “The Hunting Party” will surely agree that it is definitely a harder album for the band. It left us wondering if everyone was on-board with the style in which it was recorded from the beginning. Shinoda reveals “For me, it was a bit of a process. I felt like Chester was on board from the beginning and Chester – I think Chester and Dave and I had talked about it a number of times, but it was still, like, figuring out at that point what we were – well, our conversations were happening mid-tour last album. And so, like, what is a louder record mean? What is bringing energy to the album, even more so than the last album? What does that mean? How do we do that without it sounding throwback or derivative of heavier stuff that we grew up with.

And so, we were trying to find the right – and it really fell to a large degree, at first it fell on me to kind of find the right tone, so that I could take that to, in particular Brad and Rob, and say, “You guys, like, I know this is something that you don’t naturally gravitate towards at this point in your life, but check out these reference points.” And as I’ve said before, Derek, you know bands like Refused and At the Drive-In and Helmet and many, many more, but those bands are a great example of how – when you listen to those albums, I feel like there’s a huge aesthetic separation between those albums and other things that were going on at the time.

And that’s what I was keying into and saying, “It is possible to bring a smart, and maybe alternative in the more pure sense of the word, an alternative to, like, what people expect when they hear metal or heavy music or whatever.”

Linkin Park has been a band on the road for about thirteen to fourteen years now, so obviously they have seen quite a few changes with the way in which they approach touring now rather than in the past. Shinoda comments “I’d say, first and foremost, we have opportunities now that we obviously didn’t have then, and just like being in the studio, you have opportunities with knowing what you’re doing, number one; knowing what’s out there is, like, a possibility of whether you’re talking conceptually or being able to afford production or instruments or whatever. Like, we have so many opportunities and the focus a lot of times is on what’s the selection process, like, what choices do we make that keeps things focused and exciting.

I feel like on this one the production that you’ll see, for example, is, I think it evolves over the course of the show really well. It’s more video-based. The song selection and the technology we used to get the set into the form that it is right now. We’ve just finished the idea that that technology didn’t really exist, even seven, eight years ago. So, what’s funny about it is in our band, technology has actually allowed us to be more of a band, more of an organic free-thinking kind of group, because we are the kind of band that creates a lot of our stuff in the studio in layered forms.

Like, if you think back to when the Beatles made the decision to go off the road more and focus on the studio, one of things that they did was they made music that they physically couldn’t play on stage. There was so many layered vocals and so many layered instruments and things that at that time it would be virtually impossible for them to do any of that on stage. As technology has progressed, all that stuff becomes more and more possible. And for us, we create in the style where things get layered and there’s a lot of different stuff going on in each song oftentimes.

Linkin-Park3And 10 years ago that stuff would be locked into a timeline with our sampler, keyboard, or whatever, and in more modern stuff, we can actually react on the fly and say, “Let’s slow this part down. Let’s speed it up. Let’s pitch it. Let’s up or down. Let’s loop it,” and there’s moments when we can just kind of jam out and enjoy it.

And that, strangely, is, like, this merging of, like, the humanity and the technology and the set that helps allow us to do that.The other thing that I should just mention is, although there is the technology in the set-up of what we’ve got going on on stage, and I feel like it’s very high-tech for music as far as what a music set-up on stage can be.

We also have – I feel like we have a great deal of responsibility to be a live band, so, whereas, we have the opportunity to put certain things in the computer or on a sampler or whatever, we’re very careful about what we do, what we do put in the computer, because we want to be playing everything. We want the crowd to see us in performing the song, and I feel like even in almost every case, if you were to remove that other stuff and just have what’s being in played in front of you, you basically have the same song. So, that’s an important difference or, I guess, specific approach to note.”

Bennington comments “Honestly when you’re young and you’re out there and kind of – you don’t have a family, I mean, yeah, those are important and you’re focusing on the shows, but you’re also kind of focusing on, like, “Am I going to see – where am I going to shower? Do I want to keep this box of clothes this company gave me, because I don’t really like them, but I also don’t have any clean clothes?” Those are the kinds of things you’re thinking about when you’re young and you’re on the road.

Nowadays, it’s, like, we focus on having our families out and, if we can have our families out, we – for me personally, like, all I focus on is preparing for the next show. So, I really don’t think much has changed in terms of our set-ups to get ready for the tour.

I mean, we still kind of practice in the same manner. We rehearse in the same manner. The great thing is our crew knows us so well and has been with u so long, we don’t have to do sound checks anymore, which is pretty awesome, because that frees up a lot of time to stay back with your families during the days and listen to stuff. And so, it really has gotten a lot better now, I think, now that we reached the place that we have in our career. We’ve found a way to balance our personal and touring life a lot better. And so, that’s been really great, I think, all around for everybody.”

We were very curious about “The Hunting Party” being the band’s first self-produced album, as well as, the first to use analog tape recording. Shinoda tells us “I think it’s something that we’ve been curious about for awhile and it had to be the right moment to really dive into it. I’ve had a little bit of experience with tape on previous projects, but not really cutting such large chunks of the song and large performances to tape, and it’s so nice because it forces you to slow down and, like, really consider each performance, each recording of whoever’s playing at the time and whether or not you want it. That’s really, I think, it gives this album at least its sound. Yeah. So, it’s definitely something that’s kind of this point now is within our bag and we get to potentially go back and use it again, if the song asks for it.”

To which Bennington adds “I’ve been recording the drums in this way. It’s really great in that it does give the feel of the song. It’s like a more live feel. For us, I think that, like, one of the things that’s always kind of been surprising to a lot of people that I see when they come to see us for the first time, especially like my musicians’ friends.

They were, like, they didn’t know us but they had never really, like, listened to us very much and haven’t seen us play, and they come see play. There’s like this, like, raw kind of more prompt and in your face attitude about the band when you see us live. Like, even like our mellower songs; there’s an edge to them that you get in a live performance that kind of gets lost in the studio and I think that with this record, like, we’ve kind of captured a lot more of what we’re like live in the sound of the record. And I think that that’s exciting.”

Linkin Park has always been a band that has some amazing fan interaction. Bennington says “Our fans have been the number one most important thing. We’ve done meet and greets with our fans every night, every performance we’ve ever done.

For us, like honestly, like, meeting our fans is pretty mellow, so when we’re out on the street in our daily lives, we meet people all the time, every day who are fans, and us being accessible to a certain degree is really important to us. We’ve been able to thankfully keep our private lives private and share our professional lives with our fans and everybody’s been really respectful of all that. And it’s really cool to be in Linkin Park and kind of be a normal person at the same time. So, I appreciate that from our fans and it makes it that much easier to keep an openness with our fans as much as we possible can.”

The band’s video for their latest single “Final Masquerade” is visually stunning. We were curious as to what the visual aspects of the band’s stage production will look like and what fans should be expecting. Shinoda reveals “One important thing to start with is that the visuals on The Hunting Party were rooted in a handful of drawings, artwork by an incredible painter named James Jean. James, I don’t even know where to start as far as how important this guy is or how incredible he is. You can look him up on your own. So, he – Joe is friends of James. James drew a bunch of stuff for us.

In talking with him, we wanted to do something that has never been done with his artwork before and landed on the idea of converting it into an actual 3D sculpture, each piece into a 3D sculpture. So, although the sculptures live in the computer, they don’t exist physically yet, maybe someday they would, but at this point, we got them rendered in 3D art. Our amazing group at Ghost Town did those renders with James and then those built out the basic foundation of the artwork for the album. And that stuff, you’ll find that on the T-shirts and you’ll find that on the website and you’ll find that in the live visuals as well. And then, it’s not enough to just throw the stuff up there.

I mean, you can, but it’s beautiful, but I think that in the context of a live show, it’s really important to have something that lives and breathes with the show. And to some degree, one of the challenges that I posed on the production team was, based on what we decide to do with the show every night, if we decide to play something differently, if we decide to expand the part or whatever we want to do, I want the artwork to change with the performance. So, it needs to be malleable and that turns into – that’s where the real production challenges start to arise.

Without getting geeky into it, and in fact I’m not really versed in the geeky stuff, I can just tell them, like, “These are the ideas,” and then, luckily, we have an excellent production team that can do that. And the guys at Ghost Town, again, the guys who are involved with rendering the stuff in 3D, they’ve been intimately involved, as has Joe, on creating these tour visuals. I think it’s gotten real great. I’m not going to spoil any surprises as far as how the LED stuff gets – what it’s actually being presented on, or as far as what the stuff actually looks like. You’re going to have to come to the show to see that stuff. But, like I said, it adapts with the show and the show is a work in progress; like, we are changing – we do change things usually steadily from show to show, and then from tour to tour, there might be some broader stroke changes.

But, yeah, we take the live show seriously. It is, in some part of it, it’s as much a piece of art as the music is, so we want it to be compelling and fit with the overall kind of aesthetic of what the band is up to right at this moment.”

When speaking about how the idea for touring with Thirty Seconds To Mars came together. Bennington comments “Our respect comes from a professional between each other and, for me, I know that we’ve been very close to our fan base for a very long asking questions and seeing who they want us to tour with and it’s been really interesting, but every time – and it’s funny to say this because it probably sounds really corporate, but this is what happens when your band becomes as big as Linkin Park. We decide to poll our fans to see who they want us to tour with, and for like, what, five or six times in a row, I think, Thirty Seconds to Mars has either been the most popular band that they want to see us tour with or number two. I’ve never seen them out of the top three.

So, it’s been a long time the fans have wanted to see us tour together. So, for that, I think not only has Thirty Seconds to Mars, like, grown tremendously over the last several years into not only a great studio band, writing great songs, but they’re amazing live. And so, for us, at this point, our fans are really excited to see us play with Thirty Seconds to Mars. And also, if I can say this, they have released their 13th record in November last year, so that’s pretty impressive. I don’t know if you guys are listening to their most recent record, but it’s amazing.

And AFI are another band that are not only are great guys, but they keep making amazing record after amazing record and also known for their live shows. So, that’s kind of a simple kind of no-brainer. Luckily, this is one of those times where we were, like, “Hey, let’s ask 30 Seconds to Mars and AFI if they want to tour with us.” And they both said, “Yes,” at the same time. So, it all worked out really well.”

In the past, Linkin Park has done a lot with the video game industry and say that they would love to continue to do more in the future. Shinoda says “We love gaming. I mean, at this point working and doing what we do, we don’t get as much of a chance to play; for example, a console game. It’s mostly, like, mobile. But given the chance, I would love to have, like, a week off just to play video games. But we have had a lot of really fun experiences, like, doing stuff with games; making our own games.

We’ve got a game, like, currently out up on Facebook right now called, LP Recharge.” In fact, it’s lprecharge.com to find it. And we’ve done apps and stuff like that and we’ve worked with groups, companies like EA, worked with Capitol Glass. We worked as Medal of Honor franchise. So, I think there will be some – yea, there’s probably – hopefully, we’ve had some great relationships with all the folks and I would love to do more in the gaming world. It’s just – it is where our fans are at. It is something we love to do and it’s a really natural fit for our band.”

As many know, Chester Bennington, in addition to being a part of Linkin Park, is also the current frontman for Stone Temple Pilots w/Chester Bennington. We were curious as to how that was working out and if there will be any new material on the way soon.

Bennington said “We started writing some stuff a couple weeks ago, and that was a lot of fun. So, yeah, we’re planning on recording some music as soon as possible and we’ve got a kick start on a bunch of tracks and it’s fun to be around a bunch of people who just thoroughly enjoy making music all the time. It’s, like, I get to be in Linkin Park and play with some of the best musical minds, in my opinion, in music right now, and then I get to come home and go play with some more people who are great. So, it’s pretty awesome. I don’t know when we’re going to get in the studio. We want to do it as soon as possible, so we’ll make that happen with the time that we have when I’m not with Linkin Park.”

Keeping a positive outlook on life can be such a challenge nowadays with so much going on in the daily grind and the ups and downs of our own lives. When speaking about the ways in which he tries to live a positive lifestyle, Bennington tells us “I think piercing your thoughts is important, and I also think that not sweating the small things is really important, using your focus on, like, the big picture, because that’s really the trajectory of where you’re headed is the big picture, and a lot of times when you look at the easiest things happening now can get kind of chaotic and things will be all over the place.

But you’re still moving in the right direction or you’re moving in the wrong direction. For example, if you keep dribbling the ball and it’s coming down, even if things are good right now, you’re still on a downward spiral. So, you have to look at yourself honestly and then kind of figure out where you’re headed in the big picture sense, so you not sweat the small stuff, because that’s usually where all most of my stress comes from things that don’t really matter.”

He then adds “One thing for our group, like, has been so positive is that we have a really good, like, pattern of being direct and honest and respectful with each other. Like, so people have to – to some people, it’s like we never fight, and that’s nice, but that’s not reality. Like, you get six guys in a group like ours, there’s bound to be stuff that we disagree about pretty passionately. And when those things come up, at least historically, the guys have been able to kind of, whether it’s of their own, like, I don’t know, that they feel compelled to just talk to somebody else about it and address it head on, or somebody else kind of has to push you in the direction and say, “Hey, man. You really need to go talk to him about that thing that you’re upset about, because if you don’t, like, it’s going to fester and you guys are going to be a mess later.”

Shinoda concludes with “I don’t think about it. It’s a common thing with people and everybody does – it seems like it happens in every group of people. And at least at this point, I really appreciate the fact that the guys have been so, like, open to, like, hearing criticism and putting themselves – really important, like, putting each other – put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and see it from their angle and listen with, like, respect.

But also, stay confident about what you’re about and stuff, too, and just come to the table and try and find some middle ground. I mean, I always feel like one of the things that makes this, like, the root of a lot of my problems and other people that I know is usually, like, fear and a lot of that is based in, like, unfamiliarity. Like, people are scared of a lot of things that don’t look like something they understand. And being scared of stuff like that, that can manifest itself in so many ways. And whether it’s, like, a personal thing or, like, a decision that we make creatively or whatever, like, all those things, like, we’ve tried to be really cognizant about; not operating by fear.”

Be sure to head out and catch Linkin Park, Thirty Seconds To Mars and AFI on the 25-date Carnivores Tour before it wraps up on September 19th in Concord, California. It is without a doubt one of the most solid touring packages of the summer!

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