EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Blue on His New Book and Linkin Park
Multi-platinum producer, A&R, songwriter, creator of the world-renowned rock band Linkin Park and now author, Jeff Blue chats with us on it all.
What inspired you to write a book?
I was at Chester’s funeral, and an exec came to me and said “the piece you wrote about discovering Chester in Billboard was really moving. You should do a book. I went home, and searched through two closets filled with boxes of memorabilia, journals, and notebooks filled with emails, faxes, CD’s DAT’s, Cassettes, and photos. I finally found the one with all the Linkin Park material in the last 4 boxes. I opened them up and it was literally faxes to my boss detailing the first time I saw my intern perform with his band at the Whiskey a Go-Go in 1997, all the way to virtually every showcase we did, as well as studio notes, and my journals about how difficult, physically and mentally, the ‘Hybrid Theory’ album recording process was. The band and I were rejected over 44 times. We had to change singers, bass players, all in search of the right ingredients, the right chemistry for the band to achieve their iconic sound. Most bands would have given up, but they just got stronger. The story was right there in front of me, the happiness and the pain. All the ingredients of a story about the perseverance, fortitude, and characteristics it takes to overcome rejection and make it to #1, as well as the toll it takes on us all.
What is something that even the most seasoned Linkin Park fan might not know?
I hired Brad as my intern to help me shop my new artist named Macy Gray. Macy went on to win a Grammy for best pop female vocal and was nominated for a total of 5.
Do you have a favorite Linkin Park song?
That’s hard. I wanted ‘Hybrid Theory’ to be essentially a Greatest Hits album with every song incredible, so each was very special to me. I always loved “Points of Authority”. The song just has so much edge and unrelenting power. It was clear though that “One Step Closer”, “Crawling”, and “In the End” were the singles.
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Do you have a favorite memory of the late Chester Bennington?
We were on vacation in Mexico in a beach hotel lobby, right before the album came out. Two young kids around ten years old looked at Chester and recognized him from MTV, which just began to air the ‘One Step Closer’ video with his brand-new wrist-flame tattoos. I offered to take a photo, and I told Chester he had his first official fan siting! It made us both feel like things were off to a great start!
What are the qualities you look for in an up and coming artist?
Believability, talent, a unique vision, and star power. Also, the ability to engage your audience, unstoppable drive, the strength to overcome rejection, and ability to communicate as well as listen. On top of that, hit songs of course.
What do you think the future of the music industry will look like?
Things change every 5-6 years. This year has been so insane, that I believe 2021 will give rise to more rock, (everyone says this will happen and never does), and an explosion of pent-up demand for live shows. There are some incredible R&B artists out there as well.
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Tell us about your upcoming docuseries and podcast.
My docuseries “Unsung Heros” focuses on the history of A&R, looking through the decades at the music and artists that shaped our culture. It tells the true, pull back the curtain style, behind the music, stories of the artists. It’s also about the people who stuck their careers all on the line for them, helping discover, nurture, and bring their talent to the world for us all to enjoy. The docuseries includes everyone behind the scenes from AC/DC, Dave Matthews, Madonna, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Macy Gray, Twisted Sister, Lorde, Genesis, news bands such as Grandson, and so much more. It’s produced in conjunction with my friend who worked on all the Twilight movies.
The podcast, “Off the Record” is similar, but focuses on the in-depth details of the edgier material behind the scenes of the discovery, making, and breaking the artists. It’s more of a no holds barred series that I am producing with a syndicated DJ from iHeartRadio. They are both really entertaining!
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with their mental health?
My advice is that everyone struggles, and it’s natural. We all get caught inside our thoughts and look at the outside world and think “everyone else has it together except me”. That’s just not true! Never be afraid to reach out to a friend. Talk to someone and let them know you are getting dark. It’s scary, but these emotions should never be quelled with drugs and alcohol unless those drugs are prescribed by a doctor. Overall be thankful we are alive and that things will resolve themselves. Be present in the moment and try to filter out all the clutter and rush in our minds. Find someone or something that puts you in a good mood. My dog is my therapy. Whenever I stress out, which is almost 30% of every day, I hug my dog. He’s the best therapist I know. He just wants to be with me. That calms me down.
Jeff’s book One Step Closer is available now.