In the Linkin Park world, multi-tasking is the norm. Even when the band is not on tour or working on an album, things are moving at a hectic pace behind the scenes. The band currently has a new video game, LP Recharge, which includes the hit single “A Light That Never Comes” (with Steve Aoki), and the upcoming remix album Recharged.
Rolling Stone caught up with the band’s Joe Hahn at his L.A. store Suru recently, where he was celebrating the band’s limited edition Transformer, Soundwave. That conversation led to talk of the band’s new album, frontman Chester Bennington’s collaboration with Stone Temple Pilots and Hahn’s upcoming headphones launch with Skrillex.
How did this action figure come about?
We met with this guy from Division Agency and he’s working with Hasbro and working with cool collaborations. We always said if we ever did a Transformer collab we wanted to do it with Soundwaves. We grew up with Transformers, and the reason we worked with the movies was we had the nostalgia for all that stuff.
Are you working with Rick Rubin again on the album?
I think so. We’re just in the studio, we’re at the beginning.
How did the single with Steve Aoki come about?
Mike [Shinoda] has been on this EDM kick for the last year and he’s been hanging out with different EDM guys, like he did a day with Avicii, and he’s been sending stuff back and forth with Aoki. This is the one that really stuck. He fleshed it out, brought it to the guys and we were into it. And it coincided with the game and also the album we’re putting out, which is remixes of Living Things.
Are there any remixes on Recharged that really stood out to you?
Mike did one of my favorite ones, a hardcore version of “Victimized.” Then Money Mark did something pretty crazy with “Until It Breaks.” Rick Rubin actually did one [“A Light That Never Comes”].
Are you an EDM fan?
Yeah. The funny thing is today it’s called EDM, but back in the day it was house, and now there’s dubstep, which sounds nothing like what dubstep originally sounded like. Everything is crossing, which is cool, and now it’s being widely marketed. I think it’s interesting. We always combine styles of music and that’s what everyone is doing now. It’s fun to see.
Are there DJs you’d like to work with?
I would love to do something with Sonny [Skrillex]. I actually have a headphone I’m putting together, and the first edition is going to be a limited edition with Skrillex. That’s in the works right now – hopefully at the end of the year, but most likely beginning of next year. I’m more involved with the actual design and sound. I really want to work with cool people, musicians and non-musicians, and do collaborations and keep it tight. I’m not trying to use a record label to market or a headphone company. It’s just something cool I want to do. When you actually see it you’ll know where the inspirations came from, especially after today’s event. There’s a transforming element to it.
That’s another trademark of Linkin Park, everybody working in different areas.
The band is successful because it’s a culmination of the six of us. We all bring different things to the table. But it’s the life experiences that we have individually, and the more stuff we do individually the more it empowers the individual, which everyone benefits from. So when Chester did Dead by Sunrise and Mike did Fort Minor, they did really cool stuff which they wouldn’t be able to do with the band necessarily. They got a lot of stuff out of their systems. But then when they came to the studio, they were fresh and had new ideas.
But Chester fronting STP is a totally different thing – that band is so established. How do you feel about it?
In high school we grew up listening to Stone Temple Pilots. For us these are the deities of rock. They’re up there, so if someone asks you to do that, you just do it. Chester is such a great singer and for him to have the opportunity to go and sing with other people, we’re appreciative of them for asking Chester to do it. I think on a spiritual level it works in so many ways, where it’s not even about there being a benefit, it’s just something that feels right, especially for Chester.
From the benefit standpoint, he is getting to work with two great songwriters in Robert and Dean DeLeo. Are you seeing new skills in his songwriting?
Especially recently, Chester’s songwriting has been incredible. He’ll come to the studio with some stuff where we’re like, “How did that happen?” For him to flex that with Stone Temple Pilots or whoever, he’s definitely a person that has a lot of stuff inside of him, and you can tell by watching him perform it’s there and it needs to come out. You can’t do that on one album – those 12 songs in two years.
How is all this stuff keeping you excited?
Mike and I went to art school together, so from an early point we understood that the creativity is not just one thing. And I think even stylistically in our music, you see back when we started that was a little different, but now it’s normal. Everyone does it. Every genre is incorporating everything. When it comes to the visuals, I shot a film called Mall, and we’re shopping that to the festivals next year, and everyone was really supportive of that.
Who was in the film?
Vincent D’Onofrio, Cameron Monaghan played the lead – he’s from Shameless – this kid named James Frecheville, who was in Animal Kingdom, Gina Gershon. Mimi Rogers had a little cameo. A bunch of people – Peter Stormare.
What are your release plans?
We’re looking for one of the first quarter festivals. Let it find a home, and hopefully after that people will get to go to a theater and see it.