Hip-hop metalheads Korn reap the hard-rock harvest.
Landing a gold record your first time out has its advantages. Just ask the men of Korn. "We did a major merchandizing deal today," says guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer, "so we have to go out and celebrate."
Not surprisingly for these former Bakersfield brats, the site of the festivities is a dirt-cheap Brazilian joint in West Hollywood. In between mouthfuls of plantains and tiger shrimp, the band -- Shaffer, guitarist Brian Welch, singer Jonathan Davis, bassist Fieldy, and drummer David Silveria -- discuss the innumerable windfalls of their recent success: cool new cars, apartment upgrades, and the UPS truck that arrived today with gifts from Adidas. "We're swag whores," Davis happily admits.
Like Rage Against the Machine and 311, Korn are part of the new hard-rock progeny that graft hip-hop and punk onto heavy-metal roots. The band's debut hit, 1994's Korn, was a frenzied loop of adolescent misery and mosh-pit fury; their new, aptly titled Life is Peachy disc still exorcises old demons on cuts like "Swallow" (about drug-induced paranoia) and "Mr. Rogers" (about drug-induced TV watching), but singer Davis has quit looking back in anger. "I've matured more [lyrically]. I'm not crying about my childhood anymore," he says. "The first record was just, get that shit out."
Originally incarnated as the Bakersfield, California, outfit L.A.P.D., Korn found their focus when they hooked up with Davis, an unlikely vocalist candidate. Although he had a broad musical background (he can play bagpipes, no less), he wasn't particularly rock-oriented, and was then working as an autopsy assistant. (The singer refuses to drive to this day: "I hate it. I've seen one too many dead people from cars.")
The combination of Davis's unvarnished lyrics and the band's finely developed fashion sense has attracted a particularly obsessive breed of fan. "They show up with Brian's hair, David's goatee, all five of us in one person, it's trippy," says Fieldy. The fans should have plenty of new fashion cues to pick up soon: Korn are heading out on the road, and yes, these are the kind of guys who genuinely look forward to it.
"I like to pee on people in the bunkers," Shaffer offers.
Eh, come again?
"He gets so drunk," clarifies Fieldy, "that in the middle of the night, he'll just piss all over someone's bunk."