Linkin Park on unheard music: “There’s a lot of stuff that never saw the light of day”

Linkin Park’s Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda have spoken to NME about the 20th anniversary of ‘Meteora’, lost song ‘Lost’ and the chances of more unheard music being released from the archives.

Last week, Linkin Park released an expanded version of their 2003 album ‘Meteora’ – featuring a host of previously unheard demos alongside behind-the-scenes footage and live performances.

“We wanted to make something timeless with ‘Meteora’, which is really audacious for a bunch of 20-year-olds to even say or think,” guitarist Brad Delson told NME. “The hope was that the music would have longevity and continue to inspire people.”


He continued: “It’s a really interesting moment for us right now, because we’re celebrating 20 years of a really special album but ‘Lost’ is a song we made, loved and forgot about and it’s having such a moment.”

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The aptly-titled ‘Lost’ was recorded at the same time as ‘Meteora’ but didn’t make the final cut because the band “couldn’t find a place for it” on the record.

“Telling a story with the album was so important, and we felt like ‘Lost’ had too much of a similar energy to ‘Numb’,” said Delson. The original plan was to release the song a little later down the line, either as a bonus track or on album three.

“We made a big left turn with [2007 album] ‘Minutes To Midnight’ and then we made a bunch more left turns from there, so we were never in the habit of asking, ‘Oh, what did we do five years ago?’ so we literally forgot about ‘Lost’.”

The song was rediscovered as the band pulled things together for ‘Meteora 20’ and was released earlier this year. It went on to become Linkin Park’s highest charting single in the UK since 2009 and topped the Alternative Radio and Rock Radio charts in the US.


“I didn’t know how people would react to it,” said Shinoda, who was worried that the obvious influences of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and ‘80s new wave music might make ‘Lost’ sound like a throwback. “I guess there’s this youthful confusion to it, which will always connect.”

This expanded version of ‘Meteroa’ follows on from a similar reissue that came in 2020 to honour Linkin Park’s seminal debut ‘Hybrid Theory’. “This collection has felt more celebratory and there’s been more of a lightness to it because more time has passed [since vocalist Chester Bennington died in 2017],” explained Delson. “‘Hybrid Theory 20’ felt a lot more raw.”

According to the band, the recording process for ‘Meteora’ was completely different to its predecessor’.

“Being in the studio on ‘Hybrid Theory’ was hard because the label didn’t necessarily trust us yet,” said Shinoda. “They were second-guessing everything and it made for a very chaotic and negative experience.”

He continued: “I don’t think we were nervous about ‘Meteora’ being good. We were just so bent on making it great, that if we heard anything that could possibly be made better, we would work as hard as we could to change it.

“There was a mad dash to get a lot of things solidified. When we were mastering the first single ‘Somewhere I Belong’, we were still changing the chorus. It was chaos. We were really obsessed and a little agitated and anxious about putting the record together.”

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Delson argued that there has “always been this connective tissue between the first two albums, to the point that many people say ‘Meteora’ is basically ‘Hybrid Theory 2’”, but argued that their second record truly “foreshadowed our desire to keep turning left”.

Shinoda agreed: “We just didn’t relate to that very aggressive, macho kind of thing that was going on back then. When we were touring ‘Hybrid Theory’, we played a lot of festivals with bands who’d be hitting themselves in the head with microphones to make themselves bleed. There was a lot of self-emulation and people trying to prove they were crazier than you. Having experimented with it, we quickly realised that that wasn’t us.”

Shinoda continued: “When we made ‘Meteora’ and every album that followed, it was this real period of introspection, experimentation and soul searching. We weren’t just asking who we were as people, but what creative statement did we want to make?”

Delson added that Linkin Park at that point were more interested in being “honest, direct and vulnerable”.

“Sometimes that vulnerability was loud and cathartic, sometimes it was really tender and delicate,” he said. “‘Lost’ has the best of both those elements. Chester is so gentle in the verse that he really draws you in before your face gets melted off by the power of the chorus. There’s a lot of juxtapositions going on with our music, which is what makes things interesting. When things are predictable, they’re not as fun.”

Linkin Park during the ‘Meteora’ era. CREDIT: James Minchin

With ‘Hybrid Theory’ becoming the best-selling debut album since Guns N’ Roses’s 1987 record ‘Appetite for Destruction’ (1987) and the best-selling rock album of the 21st Century, ‘Meteora’ had a long way to go to prove that Linkin Park’s success wasn’t a fluke.

“As soon as we hit ‘Meteora’, the ethos was just to go forward,” said Shinoda. “We didn’t want to be pigeonholed as the ‘Hybrid Theory’ band. We fought that really hard for a decade plus [to the point where] I think there was a friction between us and certain fans who really loved that album. When we started pulling away from that sound and exploring other styles, some people didn’t come along for that ride.”

He continued: “It was really important to us to build on top of what ‘Hybrid Theory’ had been though. There was a focus on the looped elements you can hear in ‘Faint’ and ‘Somewhere I Belong’ but ‘Breaking The Habit’ was the big epiphany moment. It had no heavy guitars, no screaming. It was mostly built on strings, a piano and a programmed drum track. ‘Meteora’ opened the door to trying out different things.”

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Last year, Linkin Park released a 15th anniversary version of their third album ‘Minutes To Midnight’ on streaming. However Delson said that he doesn’t see that as the same as the ‘Meteora’ and ‘Hybrid Theory’ 20th anniversary reissues.

“Those are really a celebration of the whole experience of the album,” he explained, revealing that there’s still a chance of more previously-unheard Linkin Park music being released.

“Our band only got more outlandish with writing songs as we progressed throughout our career,” he continued. “Sometimes we’d make 120 tracks for you to hear one. There’s a lot of stuff that never saw the light of day and there’s a lot of stuff that fell on its sword to make way for the thing that you hear.

“It’s very rare that that’ll be as special as the best stuff though. I don’t know if there’s another ‘Lost’, but maybe there is. We definitely made a lot of music along the way.”

As well as releasing Linkin Park’s expanded version of ‘Meteora’, Shinoda has also been involved in the soundtrack for Scream 6. He co-wrote and produced Demi Lovato’s ‘Still Alive’ as well as sharing solo track ‘In My Head (ft. Kailee Morgan)’. Both tracks were inspired by putting together the ‘Meteora 20’ package.

“I definitely got reminded of the fun of playing live instruments,” said Shinoda. “It’s been a while since I was in the studio with Linkin Park making anything and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s an element of experimentation with live instruments that I just haven’t done in a while’. As we were wrapping up things on ‘Meteora’ at the end of last year, the two songs for Scream came together. “

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Shinoda released his debut solo album ‘Post Traumatic’ in 2018 and a handful of singles and EPs have followed but for the past couple of years, he’s been writing and producing for other artists – we asll ew writing more songs for himself.

“It’s weird to make songs without an idea of what they’ll end up being,” he said. “If I were to write a Linkin Park Song, I’d be thinking, ‘This is a Linkin Park song that goes on a Linkin Park album’. If I were to write a song for Demi Lovato, I’m thinking I’ve got to do right by her. Right now, I’m just making the stuff I want to make. I don’t know what it’ll end up being and at this point, I don’t care about defining that. I just want to make songs.”

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Despite the success of ‘Lost’ and the clear hunger for more music from Linkin Park, the band aren’t committing to anything else just yet.

“It’s about honouring each creative opportunity as it comes along,” said Delson. “It was an embarrassingly haphazard accident that we found ‘Lost’ and it’s like doing as well as it’s doing. There was not a lot of premeditation beyond, ‘This feels good in the moment, let’s honour that’. It was organic and that’s always really served us. We’ve always done our best work when the creative opportunity feels right.”

Now 20 years after it was first released, why is ‘Meteora’ still resonating with people?

“I do think it was a unique moment of time for us emotionally,” explained Delson. “We were young people finding ourselves in the world, coming of age and grappling with new identity, new responsibility, new opportunity, and new experiences. The fear of it all, the gratitude, the self-belief, the insecurity, the anger and the overwhelm – it’s all there on that record. Those emotions are always going to be relevant.”

‘Meteora 20’ is out now. 

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