In the latest attempt to link music and school violence, the songs of California pop-metal band Linkin Park are being implicated in Monday’s Santee, Calif., shooting, in which 15-year-old Charles “Andy” Williams opened fire on his Santana High schoolmates, killing two and wounding 13.
A friend of Williams’ appearing on NBC’s Today show said that Williams was a fan of the band and that he was influenced by three songs on the band’s Hybrid Theory album: “One Step Closer,” “Papercut,” and “In the End.”
Linkin Park released a one-sentence statement about the shooting via its publicist. It reads, “Like everyone else, we are extremely saddened by these events and our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims.”
In an interview last month, Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson addressed the topic of the band’s lyrics, which are written by vocalist Chester Bennington and MC Mike Shinoda. According to Delson, whatever influence they have should be viewed as positive, not negative.
“We’re definitely dealing with really dark themes,” he said. “But I think that’s what’s positive. When I was growing up, music was always really important in my life. If I ever had a problem, I’d sit in my room and listen to music and I’d feel like, ‘Hey, I’m not alone, I can relate to these other groups that are feeling this way, and they’d make me feel OK.’
“There’s a misconception that angry music is going to make someone angry. I think it’s cathartic, and I think that a lot of kids who do have problems, they can relate to the lyrics and can go, ‘Oh, it’s OK to feel that way. I’m not uncool if I feel insecure.’
“We’ve all had problems growing up – shit that you have to deal with as a kid and even as a young adult. I can’t speak for [Chester and Mike], because these are personal things that they’re dealing with. They’re telling stories and trying to describe emotions that are very significant to them. They’re doing it in a way that says, ‘Here’s a feeling I have.’ A lot of their themes seem to be universal.
“Chester and Mike are really trying to be honest and not say, ‘Hey, we’re the coolest guys, grab your 40,’ you know what I mean? It’s not about that. It’s about, ‘Hey, here are some problems that we’ve had.’ We’re trying to address them on the record without it being like, ‘poor me.’ We’re trying to be as much ourselves as we can.”