LOS ANGELES — Barely a week after tragedy hit Haiti in the form of a massive earthquake, Linkin Park have stepped forward to help the country's struggling residents with Download to Donate for Haiti, an ambitious project featuring new music from some of the industry's top musicians. On Tuesday (January 19), we caught up with Mike Shinoda, who is currently working overtime to turn his musical talents into much-needed relief.
"Download to Donate has come together very, very quickly," Shinoda explained of the project, featuring brand-new music that can now be downloaded in exchange for a donation to Haiti relief efforts. "It was an idea as of Thursday — and as of right now, we have nine songs up."
Shinoda plans to add more tracks in the upcoming days — each from a major act who donated their track in response to the January 12 earthquake. "We ask that you donate, but you don't have to — if all you can afford is to spread the word, embed the widget, share it on Facebook, Twitter, whatever, then that will be good enough," explained the rapper/songwriter/guitarist for Linkin Park, whose new track "Not Alone" is offered alongside contributions from Peter Gabriel, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band and more. "We're hoping to raise a lot of money for a lot of people who need it in Haiti.
"We had a demo [for 'Not Alone'] — the music was laid out, we had done the song a little while ago ... we just never used it because we never thought it was done," Shinoda remembered of the origins of their track. "[After the tragedy in Haiti], we listened to the demo again, essentially scrapped all the words, rewrote the words ... when you've got that idea and emotional charge in you and you put that in the lyrics, for me it does make better lyrics." Those lyrics include, "I break down/ Fear is sinking in/ The cold comes/ Racing through my skin/ Searching for a way to get to you/ Through the storm you go, giving up your home/ Go, leaving all you've known/ You are not alone."
"There's an authenticity and a passion that you can hear in Chester's voice on this track; we literally wrote [the new lyrics] via e-mail, before he had flown out from Arizona to L.A. [to record them]," Shinoda said.
Part of the remarkable speed behind their reaction to Haiti, Shinoda added, can be attributed to a philanthropic groundwork the band has had in place for a half-decade. "We started our organization, Music for Relief, back in 2005 after the tsunami in South Asia," he explained. "Music for Relief's goal is to provide relief, funds and awareness in the wake of natural disasters ... this is the first time that the technology has been available to do something like this; just a few years ago, it wouldn't be possible for artists to turn around songs so quickly, in a matter of days."
Shinoda hopes fans will keep their ears — and their hearts — open for more, as he plans to upload additional tracks in the days to come.
"By the way, I should say that Music for Relief [donates] 100 percent of the funds," he added. "We're just a conduit; everybody's working for free and everybody's working hard."
Head here to learn more about what you can do to help with earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti, and for more information, see Think MTV. Join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean for MTV's "Hope for Haiti" telethon, airing commercial-free Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET.