As it prepares for the Jan. 20 launch of its "A Thousand Suns" tour in North America, Linkin Park is hoping to do some songwriting on the road and perhaps bring out its next album sooner rather than later.
"I like we're where at right now," the group's Mike Shinoda said during a conference call with reporters. "Creatively I feel like the band is really energized...We are really trying to get focused on getting in the studio as often as possible...It's definitely on our minds that we want to be trying to write as much as we can."
And, Shinoda added, he expects some of that process will take place while the sextet is together on tour.
"We're always writing," he notes. "I think we benefit from the fact that the music recording and writing technology has gotten so compact and so easy to carry around in your laptop. I keep getting emails from the guys in the band saying, 'Hey, you want to get together and write some stuff? What are you up to? Are you bringing your gear on the road?' I expect on this next run they'll be knocking on my hotel door looking to collaborate on some ideas. It's definitely a creative time for us; hopefully that means the next record is in the words."
"A Thousand Suns," which has sold 630,000 copies since its release last September, according to Nielsen SoundScan, is Linkin Park's first studio set since the double-platinum "Minutes To Midnight" in 2007, and the band has habitually taken three or four years between releases. But Shinoda says a four-month gap between the end of the North American tour and Linkin Park's next show indicates how serious the group is about getting its next album in gear.
"It's not like 12 months of straight touring, like it used to be," he explains. "It's more like write and tour, then write and tour. It's nice to be able to get into the studio in the middle of a cycle...go home and write a little bit. It just keeps it more fresh on my mind."
And while Linkin Park's breaks allowed Shinoda and Chester Bennington to delve into solo projects such as Fort Minor and Dead By Sunrise, respectively, neither feels the pull of those external endeavors anymore.
"When I started writing the music for Dead By Sunrise, I felt like they were stylistically outside (the band's) box," Bennington said. "I don't have that problem anymore. I don't have that feeling [of], 'Is this right or is this wrong for the LP?' Honestly, anything goes. What we're doing now in the studio, over the last two records, is completely fulfilling in every way. I feel like I could come in with a banjo piece and sing some honky tonk and we'll probably figure out a way to make it work."
Shinoda added, "It's a good feeling to know the other ideas we have, these kind of off-the-wall things, not only are they accepted now but they're welcomed, and the whole band is excited about them."
Linkin Park is continuing several of its other endeavors during the upcoming tour. A dollar from each ticket is being donated to the group's Music For Relief charity, and bassist Dave "Phoenix" Farrell is traveling to Haiti prior to the tour to investigate how the money is being used. They've also relaunched the Download to Donate for Haiti program to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and are providing a free, downloadable recording of each concert for each ticket buyer.
And, Bennington said, the band is "totally looking into" 3-D technology for future use in videos and web site offerings. "It's exciting, and it's so accessible and it's good," Bennington noted. "It's not 'Jaws 3-D' when I was a teenager, which was absolutely...stupid. There's so much good stuff that can come out of that, so, yeah, we're looking at that for sure." Added Shinoda: "It's like a new tool in your tool box. It's a new toy to play with."