Mike Shinoda Says Linkin Park Halfway Done With New Album

After success of Fort Minor side project, MC ready to get back to roots.

Mike Shinoda occupies the upper echelons of the "TRL" countdown thanks to "Where'd You Go," his somber duet with Holly Brook, recorded under the alias Fort Minor.

Thanks to the song's success, Fort Minor's album, The Rising Tied, has leapt 96 spots up the Billboard albums chart. And over the next few months, Shinoda will release Brook's debut, Like Blood, Like Honey, on his Machine Shop Recordings, as well as serve as the executive producer on the upcoming record by Southern California hip-hop collective Styles of the Beyond.

The question begs to be asked: Why would Shinoda turn his attention back to Linkin Park, who have been largely inactive and battling their label since last May (see "Linkin Park Can Get Back To Making Music After Settling Label Dispute")?

"Going back to Linkin Park is like going back home," Shinoda said. "I always joke that I came into hip-hop through the back door, because people know me from Linkin Park, first and foremost. And so when they hear my album, they go, 'Oh, there's the Linkin Park guy.' When I was putting together the Fort Minor record, it probably would've been easier to put my name on the front of it or to make songs that sounded like Linkin Park. But it's all about making something that's honest."

And since early this year, Shinoda and the rest of Linkin Park have been gathering in Los Angeles with producer Rick Rubin to begin work on a new album, their first since 2003's Meteora (see "Linkin Park Say They're Going To 'Break Outside The Box' With Rick Rubin"). So far, the sessions have yielded something in the neighborhood of 60 songs, Shinoda said.

"When we were making Meteora, we wrote 70 to 90 songs to come up with the 12 tracks that are on the album," he said. "For this one, we're going to write more than that. We're about halfway into it. But it'll be out this year. And I can already tell that the record is going to sound a little different than our previous ones.

"Rick and I are going to be producing it together, and that's something different too," Shinoda continued. "We've always based who we are on the fact that we all listen to different kinds of music, and we try to mix all those different styles as seamlessly as we can. And Rick's done everything from Beastie Boys and Run-DMC to Dixie Chicks and Justin Timberlake and Slayer. At the core of his being, Rick understands so much. He doesn't have to work for it. So in the studio, there's no thought, there's just feeling."

Shinoda said Linkin Park are close to determining just where they'll record the new album. He said Rubin's Laurel Canyon mansion — which has played host to sessions for everyone from Slipknot to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (see "Peppers Say Return To Sex Scene Yielded Different Magik") — is definitely the early front-runner.

"We're starting to get a feel for what the songs are sounding like, and we're going to determine where we want to work based on them," Shinoda said. "It's early, but from what we've already heard, we can't wait to get into a studio. We're completely excited to start work."