One year on: Mike Shinoda on the healing process and new album ‘Post Traumatic’

We sat down with Linkin Park's, Mike Shinoda, to talk new album 'Post Traumatic', his first solo record and music since Chester Bennington died, one year ago

“When I was making it, all I was thinking was ‘just write in your diary, just capture the truth of whatever is happening right now’,” Mike Shinoda told NME about the creation of his latest solo album ‘Post Traumatic’ – written in the shadow of the passing of his Linkin Park bandmate Chester Bennington. The result is an emotive snapshot of Shinoda’s ‘mental and emotional’ state as he came to terms with the death of best friend and musical soulmate. A truthful, therapeutic and meditative process in its creation,  ‘Post Traumatic’ is much about healing and hope as it is about loss.

Watch our ‘In Conversation’ interview with Mike Shinoda above

Today (July 20) marks the one year anniversary since Bennington took his own life. Now, Shinoda is gearing up to hit the road with ‘Post Traumatic’. He sees it as another opportunity to connect with the fans that have also lost so much.

“I wanted fans to hear from me in real time,” said Shinoda of the writing of the record. “If I felt a certain way on a certain day, I wanted to communicate that soon so that we we were kind of on the same page. That ended up being important for me. I put out the first three songs in January, and then basically put out a track every month or so after that until the album came out because I knew that it would effectively catch the fans up with how I’m doing – in a way that most importantly allowed them to realise that I’m not in the same place that I was say 10 or 11 months ago.

“That was very dark. I wasn’t even leaving my house. Now I’m out and about, doing some shows – going to Nando’s.”

Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington
Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington

Speaking of the sharp learning curve he’s experienced about depression since Bennington’s passing, Shinoda echoed the sentiments of his widow Talinda in calling for everyone to be far more sympathetic in the language that we choose to use when discussing matters of the mind.

“Mental health has always been an issue,” Shinoda continued. “With news about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain for example, it’s just back again. For people that are triggered by those visuals and those ideas, that’s really hard for people. It’s a wonderful opportunity to remind journalists and social media influencers to be careful with their fans. They have all of these people following them, then in the influencer then says something graphic or a little thoughtless, then that Tweet or that post can be a landmine for somebody.

“It’s a nice moment to remind everybody to be really sensitive. I know you care about your fans, I care about my fans, the way you talk about it matters. Words matter.”

The Samaritans’ media guidelines for reporting suicide advise that it is inappropriate to use the word “committed”, as well as stressing the dangers of reporting the specific details of the method that the deceased used to take their own life.

“‘Committed’ is always used with sins and crime,” said Shinoda. “We say ‘died by suicide’ or any sensitive way you can put it. We talked a lot. She [Talinda] is working with  a really nice organisation called 320 Changes Direction – focussing on mental health and mental illness. One of the things I’ve learned from talking to them is that we often talk about physical health being ‘present’ in our consciousness. If you wake up and your back hurts, you’re going to say ‘oh my back hurts, I should take it easy today’ or ‘I should take medicine’ or if its really bad ‘maybe I should see a doctor or a professional’. More seldom do we do that with mental health.

“When you wake up in the morning, you might check in on your physical health but then also check in on your mental health. You might go ‘oh, I wasn’t even thinking about it, but now that I’m asking myself how I’m doing, I’m realising that I’m feeling pretty down. I just woke up feeling this way. I don’t know what it is yet, I’ll get to the bottom of it I hope’.

He added: “All of those things are completely OK, you just have to be aware. Talking about it helps make you aware. These things can feel scary and big, but talking about it doesn’t make it feel scary or big any more.”

Watch above as Shinoda talks to us about being honest with himself, what he’s learned about depression and mental health, the Chester Bennington tribute show, the difficulty of performing certain Linkin Park songs, and what the future may hold. 

Linkin Park's Chester Bennington
Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington

‘Post Traumatic’ by Mike Shinoda is out now. He’ll be returning to the UK to performing at Reading & Leeds Festival 2018 this August. Visit here for tickets and more information.