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?
FN: Do you believe in aliens?
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.