Following the example of David Vincent (Morbid Angel) and his now famous “They’ll figure it out”, regarding Illud Divinum Insanus, Jonathan Davis remains supremely serene in the face of all the reactions the band’s last album has provoked. Above all, what matters to him is his personal artistic satisfaction – and that of Korn’s. “Being an artist is a selfish thing per se, it has to be”, Steven Wilson told us once. Something Davis can only approve wholeheartedly. He thus talks phlegmatically about the fact that, with each new musical evolution from Korn, the band lose some fans but gain others, a phenomenon they’re quite used to now.
The vocalist described the work that had to be done for this record, The Path Of Totality, as well as the complexity of the writing process, due to the novelty of the mix it represents. Still, Davis sees it as a coherent mix, and sees “a lot of similarities” between dubstep and metal.
Read the interview here…
Radio Metal : You stated in Kerrang magazine that you were tired of hearing people calling you “the godfathers of nu-metal” and that you didn’t want to join the nostalgia circuit. But as a matter of fact, Remember Who You Are was an old school, kind of back to the roots album from Korn. Does this mean in a way that this album was made out of pressure from people who were expecting that from you rather than a real creative desire?
Jonathan Davis (vocals) : For us as a band, it’s just all really about innovating and trying to do different things. When we did the Korn III record, that was also an experiment to see what it’d be like working with Ross [Robinson, producer] again. We’ve always experimented. We’ve been a band for 18 years and we had a lot of fun doing this record. It was so different and we had so much fun doing it.
Your new album The Path Of Totality came out only a year after Remember Who You Are, as if there was a creative urge that the later didn’t completely satisfy. Is this what happened?
Why we put the album out so quickly? Well, we just do. This is what happened. We feel it, we just start writing songs, I write constantly, still. The whole year of touring I was writing. And doing everything is just cool, I mean we decided to make music and put it out there. We’re not one of those bands that goes five years between records.
How do you make such two different musical worlds, metal and dubstep, work together? I guess a metal band such as Korn has a very different way of working compared to dubstep artists such as Skrillex?
No, there’s a lot of similarities there, there really is. Dubstep music is really heavy. Some of those sounds were just so heavy that we thought it would work so we wanted to experiment. We didn’t know if we were going to make an album or what we were going to do but when we got with Skrillex we did a few soungs and once we got there, “fuck the EP let’s do a whole album, I guess we’ll work with all these different amazing producers”.
Was it difficult to mix these two different musical worlds?
Yeah, it was tough. We had no clue about what we were doing. That was something that hadn’t been done before. It was a big huge learning curve. That’s why we had asked the producer to mix the album with our engineer and he taught Bud [engineer Jim “Bud” Monti] all kind of stuff and Bud taught him all kinds of stuff so we were exchanging information and getting together and making the thing work. Of course it was a hard record to make, but it was the funnest record I’ve ever made.
In the Roadrunner Records biography you were quoted defining the mixture found on The Path Of Totality as “future metal”. So do we have to expect Korn to further explore that direction in the future or do you think you’ve been as far as there was to explore with combining metal and dubstep?
I think that since we did this record it wouldn’t be necessary to do another dubstep album, so it’s on to the next thing. Our records are always kind of different, so I think we’ll take what we’ve learned from this, and there might be subtle influences here and there, but I think overall the next Korn album will be different from the last one.
You said that people were going to be pissed about The Path Of Totality and that made you even more excited about it. Why does it excite you so much, what satisfies you in pissing people off actually?
What made me excited about it? There’s a lot of closed-minded metal purists that would hate something because it’s not true to metal or whatever, but Korn has never been a metal band, dude. We’re not a metal band. We’ve always been looked as as what they called the nu-metal thing. But we’ve always been the black sheep and we never fitted into that kind of thing so… We’re always ever evolving, and we always piss fans off and we’re gaining other fans and it is how it is. And I love them all, I even love the ones that hate on us, because if they take the time out to go and say that they hate us, it means that they care. [laughs] You can’t make everybody happy but I’ve been around for 18 years, so I’m like “I don’t give a fuck, I really don’t!” I wanna do what makes me happy and makes the band happy. But that doesn’t bother us at all. There will always be people who are going to hate no matter what the hell we do.
Do you think that people need to have their convictions and habits shaken sometimes?
Yeah man, that what keeps everything sweet. You just do one thing and then change and do another thing… It trips them out and in the end they come around. Yeah, and they like that. I like being surprised. It’s all about not being closed-minded and enjoy all kinds of music. And fortunately there are people like that.
Metallica and Lou Reed also did a collaboration that pissed a lot of people off with their album called Lulu. What’s your feeling about this album?
I haven’t even heard it man, I didn’t have the time! But I think it’s cool they got together and collaborated. It’s fun collaborating with people. We did a whole album of collaborations so… I love Metallica, I love everything they do. You know, they’re one of my favorite bands. I only have a problem with the one where they cut their hair [Note : Load] and the one where the snare drum sounds weird [Note : St. Anger]. I respect that band, they don’t care either.
Are there any other musical genres you’d want to mix with your music in the future?
Yeah. I want to mix everything together. I love all types of music and that’s why we constantly evolve, and we constantly keep doing different things. That’s why we like to do what we do. As long as it makes us happy. We don’t get bored. So, I mean that’s art and we’re artists.
You have released this year Live At Union Chapel as a solo artist and it is actually your second live album, the first one being Alone I Play. What has pushed you to begin performing live as a solo artist?
I’m full of music, it’s all I do. When I’m home with my family, I write music constantly. That’s all I do really, I’m passionate about it. I’ve got all kinds of projects. I’ve got another project called “DJ devil” and I’m DJing, I’m doing house-influenced stuff. I mean full-on electro-bass music that is really evil and dark. I’m always busy. I like creating, it’s my craft you know. Use it or lose it!
Interview conducted on january, 13th, 2012, by phone by Metal’O Phil
Questions by Spaceman
Transcription : Stan
Korn’s website : www.korn.com
This post is also available in: French