Fieldy Talks StillWell, Korn, and So Much More
Wed, 01 Jun 2011 11:51:34
"We're still learning," says Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu.
The legendary Korn bassist and StillWell guitarist is always open to trying new things musically, and that's why he remains one of the most intriguing and innovative musicians that hard rock has ever seen. On StillWell's debut, Dirtbag, Fieldy's riffs echo Led Zeppelin and Audioslave but with a gangsta gusto that's hyper-infectious. Songs like "On & Poppin'" practically pimp walk through guttural grooves, busting out a one of a kind style that was meant to make mosh pits move. Dirtbag has just the rhythm that heavy music needs.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, Fieldy discusses StillWell's Dirtbag, Korn's new music, learning how to riff, and so much more.
Was there an instant chemistry between all of you?
We're definitely on the same page. It all clicks that way when StillWell is recording. When you hit the stage, there's nothing you can do but get experience. Playing live is so different than making a record, and it's such a challenge. Back in the day, Korn weren't always good [Laughs]. We were so sloppy, and we had to work everything out. Nowadays, we have YouTube, which kind of sucks because if you have a bad show it's on YouTube that night [Laughs]. Back when we started, we had the grace to play shows and get tight.
When you're writing on guitar, can riff ideas come any time?
I've written riffs sitting around the house playing acoustic guitar. There have been other situations where we'll throw a drum loop on and we'll jam to it for about two or three minutes. You've got to keep things moving. I like to keep moving quickly. I'll throw down three minutes-worth of ideas, listen back, and say, "There it is! That's the section I was trying to develop." You hear it, and then you work it out. My advice to anyone writing is don't spend too much time because it's in there, you simply have to listen and then go back and develop it.
Did you start playing guitar before bass?
I actually started playing guitar first when I was really young. I remember learning stuff from Brian "Head" Welch because we hung out when we were kids. He taught me "Rock You Like Hurricane" and "Smoke On The Water." It's funny because kids today still learn those same songs. We were driving one day and he was like, "I want to get a band together but I need a bass player." I said, "I'll play bass!" It worked like that. At the time, I just wanted to be in a band. I wasn't too stuck on any instrument.
How do you approach riffs?
I think I'm a little odd. That's the only way I can really describe it. It's probably because I'm left-handed, and I learned to play right-handed. I didn't want to, but my dad was said, "I don't care. You're learning how to play right-handed. You're uncoordinated both ways." It always felt unnatural, and I think that had a lot to do with the sound. Then, I always wanted to throw in an unorthodox note in there—something that just doesn't go. If I hear a blues scale, I want to throw in a note that doesn't go so it doesn't follow the rules of music.
What's the story behind "Magnetic Daze?"
That song took probably over a year to develop. The main chorus riff was something that started to develop StillWell. We heard that guitar riff, and it's a cool style. It's just weird [Laughs]. We did some verses that were a bit broken up, which is hard to do. It all came out at the last minute. We kept the blues-type direction. We'd do a key change, but we wouldn't follow the classic blues turnaround. I know how to do that, but I don't want to necessarily follow it. You can hear the foundation of making a mess of some blues.
How did you make "Whole Lotta Love" your own?
It's such a simple song, but it's not. It's very unique. I didn't want to take some classic song and change much to it. However, I always wanted to change it [Laughs]. When you change a song too much, it makes people mad. We left it the same, but I did it on a seven-string guitar which brings it down an octave lower. It's really heavy sounding, but it's the same exact tuning as Led Zeppelin. It sounds so heavy on a seven-string. We sped it up just a little bit. I didn't want to go too much because you throw people off that way. We shortened the middle section. That's really all we did.
What's your favorite guitar part on the album?
My favorite is probably "On & Poppin". It sounds really fast, but it's not. It's twisted-up in a blues direction with a weird minor thing in it. It's a really odd song, and I like those songs. It's grooving and upbeat. It's one of the most fun to play on guitar.
Do you always come back to classic rock?
Being around music all the time, that music grabs my ear, when I'm not paying attention. I think that's what's so powerful about it and it does that with everybody. You can hear it in the background, and it's so appealing. It grabs you, and you don't even have to pay attention. That's the type of music that I like. Another musician who really influenced me during this writing was Jack White. His style and approach of playing the guitar is so cool. He wants to be weird and odd, and do things that our out of character. I like playing with a lot of effects without losing the riff.
What's next for StillWell?
We're working on some new stuff already. I made this decision to do everything tuned to "D", so your six-string would be "D". It's not a "Drop-D" though. A lot of people do it where just your top string is tuned to "D". The whole guitar is to "D". It's almost like getting a new car. It's still the same style of music, but I want it to be a different key. It seems like it would be fresh and new.
How is the new Korn music coming along?
It's so soon and new that we haven't gotten down to do much. When you're in the beginning stages and you're reinventing yourself, it's too hard to say where it's going to go. I think it's definitely going to be mind-blowing because we're obviously doing something that's out there. The one song we've messed with I've never gotten a response like this from people before. It's going to be something fresh and new from Korn. They'll know and identify that's Korn.
Have you heard StillWell yet?
Check out our most recent interview with Jonathan Davis here!