James "Munky" Shaffer
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?
I think for the band it would be to gain the respect of our fellow musicians. I don't know. Of course we wanna sell as many albums or more than the first two. I think that would be one of the band's goals. I think that we've already achieved the success on this record because we're all 100% happy with all the songs. That was the personal goal for me.
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 Brain Eno experimentation. Why don't you tell us about what goes into the creation of the KORN sound--what happens during the writing process?
It's spun from a basic guitar riff, or a bass and drum groove, and we just kind of feed off of that and build off that one thing as a band. It's weird with us. When we write, JONATHAN just kind of hums melodies. It's kind of like the songs are just born.
Do you write with the philosophy that if you can't play something in concert, you don't record it?
Well, not necessarily. Because recording is different. You can pull out little tricks. As long as you can come close to it, you can recreate it live. But mainly we want to recreate everything live. We have that in the back of our mind. But if we've come across a cool sound and it's worth putting it on the album, we'll still figure out later how to pull it off live. Head and I have a lot of work to do to recreate some of the cool stuff that we did on this album. We'll be able to do it.
What's your favorite new sound or technique that you used for the first time on this album?
The talk box was cool. I learned how to incorporate the talk box into our sound a little bit. It just adds a mood, and it kind of sets the mood for a song without necessarily adding words to accompany it. Just kind of like an underneath sound. I actually wanted to experiment with it for a while, but never really felt it was in KORN's genre of sound. But the way we used it was very subtle and tasteful and conservative.
How do you feel the production was different on this album than it was on the last album?
We took our time instead of rushing through it. The last record seemed kind of rushed as opposed to this one. I think that people were afraid that the intensity of the first album would go away too quickly. We kind of already had a buzz and wanted to stay out there and stay in the public's face. So we put a record out prematurely.
How do you think working with new producers helped enhance the KORN sound? How was it different than your previous albums with Ross Robinson?
I think working with a new producer and going into a new studio helped us grow musically as a band. We really feel excited about all of us having that fire again and being excited about a record. We all feel like we grew, like when you grow out of some new shoes. Your feet are crammed in forever and you know that you need to buy a new pair but you need to save up the money to do it. We kind of saved up our confidence and made that leap in our new shoes.
Do you feel like you could relate to JONATHAN's lyrics even though he writes about his own personal experiences?
I think that most of our fans can relate to some of the experiences that he's had. But I don't really think anyone can understand JONATHAN and where he's coming from. It's him, it's his pain, his anguish. No one's pain hurts worse than your own. I relate to an extent, but I can't say that I relate to him 100% because no one ever will.
Compared to when you first started to record the album, how do you think the band has evolved?
I think we've all matured as people and I think it shows in our music. We just all kind of grew as people and it's subconsciously in our music.
What are your musical influences, and what books or films or any other cultural stimuli do you feel inspires you?
KORN inspires me. Brian was a big musical influence on me. Everyone in the band is a major musical influence on me. And films make me feel a certain way, especially "Gummo" and "Blue Velvet." Those movies put me in an uncomfortable state--uncomfortable but so familiar to me, it feels like a comfort zone. It's similar to the way I feel when I'm writing a guitar part or something.
Could you describe what happened when you got sick and had to cancel Lollapalooza, and how you fought it? (Note: KORN played 14 out of the tour's 27 dates.)
It was pretty confusing when I first got sick because I really didn't know what was happening to me. I wasn't sure what I had. I wanted to die. Literally. I was so sick. I had migraine headaches and I was vomiting. I was completely miserable. I was stressed out. I didn't know what was going on with me. I also didn't want to leave the tour because I knew it was one of the band's long time dreams to be on the Lollapalooza tour. The only thing I was thinking about when I was in the hospital was when I was going to get better so I could get back out on tour. I was just in pain, physical pain. And it was so horrible that it was causing me mental pain because I wasn't sure what I had. Once I found out what I had, it eased the mental pain, because it was a relief to know what it was. For this tour, I'll try to have a better diet and do the basic things people should normally do to keep themselves well. I'll take good care of myself on the tour.
What inspired you to work with Todd McFarlane--the creator of the Spawn comic book--for the album artwork?
I respect him as an artist.
What are your personal goals for Elementree Records?
To give the world some new talent. That's what our goal is.
What's your favorite song on the album?
That's tough. I think "B.B.K." is a nice rounded out song--it has all the elements of KORN in that one song.
If you had the chance to change places with any other member of the band, who would it be and why?
I don't want to be any of them. I wouldn't want to. I bet everyone said me if you've asked them the same question. "I want to change places with MUNKY!"
If you could bring five items with you on the road from your house, what would you take?
Well, I would say a dog. But I don't have a dog. But I'm sure I will soon, so I'll say a dog, my journal. Uh...a good pair of shoes and...my pillow.
Describe your life, right now in five words or less.
Lucky, grateful and loved.
If you could open for one of your favorite musicians, dead or alive, who would it be?
I guess I'm gonna have to go with Mr. Bungle.
What's the best advice you have for an aspiring musician?
I would tell them to try not to be too technical with your music, and try to listen with your heart, not your head.
Any final thoughts?
I never have a final statement. Be good kids!