Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda on life after Chester Bennington: ‘I cope by staying in motion’

The rapper lost his bandmate to suicide last year. But his solo tour has been a place for fans – and him – to process their grief

The last time Mike Shinoda played Reading and Leeds festival it was 2003 – circa Von Dutch caps, wallet chains and buzz cut-era Britney ­– and his band, nu-metal titans Linkin Park, were headlining. “I remember the show pretty distinctly,” he says, “because it was the most rugged-looking fest I’d ever seen. Back then, being from the States, I thought music festivals were all like Lollapalooza – you go for the day, and then you go home. This was totally different, real down and dirty. There were tents everywhere, everything’s muddy, and the fans were just filthy and stinky and having the best time.”

This weekend, after a lengthy absence, Shinoda will return to the main stage of this loamy and hallowed institution to play songs from his recently released solo debut, Post Traumatic. The sets will be his first UK dates since the suicide of his friend and Linkin Park co-frontman, Chester Bennington, last July. That loss is writ large on Post Traumatic, a moody, articulate work of minor-key electronica. Does it get easier to play these songs live? “Yeah, it does, actually. Part of it might be the repetition, but part of it is definitely the crowd response.”

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