"Not only has Thirty Seconds to Mars grown tremendously over the last several years … they're amazing live," says the group's Chester Bennington.
Doing the upcoming Carnivores Tour with Thirty Seconds To Mars is no chance pairing for Linkin Park. Apparently it's a match that's had some legs for a few years.
"We've been very close to our fan base for a very long time, asking them questions and seeing who they wanted us to tour with," the group's Chester Bennington told Billboard.com during a conference call to advance the tour, which kicks off Friday (Aug. 8) in West Palm Beach, Fla. "We decided to poll our fans to see who they'd like us to tour with, and five or six times in a row I think Thirty Seconds to Mars has either been the most popular band they wanted to see us tour with or No. 2. I've never seen them out of the top three. So it's been a long time that our fans wanted to see us tour together."
Bennington added that the two bands' relationships are "professional," though he's been friends with Thirty Seconds' Jared Leto "for a few years now... Not only has Thirty Seconds to Mars grown tremendously over the last several years into not only a great studio band writing great songs, but they're amazing live."
Other key points during the lengthy call with Bennington and fellow frontman Mike Shinoda included:
* Linkin Park was not freaked out that its latest album, "The Hunting Party," debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 in June -- the first time since the 2000 debut "Hybrid Theory" that the band didn't bow at No. 1. "Although it didn't debut at No. 1 in the States, it debuted at No. 1 in 67 countries, so I don't feel like that's anything near a failure," Shinoda said. "But some friends of mine in the U.S. said, 'Hey, sorry about that you guys didn't get to No. 1 on the charts...' I feel like the Billboard chart is for one thing -- it's for first-week album sales, and this is not really a first-week album sales kind of album. It's a statement album. It's a live album, an album meant to be taken to the stage, and that's exactly what we're planning to do right now."
* Shinoda, by the way, did add that, "Billboard is doing what they're supposed to do, and I think they're doing their best to evolve with people's music consumption tendencies, whatever, by including things like YouTube." Thanks for noticing, Mike!
* Linkin Park's set list will, not surprisingly, be mixing "The Hunting Party" with the rest of the group's catalog, according to Bennington. "We're playing five songs off the new album, so there's a healthy dose of the new record in there," he said. "I think we're playing 'Final Masquerade,' 'Rebellion' -- those are two that we haven't played yet. And we're thinking of playing 'Until It's Gone' and 'Guilty All the Same' as well as 'Wastelands,' so there's a lot of the new record in this upcoming tour for sure." Shinoda added that the show will also be different from Linkin Park's recent European run: "We put some more work into it and kind of smoothed out some of the rough edges and added a couple songs. It's coming along. I feel it's a very solid set. It's got a mix of … basically stuff from every record."
* Shinoda describes the Carnivores Tour production as "more-video based," incorporating James Jean's "The Hunting Party" artwork as inventive and interactive eye candy to accompany the performances. "It adapts with the show," Shinoda explained. "I think in the context of a live show it's important to have something that lives and breathes with the show... One of the challenges that I posed to the production team was... if we decided to play something different, if we decided to extend a part, whatever we decide to do, I want the artwork to change with the performance. So it needs to be malleable... 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."
* "The Hunting Party" has only been out for a little over two months, so don't even ask about Linkin Park's next album. "Yeah, I have no idea -- that's the answer," Shinoda said with a laugh, while Bennington added, "That's the great thing about being in this band is that every time we go into the studio, it's like you're a new band... and we can do whatever we want. It's great."
* Bennington, meanwhile, is still holding concurrent membership in Stone Temple Pilots. "We started writing some stuff a couple weeks ago, and that was a lot of fun," he reported. "We're planning on recording some new music as soon as possible and we've got a kick-start on a bunch of tracks. I don't know when we're gonna get in the studio (next). We want to do it as soon as possible, so we'll make that happen with the time we have, when I'm not on the road with Linkin Park."
The Carnivores Tour, which also features AFI, runs through Sept. 19. Linkin Park heads back to Europe in November for a 16-date run that finishes Nov. 24 in London.