Linkin Park must have done something right with its debut album, "Hybrid Theory." With 4.8 million copies sold in the U.S. in 2001, the Los Angeles band's rock-rap collection was the year's biggest hit and now has total sales of more than 5.5 million.
But the best new artist Grammy nominee is giving the "Hybrid" material a complete make-over. Enlisting a variety of hip-hop, industrial and dance music DJs and producers, the group is assembling a remix version of the album, due in March or April. The idea isn't just to offer some new spins on familiar songs, but to give them entirely different sounds.
"We are trying our best to take it as far in a sample-driven basis as we can without compromising the songs," says group MC Mike Shinoda. "I want to basically do a complete reinterpretation of the album with the same intensity, but with as little rock references as possible."
Big followers of hip-hop and techno, the band's members recruited some of their favorite figures to work on the tracks. Shinoda says they turned down offers from some star-level artists in favor of more underground talent, leaning toward darker, heavier sounds.
Among the best-known people involved are KutMasta Kurt, Evidence (of Dilated Peoples), the Crystal Method working with Ryu from Styles of Beyond, and Jay Gordon of the industrial-rock band Orgy. Shinoda is handling the remix of "Crawling," which is likely to draw the most attention since it features a new guest vocal by Staind's Aaron Lewis.
Lewis' appearance notwithstanding, Shinoda says the album is not being put together with the idea of another big hit.
"We're not even planning to release any singles," he says. "We don't want radio necessarily to pick this up. We're doing it for our fans, people who have a lot of different music in their CD collections. We want them to know they can look to us to mix different things together. We've always told people about all the things we listen to and play, but don't usually get to share that with them."
Not surprisingly, it's a different matter with plans for the next new album, for which the band is currently writing songs with hopes for a release before Christmas. But Shinoda says commercial aims won't inhibit creative growth.
"There's a lot of musicianship in the new songs," he says. "It's more complex music in an understandable package. And I want to take it up a step as far as the depth of the lyrics."
BREAKING THE MOULD: Bob Mould, ex-leader of punk band Husker Du, took a couple of years off from music and went to work in 1999 as a writer for World Championship Wrestling's TV shows, of which he was a longtime fan.
After WCW went under in 2000, Mould returned his focus to music, but he didn't want to wrestle with the record business, having been through several label contracts in his career. So rather than sign a conventional deal, he's become the first artist to join Aimee Mann and Michael Penn in their independent United Musicians coalition. Through an arrangement the coalition has with the RED distribution firm, Mould plans to release three albums between March and September on his Granary Music label.
The first, "Modulate," introduces dense electronic textures to Mould's melodic rock. The second, "Long Playing Grooves," will be an all-electronic set released under the alias LoudBomb. "Body of Song" will be an intimate acoustic album.
"I sort of watched the entertainment business systematically take music apart, strip away the value and meaning of it," Mould says. "I'm not getting better looking, not getting any younger. I'm not going to appeal to 10-year-olds. So I don't have a place in what remains of the traditional music business."
That's exactly the kind of artist United Musicians was created for, following Mann's release of her "Bachelor No. 2" in 2000 after Interscope Records let her go. The album sold 176,000 copies--too few to satisfy a major label, but a healthy, profitable figure for an indie effort.
"Bob is great--the right kind of artist to do this," says Mann and Penn's manager, Michael Hausman, who set up and runs United Musicians. "He's very experienced, has a strong following and has been doing this for more than 20 years. In this day and age, the way the labels operate with this kind of artist, our argument is you're better off on your own."
Mould will return to the road in March, a venture that will seem easy compared with life in the wrestling world. "I was helping write four hours of live TV every week and helping direct behind the curtain," he says. "It was five days a week of flying--I'd get on the Learjet in Reno or wherever we were doing the show, we'd make a pit stop for fuel in Kansas and then back to Atlanta [WCW's headquarters], getting three hours sleep before having to write more TV.
"It was harder than punk rock, actually."
SMALL FACES: Korn's Jonathan Davis has written score music and five songs for the movie "Queen of the Damned" and will provide the singing voice for the vampire Lestat. But because of Korn's Epic Records contract limiting work he can do for other labels, Davis' voice won't be heard on the soundtrack album, due Feb.22 from Warner Bros. Records. Instead, Disturbed's Dave Dramin, Static-X's Wayne Static and Linkin Park's Chester Bennington have filled in on three songs, with the remaining two still to be completed.... With drummer Taylor Hawkins publicly acknowledging that drugs caused his medical crisis in Europe last summer, the Foo Fighters will play a benefit for the Musicians Assistance Program on Feb. 7 at the House of Blues in Anaheim. Tickets go on sale Monday.... Magnetic Fields, whose "69 Love Songs" was a 2000 critics' favorite, has become the latest rock-oriented act to sign to Nonesuch Records, which has deals with Randy Newman and Wilco.... Dave Matthews' ATO Records label, which helped David Gray rise from journeyman to star, will try the same trick with Patty Griffin, who had two respected but poor-selling albums on A&M.; Her new "1000 Kisses" is due from ATO on April 9. Matthews and Griffin met taping an "Austin City Limits" a few years ago.
Steve Hochman is a regular contributor to Calendar.