We all know and love the Linkin Park edginess and electronic-laced music that was blatantly apparent in tracks like “Numb” and “In The End”. The last album release from the band was 2014’s The Hunting Party, which was a collection of tracks heavy with distortion and dark edged rock as well as electronic influences.
Prior to the release of “Heavy”, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda spoke with Zach Sang about the process of this song, giving insight to the song itself as well as the change in direction.
Mike shared that the band wasn’t unhappy with their tour for The Hunting Party, saying that the idea to change came at the close of the tour.
“It was probably a year and a half ago. We were coming off tour. We were touring a super heavy metal album and people asked ‘Oh is that why you chose to go a different direction with the new record?’ and it’s actually not. It was the most successful touring cycle of our career, bigger than any other one. We weren’t like down.”
“We went out on the road, we played these shows, it was super fun. We finished that. And on the way home, I said to our manager, ‘I want to jump straight into writing new stuff. I have a few ideas about what I want to do and I’m curious about writing with other people outside of the band’.”
Mike went on to describe the relationship he had to have with writers, given this was the first time the band had had writing come from external sources. He sought one-to-one connections in which he could feel vulnerable and comfortable.
“Heavy” was chosen as the first single from the upcoming album (One More Light out May 19th) due to its sound being core to what the new album’s sound is like.
Mike described that himself as well as the rest of the band members were going through times where everything seemed to be going wrong. As Mike says, “Now it’s five things and I’m going crazy”. It was all very real life things happening all at once and having a sense of ‘what am I supposed to do now?’.
The weight of responsibility is what inspired “Heavy”. Linkin Park also sought to have a female vocal on the track to express a sense of globalness to the message, communicating the fact that this kind of overwhelming experience can affect any one of us.
The key lyric according to Mike is:
“I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down, if I just let go, I’d be set free.”
Where taking everything personally and holding onto it is what weighs on us so heavily (emotionally, literally, metaphorically), and doing whatever it is that we can to let it go can inspire a sense of freedom.
To Mike and Linkin Park as a band, it was important for them (in surveying the state of things going on in the world around us) to put out ideas and messages that they find helpful, as well as creating a sense of community to share that people who DO feel weighed down are not alone.
So “Heavy” may not be the heavy sound that we’re used to, but it’s what Linkin Park feel is important to share right now, inspiring positive change with their music in their own way.
“You say that I’m paranoid
But I’m pretty sure the world is out to get me
It’s not like I make the choice
To let my mind stay so fucking messy”
Musically, “Heavy” leans into electronics far more than rock, giving a dance vibe with clear vocals over light guitars. The drums keep a toehold of the rock genre. It’s beautifully done and emotionally moving.
On 10th March, Linkin Park released a powerful music video for “Heavy”, further supporting the way in which we hurt ourselves in our choice to take life personally.