JoNaThAn DaViS

Why don't you tell us a little bit about the attitude with which KORN went into the studio with this time?
What were you hoping to achieve?

Our only goal was to take our time on this album because I knew we had it in us that we could do something great, fully integrate both albums and put out an album that we could really be proud of. Because, shit! The first album only took four months to write, record and mix. This one took nine, so... I mean that was our attitude and we wanted to do some phat shit.

What's really amazing about the music of KORN is that you really created this really intense hybrid sound that has elements of hip-hop, it has elements of Brian Eno experimentation. Why don't you tell us about what goes into the creation of the KORN sound--what happens during the writing process?

For us it just pretty much happens. We just stick to that sick, weird, eerie vibe and then throw hip-hop elements into it. It's strange, I don't know how to explain it. We just do what we do to be honest. It's also a combination of all our different influences--there's no big heads in our band. Everybody's got their little bits that they put in. Like Fieldy with his hip-hop influences. Me with my melodies and all my `80's drama that I love. I love that era. Munky is always into John Zorn and the (Mr.) Bungle stuff and so is Head. So I think it just creates a cool musical cocktail or whatever you want to call it. Yeah, it's putting chaos into music. Because all the sounds are all dissonant and just fucked up. It's not really all in key. It all melts together into something that's got melody.

Do you write with the philosophy that if you can't play something in concert, you don't record it?

Yes. The only time we would do that is if we record something that's way underneath like in a chorus that you can barely hear on a record. If it just adds mood, that's okay. But as far as a main part, no way.

What do you personally contribute to KORN's sound and to FOLLOW THE LEADER in particular?

My thoughts going into this record were that I've already sung two albums of just straight fuckin' cathartic rage. To keep myself real and to keep my integrity, I gotta move on. I mean, there are only so many things in my life I can scream about. It's getting ridiculous. I want to keep that going and become a better singer. I've always wanted to be a true singer. I think on this album I finally became a singer and I still got across with my melodies what I was feeling. To me, melodies are more fucking intense than a scream. If it's such an intense melody, I feel it even more. It just takes me somewhere. It's spiritual. That's all I wanted to do on this album. It's time for me to move on. I don't want to stay the same or take a step down. I just want to move on and do something exciting and new and make people go, 'Fuck.'

What's your favorite new sound or technique that you used for the first time on this album?

I got this voice-bender like a synthesizer... I don't know what it's called, but it does all this weird shit. I used it on this album and I thought it would be cool to hear what I could do with my voice. It worked well. I got all kinds of crazy effects on that thing. I use it on almost the whole album. It makes my voice lower, makes it sound like I'm in a megaphone, it doubles my voice, makes it sound like I have a wah-wah on my voice. It does all kinds of things.

How do you think working with new producers helped enhance the KORN sound? How was it different than your previous albums with Ross Robinson?

It helped a lot. I mean, we got direction, but we basically did it all on our own. A lot of the stuff we did with Ross we all co-produced. I don't know, like sounds and stuff, all the sounds they came up with, whether it was him or Munky or Head, they were all going "we like this sound or that sound," it wasn't just Ross telling us what to do. With Steve (Thompson), the direction that he gave us was fine, but we were doing that shit already. So when he came in we were just working on arrangements and stuff. Tone-wise, it was Caco that was coming up with the tones most of the time. Caco and Munky and Toby would just make them tune in just right.

Let's just talk about that dissonance and that fucked up sound. Something that certainly you've explored in your lyrics, like child abuse. It's almost like when listening to KORN, and hearing that you guys are so angry that you've inherited such a fucked up world with things like child molestation. It's like KORN uses your music to cathartically just lash against the fact that you've inherited such a fucked up legacy?

Yeah, I am really pissed off that I inherited it. I wish sometimes I was born back in the day because today's society is just so fucked up. Now it's just ridiculous. When I write, I think about how a lot of people are in the closet about their thoughts. That's a shame. They should at least talk about the bad things going on, and don't act on it. Don't keep it all inside, so when you explode you actually do something bad. It's like...get it out. My writing is my venting process.

How do you feel about all these parents that have come out and condemned you for your music? They don't realize that they've actually created the problems KORN sing about. ?

I know. They're the ones that did it. We gotta thank the parents for doing that to kids. It's like thanks for making our lives hell. Because of you, we're here.

What are your musical influences, and what books or films or any other cultural stimuli do you feel inspires you?

The only thing that influences me is the '80's. I love that era. It was all just so musical. Everything was just fucking exciting. In every aspect of all the music: the goth scene, the industrial scene, the fuckin' new wave scene and the metal scene, everything was so new and fuckin' awesome. And it just seems that the `90's have totally just sucked, especially the alternative thing. The only thing that was good was the grunge movement. We killed everything. But stuff like Duran Duran, Culture Club...those melodies were incredible. They were all great. I mean, look how many hits Devo had! Like "Whip It" (singing)..."Everybody, it's a good thing." All those songs. Just one after another. All that shit was really good and fun to listen to. It wasn't like this cheesy alternative shit right now. So yeah, I'd say that the '80s stuff--that way of singing--truly influenced me. I dug all that shit.

How do you feel about the current state of music, and what is KORN contributing to it that's different?

I think the current state of music sucks. There are only a few bands that are worth a shit out there: Deftones, Limp Bizkit and us. And, now there's Orgy and Videodrone, but I'm saying for us, as far as our kind of music, I think it really is sad that we're the only good thing that's come around in the '90s, anything heavy. It seems like everything went soft, and I think that KORN is contributing to it by creating a new style of music and bringing heavy music back, putting the "rock" back in "rock & roll." 'Cause it seems like it's gotten really stale. Bands are just too "la la la" and happy now. There's no fun in it anymore, it lost it's fun. I think that the only cool thing that came out of the '90s is Limp Bizkit, Deftones and us.

What's interesting about KORN's music is how some people have said KORN is "heavy metal," but you have said that some people say that you're trying to kill "heavy metal."

Yeah. Heavy metal to me is like Iron Maiden, Helloween, those heavy metal bands. Not the glam bands. But they've always called us heavy metal and it fuckin' pisses me off because that's just fucked up. They put us in that category, but I don't know what to call it. No one has come up with a really good fuckin' name to call this. Nirvana had grunge and I guess that was cool. But there's been emo-core, heavy-hop, post-metal and nü metal. None of those really ring a bell.

What did the sudden cancellation of Lollapalooza because of MUNKY's illness mean to you as an individual and to KORN as a band? (Note: KORN played 14 out of the tour's 27 dates.)

I was pissed, but I was more worried about Munky anyway. But when I found out we had to pull off I wasn't pissed at him, I was just pissed that he got sick because we were just having fun. We could have played without him, but we chose to pull off, because we weren't going to play without him. It was hard, but we were worried for Munky. We wanted him to be fine and we wanted him to get home and get well so we could start working on the next album.

What inspired you to work with Todd McFarlane--the creator of the Spawn comic book--for the album artwork?

Al Masocco (Epic's VP of Marketing) actually hooked that up for us and I really fuckin' liked his art when I saw "Spawn." That shit's just scary. And I thought it would go along great with us. And Todd never did any album covers. He had great big fuckin' offers from Metallica, Marilyn Manson, and he thought that we were like the Doors of the '90's. So he was totally into it, and we thought that it would be a good idea. So Fieldy came up with the concept of the children jumping off a cliff. It was really cool. We really dug it. My friend Sean is the one who initially drew some pictures of the hopscotch thing, and he totally fuckin' turned it around and made it look fucked up. All these little KORN children, "children of the KORN," jumping down off the cliff onto the Earth, which is below them. So it's like they're just jumping off the cliff onto the Earth, losing their innocence and becoming fucked like all of us. In a sense, it's the doom of living I guess. So Sean sketched out that idea up for us and then Todd ran with it. The cover continues that theme that KORN has on every album. There are always images of children and the fucked-up-ness is always there. Because innocence is fuckin' scary. It leaves a big-fuckin' space for your mind to go off. It's really scary. Children are always scared when they're all happy and stuff. They're the most beautiful thing in the world, but when you see it in our artwork, the way we've placed it, it's just kinda fuckin' weird. It makes you think a lot.

What are your personal goals for Elementree Records?

We created Elementree because of what we did with Limp Bizkit. We all met the band, got the tape and we thought it was bad-ass. So we passed it on to Ross (Robinson) and they got the deal with Flip. Then we took them on the road. After all those tours, taking them under our wing, and seeing how they've achieved their success, we got this idea with Jeff (Kwatinetz, KORN's manager). Fuck, we could do this on our own label and take care of these bands and they wouldn't have to go through all this crazy bullshit that we did. 'Cause we know, we've been there. So we decided to open up this label. I'm really happy.

What inspired you to create the "Family Values" tour?

It was the brain-child of Jeff (Kwatinetz, KORN's manager), thinking that we could do this thing right because we saw what happened with "Lollapalooza," putting shitty bands together and it not really working out. We wanted something that was really pumpin' with something new, something that had spark to it. We really wanted something special, so we got the idea for "Family Values" to put together all the up-and-coming heavy bands. We did it and let's rock! I don't know how far off into the future we'll have it. Personally, I'd like to see it go out three or four times and then we'll probably just end it because by then, it will probably just burn out. That's what happened to "Lollapalooza." But I'd like to have it go out a good four long as there's good, new music coming out.

Can you describe the on-stage chemistry in KORN?

We just pump each other up. There's something there. We all look over at each other going off and it just pumps us up even more. We just have this chemistry together and it just works. I don't know how to explain it, it's just there.

What inspired you to create "KORN-TV," the Internet network, and where do you hope to take it in the future?

We were inspired to do it 'cause of what we did in the past. When we released our second album, LIFE IS PEACHY, we did "KORN Mangles The Web" with L.A. Live and that was a two-hour long show. With this album, we wanted to do something special, something different, and our manager said that there were these TV-like shows on the Web, but a band had never done one. We wanted to do those shows, and do it like eight times and make it like a real TV show with a real TV station since there's no censorship and we could do whatever the fuck we wanted. And we did. And we hope to build it up and make it a company where bands can advertise on our channel and stuff.

What's your favorite song on the album?

"Pretty." 'Cause it's a bad-ass song. It's just really a beautiful song. It's beautiful chaos.

From "All In The Family," what's your favorite anti-JONATHAN line and your favorite anti-Fred line?

My favorite anti-Fred line is "Wannabe Funkdoobiest while you're playin' ripping off a band counterfeit, fakin', plus your bills I'm payin'." My favorite anti-me is "where'd you get that little dance?"

If you had the chance to change places with any other member of the band, who would it be and why?

I wouldn't want to be anybody else. I'm the man!

What five albums would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with?

"New Wave Hits of the '80s," volumes 1-whatever, Hank Williams' greatest hits, Limp Bizkit's "Three Dollar Bill, Y'All$," Deftones' "Around The Fur" and Duran Duran's "Rio."

If you could bring five items with you on the road from your house, what would you take?

Five items? Damn! Aw, shit! My computer. Shit. I don't know how to make this cool. My computer, a picture of my son, of my family. My Hank Williams CDs (he's the most angst ridden, depressing singer I've ever heard in my life). Um...let me see. What else? That's three. What else would I bring? I'm trying to think. Um...fuck, that's it I guess.

Describe your life, right now in five words or less.

I'm stressed out...and comfortable.

If you could open for one of your favorite musicians, dead or alive, who would it be?

The Doors.

What's the best advice you have for an aspiring musician?

Turn back.