Comic-Con: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn Talk Branching into Other Artistic Avenues, Touring, MALL, Moving from Music Videos to Features, and More

     July 31, 2014


Pulling double duty while at Comic-Con, Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn performed with their band Linkin Park at the first-ever mtvU Fandom Awards at Petco Park, and also screened Hahn’s feature film directorial debut Mall at an exclusive Nerd HQ event.

After soundcheck for the concert, Collider got the opportunity to talk to the two multi-talented guys for this exclusive interview about branching out to other artistic avenues, kicking off the tour for their recently released album The Hunting Party, deciding which songs to play live, why their fans are important to them.  Joe Hahn also talked about making the transition from directing music videos to directing a feature film, why the script for Mall appealed to him, the post-production process, and working with a legend like Vincent D’Onofrio, who also had a hand in writing the script.  Check out what they had to say after the jump.

mike-shinoda-joseph-hahnCollider:  Mike, you did an awesome job on the music for The Raid, and Joe, now you’re branching out to directing feature films.  Have you both been thinking about branching out into other artistic avenues for awhile now?

MIKE SHINODA:  Yes.  For me, I feel like, if the right movie comes along, I’d do it again.  The first movie I scored was The Raid.  It’s not about the budget.  It’s about whether it’s something that I’m excited to work on.  If that happens, we’ll see.  I’m still keeping my eyes open.  But truthfully, we just came out with a new Linkin Park album, The Hunting Party, and we leave for tour in the U.S. on August 8th.  We are out for six weeks in the U.S., and then we’re doing some stuff in Europe.  We’ll be really busy. 

When you kick off a tour, is it nerve-wracking? 

SHINODA:  It’s not nerve-wracking to kick off a tour.  Only if we’re playing a lot of complicated and new stuff.  This one, I think we have it all pretty much under our belts.  There are minor changes.  We added a couple of songs that we weren’t playing on the last tour.  But for the most part, we’re really eager to get on stage and play.

How do you make the decisions for what you will and won’t play live, and are there some songs that you have to play at every show?

SHINODA:  There’s nothing that we have to play.  It’s our decision.  But at the end of the day, we definitely know that the fans expect to see certain things and they want to see certain songs.  A fan will come up and say, “Hey, will you play ‘And One’ off of the Hybrid Theory demo EP?”  And it’s like, “Well, we can.  But imagine if we take ‘In the End’ or ‘One Step Closer’ out of the set to put that in.  I know that 200 people will be really stoked to see that, but then there’s 20,000 people that are bummed out that one of these songs isn’t in.”  It’s always a decision we make.  But one thing about the new album, The Hunting Party, is that it was written for the stage.  It was written for the live show.  It’s very live band oriented, so we want to play as much of that stuff as possible.  Currently, I think we have five songs in the set, which is a good quarter of the set.  We’re still playing the stuff that people know the band for, and we’re also playing new stuff.

mall-joe-hahnFrom the very beginning, you guys have always shown your appreciation for your fans.  Is that something that’s just always been important to you?

JOE HAHN:  We started as fans of music.  We don’t put too much contrived thought into it.  It’s just something that we’ve done, from the beginning.  We just treat our fans how we would have wanted to be treated, as fans.

SHINODA:  We’ve had experiences, on the other end.  I remember going to a show when I was 15.  My friend’s dad chaperoned us, and it was Anthrax and Public Enemy.  We were looking in the crowd and Ice-T was in the crowd.  I was always a big rap fan, so I went up to him and asked for an autograph.  His security guard only let six people get stuff signed, and I was one of the six people, but he was so nice and so generous, and he spent a little time talking to us.  Stuff like that rubs off on you, when you’re on the other end of that situation.  That’s how I want people to walk away, even if we’ve had a rough day.  A lot of times when we meet fans, it’s a quick interaction.  But to come to something like [Comic-Con], even though I don’t get to sit down and get to know someone, I have a good idea of why they’re here and what they’re into, which is cool for me.

Joe, you’ve had a lot of experience directing music videos, but was directing a feature film always the goal?

HAHN:  Yeah, I think I’ve always had that in mind.  Through the years, it became more of a reality and more of a thing to grasp.  So, when I got the script for Mall, it immediately popped out to me.  It’s not something that someone would think, “Hey, Joe would be great for this?,” even though someone did.  It’s not apparent, if you see my visual stuff and know my background and love for sci-fi/fantasy/action.  But I really loved the characters, and how real and raw they were.  I really saw the film as a way to really show the dynamic, visually, and how to bring the stories in the film to life.  And then, luckily, we had Paragon Pictures pick it up and bring us out [to Comic-Con] to show it to all the fans.  

mall-vincent-donofrioSHINODA:  I think this is ideal.  I was thinking about that, as we drove over here.  As opposed to the more traditional film festival thing, at least for this to play a role in debuting the movie and being a part of the launch.  

HAHN:  I’ve been coming to Comic-Con since I was 14.  I came as a fan.  Back then, I wanted to be a comic book artist, so I would bring my art and show it to all these guys that I looked up to.  There were some guys that were dicks, but a lot of guys were really cool, and I remember that, to this day.  

SHINODA:  Who was a dick? 

HAHN:  Actually, there weren’t that many people who were dicks.  I guess that’s part of character building. 

What was the post-production process like with Mall?

HAHN:  It’s pretty much the same as with music videos.  It’s harder because it’s longer.  Usually, I have two days to shoot a video.  On this, we shot it in 18 days.  Post-production is the same process, but longer.  And then, there’s sound and redoing dialogue, and that kind of thing.  I see that all as really positive because they’re all opportunities to make the film better.

What was it like to work with Vincent D’Onofrio, who had a hand in writing the script, along with acting in the film?

HAHN:  He was awesome!  He optioned the book and wrote it with Joe Vinciguerra and Sam Bisbee.  And one would just assume that he would be a control freak, but he comes from a theatrical background.  He’s from the Strasberg method of acting, and when he acts, he sees it as a group effort.  If he helps make this person better, it’s going to make him better, and vice versa.  I could really see that, in working with him, even from the first meeting.  So, there was that generosity on the collaboration, but also his trust in me, as a director, to just let me do my thing.  He was very collaborative.  We would come up with ideas, but he would always be like, “Okay, whatever you want to do.”  It was never a contentious thing.  If I felt strongly about something, he’d be like, “Okay, that’s cool.”  He’s a legend, too.  I learned a lot from him, as well.

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