The guys from Linkin Park like Mercedes-Benz cars. The company helped invent the automobile back in the late 19th century and has made a practice of becoming an exemplar of vehicular luxury, technology and speed ever since. But these guys really like Mercedes -- enough to loan the use of their song "Papercut" to the international ad campaign for the brand's outrageous AMG GT-R super-sport coupe and enough to join forces with the brand at the legendary Belgian 24 Hours of Spa endurance race and help them design an arresting, Linkin Park-branded red, black and silver livery for Mercedes' GT3 race car.
Also enough to invite 100 or so people over to a $20 million Brentwood spec mansion on Monday night in the leadup to the Los Angeles Auto Show for a fundraiser gala for the band's disaster relief and climate change impact-fighting Music for Relief foundation, at which Mercedes-AMG -- the marque's sporty sub-brand -- was a core sponsor.
While guests slurped freshly shucked oysters in the massive kitchen, drank sweet signature cocktails around the manicured pool, and perused the solar-powered light arrays, which could be donated to benefit a third-world hospital, bassist Dave Farrell and lyricist Mike Shinoda were eager to talk cars at the property's outdoor bar.
"Tobias [Moers, head of Mercedes-AMG] was in the studio talking about craftsmanship and what a lost art craftsmanship can be. Of course, we were in the middle of writing an album and you can't be anymore concerned with getting every detail right. He was fascinated by that," Shinoda told Billboard of the brand and band's common ground.
"And we were interested in their one man-one engine concept, where one guy literally builds each engine and signs his name on a little plaque on the motor," Farrell adds. "They're obsessed with performance, with craftsmanship, to the point that they say, 'I made the thing.' That was a mind-blowing idea for me. You lose a lot of personal touch with mass-market things. But AMG is built on that." His first splurge after finding success as a musician was a 2004 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG super sedan and he recently ordered a brand-new, 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63S super sedan.
The band, which has been working off and on a new album since 2014's The Hunting Party, says, "For the first time, the lyrics [have] led the whole process." But as for what they might be centered on? "There's a song [about being] in a relationship where you're bashing against each other and you know why you're doing it but you keep doing it," Shinoda says. "I actually listened back to one track the other day, and if I looked at it through the eyes of the election, it was very appropriate."