Slipknot, Gym Class Heroes, Skylar Grey, Flyleaf, Skrillex, Hollywood Undead, Staind, Seether, Asking Alexandria, Michelle Rodriguez, Derek Mears, and More Talk Discovering Korn
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 06:14:20
Korn have impacted everyone who has ever listened to their music.
Their self-titled 1994 debut remains a landmark for modern hard rock, and its legacy is formidable. The album revolutionized heavy music by arming the genre with funked-out bass, hip hop beats, a deluge of de-tuned seven-string guitars, a schizophrenic vocal wail, and heartbreakingly honest lyrics. However, it didn't stop there.
Every subsequent release proved just as revolutionary. Who can forget the danceably deadly moments of Follow the Leader, the grandiose darkness of Untouchables, or the industrial flirtations of Untitled?
The Path of Totality is not only the next logical step, but another groundbreaking game-changer for Korn. Due out December 6th via Roadrunner Records, Korn's tenth album sees the group collaborating with dubstep mavens Skrillex, 12th Planet, Noisia, Datsik, Excision, Kill the Noise, and Feed Me to create heavy like the world has never heard before. It's going to impact anyone who hears it…
ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino wanted to zero in on Korn's impact. So, for this exclusive feature, we spoke to a myriad of artists that the band has influenced from other musicians—Slipknot, Skylar Grey, Gym Class Heroes, Staind, Skrillex, Flyleaf, Hollywood Undead, Halestorm, Valora, DevilDriver, Disturbed, DJ Destructo, Jessie and the Toy Boys, Hyro Da Hero, Asking Alexandria, Seether, Data Romance, Adelitas Way and Escape the Fate—to actors Michelle Rodriguez [Avatar, Machete, Battle: Los Angeles], Derek Mears [Friday the 13th, Predators], and Johann Urb [Resident Evil: Retribution, 2012, Strictly Sexual: A Love Story].
See how Korn has affected them in this exclusive ARTISTdirect.com retrospective below…
When did you first discover Korn? What do you dig about them? What do they mean to you?
Sid Wilson of Slipknot: The first time I heard Korn, I saw them on television. I stopped everything I was doing and my exact words were, "Holy shit! These guys are going to be fucking huge!" [Laughs] I would say my best Korn memory is the last time I saw Paul Gray [Slipknot bassist] alive was at the Korn concert in Des Moines in 2010. What a way, rockin' out with my homie! [See more about Sid's phenomenal solo record here!]
Skylar Grey: I love Jonathan Davis's voice…Never heard anything like it. I got to see them many times on the Projekt Revolution tour back when I was working with Linkin Park and became a fan then.
Matt McGinley of Gym Class Heroes: I actually first discovered Korn probably a week after meeting Travis [McCoy] in ninth grade. He turned me on to them.
Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes: It was probably because I had that Korn patch on my green backpack I wore everywhere [Laughs]. We're huge Korn fans! During rehearsal back in the day, we used to play "Blind". I discovered them on a whim. I think I was watching 120 Minutes with Matt Pinfield. He played the "A.D.I.D.A.S." video when they were all dead in the car crash. In the video, they unzip Jonathan Davis's body bag and he has women's clothes on. I was like, "I love this band!" [Laughs] I picked up the self-titled album with "Shoots and Ladders" and all of that. I was a big fan of that record. When they put out Life Is Peachy, I thought, "Whoa!" The tone Fieldy would get from his bass was like nothing I'd ever heard. It was clunky, but it worked. There's something so raw about Korn. Then, there's the emotion Jonathan puts into the songs. You hear this dude crying on record. A lot of artists don't put themselves out there like that as far as vulnerability goes. He is talking about some serious stuff and letting it out. Music has always been therapeutic for me, but I can't even imagine what music helped that guy get through. There's something about Korn that hit a chord with me musically and lyrically.
Aaron Lewis of Staind: Music that hit me hard and helped didn't really come around until Korn. Their first record flattened me. I cried like a little bitch the moment I heard "Daddy". That record really touched me in a way that no record ever had to be quite honest with you. It totally changed the game. It changed what was acceptable as lyrical content. It changed how deep and dark you could go with your lyrics at full-on face value without even trying to use any sort of imagery or metaphorical writing. It was raw, brutal, honest, in-your-face, and no-holds-barred, like nothing before it. It paved the way for people like me and Corey Taylor [Slipknot, Stone Sour] to say what we say. It really kicked the doors wide open for us.
Lacey of Flyleaf: I first heard about Korn from the guitarist in my first band. His name was Dutch, and I really respected his opinion. We all went to hang out at his house one day, and he came out wearing a Korn shirt. When I asked him about it, he told me it was his favorite new band. So he put in the CD and immediately the music was exactly the kind of sound I had been searching for at the time—the kind I wanted to make. It was heavy and had a groove like Pantera, but it was still melodic like Metallica. Immediately, I loved the sound. But of course, being a singer, I wanted to know what they were screaming about. The third element for the perfect music would have been a passionate message like Rage Against the Machine. So I'm listening for the lyrics and Jonathan Davis starts singing, "Knick-knack, paddy-whack, give a dog a bone…" Immediately, I was disgusted and angry. I was like, "All of the passion in the music like it's petitioning for the end of some kind of great injustice with a righteous anger, and then they are going to start singing a nursery rhyme!? This sucks. I hate Korn." It wasn't until much later that I found out the song was about the Bubonic plague and I felt dumb for judging them so quickly. That's the kind of bratty kid I was at the time, I guess... always looking for something to hate about everything and everyone. I thought the subject matter was awesome for a metal song and then I became intrigued again to listen closer to the messages and be more free to enjoy the brilliance of the music.
Well, we were a little scared to tour with Korn. I think they just kind of demand that you be intimidated because of their sound, their hugeness, and their I-don't-care-about-anything kind of rage when they flail around on stage. The freedom they seemed to have to just spit on everything and everyone was intimidating. Munky even spits on himself while he's playing [Laughs]. He seems pretty creepy from a distance, but one day my mom came out to see us at a show in Florida and there was a common area where people were eating. She was sitting on the couch with her food when Munky came in and he saw her. He looked at me like, "Who's this?" And I introduced her saying, "This is my mom." His whole demeanor changed and he leaned down almost like he was bowing and took my mom's hand and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you. My name is James." I was like, "Your name is James?" [Laughs] I looked at my mom and she was flustered and blushing because he was so respectful and honoring. I knew Jonathan wasn't as intimidating whenever he found out we were Christians and started to pat my shoulder and tell me that Satan was my friend before each show. I was like, "Ha, he's full of crap." I thought of him as more of a joker after that. I think my favorite memory of him was when they were doing an acoustic radio performance and I was standing off to the side watching. They did "Freak on a Leash." When he sang the song with just the acoustic guitar behind him, I heard an honesty and vulnerability in his voice that was different from the rage on stage. That combined with the lyrics brought a new revelation of the meaning that made me literally cry in the moment. I prayed for those guys since I met them, but I began to pray a little differently for Jonathan after that. I think God is really chasing that guy. I am so honored to have gotten to meet them and know them. It really blessed me. They are all amazing people and brilliant musicians. I love Korn.
Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead: They blew up when I was in like ninth grade. At that moment, they were the band for me. Most kids are emotional—unless they're slapped on drugs. I think Korn were the first band to figure out how to represent those kids. Korn perfectly encapsulated those feelings of anger and frustration that everyone feels growing up. I'd never heard a band communicate those things like they did. I grew up on The Beatles and Neil Young because that's what my dad liked, and that's what I'd hear in the house. That stuff is beautiful. Obviously now, I respond more strongly to classic music because I understand it more. At the time, when listening to Korn, I felt like, "This guy knows exactly what I'm going through". It had that angst.
Robert Ortiz of Escape The Fate: I didn't grow up as a Korn fan. When I was growing up as a metal head, if it wasn't thrash, it wasn't good. The day I became a Korn fan was the day we played the Rock On the Range festival with them. I watched them from onstage. They played "Freak on a Leash". When they got to that part of the song with the weird grunting bridge that explodes into a massive "Go", it was the best live experience I've ever had. Watching an entire stadium of close to forty thousand people all jumping up and down in unison was absolutely incredible.
Shaun Morgan of Seether: I first heard Korn in December 1996, right after I had graduated from high school, and they blew my mind. A friend of mine had brought Korn back with him from England, and I couldn't stop listening to it for weeks. They had a sound that immediately drew me in with its low-tuned guitars playing brutal riffs as well as the great squeaks and sounds that they're known for. Jonathan Davis had a vocal style that was honest, and raw, and his pain was almost tangible—the kind of sound only an untrained, emotional voice can produce. I was a very angry teenager, so after Kurt Cobain had passed away, Jonathan was my spokesperson and probably kept me interested in rock music. The intro to "Blind" is still probably one of the most powerful moments in hard rock music, and I lost count of the number of times I have listened to it whilst air-guitaring the shit out it! I saw them play live at Rock-Am-Ring in 2006, and I still get chills when I think of seeing 100,000 people jumping up and down, like a violent ocean of bodies, as that song kicks in. I am thankful for all the music they have created and hope they will still be around for years to come.
Dan Donegan of Disturbed: I saw Korn at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. It's a very well-known popular venue here. I think some of Pantera's home videos were shot at the Aragon. However, this venue even goes back to the Al Capone days. It's a big ballroom theater where Capone used to hang out, and it turned into a music theater. I've seen many great bands there, but I remember seeing Korn there for the first time in the mid-90s and I was blown away! I hadn't heard anything like it. These guys were playing detuned seven-string guitars. I hadn't seen any other bands do that either. They were the pioneers of it. I was blown away by the way they approached the music, the energy, and what Jonathan Davis brought as a frontman. I went with David Draiman, and there was a little after show party at another club. I think they had Limp Bizkit out with them. I remember going to the after party and trying to sneak in. We were the only two dudes trying to hang out with a bunch of girls and the bands [Laughs]. It was cool. It definitely left a big impression on. I've always been a huge fan of Korn. I love the guys. I think Jonathan is a brilliant frontman and he knows how to work the crowd.
Jessie and the Toy Boys: I became a fan when I was a little kid after hearing "Freak on a Leash". I love nu metal, but I also like the fact that if you were to strip that song down, it has a brilliant pop melody. I fell in love with Jonathan Davis's voice. I felt like he really meant what he was singing about.
Johann Urb [Resident Evil: Retribution, 2012, Strictly Sexual]: I discovered Korn when I was 17-years-old. My neighbor took me to a live show at The Whisky on the Sunset Strip. I was blown away, and I became a huge fan. Shortly after, I moved to New York City and lived in a pretty scary neighborhood. I used to listen to Korn when walking the streets at night or taking the subway, and I felt like the music gave me a lot of strength and power. I love listening to it when I train or get into certain characters as well. It was amazing to go see them live with ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino on Sunset Blvd. close to where I saw them 14 years before and feel that they were just as great and fresh now as they were when they first started.
Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria: The first song I heard was "Blind". Hearing that whole cymbal section at the beginning of the song, I was like, "Fuck yeah! This is sweet! I haven't heard anyone open a song like this." It's a really good buildup. I've always enjoyed how Jonathan Davis scats in his songs. It's pretty much only him and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith who do it outside of jazz and blues. It's always interesting to listen to. He doesn't sing words! It's just noises like jazz and blues scat singing. It's intriguing. Also, we have developed somewhat of a modern metal feel. The connection is definitely there.
Derek Mears [Friday the 13th, Predators, Pirates of the Caribbean]:
I first discovered Korn in High School. I picked up a demo CD of theirs that was floating around the school that we mutually attended in Bakersfield. I feel in love with their music and have been a fan ever since. I just dug their vulnerability mixed with a hard creative sound. Korn, to me, is a feeling of home. They represent the guys who had a dream had the courage to pursue it and have attained their goals through hard work and determination. I'm a big fan! Jonathan Davis' sincerity in his art helps me hit certain emotional states when I am acting. For example, I actually listened to a ton of Korn's music on the set of Friday the 13th to help me get in the right mind set for some of the scenes.
Destructo: I had a two song demo with "Blind" and "Predictable" on it. Each song was like 10 minutes long with Jonathan crying in the middle. I loved how heavy they were. It blew my mind when I first saw and heard them. My best Korn memory was being on one of the first tours with God Lives Underwater and KMFDM. It was total destruction.
Jeff Kendrick of DevilDriver: Korn was the band that every young, angry, and confused teenager like myself longed for. I first discovered Korn when [DevilDriver drummer] John Boecklin showed me their debut album. I don't think that I have been the same since. To this date, their show is still and will always be the craziest concert I have ever been to.
Lzzy Hale of Halestorm: I remember the first time I heard about Korn. I was on the school bus in middle school, and my friend was tracing the band’s name, “K-O-R-N,” onto the fogged up window of our seat. I remember saying to him, "That's not how you spell 'corn.'" [Laughs] He in turn gave me Life Is Peachy to borrow. I never gave it back! I loved it so much! I had never before heard a bass tone so recognizable and unique. The lyrics were dark, with this crushing melodic sensibility. It gave me hope that I as a new musician, could too marry the disgustingly heavy with great f$&king melody and song.
Syd Duran of Valora: I first discovered Korn in 1999 when I was eleven-years-old. My favorite track from their self-titled album, strangely enough, was "Daddy." I loved it because it reeks honesty, and spills over with dark ambiguity. When you feel like you can relate to a song somehow, yet have absolutely no idea what it's about, that's a great song!
Hyro da Hero: I first discovered Korn in high school. Every time I would sit down at a desk, I would see "Korn" carved into it. When I finally heard the music, I realized why kids felt so compelled to write their name on school property. It was awesome! There was so much energy with such a street feel to it. I really dug Jonathan Davis's voice and the sound of the music. Everything felt real and authentic—nothing corny. It had a type of hip hop influence that I definitely connected with. They are legends to me. They helped pave the way for artists that make the type of music I make to get recognized. They brought rock to the hood in such a cool why. That is why so many hip hop artists respect them. My best memory of Korn was when I was rocking the stage at Download Festival in England this past year, and I looked to the side of the stage and saw the members of Korn watching and loving what I was doing. It was absolutely amazing.
Skrillex: The first Korn record was what started that whole wave of music, changing the standards and what music is now. That was the first one I ever owned. When I was eight- or nine-years-old, I went to a thrift store and there was this little 25-cent basket that had hair bands and scrunchies. There was a Korn tape in there. It was just a white slip over a cassette. There were two tracks—"Blind" and "Clown." I got it, and I was terrified by it. It was so incredible. It was actually scary in a good way. The special moments when you're doing music professionally are when you come full circle with some things you never dreamed of or thought would happen. I remember being on the phone with Ross Robinson when he was about to start Korn III — Remember Who You Are. I asked him, "Are you excited?" He's always good at giving poetic dark answers, and he just said, "I don't give a fuck about anything. All I want is their blood!" [Laughs] It was the coolest thing!
Ajay of Data Romance: I first discovered Korn when I heard "Kick the P.A." off of the Spawn movie soundtrack in seventh grade. I remember being sure that there were two singers because of the difference between Jonathan's voice from the verse to the chorus. Korn represents innovation to me. Things were done so differently and unconventionally with tempos, grooves and tones that they constantly redefined what I could consider acceptable and "heavy" in music—anything from Fieldy's bass being so ridiculous that I mistook the string slaps for a percussion instrument, to having a metal song entirely comprised of nursery rhymes, to having jarringly honest confessional songs about child abuse. With the band basically being responsible for opening up a whole new sub-genre emotionally and sonically, hopefully in the future people will talk about what they did for metal in the way that they talk about what Monk did for piano, or what Zeppelin did for rock.
Rick DeJesus of Adelitas Way: I was probably eleven- or twelve-years-old and my friend Dave was like, "Have you heard of this band?" I said, "No, what are they called". He was like, "There's this band Korn, you've got to check them out." My parents took us to the mall, and he convinced me to buy a couple of Korn records. I bought a bunch of CDs that day. I dropped like 70 or 80 bucks that day [Laughs]. I went home and I never turned back! I got Follow the Leader, and that was the one I put in first. I thought, "This is amazing!" That was the album I would play video games to all day and listen to. They created their own sound and did their own thing. They're still doing that now dropping a dubstep record. They're the first rock band to do that. That's part of their creativity. They're always trying to do something new, and that's why they're still here.
Michelle Rodriguez: Korn was so important to me as a kid. They covered this alienation, this understanding that I am true to myself and I know who I am, but this world is fucked up and doesn't get it! It was my connection to that hip hop world and that poetry that would come out of rap music. Korn merged both of those for me. That happened when it was crucial for me to not only be understood as angry—like I did with Metallica—but to also understand the poetry behind what Biggie Smalls was saying. What Biggie said wasn't just about being in the ghetto and selling drugs. It's that essence like, "How could you not get that I am pure of heart? I want to be part of this world, be successful, do something amazing and give back." It sounds corny when I say it out loud. However, the reality is it's all balled up into one emotion—misunderstanding. That one misunderstanding has to click within both metal and hip hop. For me, Korn combined both of those elements.
When did you first hear Korn?
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!