Not only did they get an extremely advanced look at the film, they ended up playing a role in its very creation. Which, you know, wasn't originally in the cards.
"We got together with Michael, since we had such a good experience with the first film [LP's 'What I've Done' featured prominently in Bay's original 'Transformers' flick], so he had us come in, and he ended up showing us, like, a third or half of the movie," Shinoda recalled. "So we took that, and we recorded a song based on what we saw, and really, we thought that was it. Only it wasn't.
"Michael started passing our song around to some of his people, and one of those people was Hans Zimmer — who is a world-famous, incredible film composer — and he loved it. He thought there were a lot of musical themes in the song that could work in the score," Shinoda continued. "So he basically took those themes and turned them into string arrangements, horn arrangements, all this stuff, and he had us come in and listen to them, and he proposed to do more of that for the score of the film but with us involved. And to be honest, it blew our minds. We're part of his machine now. We're working on the score of the film!"
It's a pretty amazing experience, and it's all thanks to "New Divide," the song they wrote for "Transformers 2." Based loosely on the story of Shia LaBeouf's character in the film, it showcases a new area of growth for the band — writing for something other than an LP album — but still doesn't stray from their sweet spot (read: big, huge guitars, various electronic frippery, vocal fireworks, etc.).
"This song could definitely fit on any of our albums. It's got a classic Linkin Park feel to it," Bennington said. "And that's because we treated it as if we were going to put it on one of our records and release it as the first single off that record. We knew the movie was going to be epic, so we wanted to make an epic-sounding song." (Head over to Buzzworthy for a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the video.)
"This new 'Transformers' film is slightly darker. ... The themes are more about the main character, Sam, and what he's going through," Shinoda added. "He's going off to college, and there's more of a separation going on in his life, not to mention the fact that he's caught in this battle between his past and his future. So we tried to incorporate all that into the song."
And to that end, witness the just-premiered video for "Divide." Directed by LP DJ Joseph Hahn, it melds the band and the film together, thanks to some rather flashy digital tricks (which kind of look like Radiohead's "House of Cards" video) and kick-ass, high-energy performance footage. In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd swear Linkin Park were actually in the film. And who knows, maybe that's where they'll be in "Transformers 3."
"It's a performance video to be sure, but we wanted to keep it along the lines of the song, you know?" Shinoda said. "So visually it represents the dynamic collision between the organic elements and the digital elements. And you see that in the movie and you've got that in the song — drums and guitars up against synths and sample. We wanted to make something that embraced the film and kept within the spirit of the band. And I think we succeeded in both goals."