“Barry Manilow or Barry White?” muses Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda when ShortList speaks to him on the phone from Berlin. “It’s tough but if I was forced to choose I'd go for White.”
We’re discussing his Ultimate Playlist, piecing together some of the songs to have shaped the writer/singer's career, as well as those which have impressed him of late, never fail to evoke nostalgia, and, yes, those that make him dance at weddings, too.
We speak to Shinoda on the eve of a UK tour and the release of Rebellion, the band's latest single which he provides vocals for (more on that below), and if you know anything about the genre-shifting antics of Linkin Park, then it might not be a total surprise as to how eclectic the front-man's playlist is.
You could say he's smashed it out of the park.
New single Rebellion is out now, as is new album The Hunting Party
FAVOURITE CURRENT SONG
"I’m listening to so much different stuff right now, oldies and new ones. My listening folder has Tears For Fears, Yellow Card, Aphex Twin, Royal Blood at the moment so it’s all over the place. As for really current songs, I can’t stop listening to the new Run The Jewels album. Firstly, I love the music, but the interplay between [Killer] Mike and EL-P is just awesome Their first album was incredible and this has been a great follow-up. Anything from that album works."
FAVOURITE SONG THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS HEARD OF
"This is actually easy. I love turning people on to a song called Keep It Low by The Hundred in the Hands. It came out in 2012 and it’s shocking to me that nobody really knows it; it’s such a great song. It’s some cool, female vocalised, sample driven music with a dark, indie electro-pop kind of style. I just found it online, picked it up on one of the blogs I visit in my spare time. Every now and again I find a track like this. It’s great."
FAVOURITE SAD SONG
"If I’m wanting mellow I’ll put on The XX, usually. Although, and I don’t know if it’s sad, but there’s something really powerful about Hozier’s recent song From Eden. It reminds me of Jeff Buckley in a way, it's that good. I’m not sure what it is about it that does that for me, that pushes that button but I think it’s an exceptional piece of writing and performance, and the way he twists the words, especially in the opening where the lyrics are so nice."
FAVOURITE MOVIE SOUNDTRACK SONG
"This was from a soundtrack to a movie called Judgement Night, in which they paired rock and hip hop artists: namely Helmet and House Of Pain for a song called Just Another Victim, and it is seriously special, and while not quite inspiring us to do what we were doing as a band, as we were already doing it, was something I could really relate to. I have to admit I never watched this movie. My two favourite films are Seven and Wall-E. So it’s either really dark or really light with me. Then again, I must have watched The Empire Strikes Back 100 times or more."
FAVOURITE SONG FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD
"I remember hearing my parents playing The Beatles- Eleanor Rigby. I was too young to really care about the lyrics or know what was going on in that song, but it felt so sad and complex to me, funnily enough it still does. It’s tinged with the kind of feeling that I can’t explain with words. It also reminds me of listening to the radio with my dad - I think of those big seventies stereophonic speakers, light brown wood, almost bamboo-like, covering over the top of the speakers with a silver receiver. They’d have music on in the background whenever they had friends over, listening to more soft rock than hard rock, which I never understood!"
FAVOURITE CLUB ANTHEM
"First of all I don’t go to the club. It’s never been my thing, but if I was out at a club I’d generally want to hear ‘90s hip hop songs, even if they aren't really club anthems per se. Wu Tang Clan - Protect Your Neck might work – as it reminds me of parties at friend’s houses where DJs have got everybody jumping with that same track. There's a good beat to it."
FAVOURITE WEDDING SONG
"A friend recently got married and they’re huge Metallica fans, so everyone expected them to play it at the ceremony but they made us wait. Then, as the ceremony was over and they kissed and headed back up the aisle we heard the album Justice For All blast on the speakers. When you know a song or band is so a part of a person and their relationship with somebody, and it’s just so them, nothing beats it. I'm not sure which song came on first but it was the best I’ve ever heard played at a wedding."
FAVOURITE ONE HIT WONDER
"MC Hammer – You Can’t Touch This ranks as one of the best. That said, it will never beat The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground. Back in 1990 it was on the radio for a year, it was always on there. It’s one of the great one-hit wonders because the group had these silly costumes and wanted to be some kind of rap funkadelic parliament, and they sang about this guy called Humpty. Anyway, in the video, Humpty looked like Shock-G from the group, just with a fake nose and a funny hat on. The group denied it was him, so everyone went crazy and a few years later MTV did an interview with both Shock-G and the guy. Turns out they paid a lookalike to do the interview. The whole thing was weird - oh, and that group also discovered Tupac. He was a roadie with them and debuted on one of their songs."
FAVOURITE SONG FROM YOUR OWN MUSIC
"I don’t have a favourite, but I’m going to say if I had a favourite one today it would be Rebellion, our new single. We wrote it with Daron [Malakian] from System Of A Down. Simultaneously, it is one of the most aggressive songs we’ve ever done but also one of the most melodic as by the time you get to the end of the verse there’s an actual song in all that heaviness. There’s a cheekiness to the lyrics, too, that you don’t often get with a Linkin Park song. I think it’s hard for us to write lyrics which are a little sarcastic or cheeky. I wrote most of the lyrics on this, and when I figured out how that chorus was going to work lyrically was when I knew I'd struck something which I had never struck before. To say that after 15 years I'm still doing things I've never done before, that's pretty awesome."
You can book tickets for this weekend’s Manchester and London dates here. New single Rebellion is out on 24 November; while album The Hunting Party is out now