EXCLUSIVE: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda Reveals Lorne Michaels’ Involvement in SNL Performance

You’ve got to hand it to Linkin Park – the rap-rock group has been at it since 1996 and the guys are still finding ways to innovate their craft. The latest example came this past weekend, when LP performed for its second time on “Saturday Night Live” and accomplished a feat so unique – Lorne Michaels himself had to sign off on it.

First, the band performed the hit single, “Waiting for the End” off of A Thousand Suns. The lighting scheme combined lasers with LED panels to mimic some of the effects that can be seen in the music video for the song. For Linkin Park’s second go-around, the group played “When They Come for Me” – another track from ATS. LP decided that it would look best if the camera shot it in black and white as opposed to full color.

“It was kind of a nail biter, at the last minute because Lorne Michaels, who runs the show, had to approve that,” revealed emcee Mike Shinoda, who called in to “The Ralphie Radio Show” while on tour with LP. “(Michaels) looked at the test in color and then looked at it in black and white and he said, ‘Yeah, yeah for these guys we can let them do black and white.’”

As if the approval from SNL’s creator wasn’t enough, Michaels also put a little bow on the present he gifted Linkin Park.


Shinoda also chatted about the different tech schemes currently implemented on LP’s world tour, and the implementation of new technology to the band’s marketing campaigns.

“(Michaels) also said, ‘Yunno it’s funny, now other bands are going to ask me to do black and white, and I’m going to have to tell them no because it’s Linkin Park’s thing,’” a happy Shinoda recalled. “I didn’t realize that no musical guests have ever done black and white before.”

Shinoda certainly is aware of the magnitude of the “accomplishment” – calling the decision “amazing” while citing the legendary status of the show. It’s appropriate that a band like Linkin Park be honored with such a distinction – the California-based band challenged itself just as much with the new visuals for the current world tour as with the idea of creating a new sound for the album. Shinoda says LP’s visual team created software and mechanisms that respond to band’s nightly changing set list – so that like the music, no one concert’s visual pattern will be like another’s.

“If the record is a challenging record, then we want the visuals to be challenging,” Shinoda said. “We spent more time than we would have five years ago on something like this.”

Part of the reasoning for the increased attention to the live show could be attributed to music’s changing business model: generating income from live shows, marketing deals, and singles as opposed to selling records. But Shinoda cautions that LP has and always will have its priorities straight.

“Everything is inter-related. You could put all your focus in the world on your touring, but if you good albums or good music to lay the foundation, then that’s not going to fly.”

Take it from the band that’s sold over 50 million albums worldwide – and has gone either gold or platinum in 12 different countries with its latest release.

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