ALT 92.3’s Not So Silent Night: Interview with Mike Shinoda

Mike talks about ‘Post Traumatic’ tour, Illuminati, and making mashups

📅 December 2018

📺 ALT 92.3 Radio

📖 9 min read

Cane: It’s Cane, we are backstage at Not So Silent Night in the interview room. I got Kevan Kenney here with me.

Kevan: Thanks for having me, Cane. What an honor!

Cane: Oh, absolutely. Glad you could be here. And we’re joined now by Mike Shinoda!

Mike: Hi!

Cane: Hi, Mike!

Mike: Hi, yeah, we’re here.

Cane: How are you?

Mike: I’m good, I’m good.

Cane: I know you stopped by before but the door was shut, so...

Mike: Well, yeah. I mean, there’s all this moaning and these weird grunting noises...

Cane: That was Kevin. I told him not to be so loud this time…

Kevan: Hey, listen… [laughs]

Cane: [laughs] Gross! 

Mike: It’s just really… Okay, I almost opened the door and I was like, ”No, now is not the time.” [smiles]

Cane: Well, how are you?

Mike: I’m good! I mean, other than that, I’m fine.

Cane: You seem good.

Mike: Yeah, I’m good.

Cane: You seem like everything’s going well.

Mike: Yeah, well, I had finished up a U.S. tour. I was out for like about a month and a half and then had a really nice Thanksgiving, very chill. We go up into the mountains in California, where there’s like, I think, the population of that town is like 200. [laughs]

Cane: Wow, nice.

Mike: It’s a tiny, little place.

Cane: So you can run around in your underpants and do whatever you want to do.

Mike: I mean, if you want to freeze everything off... [smiles] It’s like very cold; it’s like snowing.

Cane: I guess the point was that no one’s gonna bother you.

Mike: Yeah, it’s really, really quiet. My family’s been going up there forever. But yeah, just very chill so we’re coming off of a very nice little holiday.

Cane: You know what I love? I don’t know if it was intentional or whatever, but at your shows - there’s so many emotional moments.

Mike: Oh yeah.

Cane: When the crowd sings back to you, and sings Chester’s parts, and it’s like… Was this a nice surprise for you or did you kind of expect it? 

Mike: Oh, I expected. I mean, when I started the process of my solo record - Post Traumatic came out earlier this year - and in the process of making that record and deciding to start that, I had to make a lot of decisions, I had to really think about the next steps and the steps after those. So, in other words, like, “Okay, well, I wrote a bunch of songs. Should I put out an album? If I put out an album, people are gonna ask me about what the songs mean. If I do that, I probably should go out on tour. I will see fans who will cry, I will see fans who will tell me… you know, their personal stories, not only just their connections to Chester and to the band, and probably bring up stuff that makes me uncomfortable or makes me sad or whatever, but also tell me stories about their own lives, that are hard to listen to. And can I listen to potentially lots of those every single night I go out?” And I realized after I’ve done a few things, like, I did a few signings, I did a few little things, and I realized, “You know what? I’m okay with this.” My perspective on it is: number one, that I was out there to thank the fans for their support and thank them for the way they were celebrating Chester. It’s the way that I would want them to, you know? And also go out there and kind of guide that and let people know that I want to see people remembering, you know… remember your favorite songs, remember how great his voice was, remember all the wonderful things he did with things like charity and the way he used to talk to people. Like, he’s a wonderful guy, he’s one of my best friends, obviously, and I want the fans to remember that and I wanted to have those moments, I felt like I was comfortable having those moments in the shows.

Kevan: Totally. Mike, you talk about the connection you have with your fans right there and how beautiful that is, how powerful that is. I gotta ask you about connection you have with another artist. We’re here tonight in New York City. We’re here in Brooklyn. Jay-Z’s birthday was this past week...

Mike: Was this week, yeah!

Kevan: This is the Barclays Center, of course. He helped make this thing a reality. We also just recently celebrated, I think, the 14th anniversary of Collision Course?

Mike: Yeah!

Kevan: It’s wild! What are your memories of that project coming together?

Mike: You know, it was originally started - the process, the conversation - was started by MTV. They went to Jay and they said, “The mashup thing kind of started with you and Danger Mouse mashing you up with the Beatles, who do you want to do a mashup with? We are gonna do this like a mashup show.” Originally, they wanted to do a series. And so, he said, “Linkin Park” and they called us. And the first thing I did was send back… I actually sent back three songs. Like, my response was three songs. And Jay Z’s reaction was, “Oh shit!” you know what I mean? And the reason that played out that way was because, what they didn’t know was that mashups were how I learned to produce. It was how I learned to make music. I would sit, you know, all weekend every weekend putting little mashups of my favorite stuff together when I was in high school. And I learned how to use a sampler by mashing stuff up. It’d be Wu-Tang Clan and Smashing Pumpkins, and Nine Inch Nails, and The Jackson 5, and this old James Brown breakbeat with like, I don’t know, something weird… What’s the weirdest thing I ever sampled?

Kevan: What was the weirdest thing you ever sampled?

Mike: I was just thinking about it… 

Kevan: You’re a creative guy.

Mike: I did a really dope mashup one time… there is a New York rapper named Nine; I took his acapella and the track I built underneath it was… I think it was “P.Y.T.” by Michael Jackson with Audio Two’s “Top Billin’” beat underneath it. So those are the three pieces, if somebody out there wants to hear what that sounds like, you just take those three songs and put them together that way and you’ll hear that was my mashup.

Kevan: Just really quick follow-up before we kick it back to Cane. You rap Jay’s verses on that album. Did he give you any piece of advice in terms of cadence, in terms of flow? What did he say to you? Not many people would approach covering a Jay-Z song. You’ve done that, you’re one of the few people to do that on wax.

Mike: My attitude was like: look, we’re gonna do this thing, like, I just did them and I put it down on the track. And if Jay doesn’t like them, he’ll ask me to take them off, right? For me it’s like - when I’m doing something creative like that, I will try to find the boundary where it’s uncomfortable or where it’s like, you don’t go past that line. [smiles] And so, that was me pushing that line and saying, “Okay, what’s acceptable and what’s not?” And he didn’t say, like, “No, let me do this and let me do that.” He didn’t, he just let it be.

Kevan: It’s awesome. 

Mike: Which I think was cool. I thought that was cool, because for me growing up listening to Jay, I felt like he is such a storyteller. It’s one thing when somebody’s just like... if you’re doing a battle rap, like, “bragging” kind of song - that’s one style that I love and I appreciate. I actually grew up doing that, too, some of my favorite stuff was like that. But once in a while you get somebody who’s just really good at painting a picture, and Jay is good at that, and those stories to me tend to be more universal. Like, in my head, I can hear somebody else doing those types of songs more, if that makes sense? Because it’s almost more classic.

Cane: My favorite thing about that project was that I got to get my picture with Jay-Z… [laughs]

Kevan: Humble brag from Cane. [laughs]

Cane: ...because you guys came to the station. Alright, I just want to get to a question from a fan, because we asked fans to ask all the artists at Not So Silent Night questions and by far everybody wanted to ask you stuff. 

Mike: Oh, that’s nice.

Cane: Judy wants to know: one of the best holiday presents you’ve ever received?

Mike: Wow, best holiday present... In modern times, it’s like not a...

Cane: Wait, have you lived in not modern times? Did you live in the Stone Age? [laughs]

Mike: Well, we will get to that! When I say “modern times,” I mean times with electricity... You know, after the invention of the wheel… [laughs] Sorry, this is getting really weird. I just read like a conspiracy... Have you ever seen those conspiracy theory things online, about like, you know, “This person is actually a vampire and this person is like Illuminati!” I don’t know how I ended up on one of those pages, and one of them is that certain... there’s like a few actors that are at these Reddit pages about them being actually vampires? Like, ”This is why they are actually...!” and I don’t know if these people actually... Do you think people actually think that there are vampires, for real?

Cane: Absolutely! There are people who believe the Earth is flat. Of course, there are people who believe that. 

Mike: Yeah, that’s a good point. [smiles]

Cane: There are people who will believe everything.

Mike: Yeah. So I gotta watch it and make jokes about, like, being around for...

Kevan: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever heard about yourself online? Speaking of that. 

Mike: Jeez, I’ve heard so many weird things...

Kevan: What’s on top of mind?

Mike: Well, the Illuminati thing was the thing for a moment.

Kevan: Cane over here, you can’t see him, he’s throwing up the Illuminati sign. [laughs]

Cane: [to Mike] In that I actually believe though, I think you are.

Mike: There was one point when somebody said that and I was like… First of all, I had to look it up to see if it was the same thing that we talked about when I was in junior high and maybe early high school. We talked about Illuminati, like “Oh yeah, secret societies that run the planet!” And then we forgot about that and it didn’t come up again, and then somebody brought it up and was like, “Yeah, Linkin Park is, like, Illuminati!” And then I looked it up just to be sure - is Illuminati still the same thing it was back then? And the answer is yes! The definition is still the same as when I was a kid, this theory has been around forever, and I was like, “Dude, you guys, really?!” Like, honestly, if I was Illuminati, I would be balling right now! Why would I be a musician? Like, running around, doing shows?! If I was Illuminati...

Kevan: What would you be, if you were a part of the Illuminati?

Mike: Let’s start with Facebook! Like, I would own Facebook or something! I think way bigger than Linkin Park. Right? I would be Jeff Bezos or something! I would own Virgin or something! Why would I be in Linkin Park? That’d be a stupid thing to be a part of, if I was Illuminati and like, running the planet.

Kevan: Right… [laughs]

Cane: Mike Shinoda. Have a great show.

Mike: [laughs] Is that really it? That’s it?

Cane: Mike Shinoda, not Illuminati, possible flat Earther. [smiles] Thank you for being here. 

Mike: Possible flat Earther… [laughs]

Cane: I’m trying to get to, you know, going somewhere else. Thanks for coming, man.

Mike: I love this, thank you for having me. This is a great lineup and I’m proud to be part of it. Thank you.