Linkin Park weren't sure they'd be able to top last year's Projekt Revolution tour, but with a lineup that includes veteran rap and rock performers Busta Rhymes and Chris Cornell, as well as the Bravery and Ashes Divide, this year's bill may prove to be their most eclectic yet.
"We just pick groups that we think would be a good match together," Linkin Park MC Mike Shinoda said of the tour, which will hit 24 cities, kicking off July 16 in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and wrapping up August 24 in The Woodlands, Texas. "We want to create a bill that we think we'd enjoy seeing this summer."
After collaborating with Linkin Park on "We Made It," the first single off his eighth album, Blessed, Busta Rhymes was determined to join them on tour.
"Apparently, Busta was telling people, 'You don't understand, I'm going to be on that tour; you need to get me on that tour,' " Shinoda recalled. "I was saying to our touring committee ... with the single, it would be really great to do at least some shows with Busta."
Rhymes laughed at his efforts. "I was going hard, though, shamelessly," he said. "I wanted this bad."
"Busta, he's a performer," Shinoda said. "This isn't a DJ on the stage playing records."
With Rhymes and Linkin Park spending so much time together on the tour, are other collaborations on the horizon? "Absolutely. Why not?" Rhymes said. "Make an album, a couple of albums. Make a movie together. You know what I'm saying?"
Cornell decided to join the tour after enjoying his brief time with Linkin Park in Australia last October. "It's not that easy to find bands or artists [that are musically] different from what you do but that you like and your fans are going to like them, and it all makes sense but it's completely different," Cornell explained.
The former Audioslave and Soundgarden frontman described his spontaneous approach to creating a set list. "I sort of decide on the moment what the set list will be and sometimes even when we're onstage — it depends," Cornell said. "The funny part is when I'll forget. There will be a song that everybody loves that everyone expected to hear, and I forgot that song existed."
Cornell may also be debuting material from his recent collaboration with chart-topper Timbaland, who is producing Cornell's third solo album, which is planned for a September release.
"The idea of playing some new material is good," Cornell said. "Not every day is the same for me. Sometimes an audience feels different, so for me it requires a couple of different songs. You never know."
Metal band Atreyu will headline the tour's smaller Revolution stage, where 10 Years, Hawthorne Heights, Armor for Sleep and Street Drum Corps will also play.
"We just kept sending manila envelopes full of $1 bills," Atreyu lead singer Alex Varkatzas joked of how they made the lineup.
Before the U.S. leg of the tour begins, Projekt Revolution will head to Europe for the first time in the tour's five-year history, with a completely different lineup that includes N.E.R.D., the Used, H.I.M., the Blackout, InnerPartySystem and Enter Shikari. After three stops in Germany (June 21, 27, 28), the tour meets up with Jay-Z in Milton Keynes, England, on June 29.
"For some reason, there's an interest in this tour, there's an interest in what it means, and I think that it's translating in other places," Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington said. "We've never showed up to the U.K. and sold 50,000 tickets, but when we say we're doing Projekt Revolution and we have these different bands, all of a sudden it's, like, awesome."
One thing that hasn't changed since last year is Linkin Park's commitment to making the tour "green" by donating $1 from every ticket purchased to help reduce global warming through their charity, Music Relief.
Even after five years of putting this tour together, Linkin Park are excited to hit the road again. "When all the musicians on a tour feel like this is really an opportunity, and we're probably not going to be able to do this again, you're living in that moment, and you're being present with the fact that this is a really special thing we get to do," Bennington said. "It's just like I'm living out a fantasy."