In the 90s as the major sub-genres of rock and heavy metal started losing their sheen, many new sub-genres appeared on the forefront. The decade belonged to grunge and alternative rock. But with the advent of hip hop on the global scene, many new bands experimented with fresh sounds called Rock Rap and Nu Metal. Along with the regular line up, these bands would feature a rapper and even a DJ spinning turntables.
One of the most successful bands to have played these genres is Linkin Park. Their album ‘Hybrid Theory’ is reportedly the best-selling debut album since Guns N’ Roses‘ ‘Appetite for Destruction’ and the best-selling rock album of the 21st century.
Essentially classic rock fans, fellow cowboy Narendra Kusnur and I are not the ones to shut our ears to interesting and different sounds from any genre.
I called Kusnur, don’t ask me what he was doing at the time or else he will expose my ‘buttons’ and don’t ask what are these ‘buttons’, for our weekly album talk featuring Linkin Park’s ‘Hybrid Theory’.
Note – Language may be changed to meet the publication’s requirements.
Me: Is Hybrid Theory the first nu metal album that was the biggest hit commercially and to be critically acclaimed?
Kusner: Commercially it was the biggest nu metal album of that time. There were a couple of albums by Korn and Limp Bizkit which did well but this album just took off when it released in 2000 on Warner Records.
Me: The biggest hit from the album in India was ‘In The End’.
Kusnur: It was more of a club hit as it was difficult for the local bands to perform it live. It had rap as well as metal vocals so bands required 2 vocalists to perform.
Me: Linkin Park had both, Chestor Bennington for metal and Mike Shinoda for rap.
Kusnur: Most Indian bands didn’t have a rapper. It was easier for them to perform bands with one style of vocals like Metallica, Nirvana and all. India didn’t have these many rappers then. The rappers of that time were more inclined towards Bollywood or indi pop.
Me: ‘In The End’ was not even the first single to be released, it was ‘One Step Closer’.
Kusnur: ‘Papercut’ or ‘One Step Closer’ either of them but ‘In The End’ was the biggest hit. The other two were ‘Crawling’ and ‘Points Of Authority’.
Whats common between ‘In The End’, ‘Hotel California’, and ‘Summer Of 69’?
Me: Though it was the fourth single.
Kusnur: By the time they released the song, the audience had accepted and got used to their sound. Linkin Park’s sound was a mix of Chester’s screaming vocals, Shinoda’s rap and a lot of electronica. It was defined as ‘Industrial Sound’. That phrase just popped up at the time though no one knew what exactly did it mean?
Me: Like ‘Frat Party’. Unlike the phrase the lyrics were relatable. Chester wrote a lot about alcohol and drug abuse, failed relations and helplessness.
Kusnur: Domestic issues, depression, and frustration too. A lot of the younger lot could identify to the lyrics.
Me: I don’t know about that in India. Most didn’t even try to understand the lyrics. The only words you could hear them sing when the song played were, “In the end, it doesn’t even matter.” Just like ‘Summer Of 69’.
Kusnur: Even ‘Hotel California’. Everyone knows the last word of every line and not the rest. Including me. I don’t know the song.
Me: Mr Parag Kamani can even tell what colour socks Don Henley was wearing when they recorded ‘Hotel California’.
Kusnur: Well that’s Mr Parag Kamani, he’s a different species.
(Who is Mr Parag Kamani?)
Me: How big an influence was the album on the genre?
Kusnur: Not many bands picked up their style and even Linkin Park’s sound kept evolving. Their first album was typical Nu Metal sound but by the third album, their sound had changed. They introduced a lot of electronica, some Pink Floyd influence, and even ambient sound. They themselves were influenced by many bands.
Me: In their later albums, I felt there was a lot of Depeche Mode influence too.
Kusnur: Ya plus a band called Roots, Shinoda was a big fan of them. Also rappers like 2Pac. A few bands did try to imitate Linkin Park’s sound and style but they weren’t as good.
Me: For me, Linkin Park is all about Chester. I can’t tolerate the sight of a turntable on a rock stage neither do I want a rapper. But I liked ‘Hybrid Theory’ as it spoke about real issues. ‘Crawling’ was about trying to quit an addiction, ‘Papercut’ was about paranoia.
Kusnur: Chester had a pretty rough childhood. I liked the instrumental ‘Cure For The Itch’ and I love the way Chester sang ‘With You’. I actually met Chester at an awards party in Singapore and….
This is where we stop due to reasons best kept unknown.