In 1994, a non-descript CD titled Korn, jostled for shelf-space with metal giants, Metallica, Pantera, Tool and Black Sabbath. This self-titled album by Korn sold 10 million copies, rocking the band into the halls of music as the inventors of nu-metal. Ten albums and 35 million record sales later, the Californian metal outfit is ready to raise hell in India.
On a worldwide tour to promote their latest album, The Path of Totality, Korn is on a three-city tour of India and will perform in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore on 5th, 7th and 9th September respectively.
‘I Love Pt. Ravi Shankar”
Frontman Jonathan Davis can’t contain his excitement at being in the country. “I love India. We have always wanted to come here. I can’t wait to see the Golden Temple and the Taj Mahal.”
A huge fan of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, Davis gushes about his experience with him, “I love Shankar”, he goes on, “we did a lot of stuff with him for the Queen of the Damned (soundtrack). He also taught me how to play the Indian Violin (sitar).”
Ask him what has bought him to India after nineteen years and he lights up, “You know there’s a metal culture in every country of the world, and I hope India becomes a popular metal music destination. After all music speaks a universal language.”
The long-haired vocalist, who wears kilts to live gigs, confesses that he has no idea what to expect from the Indian audience.
“We’ll play a mix of old-school and new songs and see what happens. It’s going to be awesome.”
“We don’t care about criticism"
Notorious for its A-rated lyrics and non-conformist music, Korn was founded by Jonathan Davis, James Munky Shaffer and Reginal Fieldy Arvizu in 1994. Ray Luzier, an ardent fan, joined the band in 2008, replacing drummer David Silveria. Channeling elements of funk and hip-hop in metal, the band’s first album was groundbreaking. 19 years on, they have broken the mould again with a genre-defying foray into electronic and dubstep music. Their 10th studio album, The Path of Totality was named the Album of the Year by Revolver Magazine. The promotional single Get Up featuring Skrillex, peaked at number ten on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs chart. But the metal purists were unimpressed. In fact naysayers lashed out at the band for riding the bandwagon and creating a ‘dance’ album.
For Korn, this criticism is just a microscopic thorn in the sea of love.
The band members respond to it with an indifferent shrug which says, “We don’t care.”For a band heading into 20the anniversary, it would have been safer to put out an album similar to 2010's Korn III: Remember Who You Are – a total recall of Korn’s early days. But that’s not Korn’s style.
“We don’t want to make music in a closed box. With this new album we wanted to experiment with something new. I had heard a lot of dubstep and wanted to try it out. So I called up Skrillex and next thing we know, we were working on Get Up! and it turned out to be awesome!” reveals Davis, who was a DJ in high school and still spins the disc as his alter-ego J Devil when off Korn duty.
The album, which was released on December 2, 2011, features contributions from Skrillex, 12th Planet, Excision, Kill the Noise, Feed Me, Downlink, Datsik and Noisia.
‘Young generation is hooked to the new album’
Changing the game is a norm for the Freak on Leash hit-makers, as they don’t like churning out repetitive music. Guitarist James ‘Munky’ Shaffer points out, “We can’t make everybody happy, some people didn’t like our new album but it also exposed a lot of young people to our music. The electro-infused music has got the new-generation hooked.”
From the streets of Bakersfield to the top of music charts, Korn enjoys success and fame – one of the few bands that achieve both and their secret mantra is – experimentation, even if it is turning the genre itself on its head.
“In our earlier days, we had a lot of rage, hatred and anger, as everyone has at some point of time. This reflected in our music, and music became our therapy. We had kids come to us and tell us how our music helped them and it felt great”, Davis reminiscences about the early Korn days.
“Brian ‘Head’ Welch might return to the band”
In 2005, Korn was left sans a guitarist when Brian ‘Head’ Welch quit the band to embrace Christianity and battle drug addiction. The band felt betrayed and the friction between Welch and the band gained much column space. Almost seven years on, they seemed to have mended the fence. In May this year, Welch reunited with the band for a live gig in “It was a very emotional time for the band. It felt so good.” So do we see ‘Head’ heading back to the studio anytime soon?
"You never know, he might’, Davis signs off with a wink.
Jonathan Davis unplugged
My first EP with Killbug will be out in October
Last thought before going on stage
I think about my three sons – Nathan, Pirate and Zeppelin!
Favourite metal band
I love Cannibal Corpse.