“Let’s just call this a chapter,” Mike Shinoda tells Billboard, “instead of a single or an album.”
His tenacious new track, “Already Over,” marks the next phase of a solo career that Shinoda says is rumbling back to life, while refusing to abide by traditional release formats. “The first question everybody asks is, ‘Is there an album?’” Shinoda continues. “And the answer is no, but also, [‘Already Over’] is not a standalone single. It’s something in between.”
Shinoda fans and longtime Linkin Park listeners will likely wrap their arms around the first part of this new chapter: released on Friday (Oct. 6), “Already Over” gallops with renewed purpose from the veteran artist, who deploys its power riffs and lashing hooks with speed and gravity. Along with providing the hot-blooded vocals, Shinoda wrote, produced and played every instrument on “Already Over,” after inspiration struck while he was noodling around on his favorite Fender Stratocaster one day in his home studio.
“This very alternative-rock thing came out of me,” Shinoda says, “and I think if that had happened 10 years ago, I would have run away from it. But this felt right.”
Following his 2018 album Post Traumatic and its subsequent world tour, Shinoda poured himself into studio experimentation: he began hosting interactive livestreams on Twitch during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020 — concocting instrumental tracks, often alongside fans and viewers — as well as writing and producing for other recording artists, and revisiting classic Linkin Park albums for anniversary reissues. Earlier this year, as Linkin Park’s unearthed single “Lost” scored a top 40 debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart prior to the release of the Meteora 20th Anniversary Edition, Shinoda produced and co-wrote tracks for Demi Lovato and PVRIS, among others.
For a while, Shinoda made a point of not featuring his voice on any new material, content to stay in the background as a studio player. “I really enjoyed the mentorship part of it, and the learning part of it,” he says. “And at a certain point, that ran its course — I felt like I tried so many things, and I had been away from making stuff for myself. I started making things that were intended for my voice, and to be honest, working on my voice a little bit. I was trying to get better at the different things that I do.”
That process began earlier this year with “In My Head,” Shinoda’s darkly catchy collaboration with Kailee Morgue that was featured in Scream VI, and continues with “Already Over,” which sounds ripe for rock-radio power rotation. Both songs are featured in a new eight-song music pack for the VR rhythm game Beat Saber that was announced on Thursday (Oct. 5), along with Linkin Park classics like “Crawling” and “Numb/Encore” and Shinoda’s hit as Fort Minor, “Remember the Name”; the release makes Linkin Park the first band to receive a second music pack on the platform.
Meanwhile, Shinoda’s official site now features a sci-fi web game that he was involved in creating — “I think it’s gonna be really, really hard!” he says with a laugh — and which may evolve in the coming weeks. “Things like that are what I mean when I’m talking about how this is not just a single release,” he explains. “I’m trying to build out a few other things that are really fun for me to do, that I can do from home.”
That’s part of the calculus as to why “Already Over” is not preceding a proper album release from Shinoda: He’s feeling his creativity sparked in his Los Angeles home studio, and doesn’t feel the urge to stray too far from it. “One of the biggest pros of an album is that it’s a really intense artistic statement, and the con is that it comes and goes really fast — people just move on so fast, so the thing that everybody pairs it with is a tour,” he says. “Well, I don’t know if I want to do an album that comes and goes really fast like that, and I want to stay in the studio and make more stuff. I don’t want to go on tour and leave the studio, and so I had to think of this in a different way, where I can achieve those things.”
More music — and projects that complement that music — is coming, the result of Shinoda’s reinvigorated creative process as a solo artist. Yet he hopes that fans can stay in the moment, and appreciate dynamic songs like “Already Over” as he rolls them out, regardless of how they’re classified in his greater discography.
“I’ve got a few things that I’ll be rolling out over the next few months that I think the fans are going to have a lot of fun with,” he says. “If you can separate yourself from what I or what [other] artists normally do, and just go, ‘Is this fun to listen to?, Is this fun to experience?,’ I think that’s the best headspace to be in to engage with it.”
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