Linkin Park’s Flat Tires, Scheduling Conflicts Keep Them Down-To-Earth As They Tour Globe

Band is working around drummer's role in wedding party to play Live Earth concert in Tokyo.

It’s nice to know that even if you’re pretty much the biggest band in the world, now and then you’ll still face the proverbial bump in the road. Or, you know, the proverbial flat tire.

“We just had a flat tire on the bus on the way to the gig. We’re playing the Rock am Ring Festival [in Germany] for, like, 80,000 people, and one of the buses got a nasty flat, which set us back half an hour,” Linkin Park bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell said. “It took us back to the days when we used to be driving our own RV and would get stuck in ditches all the time. So in a weird way, it was kind of refreshing.”

That’s right, kids: Even bands like Linkin Park — whose Minutes to Midnight album just debuted at #1 in 15 countries (see “Linkin Park Rule The Albums Chart: New LP Has Best First-Week Sales Of The Year” ) — get flats. And though they probably didn’t change it themselves, it served as a reminder of kinder, gentler times for the guys in LP, who, thanks to the phenomenal first week of Midnight, now find themselves in a rare position in the world of rock: It’s not a stretch to say that they could be the biggest act on the planet.

“I think, if anything, we try and block that out a little bit,” Farrell said. “We go into the writing process with the mindset of, ’This is not for the U.S. specifically, this is for Linkin Park fans.’ And the idea of a Linkin Park fan is so broad and diverse, it’s like a target you can’t put your finger on, which is almost freeing.

“For me, personally, nothing has really changed,” the bassist continued. “I almost felt like if that big of a label is being tossed around about the band you’re in, there should be some moment when it became real to me. But I still feel the same. I don’t feel these superhuman qualities that are supposed to be associated with [being in the biggest band in the world].”

Regardless, that hasn’t stopped rather enthusiastic members of the media from anointing LP as perhaps the next U2, pointing out the former’s newfound affinity for both grandiose arena rock and impressive humanitarian efforts (see “Could Linkin Park, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails Be The Next U2?” ). And while Farrell and his mates no doubt find the comparison flattering, they don’t really buy it for a second.

“My immediate reaction is that there isn’t going to be a next U2, just like there wasn’t a next Beatles or a next Rolling Stones, or how there won’t be another Metallica,” he said. “Just being mentioned in the same sentence as them was a goal of this band, of course. We’ve wanted to be a career band, and we’ve wanted to be in the ranks of the greats, but from my perspective, only time will tell.”

Linkin Park will only welcome more of those comparisons next month, when they take the stage in Tokyo as part of Al Gore’s massive July 7 Live Earth concert series (see “Kanye, Fall Out Boy, Kelly Clarkson Lead Live Earth’s U.S. Lineup” ). When you think about it, LP’s involvement was pretty much a foregone conclusion, given their charity Music for Relief, which they founded in the wake of the December 2004 tsunamis that ravaged Southeast Asia (see “Linkin Park Establish Charity To Help Tsunami Victims” ).

But, again, when you’re a member of arguably the biggest band in the world, nothing is as easy as it seems.

“We started Music for Relief back then as a way to get to areas affected by natural disasters, to bypass the political issues and partner with organizations that are helping people,” Farrell said. “And with all the new information out there, and the effect of climate change and the magnitude of natural disasters, [the concert] just seemed like a great addition to what we were trying to do.”

“Doing Live Earth took a bit of logistical tweaking, though,” he continued. “The reason we’re playing in Japan is because our drummer, [Rob] Bourdon, is locked into a wedding as the best man on the 8th, so we had to figure out how to play the show and have him make it to the wedding. But we’re booked, and we’re going to play. And Rob will get to the wedding, too, which is important.”