It's a heavy day for Linkin Park and its fans -- in a good way.
The group's Mike Shinoda took to Instagram Thursday morning (Feb. 16) to reveal the group's new single, "Heavy" (streaming below) as well as a May 19 release date for Linkin Park's seventh studio album, One More Light. Shinoda also announced that the band will celebrate the single's release with a performance at 3 p.m. ET today [Thursday] on Facebook Live.
"We're super-excited about the song, and the excitement around it has been kind of crazy," Shinoda told Billboard about "Heavy," which features guest vocals from "Gold" hitmaker Kiiara. "We've put out a lot of first singles, and I've actually kind of been taken aback by the amount of excitement over the song and everything."
Here's what else Shinoda had to say about "Heavy" and what we can expect from the rest of One More Light and Linkin Park in the year to come:
"Heavy" is a different sound for Linkin Park. How did the song come about?
The band, with every album, every song we're trying to challenge ourselves. We like to try new things. We want to explore new territory with the sounds and the songwriting. We've always been about mixing styles; I mean, Hybrid Theory was the name of our band before we changed it to Linkin Park. Linkin Park fans know that with every album you never know what you're going to get, and the style can change dramatically and different elements, different genres that we listen to might sit more in the forefront than others.
There's a very mainstream, pop-friendly aspect to "Heavy" that might surprise some fans?
I don't know that those are the words I'd use, but we did think what would it be like, first of all, to write with people outside the band, to approach things with our arms wide open, wrapped around a larger audience and still make it 100 percent Linkin Park and true to what we do. Almost a year and a half later, this is the first taste of what that sounds like.
What's the rest of One More Light like?
One of the reasons why we chose "Heavy" as the first single is because it is really the core sound of the album. This wasn't a scenario where the whole album sounds one way and the single sounds different. This is how the album sounds. So we wanted to go out with a song like that, where everybody can get a sense of the direction of this body of work.
You mentioned collaborating with other writers this time around...
The thing that really drove this album was we kind of flipped our writing process backwards. Historically for us the (instrumental) track usually comes first, like we'll make a body of music and the music will inspire the lyrics. In this case we actually flipped that around and the very first thing we'd do each day is we'd get into the studio and say, "What's on my mind? What do I want to sing about and write about" and that defined a whole different kind of writing. It builds a wonderful foundation to put everything else on top of. And the soundmaking is actually one of the most fun parts for me, so then it's like icing on the cake. I know I've got a strong song, a strong foundation and then it's just icing to put on top of it.
So what was the discussion that led to "Heavy?"
When we wrote this one it was me and Brad (Delson) and Chester (Bennington) from the band and [songwriters] Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels. And I remember Chester walked in and it was, "Hey, how are you doing today?" and he's like, "OH, I'm fine," and we were hanging out for a minutes and he was like, "Y'know what? I have to be honest. I'm NOT fine. I'm NOT OK. Too much stuff is just happening to me. I just feel underwater." It was like that saying "when it rains it pours;" It's that kind of feeling that stuff is piling up one on top of the other, and it creates this feeling of just being overwhelmed, like, "Things feel so heavy to me..."
More Linkin Park angst, then?
What I would say is the key to it, the most important lyric to it all is "if I just let go I'd be set free." 'Cause for us it is about the catharsis and that element of, "No matter what's happening to me, how am I reacting to it? What's my responsibility to it?" So that's a lyric that was really important; I felt like when we added that, it kind of solidified the message of the song.
How did Kiiara become part of the song?
I got introduced to Kiiara by Zane Lowe. He interviewed her and asked her what her favorite music was, and she said Linkin Park right off the bat and he emailed me and said, "She's really interesting. I think she's so cool, and you guys should really meet." So we started talking and one thing led to another. Originally Chester had sung the whole song, but we felt like it needed this other perspective, if you hear another voice on it it would make it feel like it's coming from more than one person. We asked her if she'd sing on it, and I thought it really took the song to another dimension."
Are we going to see Linkin Park on the road once the album comes out?
We're already confirmed for a bunch of festivals in Latin America, Europe and Asia. We'll be doing other performances, some TV stuff, and we might have room in the schedule for one more big tour. As usual, all that stuff gets announced on our social media.