Linkin Park Talk 2016 Album at Charity Poker Tournament: 'We Have a Mountain of Material'

James Minchin
Linkin Park

Fans looking for new Linkin Park material are in luck. The band has been in the studio since November, guitarist Brad Delson tells Billboard, working on a follow-up to 2014's The Hunting Party.

"It’s been a real just organic flow and I’m really excited about the music that’s being created," Delson said. To which, DJ Joe Hahn added, “We have a mountain of material.”

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But last Thursday in Los Angeles, the group took a well-deserved night off to host a poker tournament fundraiser for their Music for Relief charity. Delson, Hahn and co-frontman Mike Shinoda represented Linkin Park among the more than 160 competitors who entered the tournament, with Delson being the last band member standing.

Ultimately Delson was taken out but not before claiming supremacy over his creative partners. Laughing, he said, “I’m the best poker player in Linkin Park. I’m going to get a shirt made.”

There was heavy competition for the title with legitimate poker players, but all for a great cause -- which was most important to the band. “I’m not the card shark, but I guess I kind of pushed the idea of doing the tournament. They’re so fun, a great way to get people together,” Hahn said. 

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“Our role in Music for Relief is building relationships with fans, other artists, labels that are supporting what Music for Relief is doing, and we try to find events like this one that are fun and a natural fit for people to come out and also really show their support for the organization,” Delson said. “So if it’s successful, I would love to be able to do it again in the future for sure.”

Late last year the band also had a charity concert and they said they plan to continue their efforts for Music for Relief, though for now their attention turns back to the yet-unnamed seventh album, which they're hoping to release toward the end of the year. 

According to Shinoda, the band has taken a different approach this time. As a result, though the album has quite a few songs, there is no solidified sound just yet. “The thing that’s notable to me is that we’re approaching the process backwards, for us,” he said. “Usually the music comes first and the words come second, even if it’s 30 minutes apart that’s usually what happens -- the music inspires the words. And in this case it’s mostly the words and melodies first, no track.”

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The idea of writing the melodies and lyrics first comes from their past work with longtime producer Rick Rubin, said Delson, noting that no producer is yet confirmed for this album.

“We’ve focused almost exclusively on songwriting, not on sound, not on genre, not on arrangement, on words and melodies,” he continued. “And that is something Rick [Rubin] has always told us to do years past and we never listened because we started always track first. Now we’re writing songs and now we’re just starting to get into the style of that.”

Writers can attest to the fact that often in the process of writing unconscious motifs will start to emerge. Delson believes that to be true of the new record, though the band is still too much in the middle to identify those ideas.

“We’re still in it so it’s still more unconscious than conscious,” he said. “But I feel, on a gut level, that there are very strong consistent themes in what we’re writing. I feel there’s been a thru line emotionally and it’s our job just to channel that and not overthink it.”