Linkin Park ‘Challenge’ Themselves On New Album

'Nobody else is making a record that sounds like this,' Mike Shinoda says.

Forget all the talk of “concept records” and “grandiose insanity.” On their new album, Linkin Park are going back to their roots in order to make the most challenging record of their career.

On Tuesday, MTV News spoke to LP co-frontman Mike Shinoda about his band’s just-launched Download to Donate for Haiti project and, in the process, we managed to get some new information about the band’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2007′s Minutes to Midnight , which has been in the works for more than a year now. And while he still maintains that LP will be doing their fair share of growing on the new record, it’s important to know that they’re also not ignoring their past — quite the opposite, in fact.

“The album is going really well — we decided to go with Rick Rubin again, he’s been in the studio with us. And we’ve been working in a different studio than we did the last record in, we decided to go back to the studio we did Hybrid Theory and Meteora in,” Shinoda said. “It’s been going great, I feel like it’s an entirely different process and an entirely different style of music than anything we’ve done before. It’s hard to place. People keep asking me, ‘What does it sound like?’ and it’s hard to describe. When people hear it, they’re going to have a tough time saying that it falls into a category.”

And while talk like that might freak out some of the band’s core audience, Shinoda cautions that it’s just part of the natural growth of the band. After all, they’ve been doing this for more than 13 years now.

“I’ll say this: I think on the last record there was a lot of personal growth that happened. We individually broke down a lot of boundaries — creatively and personally — with each other. We were friends making an album together — it wasn’t painful and heart-wrenching the way some of the other records were,” he said. “We had a really good time making Minutes to Midnight, and now I feel like we’ve grown from that point, where we’ve kind of knocked down the boundaries to a place where we’re making an album that has a sound, that has a consistent thread running through it, and we’re making something with this open-minded creativity that feels good.”

But the still-untitled album (which Bennington told MTV News late last year could be out in June) isn’t going to be some hazy, lazy conceptual thing, some by-product of a bunch of well-heeled musicians’ studio wonkery — far from it. Even though they’re one of the hugest rock bands on the planet, Linkin Park still feel like they’ve got something to prove, even if it’s only to themselves.

“We make records as a challenge to ourselves,” Shinoda smiled. “And the challenge this time is: ‘Nobody else is making a record that sounds like this, only we can do it.’ ”

It’s Rock Week at MTV News, and to celebrate, we’re taking a look at some of the most-anticipated new albums and bands of 2010. Stay tuned all week for more!