There are songs Mike Shinoda can't sing. One More Light, for example.
The ballad, from Linkin Park's 2017 album of the same name, was already deeply personal when Shinoda wrote it in tribute to a friend who died from cancer. But after last year's death by suicide of co-lead singer Chester Bennington, it became an anthem of mourning for fans worldwide. Fifteen months later, Shinoda still can't bring himself to go there.
"It really is a hard song to sing, emotionally," said Shinoda, the 41-year-old singer and driving creative force of Linkin Park. "More importantly, though, it would pull the set down in a way that I don't know if — it would be like a black hole. I don't know if we'd be able to recover from the emotional weight of that song."
And at this emotionally precarious moment in time, recovery is of paramount importance to Shinoda. His new solo tour, which stops at Tampa's Ritz Ybor on Friday (click here for details), has so far played out like grief therapy for Linkin Park's still shell-shocked fans. And it is up to Shinoda to guide them through it together.
"That's really my responsibility in the context of the show," he said, "is directing traffic, being the emcee, reading the crowd, leading our emotional journey and figuring out where to go next."
For more with Mike Shinoda, click here.