Linkin Park and Thirty Seconds to Mars perform in The Carnivores Tour, with special guest AFI.
Very few bands have blended rap rock and nu metal so successfully and deftly as Linkin Park. The Grammy Award-winning band broke onto the scene with their unique sound with the release of Hybrid Theory in 2000. Since that time, Linkin Park has released three more studio albums, played numerous sold-out concert dates, and won countless awards. Linkin Park's latest album, the 2010 A Thousand Suns, marks the second record with producer Rick Rubin and the first concept album by the band. After eleven years of stardom, Linkin Park is continuing its seemingly never-ending success with twenty-two international tour dates in 2011.
Originally called Xero and Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park was signed to Warner Bros. in 1999 after vice-president Jeff Blue included their signing in his employment contract. A year later Linkin Park released their debut album, Hybrid Theory, which launched them into super stardom. Almost unheard of for a debut album, Hybrid Theory reached #2 on the Billboard 200 and the single "Crawling" won a Grammy for Best hard Rock Performance. The successful debut was followed by a number of high-profile concert dates for Linkin Park, including the formation of their own Projekt Revolution tour.
Linkin Park's 2003 album, Meteora, combined the band's rap rock/nu metal sound with a number of obscure, experimental instruments. Critics and fans responded positively as the album shot to #1 on the Billboard charts and eventually went four times platinum. Instead of immediately starting work on a new album after promoting the previous, Linkin Park took a break. While on hiatus, members of the band played tour dates and engaged in various side projects before returning to the studio in 2006. During that time, they also released a successful mashup album with Jay-Z called Collision Course. Minutes to Midnight was released in 2007 and, despite even further experimentation away from nu metal, the album experienced similar success as the band's previous record.
Linkin Park's latest album, A Thousand Suns, is a concept album revolving around fears experienced by human beings in a modern technological society. However, it's technology that helps make Linkin Park concert dates so spectacular, including upcoming tour dates in 2011. Tour dates begin on June 4 in Irvine, California, at KROQ's annual Weenie Roast. Following a tour date in Mountain View the following day, Linkin Park will head to Europe to play concert dates beginning June 12. Linkin Park will perform a number of shows in Europe (particularly Germany), before heading to Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. 2011 tour dates for Linkin Park will end on September 25 at the Singtel Singapore Grand Prix, so fans (especially in Asia), should buy tickets on Eventful asap.
Thirty Seconds to Mars:
30 Seconds to Mars have been lurking in the background of mainstream music for over ten years now, supported by a huge fan base and colossal musical style. The group's epic style can't be categorized by one genre of music and falls somewhere between progressive and alternative rock. It's this electronic, alternative, indie rock sound that has built 30 Second to Mars a huge fan base at tour dates around the world (known as The Echelon) and created three hit records. While the group's members haven't even confirmed that they'll make another album, there are plenty of tour dates in 2011 to keep fans satiated.
In 1998, brothers Jared and Shannon Leto began playing together and writing songs in their spare time. With Jared playing rhythm guitar and providing vocals and Shannon on drums, they were soon joined by Kevin Drake on lead guitar (although he was replaced by Solon Bixler before the recording of their debut album, and later by Tomo Millicevic). The band continued to be merely a hobby for the group's members as they played local tour dates throughout Los Angeles. In 2001, the group was rounded out with the addition of Matt Watcher as a bassist, keyboardist, and the group's signature synthesizer.
After playing tour dates around Los Angeles for years, 30 Seconds to Mars were signed to Virgin Records in early 2001. They released their self-titled, debut album in 2002 and was full of sci-fi themes, emotional lyrics, and a hard rock sound. The album received great reviews and reached #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. 30 Seconds to Mars reached the next musical plateau with the release of their second album, A Beautiful Lie, in 2005. The album produced four hit singles that received play on radio stations and tour dates; most notably "The Kill," which became a fixture on radios and television. The group's third album, This is War, was released in late 2009 but almost wasn't released at all, due to a lawsuit by Virgin Records. The album marked a change in 30 Seconds to Mars' sound, which was darker with a new wave infusion. The singles "Kings and Queens" and "This Is War" were both popular and both reached #1 in the Alternative Songs charts.
With three successful albums out, fans are curious as to when an announcement of new music will come. To relieve some of the anxiety, 30 Seconds to Mars has plenty of international tour dates in 2011, including concert dates at some of the summer's biggest music festivals. The first concert date is on May 22 in San Juan, Puerto Rico and will pick up again on June 4 in Chicago. Music festival tour dates in 2011 will include Novarock in Austria, the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands, the Hove Festival in Norway, the Highfield Festival in Germany, and appearances at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. Regular tour dates will occur primarily in European nations like Italy, Greece, and the UK, with a June 15 concert date in Paris already sold out.
"Crash Love is certainly not a concept album or rock opera by any stretch, but the songs are generally connected by a greater theme... The album title itself can be construed as a command, as a destructive kind of love, or as a desire for a relationship that's heading inevitably toward disaster or flameout. The lyrics of some songs trace an arc from adoration to the desire to tear down the object of affection. These songs are written from perspectives both sympathetic and critical, as well from both the inside the relationship and outside."--Davey Havok
Crash Love, AFI's eighth full length studio album, due out September 29 on DGC/Interscope, is indeed informed not only by the ever-evolving chemistry between the musicians in the band but also by the members' personal lives and perhaps most of all by the always intense relationship between AFI and its fans. The latter has intensified considerably over the most recent of AFI's 18 years as a band, with 2006's decemberunderground entering the chart at #1 with first week sales of nearly 200,000 and subsequent sold out shows at the Long Beach Arena and Bill Graham Civic as well as appearances on Saturday Night Live and at Live Earth--not to mention 2003's Sing The Sorrow going platinum. These experiences were bound to have an impact on four kids from Ukiah, California who formed a rudimentary punk band in 1991 with aspirations of playing in the SF Bay Area and possibly releasing a few singles and an LP or two.
"The record is really more about how the great attraction to inappropriately shared intimacies, carefully constructed personas, and the loss of a sense of self can affect an entire world," Havok explains. "As well as how this loss of self is sought after rather than resisted... With today's media, we have such quick and pervasive access to the trivia of anyone's lives. Everything is intensified and indulged, this desire and ability to know everything you possibly can about anyone, from what thread-count bedsheets they sleep in to whether or not they believe in ghosts."
While Crash Love is the first AFI record to feature such prevalent sociopolitical and observational perspectives, the darkly personal AFI lyrical strain is distinctly present on standout tracks like "Medicate" and its stark portrait of a user/enabler relationship, as well as throughout the ill fated death ride scenario of "End Transmission." Elsewhere, the newer approach shines on the self-explanatory "Darling I Want To Destroy You," "Veronica Sawyer Smokes" with couples Jade Puget's Smiths-esque guitar signatures with a tale of heartbreak brought on by disappointment with a teen idol, "Beautiful Thieves" with its privileged characters whose actions carry no consequences, and "Too Shy To Scream" which sets yearning, distanced adorations against the backdrop of a drumline-inspired shuffle propelled by Hunter Burgan's bass and Adam Carson's drumming.
Crash Love, it has to be said, features AFI's Puget, Burgan and Carson playing at their most focused and direct. Where Sing The Sorrow and decemberunderground saw the band's compositions increasingly steeped in atmospherics that created a moody-heavy realm that often threatened to engulf the songs, Crash Love is, according to Carson, "the sound of the four of us playing in the same room. It's by no means stripped down but you really hear the band. Sing The Sorrow--and to certain extent decemberunderground--gave us our first experience with big budget recording, which led to some really dense arrangements, electronics, overdubs and so on. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this time we came in with 14 songs we were playing really well and wanted to capture that energy."
Having entered the studio with fully formed and woodshedded songs, Puget and Burgan were freed to come up with novel approaches to each of their instruments--reducing their dependence on strings, keys and other embellishments both organic and electronic. Following a writing process that Puget recalls taking "the better part of a year," the band convened in late 2008 with producers Joe McGrath and Jacknife Lee to begin work in earnest on what would become Crash Love. "We don't jam," Puget explains. "But we had the material so completely formed by the time we began recording that we were able to do things more on the fly this time, to concentrate on sounds as well as performance, to contribute anything that worked, that made a sound that was interesting. So we ended up with sort of a 'Shabby Chic' recording aesthetic: The sounds we came up with separately could be really rough and abrasive but assembled together they created an end result that was really beautiful."
Carson adds, "Personally I'm more interested in the way AC/DC sounds big: Tones that are really big but don't necessarily need a stadium, that sound just as big in an 800 capacity club."
Carson speaks from experience. Having co-founded AFI with Havok in 1991, he's seen his share of clubs that size and considerably smaller.
Within a year of forming, the original AFI lineup pressed up about 200 copies of the split 7-inch Dork with fellow Ukiah High students Loose Change (of which future AFI guitarist Puget was a member). A smattering of singles, EPs and compilation tracks followed, as did the early AFI albums Answer That And Stay Fashionable (Wingnut, 1995) and Very Proud of Ya (Nitro, 1996), all showcasing a youthfully exuberant, often sophomoric East Bay hardcore punk style that began to cultivate a following as the band hit the road, playing virtually anywhere in the world that would have them.
The first hints of AFI's more diverse and mature current direction would appear on the band's third album and first to feature Burgan on bass, Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes (Nitro, 1997) and the subsequent A Fire Inside EP (Adeline, 1998). It would be one more year, however, until the present AFI lineup and sound would truly coalesce with the addition of guitarist Puget and the release of fourth album Black Sails In The Sunset and the All Hallows EP (both Nitro, 1999). Another year later, fifth album The Art of Drowning (Nitro, 2000) would provide a breakthrough, as the fully realized and unmistakable AFI sound already having built a following in the hundreds of thousands, would receive its first taste of mainstream exposure as that record's "Days Of The Phoenix" found its way onto modern rock playlists.
With sixth album Sing The Sorrow (Dreamworks, 2003), AFI made an exceedingly ambitious leap forward, enlisting co-producers the late Jerry Finn and Butch Vig and expanding their musical palette in all directions: First single "Girl's Not Grey" represented the band's most infectious "pop" moment up to that point and became a bona fide hit, while live favorite "Death Of Seasons" incorporated pounding industrial rhythms and mournful choruses before dissolving into a cacophony of screaming anguish. Elsewhere on the record, "Silver And Cold" provided bittersweet balladic verses that exploded into an irresistible chorus, while "Leaving Song Part 2" and "Dancing Through Sunday" showed the familiar AFI chant-along choruses to be as fierce and frantic as ever, even while couched in increasingly sophisticated musicianship.
As with AFI's previous surges forward, their dedicated legions of fans made the leap with them as new ones joined in droves: Sing The Sorrow sold in excess of one million copies in the U.S. and "Girl's Not Grey" won the 2003 MTV2 Viewers Choice award. Critics joined in for the first time as well, with best of 2003 accolades awarded by the likes of the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, GUITAR WORLD, SPIN and REVOLVER, as well as from longtime supporters ALTERNATIVE PRESS.
"I was completely in awe then and still am now," Burgan recalls. "It all seemed to have come naturally from our efforts and honestly that's really hard for me to comprehend."
The band was stunned yet again when the seventh AFI album, decemberunderground (Interscope, 2006), released on 6-6-06, stormed into the U.S. album chart at #1, selling 182,000 in its first week and unseating the Dixie Chicks from their multiple week perch atop the charts. Also produced by the late, lamented Finn, decemberunderground yielded the band's biggest anthem to date, "Miss Murder," which went on to be named #7 in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's 10 best songs of 2006 and #15 in ROLLING STONE's 100 best songs of the year. Other decemberunderground tracks that instantly assumed fan classic status alongside longtime AFI fan favorites included the frigidly beautiful "Love Like Winter," the hyper aggressive "Kill Caustic," and the infectiously melodic "Summer Shudder" and "The Missing Frame." decemberunderground went on to sell over a million copies, providing AFI with its second consecutive platinum album, as the band sold out venues on the level of California's Long Beach Arena and San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Center, made its debut appearance on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and played the New Jersey installation of 2007's Live Earth festival.
The members of AFI readily acknowledge the debt their success story owes to their fiercely local following, The Despair Faction. AFI and The Despair Faction have long enjoyed an intimate relationship that goes beyond more conventional fan club perks such as exclusive merchandise and ticket pre-sales to soundcheck parties regularly organized and attended by DF members who come bearing gifts ranging from homemade AFI artwork, clothing and other keepsakes to vegan baked goods for Havok and Burgan. "They're not really a fan club per se," says Puget. "The Despair Faction was conceived to be more interactive than that, to have more of a direct connection with us."
This connection was inverted and intensified with the Begin Transmission experiment that took place during the recording of Crash Love. AFI solicited videos from the band's fans, each giving a glimpse into the life of the video's maker, with the understanding that a handful of entrants would be chosen to contribute backing vocals to the new record. Havok, Carson, Burgan and Puget personally went through over a thousand entries, ultimately choosing six winners who were then notified in person by longtime AFI tour manager Smith Puget and flown to Los Angeles to guest on Crash Love (where they can be heard prominently on the "Flash Flash Car Crash" refrains of "I'm Trying Very Hard To Be Here," for example). Honorable mention runners-up each received handmade Valentine's Day cards from members of AFI.
"We turned the dynamic around," says Burgan, who was voted Top Music Twitterer in this year's Shorty Awards. "We looked into the lives of the fans. Real people doing real things. It was very interesting to see who's out there, what they're feeling and what they're doing with their lives. They already know who we are, so it was good to get to know them for a change."
Carson adds, "The idea was to engage the fans and make them a part of the process. I didn't expect to be so floored by the effort that went into these kids' videos of their lives. It was a great state of the union, so to speak. And we came away from it feeling that much more of a bond with them."
If the quality of Crash Love is any indication, that bond will only continue to intensify. "I am so proud of this record," Havok concludes. "I really believe it's the best AFI record. It honestly feels like we've made our first truly timeless record. We didn't set out to do that--you can't set out to do something like that--but it definitely feels like that's what we've achieved: created the album by which we'll be remembered."