Given how polarized Linkin Park‘s fanbase has been over its new album, One More Light, the bandmembers weren’t necessarily expecting to snag their fifth No. 1 album debut on the Billboard 200. But that only made it more gratifying when it did after the set’s mid-May release.
“Obviously, there are always risks involved, so for us, the reward is the music itself, for sure,” guitarist and One More Light co-producer Brad Delson tells Billboard. “To have our sixth [studio] album hit No. 1, it’s really, really humbling, and we’re just super grateful for everyone who collaborated with us on this project, to our team and to our fans here in the States and really around the world, ’cause the album had a huge debut globally. The fact that it debuted even beyond what we predicted is a great starting point, and now we get to bring those songs on the road and share them every night.”
After playing South America during May, Linkin Park is currently in Europe through July 7 and begins its North American tour on July 27 in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Shows so far have included about a half-dozen of the new songs, which Delson says are coexisting nicely with the older material in the set list.
“These songs on this album are very natural for us to play, I think, because of the way they were written,” Delson explains. Because Linkin Park and its outside songwriting collaborators came up with melodies first and then constructed instrumental tracks around them, he says the One More Light material is “easier to share and play, whereas on other albums that translation process from what we did in the studio to the stage took some thinking and some work. These [new] songs are very versatile. They’re natural to play, and they fit in with the other songs as well.” They’re also open to reinvention, which Linkin Park plans to try while it’s on the road.
“One thing that we’re pushing ourselves to do is to be able to play these songs in different forms, whether it’s the version you hear on the album, whether it’s something really stripped down and intimate or whatever,” Delson says. “I think these songs lend themselves to that kind of dimensionality.”
The No. 1 debut has mitigated some of the sting from fan response to One More Light’s more contemporary pop-flavored sound, which at one point caused singer Chester Bennington to lash out at fans. “I don’t think any of us said anything to him,” Delson says. “I think he’s a very passionate person and he cares deeply about the music that we’re making, and personally I’m so proud of him and grateful to him for the beauty and the vulnerability and the passion that he put into these performances. I know he, like all of us, is really excited for everyone to hear the album.” And possibly even more of it: Delson says Linkin Park worked up some 70 song ideas during the process, and with only 10 on the actual album, there would appear to be a wealth of additional material to tap.
“There’s definitely a few gems that we’ve got in our back pocket,” Delson confirms. “But I would say the vast majority of those songs fortunately will never see the light of day. They were just a part of the journey; the ones that were the most satisfying and exciting were the ones we ultimately focused on and finished and make up the album.”