NORTH HOLLYWOOD — One word comes to Mike Shinoda's mind when describing "Petrified," the first single and video from his Fort Minor side project.
"Irresponsible!" the MC said with a chuckle. "We shot in an abandoned train and were shooting from 6 at night to 7 in the morning, the SOB guys" — as in the hip-hop duo Styles of Beyond, who appear on the track — "are drinking the entire time. It's not just that, though, we've got flare guns [going off] inside and outside the train, just totally irresponsible."
The black-and-white video, which just arrived at video outlets this week, was directed by Robert Hales, best known for Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move" and Jet's "Look What You've Done."
"The Jet video with the cartoons in the forest [is] one of my favorite videos of the last few years, it's just hilarious. So based on that, I know he sets up a good story," Shinoda said, sitting in the studio where he recorded most of the album.
Joseph Hahn, Linkin Park's DJ and resident video director, helped oversee, but Shinoda drew the line there.
"I wanted to make sure people know it's not a Linkin Park project, so instead of having Joe direct the videos, I went with different directors," Shinoda said.
And yes, that's directors, plural. Another Fort Minor video is also in the can, for "Believe Me," the first single overseas and the second in the States. Laurent Briet, whose résumé includes Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Fortune Faded" and Tori Amos' "Sleeps With Butterflies," helmed that one.
"He did a very different video for me," Shinoda said. "It's really clean and there's these crazy light effects. As you're shooting the video, it's like there's nothing there, so you had to imagine what's going to happen. I was very critical. I had to apologize many times for making him go back and change things a lot, but he was a good sport about it and we basically spent an extra two weeks on it. Basically from my face to the album artwork to crazy shapes that fly through the air, they're all transparent, three-dimensional light shapes that flow through the air and carry the song."
"Believe Me" also features Styles of Beyond, whom Shinoda knew even before Linkin Park and has since signed to his Machine Shop record label, as well as Latin percussionist Eric Bobo, who has played with the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill.
Eventually, probably for the third single, Shinoda plans to bring in Hahn (the only other member of Linkin Park who guests on the album) as a director, the idea being that by then, Fort Minor will have its own identity.
"Because the Fort Minor record is coming out on Machine Shop, we have complete creative control," Shinoda explained. "That's really nice to say we're running the show and whatever we want to do, we do. And be at the point in our career where [Machine Shop's parent company, Warner Bros.,] respects that. So when I want to make a video and say this is how I want to do it, everyone's been cool."
"Petrified" and "Believe Me" are featured on Fort Minor's debut, The Rising Tied, due November 22.
"The Fort Minor record, in case people are confused by it, it's not coming under my name, but the group name Fort Minor, because I want there to be more of a focus on the music and not me," Shinoda said. "I know if I put my name on the CD, everyone will think Linkin Park, but I know it doesn't sound like Linkin Park. And it's The Rising Tied, because it's a tied group of people who are coming up together ... a lot of different people making a statement in hip-hop together."
Along with Styles of Beyond, The Rising Tied features Common, Black Thought and John Legend. Jay-Z executive produced, but Shinoda produced every track and plays most of the instruments (see "Mike Shinoda Respects Jay-Z's Retirement, Says Linkin Park Not On Hiatus").
"It's a hip-hop record, but it's a musician-based hip-hop record," Shinoda said.