Interview with Mike Shinoda for Rock Sound

Mike talks about touring, setlist changes and Sum 41

📅 August 2018

📺 Rock Sound

📖 5 min read

JW: Hi, James Wilson-Taylor here from Rock Sound joined now by of course Mr. Mike Shinoda. How are you, sir?

M: Hi, just enjoying this weird microphone.

JW: I know it’s a weird, odd shape, isn’t it?

M: Yes, it’s weird. [smiles]

JW: She thick, she thick, this microphone, it’s very very true. Congratulations on being back in the UK doing these awesome shows. I wanna dive right in, because we’ve just seen you do another wonderful onstage collab with Sum 41, so...

M: Thank you!

JW: How did that come about, who approached who?

M: Actually, Frank (the drummer from the band) has been doing a Linkin Park drum solo in their set for a long time, and originally he asked me if I’d come and rap over his drum solo section. But that section is so great as it is, and I thought I’d just be talking over top of something that was great. [laughs] So I said, “Can we try something else?” And we took it from there.

JW: Yeah, cool. It’s really really nice to see you guys. And actually speaking on that... So yesterday [on] the festival Papa Roach did a bit of “In the End” and we were chatting to Bert from The Used the other day, they said they’re gonna be covering “Shadow of the Day” very soon as well. Man, they’re throwing them all out there... but it’s gotta be lovely to see all these other bands.

M: It’s really sweet, yeah, really great. [smiles] And we’ve toured with all of those guys over the years, so it’s much appreciated, of course.

JW: Yeah, awesome. You’ve just completed this massive tour of Asia. Been following your social media during that, cause it seems like you were having the best time out in Asia recently, weren’t you?

M: It’s good!

JW: Yeah, it looked amazing, amazing crowds. Gotta pick up on a couple things… Did you design a car when you were out there? Did I see that?

M: Well, yeah, it’s kind of like a wrap. Basically, Mercedes had sponsored the tour in China and they asked me if I wanted to design this G-Class. I mean, it’s a gorgeous car, it was so cool to do. I have all these little doodles, I’m always drawing, and I have all these little characters, that are like… it’s kind of like free association, they’re not really planned out so much. So I used some of those and patterned it around the car.

JW: Nice, it’s cool to see! And you jumped onstage once again with your friends in ONE OK ROCK. So yeah, that’s gotta be a great experience. How was it - playing a proper show with the full band and everything? You were [performing] with Taka last time in LA, of course.

M: Yeah, yeah. [smiles] Well, I mean, my show now... I had started this whole tour with just me on stage. It was me and my little production keyboard setup. And I’ve done that for a few weeks just in order to, number one, get really comfortable on stage, and also make sure that the presentation was really personal, like the new record is. But while I was doing that, I was learning about - okay, what kind of thing can I add to take this show to the next level? And I ended up adding a drummer named Dan and a multi-instrumentalist named Matt. So it’s the three of us on stage right now, and for my solo shows a little bit of production… And that’s feeling really good. 

JW: Nice, man. Yeah, I mean, you touched on it right there, but last time we spoke you said like you wanted to settle into, you wanted to discover new things in terms of playing the shows. Do you feel like you’ve really hit your stride now with the tour?

M: Yeah, I actually do, I actually do. Part of the thing is, rather than just jumping into what’s familiar, I wanted to try something as stripped down as I could make it and felt different, and then add things that I felt were necessary.

JW: Right. And you feel like that’ll keep growing and developing? Cause you got the US tour dates to come, of course...

M: No, I’m actually really happy with where the presentation is right now. It actually leaves me a lot of room to kind of improvise - you know, throw songs in the set, and pull songs out, and try new things as I’m going. 

JW: Yeah, how’s the repertoire looking? I know you said that certain Linkin Park songs and Fort Minor songs you want to throw in and mix them with the solo stuff… Are you still kind of playing around with the setlist?

M: Yeah, I’ve got a good number of songs right now and there’s certain songs that… I’ve just tried a couple of songs that I hadn’t played. One of them was “High Road,” which is a Fort Minor song from forever ago, and the other one was “Hold It Together,” which is a song off the new record. So, I’ve been playing around with those. I won’t be playing those today, today is a short set, for a festival. But yeah, just so people know, if they’re thinking of coming to the show: I play Linkin Park stuff, Fort Minor stuff and new solo stuff. And I want it to be a fun set, I want it to be a celebratory set. Not anything sad or whatever. I mean, there’s a couple of moments of tribute, but… Like, if I were coming to a show, I would definitely want something fun.

JW: Yeah, of course, it definitely feels fun, man. Last question for you. Of course, I know you’re a hard-working man, so has there been more studio time while you’ve been on the road? Have you had the chance to write down some new ideas for moving forward?

M: Just like little sketches, little doodles. Oftentimes, when I’m traveling I’ll throw together little… it’s usually in the form of loops, or little tracks, in my phone, or on my laptop. And I’ve got some studio time booked here and there, nothing too serious, no big plans, just kinda exploring it and experimenting. 

JW: Trying out all kinds of things!

M: Absolutely.

JW: Well, it’s great to see you, man, I mean, obviously back in the UK again very soon.

M: Thank you so much.