21 Questions: Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park

In the words of the late great B.I.G., "If you don't know, now you know". Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park is probably one of the most underrated producers/musicians/vocalists in the game. From the Jay-Z mash up album, Collision Course, to his Ft. Minor project, Shinoda proves to be a force to be reckoned with. Not only does Shinoda find comfort behind the boards, but he also gets busy with his paintings & art. Mike graduated from Art Center College of Design in 1998, with a Bachelor of Arts in Illustration. He has been involved with Linkin Park's art direction since day one. He also has some art shows coming to a city near you in the near future (August in L.A.). I had a chance to hit up Mike with my infamous 21 question interview and this is probably one of my favorites so far.



FreshNerd: Invent a new word for vagina.

Mike: Thanks for leading off with that, so I know what I’m up against in this interview.

FreshNerd: You're on a raft. Chester and Brad are overboard drowning. You can only save one person. Who do you save?

Mike: I thought the rule is that you always save the vocalist, because he’s the most important person in the band. At least that’s what people tell me.

FN: Mrs. Garrett from Different Strokes or Alice the maid from Brady Bunch? And why?

Mike: I watched Different Strokes religiously growing up, so is it bad that I barely remember anything about Mrs. Garrett? I know she was a part of the show, but Arnold, Willis, and Mr. Drummond were all I remember. Incidentally, it was spelled “Diff’rent Strokes.” I don’t know what that superfluous apostrophe was all about, but I suspect it’s some kind of race related joke that I wasn’t in on.

FN: Hip Hop is...

Mike: …in danger of making itself unlovable.

FN: When was the last time you set a personal goal?

Mike: I do gallery art shows in my spare time, and I want to start doing art shows out of the L.A. area, in other cities. I have one more L.A. art show, which will be at JANM in August. After that, my goal is to take my art out of town for a while.

FN: What, if anything, do you actively boycott?

Mike: I don’t know…I guess I do have a philosophy when it comes to spending money on music. Every dollar you spend on an artist (whether it be on their music, concert tickets, or merchandise) is a statement; it says you want the artist to continue doing what they do. Some people don’t think anything about stealing a song from a band that they love, but then they turn around an spend a bunch of money on something that they don’t care a lot about, or stuff that is actually bad for them: a pair of jeans, a box of cigarettes, whatever. I guess what I’m saying is: I’m not a big fan of the idea of stealing from an artist you love, and then turning around and giving money to a brand or company you don’t love.


FN: What non-essential item do you always carry with you?

Mike: Is it bad that I consider my iPhone an essential item?


FN: How many sketches do you avg. per week?

Mike: Art sketches: 3 to 5. Music sketches/demos: 5 to 10.

FN: Describe your year so far in 2009?

Mike: I’ve spent a lot of time with my family, and worked hard on some new art and new music. All in all, a great year so far. I don’t know when our next Linkin Park album will be out, but I think it’ll be in the next 12 months.

FN: You get a call. You've been informed that you were improperly named. Mike is going to be expunged from your birth certificate. You'll need to give them a new name instead that you feel suits you better. What name do you choose?

Mike: You stumped me on that one. Maybe a really cool 80’s rockstar name, like “Slash,” or “The Edge.” By the way, is it me, or does “The Edge” not look like his name fits him at all?

FN: If you had to choose, what could you do without...your hands or your ears? And why?

Mike: I guess my ears. I need to paint or make music. With no ears, I can still paint. With no hands, it would be hard to do either.

FN: What is your favorite curse word?

Mike: I don’t know if it’s a curse word, but I love that people are using “douchebag” again. Therefore, by default, I love “d-bag” as well.

FN: That recurring dream you have, what is it about?

Mike: I actually don’t dream much. I sleep pretty hard—I once slept through a fire at my neighbor’s house, with fire truck sirens and everything.

FN: What song, if any, do you wish you were the first to write?

Mike: Tears For Fears: “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

FN: 50 years from now, you would like for people to look back at your art and say....

Mike: “I knew I should’ve bought that when it was cheap. Fuck.”

FN: When was the last time you spoke to yourself out loud?

Mike: That’s funny. I do that whenever I say something that I know is awkward. Do you ever do that? Like when you’re leaving on a trip, and someone takes you to the airport, and they say, “Have a nice trip,” and you say, “You too,” but the second you say it, you realize they’re not going anywhere--they’re going home. Once I’m out of sight, I usually verbally berate myself quietly after doing that.

FN: When was the last time you went a full day without using your PDA?

Mike: I think we’ve already covered that topic…

FN: What advice do you have for up and coming artists?

Mike: I’m not convinced there is a real reason for an artist with less than, let’s say, 30,000 fans on a mailing list to sign with a major label anymore. If you don’t have that many fans, and anyone approaches you, get their number and keep in touch. When you have a lot of fans and some serious hype, you’ll have a lot more leverage when it comes time to tell the major label “no, I want to own my website, fan club, and all my merch.”

FN: You must give a lecture on a topic you know nothing about. What topic do you choose?

Mike: Comedy.

FN: Do you believe in aliens?

Mike: Sure.

FN: If yes, when was the last time you saw one?

Mike: When we were little, my brother and I saw one of those lights in the sky that moved too fast and turned too abruptly to be an airplane or helicopter. We were convinced it was a spaceship.

FN: Which look would you prefer to rock, the flock of seagulls cut or the REO Speedwagon mullet?

Mike: I’ve already rocked an REO Speedwagon mullet on a dare, so I guess I’d be more into trying something new.





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