Mike Shinoda has spoken to NME about recruiting new talent for his ‘Already Over’ global project, as well as his love for Sleep Token and delving into the archives of Linkin Park. Watch our video interview with Shinoda above.
Having teamed up with Kailee Morgue to make a song for the Scream VI soundtrack and dug out plenty of unreleased material for the 20th anniversary reissue of Linkin Park’s ‘Meteora’, last month Shinoda capped of 2023 by sharing new solo single ‘Already Over’. Since then, he’s been seeking out emerging talent across the globe to work on new versions of the song.
So far, artists in Sydney and Los Angeles have already had the chance to re-imagine ‘Already Over’. Sitting with NME in his London label HQ, Shinoda teased that a UK version may be on the horizon too.
“Maybe… Maybe that might be why I’m here. We’ll see if it happens,” he said. “I’m just trying to make friends. If I make enough friends to get into the room with and they happen to play instruments then maybe we’ll do something.”
NME caught up with Shinoda to talk over the inspiration to re-record his music with rising artists, if there are plans for more Linkin Park reissues, the possibility of touring, and his newfound love for Sleep Token.
Hi Mike. The last time you spoke to NME was when ‘Already Over’ was just coming out. What has the response been like?
Shinoda: “It’s been so positive and one of the things that I’ve been enjoying so much. As you know, there’s a little bit of a familiar DNA to the song, so Linkin Park fans are loving it. The comments in particular have been so positive and that’s always a good feeling when you make something and people like it.
“I want to put out music, but I also want to do more with it – other things that are maybe a little more immersive. Right now we’ve got a game going on on the website [where] people are racking up points to be able to win prizes. The grand prize is an actual physical painting that I did and somebody’s going to win it this month. There are some other things too. It’s more in-depth. Usually I don’t do this many things for a single.”
How did it feel to get such positive feedback on a solo project, especially after so many years working in a band setting?
“I feel like I’ve done enough things separate from the band for so many years now that it’s almost like it didn’t occur to me that way, you know? As far back as the Fort Minor project I did separate from the band, or there’s a song called ‘It’s Going Down’. There was a soundtrack for a movie score and a soundtrack for a movie called The Raid, so I have done stuff on my own pretty regularly just to break things up. And because sometimes I just have an idea that’s not a Linkin Park idea.
“This was actually an interesting moment because it sat almost in between. It’s a solo thing in the sense that it’s got my name on it, but it has things that Linkin Park fans like too. It’s really a rock song, and a lot of the stuff I’ve put out recently hasn’t been that, so that’s probably one of the things people have reacted to most positively.
“I’m excited about that and I’m excited about the fact that I’m also doing these sessions where I put together little groups of people and everybody plays a different instrument [in a re-recorded version of the track].”
Where did the idea for this come from?
“So for the last few years, I have been writing and producing for other people. Demi Lovato, PVRIS, Grandson, Sueco, Justus Bennetts, and a number of others. I’ve been doing that for years and, for the most part, avoiding doing songs of my own. Even in those songs, it came up a couple of times like ‘Oh do you want to jump on the verse?’ or ‘Do you want to jump on the thing’ and I’d be like ‘No no no, this is your song.’ Then at a certain point, I started to realise I was getting the urge to do my own stuff, so I put out a song called ‘In My Head’, and then now this one. It’s really back to me making songs for me.
“With ‘Already Over’, I played all the instruments and I was like ‘Well, OK, it’s such a live-sounding song. Should I go on tour? Should I put together some musicians to do a live show?’ Then I realised now is not the time to go tour for me. I want to stay in the studio and make some more things musically.
“But I do want to present the song in a live way, so how do I figure that out? I don’t want to put together a band, and I don’t want to go on tour, but I do want to play it live. So myself and a few other people on my team were able to come up with this format of putting together multiple sessions. We call it the ‘Already Over sessions’.”
Is there anyone who you’ve worked with who see yourself in from your younger days?
“It would be strange for me to work with somebody like me because the dynamic I’m looking for is one where I’m bringing something to the table that they don’t have. That’s kind of the reason for doing it, I want to work with people who are different from me.
“[Maybe] Lynn Gunn from PVRIS. She’s a great songwriter but she actually is also a great producer. When we worked on a song she came in with this demo of a very fleshed-out track, and normally part of my job would be to really enhance the track and it sound like a finished song, but that one was more about aggregating her ideas and getting the lyrics and the melody really to where they needed to be. Supporting the ideas that she had that were not cooked yet.
“Stuff that I’m listening to right now, I really love Jean Dawson. I love Brakence. Sleep Token, been listening to a lot of them… I think somebody from the UK was like ‘Have you heard this yet?’
That was with me.
“Was it really you? And I made fun of you for it, do you remember? I was like, ‘You guys always have this hot band that you’re like oh everybody’s listening to this. This is the one that we listen to’, and I was like ‘Why is it always so trendy with you?’
“Then I went and listened to it and I was like, ‘Oh! I’ve actually already heard this band.’ Now I know why everybody’s talking about them, because their new record [‘Take Me Back To Eden’] is really adventurous. It’s really strange to me in the best way.”
What’s your take on today’s metal scene?
“You already know how much I give a shit about genres and scenes like, I don’t care. I really don’t! I just listen to what I listen to. When I think about it, I usually am more impressed or drawn to things that build on top of tropes or common ways people do things. When they add something new to the conversation. So that’s the reason I mentioned those artists, I think all of them add something to the conversation.
“I have this Spotify playlist, it’s a public playlist, my ‘Breadcrumbs’ playlist just has tons of stuff I’m listening to. The metal stuff that I do like, it’s usually because it’s unusual in some way.”
What was it like for you to go back and visit ‘Meteora’ for the 20th anniversary reissue? Do you see it through a different lens now?
“None of us were married to the idea of doing a 20th anniversary for ‘Meteora’. It was kind of contingent upon the quality of the demos and stuff that we found. Everybody’s got some little things like that they’ve just had since 20 years ago, so it was like let’s collect the stuff we’ve got and see if it’s a release. And it was. We felt really good about it and confident that it would be a package that fans would be surprised by.
“I was really happy with what we were able to do with it. There was a bunch of DVDs, a bunch of CDs — not that anybody cares about physical stuff very much — but there was a ton of stuff. The best in most people’s opinion was one of the albums called ‘Lost Demos’, and if you go on linkinpark.com we just put out the vinyl for that.
“In the course of the last year, I don’t know if it’s just because of the place that music in general is at or if it’s just me not giving a crap, but I’ve been listening to more rock and alternative stuff with live instruments than in previous years. I’ve probably been playing more guitar and writing songs that way.”
Is more new solo music coming soon? Is ‘Already Over’ potentially part of another album?
“I’m not putting together an album right now. I do have an EP of stuff on the way though, it’s called ‘The Crimson Chapter EP’, so it’s based on remixes of ‘Already Over’. I’ve got ‘In My Head’ on there as well and I did a remix of a song from a couple years called ‘Fine’.
“It’s eight tracks and basically six of them are new, but some are new versions of material that’s already out there. Beyond that, next year we’ll see. The whole reason I’m not going on tour is because I’m making new stuff. So we’ll see what happens.”
As for any more Linkin Park reissues?
“Nothing planned right now. I always just tell people like when there’s news I’ll give you the news. We’ve been doing it for a while and I think our expectation for what’s a proper reissue is kind of high.
“I don’t love putting out Greatest Hits stuff or putting out re-masters of things we’ve done, [so] if we were to do a re-reissue of one of our Linkin Park albums, we want it to be a big deal. If we can’t make it that quality then we won’t do it. If it’s not great then I don’t think we should do it.”
We’re looking forward to hearing the London version of ‘Already Over’. Is there maybe another place that you’re visiting as well?
“We’ll see. Because of the previous chat we had and then today I’m feeling like after this you need to give me some more music recommendations. You’re one for one at this point so you’re batting a thousand.”
‘Already Over’ is out now, as are the re-recorded sessions in Los Angeles and Sydney. A release date for the upcoming London edition has yet to be announced.
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