It was early in the year 2000 when the buzz started to go around the music scene about this brand new band called Linkin Park. People were starting to talk about this band out of California, people knew there was something great coming but couldn’t quite put their finger on what it was. I remember a friend seeing them at a show and then when trying to describe them to me said “they are kinda nu-metal but are kinda not… nobody has ever had this sound before.”
In September that year the world got its first dose of Linkin Park with their first single “One Step Closer” and by the time their debut album Hybrid Theory dropped in late October the band were already a mainstream success. Heavy music was once again being played on commercial radio and television… yes the album was a game changer.
It is hard to imagine that twenty years later the album is now one of the highest selling albums in music history and that the driving force behind the band Chester Bennington is no longer with us. In a way that makes the celebration of the album even more important – especially considering the band have just put together four brilliant special editions of the album that launched them in the first place
“There is so much stuff on this thing,” says Mike Shinoda desperately trying to pull up a list of what rarities are to be found on the 20th Anniversary Hybrid Theory release. “I actually forget what is on there…. there is just so much stuff,” he continues still laughing loudly.
“The process itself took about a year,” he says when he has finally find the list he is looking for. “A lot of it had actually been collected by friends of the band and some relatives. Lots of stuff came from parents and even from people that worked at the label, some even from management. It was a big team effort and we brought it all together with an art director that we have been working with since Hybrid Theory. We even did the front cover of Hybrid Theory with Frank. It was a huge team effort.”
One of the things that the band has always embraced is the fact that their music was globally loved, even in continents like Asia where heavy music has at times struggled to become mainstream. That is well reflected in the release of these special edition albums as the band found material from all over the world. “We also felt that we could be a local band to everywhere,” says Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson. “I think partially that happened because we are such a diverse group. We engaged so deeply so often even when we were just starting out. Even with Hybrid Theory we toured the world multiple times and we were going to parts of Asia that many of us had never been to before and we were hearing the songs being sung back to us so loudly.”
“Sometimes that was even happening in countries where English was not the primary language,” continues Delson. “I think that because there was an emotion in the words that is relatable to the world over, but particularly in Asia we have felt like we are a local band. We have felt that right across Asia.”
Nodding along Joe Hahn says he agrees with Delson on why Linkin Park connected with so many people but he also believes that the bond was caused from something even deeper. “I think it came from the connection and collaboration between Chester and Mike,” he says thoughtfully. “There was just something in the melodies that was a natural dynamic that they were able to play with. It did feel challenging at times to have two front-men but I think at the same time that was something that made us really unique.”
“But also when they were writing the music they would often touch on very personal instances but coming from two perspectives,” he says continuing. “They really had to find somewhere to meet and that place where they found the common ground did translate into something very universal and an universal emotion. They really struck a chord that was super personal and super relatable. At times it was really hard to makes things work but I think when it did it came across as something really magical on our records.”
The Hybrid Theory Special Edition albums are out now through Warner Bros. Records.