Lusso has covered many exciting, exclusive, exuberant and downright ridiculous things over the years. From private jets to superbikes, private islands to mega yachts. But one thing even we didn’t see coming happened in March of 2019 when we attended a performance at London’s prestigious Roundhouse venue, by one of the biggest Rockstars of the last 20 years, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, featuring our very own Lusso contributor – Matt Harris. Sometimes life is surreal, and though this moment didn’t come as a shock considering Matt’s impressive track record on stage and on screen, seeing his star power up close and personal was certainly a shining moment for us here at Lusso.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the era of Linkin Park songs performed live on stage was over following the heartbreaking death of the band’s lead singer, Chester Bennington in June of 2017. Chester’s passing rocked a whole generation of music lovers all over the world and sparked fresh conversation about mental health. Drawing attention to the psychological and emotional demands of the entertainment industry, and on a growing trend of men who struggle to find the help they need with this inner turmoil.
But fellow frontman, songwriter, producer and founding member of Linkin Park, Mike Shinoda, refused to allow the band to go quietly into that goodnight. Instead, they came out forcefully, boldly, loudly. Shinoda has recorded a solo album titled “Post Traumatic” which largely encapsulates the singer’s difficult journey through grief over the loss of his fellow band member and friend. In 2018 he started playing live shows on his own for select performances, but when it came time to go out on the world-wide “Post Traumatic Tour” Shinoda decided it was time to hire some fresh blood.
That’s where our very own Lusso contributor, Matt Harris, enters the picture. Matt explained to us how it all began.
“In preparation for his world tours, Mike had apparently been talking to his management about the idea of bringing one or two new musicians on stage with him. I think he was pretty set on the idea of bringing a live drummer, and he later told me that he had been asking for suggestions from friends in the industry and he was told to “check out this guy, Dan Mayo, on Instagram, he’s insane”.
Who knew that Instagram was a potential route to stardom these days? But Matt tells us that is really how the Israeli musician was hired onto Mike Shinoda’s latest music project…. through a DM.
“I think Mike was still unsure about hiring a second musician, but from what I understand he expressed to Linkin Park’s management, Bill Silva, that he wanted to find someone who could basically be a second version of himself on stage. Someone who would play guitar, bass, piano, and drum samples while singing.
It just so happened that I have known Bill (Silva) since around 2009 – although he wasn’t managing Linkin Park back then. But Bill knows me well and he knew that I would fit the job description, so I got a text one night at about 10pm asking if I had time for a facetime call.”
“I think I was ready for bed at that point but whenever Bill asked to FaceTime, it was always about something exciting, so of course I said yes. A few minutes later a facetime call come in from the inside of a New York City cab, and it’s Bill asking me if I’d be interested in working with Mike Shinoda…. It was that quick and out of the blue. Of course I said yes right away, and Bill pretty much immediately handed the phone over to Mike and we continued the chat!”
“Naturally Mike wanted to see and hear some of my work before taking me on board to work on his tour, but in essence that’s how quickly it all came about”.
Skip forward to March of 2018 and Mike Shinoda is playing the only UK show on his European tour following his 2017 festival performances on the main stage at Reading and Leeds.
Now, Lusso Magazine doesn’t specialize in live music review, but we certainly recognize unique and spectacular experiences when we see them, and we also know when something is too good to miss.
The Roundhouse has always been one of our favorite venues in London. It’s prestigious, it’s unique, and it has the perfect blend of modern tech, in an old school venue steeped in history. It’s also what I would call the “Goldilocks size”. It’s big enough to attract big names to perform and it holds an exciting atmosphere, but unlike stadiums and arenas, it’s small enough to be intimate and allow fans close enough to the stage to feel immersed in the experience.
The show kicked off with Mike Shinoda jumping on stage solo, performing one of his rap side-project Fort Minor’s songs. It’s immediately apparent that the production of this event is of a standard fitting of an artist who has been selling out arenas for the last two decades. This is the real deal. The crowd absolutely erupts at the rare sight of Mike Shinoda on a British stage. It’s been years since Linkin Park last played on UK soil, and stranger still to see the front man solo.
The energy in a room after just one song is rarely this tangible, so even we were caught slightly off guard when after the first song, Mike was joined on stage by our friend, Matt Harris, and drummer, Dan Mayo. It’s hard to explain the magic of such a moment. Seeing a very familiar and friendly face walk out on stage with a rockstar whose work we have been listening to since Hybrid Theory dropped in 2000. The context is somehow very jarring. It’s like if you visited your grandmother one weekend and found that she’d been in a Chess club with Al Pacino all this time and you’re only just finding out about it now.
The show is an overview of Shinoda’s music over the last 20 years. A cross-genre reminder of the epic music this man has released over his career. I was suddenly reminded of the hits I hadn’t remembered were his, and stunned by the sheer breadth of his work. All of this, says Matt, presents a fun challenge for him as a musician.
“I love that it’s so varied. It’s rare to get the opportunity in one show to play with such a wide range of genres, like rap, pop, metal and rock. Naturally it is a real ‘pinch yourself’ moment to be playing classic Linkin Park hits like Papercut live on stage. I’m pretty sure I was teaching myself that guitar part when I was about 17, playing guitar for the first time. I didn’t get the part right back then, but the Fender Telecaster guitar I’m using on this tour is still the same one I had back then!”
“It’s a lot of fun to get to jump around different instruments not just within the set, but also within songs that require different instruments to be played throughout. Mike arranged all the live versions of the tracks himself and he really created a fun roll for me to play.”
And the fun definitely shows. The 3 musicians on stage have obvious chemistry, and the tight weave of a group that has been playing together for decades, not months. It really feels like watching something very special, and the promise of a bright future. All of which starts to make us wonder: what exactly is the future of Linkin Park?
It’s well known that Mike Shinoda is the lead writer and producer of Linkin Park, and the Post Traumatic record is proof that he can continue the band’s sound and career. Now seeing this live performance, which heavily focuses on Linkin Park’s catalogue, it’s crystal clear that the band can also continue to play live with new members Matt Harris and Dan Mayo.
So… is Matt Harris the new Chester Bennington? When you consider that Matt not only plays the Linkin Park band parts, but has taken on Chester’s vocal duties… it certainly seems so.
Matt was asked by Mike Shinoda to sing entire songs solo on stage at The Ritz Ybor in Tampa and at the prestigious Sherman Theatre in Pennsylvania and for all performances throughout the country and overseas, Matt covers all vocal duties that are in Chester’s (somewhat considerable) vocal range, which is not something that many singers can live up to. Matt’s solo performances include Linkin Park’s “Sharp Edges” which was once sung by the late Chester Bennington, and lead vocal duties on Linkin Park epics like “Iridescent,” “Nobody can Save me” and “When they Come for me”– all of which are fan favorites that have gone down extremely well with audiences when Matt has performed them and gone viral online. It was incredible to see Matt singing on stage all by himself as an emotional crowd of thousands of people cheered and cried and loved it all.
Here at Lusso, we’re so proud of Matt and his many accomplishments throughout the years, but this moment felt big, and we jumped at the opportunity to cover it. We predict only the brightest future for Matt, and if fans have it their way, it seems he will be one of Linkin Park’s few prestigious and permanent band mates for years to come.