Jonathan Davis of Korn Talks "The Path of Totality", Theater, Being a DJ, Video Games, and More
Fri, 02 Dec 2011 07:27:26
Korn frontman Jonathan Davis suffers for his art—literally.
You can hear that loud and clear at the beginning of "Fuels the Comedy" featuring Kill the Noise, a bonus track from the special edition of The Path of Totality [Available December 6, 2011].
"That's me shocking the shit out of myself," grins Davis, while at home in Southern California. "I took an old school violet ray, which was used as quack medicine back in the day, and I cranked the fucker all the way up. I ended up shooting a fucking two-inch spark off my arm. Kill the Noise recorded it and made it into a song. There was some pain involved in that one."
Davis is no stranger to pain.
However, he's been brilliantly channeling it into aural catharsis since Korn's landmark 1994 self-titled debut. That's one of the reasons why Korn continues to resonate with millions of fans worldwide: Davis has no fear of opening himself up and letting the world bleed along with him. Another reason is Korn's never-ending quest to push boundaries. They've changed the game once again on their tenth masterpiece, The Path of Totality.
Collaborating with dubstep's hottest artists, Skrillex, Noisia, 12th Planet, Feed Me, Kill the Noise, Excision, and Datsik, Korn elevate heavy music to a new plateau, yielding some of their catchiest anthems to date, hear the first too singles "Narcissistic Cannibal" and "Get Up!" both featuring Skrillex for proof. At the same time, Davis dives deeper than ever on the somber nightmare of "Bleeding Out" and the spacey darkness of "Way Too Far".
"Part of growing up is learning how to deal with problems," he goes on. "I just let it out. We remain true to ourselves and don't try to sound like anyone."
Korn certainly don't, and The Path of Totality is emblematic of that.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, Jonathan Davis of Korn goes deep into The Path of Totality, talks theater, video games, and so much more.
Does The Path of Totality harness a similar creative vibe to Follow the Leader?
That is the spirit. When we did Follow the Leader and "Got the Life", we were all scared shitless of what our fans were going to think. When we get that feeling, we know we're doing what we're supposed to do. That's the model of our band. The Path of Totality was the most fun I've ever had making a record. It came together really quickly, and our best records have always done that. Don't over-think shit. I didn't think about this record I just did it. It's really weird.
Were all of the dubstep artists able to adapt to the Korn sound easily?
They respect us for what we did. I explained to them Korn has always been about bass music. We play seven-string guitars, and Fieldy's bass rattles everything. It's always been this way. It's a new approach to an old formula.
"My Wall" stands out. Where were you coming from on that song?
Every day I throw up a wall, and there's always someone out there in the world trying to tear it down. Someone is always trying to get through or get to me, I feel. I'm taken advantage of a lot because I'm so nice. I put this wall up and somehow they always get through and fuck me over.
What's the story behind "Let's Go" featuring Noisia?
We worked with Noisia. It's actually at 125 BPM. It's not really even considered dubstep. They gave me a short little sample of that. I wrote the lyric around it, and I sang it. I sent it back to Noisia and they did their little finishing touches and it was done. It's about a love-hate relationship. You're saying "I'm over you" and then you're saying, "I need you". "Let's Go" has a double meaning. It means, "Let's get out of here and we'll go do something" or "Let's go, I'm out of here".
"Sanctuary" captures a gothic vibe, especially that line "My sanctuary of blood and tears".
I love that song. It was from the original sessions with Excision and Downlink, and it was never finished. Munky put some guitars on it, and it had like two parts. Downlink came to mix the record, and I was like, "Let's make that a song". He said, "Hell yeah, I love that one!" We worked on it a ton. Downlink rearranged it and created some different stuff, and it just happened. "Sanctuary" is about life. You always have that place you run to when you're heart or something's wrong, and it is built on blood and tears. It's all of the hurt, the pain, and the crying you've built up around yourself over the years. You run there when something's bad or wrong or you're scared. That was what I was going for.
Was it easier to get your point across quickly with these songs?
Yeah, I think it's the DJ in me. I want to get direct to the point and get out. I wasn't trying to scream for the sake of screaming. I wasn't trying to do anything. I was being creative and creating different kinds of art.
When did you first see Jesus Christ Superstar?
I first saw it when I was three-years-old, and it made me want to do music. My mother and father were in a local production of it in Bakersfield, and my mom left my dad for the guy who was playing Judas. It had a big impact on my life.
Are there any other musicals you come back to?
I like Cats. I also like A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Chorus Line, and all of those. They're all dope! I grew up in the theater. My dad and mom were doing plays all the time.
When you DJ, is it a separate mindset from performing with the band?
It feels completely different. It's just me up there, and I do what I feel. I make my own set. I'm transferring music I love to the crowd, and it doesn't have to be all mine.
What video games are you playing right now?
Right now, we're playing Borderlands. I love that game! I love the graphics and the whole premise of it. We're addicted to it over here [Laughs].
Have you tried The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim?
I've got to get it. I don't have it yet! I've heard it's amazing.
Is Korn always about that release at the end of the day?
Our music is what keeps me alive. I've got demons, brother. I wanted to do it, and I had no idea how many people it would affect. My singing about what I sing gives them hope that they're not alone. It's not teenage angst. It's adult angst. Life just fucking sucks sometimes and I've got to let my demons out still. Fucking adults have bad days and go through shit too. This is the way I deal with my problems. It's the approach I've always taken.
What do you want for Christmas?
A good night's sleep [Laughs].
When did you first hear Korn?
See celebrities and musicians share how they discovered Korn here!
See our exclusive video interview with James "Munky" Shaffer of Korn about The Path of Totality here!
Watch our video interview with James "Munky" Shaffer of Korn about "Narcissistic Cannibal" here!
Watch the lyric video for "Narcissistic Cannibal" here!
Watch Munky remember his favorite Edgar Allan Poe story here!
See Jonathan Davis and Munky remember Life Is Peachy in this exclusive interview here! Read our exclusive interview with Jonathan Davis of Korn about electronic music here!