Raise the Question: KORN

KORN…IN THEIR WORDS 

ABOUT THEIR 1998 ALBUM ‘FOLLOW THE LEADER’

JONATHAN (lead vocals, bagpipes)
MUNKY (guitars)
HEAD (guitars)
FIELDY (bass)
DAVID (drums)

(Close Up With Jonathan)

Q: 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?

JONATHAN: Our only goal was to take our time on this album because I knew we had it in us that we could do something great, fully integrate both albums and put out an album that we could really be proud of. Because, shit! The first album only took four months to write, record and mix. This one took nine, so…I mean that was our attitude and we wanted to do some phat shit.

Q: 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?

JONATHAN: For us it just pretty much happens. We just stick to that sick, weird, eerie vibe and then throw hip-hop elements into it. It’s strange, I don’t know how to explain it. We just do what we do to be honest. It’s also a combination of all our different influences–there’s no big heads in our band. Everybody’s got their little bits that they put in. Like FIELDY with his hip-hop influences. Me with my melodies and all my `80′s drama that I love. I love that era. MUNKY is always into John Zorn and the (Mr.) Bungle stuff and so is HEAD. So I think it just creates a cool musical cocktail or whatever you want to call it. Yeah, it’s putting chaos into music. Because all the sounds are all dissonant and just fucked up. It’s not really all in key. It all melts together into something that’s got melody.

Q: What do you personally contribute to KORN’s sound and to FOLLOW THE LEADER in particular?

JONATHAN: My thoughts going into this record were that I’ve already sung two albums of just straight fuckin’ cathartic rage. To keep myself real and to keep my integrity, I gotta move on. I mean, there are only so many things in my life I can scream about. It’s getting ridiculous. I want to keep that going and become a better singer. I’ve always wanted to be a true singer. I think on this album I finally became a singer and I still got across with my melodies what I was feeling. To me, melodies are more fucking intense than a scream. If it’s such an intense melody, I feel it even more. It just takes me somewhere. It’s spiritual. That’s all I wanted to do on this album. It’s time for me to move on. I don’t want to stay the same or take a step down. I just want to move on and do something exciting and new and make people go, `Fuck.’

Q: What’s your favorite new sound or technique that you used for the first time on this album?

JONATHAN: I got this voice-bender like a synthesizer…I don’t know what it’s called, but it does all this weird shit. I used it on this album and I thought it would be cool to hear what I could do with my voice. It worked well. I got all kinds of crazy effects on that thing. I use it on almost the whole album. It makes my voice lower, makes it sound like I’m in a megaphone, it doubles my voice, makes it sound like I have a wah-wah on my voice. It does all kinds of things.

Q: How do you think working with new producers helped enhance the KORN sound? How was it different than your previous albums with Ross Robinson?

JONATHAN: It helped a lot. I mean, we got direction, but we basically did it all on our own. A lot of the stuff we did with Ross we all co-produced. I don’t know, like sounds and stuff, all the sounds they came up with, whether it was him or MUNKY or HEAD, they were all going “we like this sound or that sound,” it wasn’t just Ross telling us what to do. With Steve (Thompson), the direction that he gave us was fine, but we were doing that shit already. So when he came in we were just working on arrangements and stuff. Tone-wise, it was Caco that was coming up with the tones most of the time. Caco and MUNKY and Toby would just make them tune in just right.

Q: Let’s just talk about that dissonance and that fucked up sound. Something that certainly you’ve explored in your lyrics, like child abuse. It’s almost like when listening to KORN, and hearing that you guys are so angry that you’ve inherited such a fucked up world with things like child molestation. It’s like KORN uses your music to cathartically just lash against the fact that you’ve inherited such a fucked up legacy.

JONATHAN: Yeah, I am really pissed off that I inherited it. I wish sometimes I was born back in the day because today’s society is just so fucked up. Now it’s just ridiculous. When I write, I think about how a lot of people are in the closet about their thoughts. That’s a shame. They should at least talk about the bad things going on, and don’t act on it. Don’t keep it all inside, so when you explode you actually do something bad. It’s like…get it out. My writing is my venting process.

Q: How do you feel about all these parents that have come out and condemned you for your music? They don’t realize that they’ve actually created the problems KORN sing about.

JONATHAN: I know. They’re the ones that did it. We gotta thank the parents for doing that to kids. It’s like thanks for making our lives hell. Because of you, we’re here.

Q: What are your musical influences, and what books or films or any other cultural stimuli do you feel inspires you?

JONATHAN: The only thing that influences me is the `80′s. I love that era. It was all just so musical. Everything was just fucking exciting. In every aspect of all the music: the goth scene, the industrial scene, the fuckin’ new wave scene and the metal scene, everything was so new and fuckin’ awesome. And it just seems that the `90′s have totally just sucked, especially the alternative thing. The only thing that was good was the grunge movement. We killed everything. But stuff like Duran Duran, Culture Club…those melodies were incredible. They were all great. I mean, look how many hits Devo had! Like “Whip It” (singing)…”Everybody, it’s a good thing.” All those songs. Just one after another. All that shit was really good and fun to listen to. It wasn’t like this cheesy alternative shit right now. So yeah, I’d say that the `80s stuff–that way of singing–truly influenced me. I dug all that shit.

Q: How do you feel about the current state of music, and what is KORN contributing to it that’s different?

JONATHAN: I think the current state of music sucks. There are only a few bands that are worth a shit out there: Deftones, Limp Bizkit and us. And, now there’s Orgy and Videodrone, but I’m saying for us, as far as our kind of music, I think it really is sad that we’re the only good thing that’s come around in the `90s, anything heavy. It seems like everything went soft, and I think that KORN is contributing to it by creating a new style of music and bringing heavy music back, putting the “rock” back in “rock & roll.” `Cause it seems like it’s gotten really stale. Bands are just too “la la la” and happy now. There’s no fun in it anymore, it lost its fun. I think that the only cool thing that came out of the `90s is Limp Bizkit, Deftones and us.

Q: What’s interesting about KORN’s music is how some people have said KORN is “heavy metal,” but you have said that some people say that you’re trying to kill “heavy metal.”

JONATHAN: Yeah. Heavy metal to me is like Iron Maiden, Helloween, those heavy metal bands. Not the glam bands. But they’ve always called us heavy metal and it fuckin’ pisses me off because that’s just fucked up. They put us in that category, but I don’t know what to call it. No one has come up with a really good fuckin’ name to call this. Nirvana had grunge and I guess that was cool. But there’s been emo-core, heavy-hop, post-metal and n€ metal. None of those really ring a bell.

Q: What is the sudden cancellation of Lollapalooza because of MUNKY’s illness mean to you as an individual and to KORN as a band? (Note: KORN played 14 out of the tour’s 27 dates.)

JONATHAN: I was pissed, but I was more worried about MUNKY anyway. But when I found out we had to pull off I wasn’t pissed at him, I was just pissed that he got sick because we were just having fun. We could have played without him, but we chose to pull off, because we weren’t going to play without him. It was hard, but we were worried for MUNKY. We wanted him to be fine and we wanted him to get home and get well so we could start working on the next album.

Q: What inspired you to work with Todd McFarlane–the creator of the “Spawn” comic book–for the album artwork?

JONATHAN: Al Masocco (Epic’s VP of Marketing) actually hooked that up for us and I really fuckin’ liked his art when I saw “Spawn.” That shit’s just scary. And I thought it would go along great with us. And Todd never did any album covers. He had great big fuckin’ offers from Metallica, Marilyn Manson, and he thought that we were like the Doors of the `90′s. So he was totally into it, and we thought that it would be a good idea. So FIELDY came up with the concept of the children jumping off a cliff. It was really cool. We really dug it. My friend Sean is the one who initially drew some pictures of the hopscotch thing, and he totally fuckin’ turned it around and made it look fucked up. All these little KORN children, “children of the KORN,” jumping down off the cliff onto the Earth, which is below them. So it’s like they’re just jumping off the cliff onto the Earth, losing their innocence and becoming fucked like all of us. In a sense, it’s the doom of living I guess. So Sean sketched out that idea up for us and then Todd ran with it. The cover continues that theme that KORN has on every album. There are always images of children and the fucked-up-ness is always there. Because innocence is fuckin’ scary. It leaves a big-fuckin’ space for your mind to go off. It’s really scary. Children are always scared when they’re all happy and stuff. They’re the most beautiful thing in the world, but when you see it in our artwork, the way we’ve placed it, it’s just kinda fuckin’ weird. It makes you think a lot.

Q: What are your personal goals for Elementree Records?

JONATHAN: We created Elementree because of what we did with Limp Bizkit. We all met the band, got the tape and we thought it was bad-ass. So we passed it on to Ross (Robinson) and they got the deal with Flip. Then we took them on the road. After all those tours, taking them under our wing, and seeing how they’ve achieved their success, we got this idea with Jeff (Kwatinetz, KORN‘s manager). Fuck, we could do this on our own label and take care of these bands and they wouldn’t have to go through all this crazy bullshit that we did. `Cause we know, we’ve been there. So we decided to open up this label. I’m really happy.

Q: What inspired you to create the “Family Values” tour?

JONATHAN: It was the brain-child of Jeff (Kwatinetz, KORN‘s manager), thinking that we could do this thing right because we saw what happened with “Lollapalooza,” putting shitty bands together and it not really working out. We wanted something that was really pumpin’ with something new, something that had spark to it. We really wanted something special, so we got the idea for “Family Values” to put together all the up-and-coming heavy bands. We did it and let’s rock! I don’t know how far off into the future we’ll have it. Personally, I’d like to see it go out three or four times and then we’ll probably just end it because by then, it will probably just burn out. That’s what happened to “Lollapalooza.” But I’d like to have it go out a good four times…as long as there’s good, new music coming out.

Q: Can you describe the on-stage chemistry in KORN?

JONATHAN: We just pump each other up. There’s something there. We all look over at each other going off and it just pumps us up even more. We just have this chemistry together and it just works. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just there.

Q: What inspired you to create “KORN-TV,” the Internet network, and where do you hope to take it in the future?

JONATHAN: We were inspired to do it `cause of what we did in the past. When we released our second album, LIFE IS PEACHY, we did “KORN Mangles The Web” with L.A. Live and that was a two-hour long show. With this album, we wanted to do something special, something different, and our manager said that there were these TV-like shows on the Web, but a band had never done one. We wanted to do those shows, and do it like eight times and make it like a real TV show with a real TV station since there’s no censorship and we could do whatever the fuck we wanted. And we did. And we hope to build it up and make it a company where bands can advertise on our channel and stuff.

Q: What’s your favorite song on the album?

JONATHAN: “Pretty.” `Cause it’s a bad-ass song. It’s just really a beautiful song. It’s beautiful chaos.

Q: From “All In The Family,” what’s your favorite anti-JONATHAN line and your favorite anti-Fred line?

JONATHAN: My favorite anti-Fred line is “Wannabe Funkdoobiest while you’re playin’ ripping off a band counterfeit, fakin’, plus your bills I’m payin’.” My favorite anti-me is “where’d you get that little dance?”

Q: If you had the chance to change places with any other member of the band, who would it be and why?

JONATHAN: I wouldn’t want to be anybody else. I’m the man!

Q: What five albums would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with?

JONATHAN: “New Wave Hits of the `80s,” volumes 1-whatever, Hank Williams’ greatest hits, Limp Bizkit’s “Three Dollar Bill, Y’All$,” Deftones’ “Around The Fur” and Duran Duran’s “Rio.”

Q: If you could bring five items with you on the road from your house, what would you take?

JONATHAN: Five items? Damn! Aw, shit! My computer. Shit. I don’t know how to make this cool. My computer, a picture of my son, of my family. My Hank Williams CDs (he’s the most angst ridden, depressing singer I’ve ever heard in my life). Um…let me see. What else? That’s three. What else would I bring? I’m trying to think. Um…fuck, that’s it I guess.

Q: Describe your life, right now in five words or less.

JONATHAN: I’m stressed out…and comfortable.

Q: If you could open for one of your favorite musicians, dead or alive, who would it be?

JONATHAN: The Doors.

Q: What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring musician?

JONATHAN: Turn back.

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(Close Up With Munky)

Q: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the attitude with which KORN went into the studio this time? What were you hoping to achieve?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: What’s really amazing about the music of KORN is that you’ve 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?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: Do you write with the philosophy that if you can’t play something in concert, you don’t record it?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: What’s your favorite new sound or technique that you used for the first time on this album?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: How do you feel the production was different on this album than it was on the last album?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: How do you think working with new producers helped enhance the KORN sound? How was it different than your previous albums with Ross Robinson?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: Do you feel like you could relate to JONATHAN’s lyrics even though he writes about his own personal experiences?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: Compared to when you first started to record the album, how do you think the band has evolved?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: What are your musical influences, and what books or films or any other cultural stimuli do you feel inspires you?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: 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.)

MUNKY: 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.

Q: What inspired you to work with Todd McFarlane–the creator of the Spawn comic book–for the album artwork?

MUNKY: I respect him as an artist.

Q: What are your personal goals for Elementree Records?

MUNKY: To give the world some new talent. That’s what our goal is.

Q: What’s your favorite song on the album?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: If you had the chance to change places with any other member of the band, who would it be and why?

MUNKY: 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!”

Q: If you could bring five items with you on the road from your house, what would you take?

MUNKY: 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.

Q: Describe your life, right now in five words or less.

MUNKY: Lucky, grateful and loved.

Q: If you could open for one of your favorite musicians, dead or alive, who would it be?

MUNKY: I guess I’m gonna have to go with Mr. Bungle.

Q: What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring musician?

MUNKY: I would tell them to try not to be too technical with your music, and try to listen with your heart, not your head.

Q: Any final thoughts?

MUNKY: I never have a final statement. Be good kids!

###

(Close Up With Head)

Q: 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?

HEAD: I mostly want people to respect us for this record.

Q: 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?

HEAD: When we write, someone plays something and everyone tries it and then we see if everyone’s vibin’ off it. If it sounds good, we’ll keep goin’ to another part. Sometimes we’ll play it for four bars and then everyone’s just doin’ their own thing with it. We just all play it and it sounds like a big mess. Sooner or later, someone usually comes up with something cool. Then we just build the song from there. Sometimes we’ll throw it away. Sometimes I’ll write a song and we’ll all try it and we’ll say, “It’s good, but it’s not great.” So we’ll just toss it. Sometimes we get parts together and we’ll say, `that’s not that good.’ Then two weeks or a month later, we’ll try it again, or fit it into something totally different and it’ll work very well.

Q: Do you write with the philosophy that if you can’t play something in concert, you don’t record it?

HEAD: Yes. The only time we would do that is if we record something that’s way underneath like in a chorus that you can barely hear on a record. If it just adds mood, that’s okay. But as far as a main part, no way.

Q: What do you personally contribute to KORN’s sound and to FOLLOW THE LEADER in particular?

HEAD: I think the combination of my guitar with MUNKY‘s makes our sound more interesting and doubly-creative. He thinks of stuff I wouldn’t think of, and I think of stuff that he wouldn’t think of. It’s like we’re one person. We’re one guitar player thinking. It’s weird.

Q: What’s your favorite new sound or technique that you used for the first time on this album?

HEAD: I like the Digitech pedal tuned up an octave so it sounds kind of like a harp. That’s one of my favorites.

Q: How do you feel the production was different on this album than it was on the last album?

HEAD: We experimented more, and we took a lot more time with sound, creating parts and stuff. We just took our time. We didn’t rush anything.

Q: How do you think working with new producers helped enhance the KORN sound? How was it different than your previous albums with Ross Robinson?

HEAD: It was easier for us to come in and see what we were doin’ and take our sound further. Different years do different things. That’s about it.

Q: Do you feel like you could relate to JONATHAN’s lyrics even though he writes about his own personal experiences?

HEAD: Yeah, definitely. Stupid shit like that happens all the time. Anyone can relate to his lyrics. That’s why people love his lyrics, `cause you can relate to them so easily. It happens to everybody. I can relate to most of them personally, but I can’t get into his mind and relate to the songs that are really intimate to him.

Q: Was there a particular sound that you came up with on this album that surprised you?

HEAD: Yeah, the intro and verse to “Dead Bodies Everywhere” that sounds like it’s a baby’s crib. I was thinking of something sick `cause the lyrics to the song were goin’ back to JON’s childhood. So I wanted to put something innocent sounding in there to fit with an evil sounding thing that MUNKY had already. So we blended like good and evil together on the intro part. It’s the Digitech pedal.

Q: What are your musical influences, and what books or films or any other cultural stimuli do you feel inspires you?

HEAD: Scary movies inspire me. I was really into the “Friday the 13th” movies, the good ones like the second and third ones when I was young. Queen was what inspired me to be a guitar player, AC/DC, Ted Nugent and Billy Joel too. There was this Billy Joel record that was just fun to listen to and I remember saying, “I want to do that!” Then I started listening to Queen and I heard some cool drums. I wanted to play drums, but my dad was like, “Well, you can play drums, but would you rather haul around a huge ass drum set or a guitar and an amp? Why don’t you try the guitar and see if you like it?” I tried it and I loved it.

Q: How do you feel about the current state of music, and what is KORN contributing to it that’s different?

HEAD: I don’t know, man. I like some shit like Cube and Deftones. There’s a few out there that I can pick, very few probably. I think we just add a new, but real thing. I think it’s real and alive and we get it out to the fans. I think it’s better than being on TV.

Q: What did the sudden cancellation of Lollapalooza because of MUNKY’s illness mean to you as an individual and to KORN as a band? (Note: KORN played 14 out of the tour’s 27 dates.)

HEAD: I really didn’t care about quitting Lollapalooza. It was a really fun tour and I cared about that, but I wasn’t thinking, “Oh man, we had to cancel.” I just wanted MUNKY to get better because the more we heard about it, the more serious it sounded. I didn’t care about anything else. We were asked to maybe play without him and tell the audience at each show. We were gonna try it but there was no way. We’re not gonna go out there half-assed. We gotta play with all five members. I didn’t even think twice about it. I just wanted him to get better. The fans didn’t want anything bad to happen to him either. After we left the tour, even Tool started asking everyone to say a prayer for MUNKY and stuff like that.

Q: What inspired you to work with Todd McFarlane–the creator of the Spawn comic book–for the album artwork?

HEAD: He liked our band and I knew his artwork was out there. He knew that we were a band that was out there and he’s the same way in art so I think it was a good collaboration thing.

Q: What are your personal goals for Elementree Records?

HEAD: For me, I just want to get bands that have their own sound and create cutting edge music. It’s a label where bands can start their own trend.

Q: Can you describe the on-stage chemistry in KORN?

HEAD: We just feed off each other’s energy. Some shows are just crazy like this one in Germany where we went onstage and this dark cloud came over the crowd. It was an outdoor venue and everyone started going crazy, jumping up and down. Then when we got off stage, the cloud bailed. We feed off the fans too, like when the crowd’s goin’ nuts, it will energize us and vice versa.

Q: What inspired you to create “KORN-TV,” the Internet network, and where do you hope to take it in the future?

HEAD: To show our fans what we were doing, to show them how we created the record and show real pieces of us in action. I would like a TV or Internet station that would play the videos we like all day. Who knows if that’ll happen, but that would be nice.

Q: What’s your favorite song on the album?

HEAD: I like “It’s On!” and “Children Of The Korn.” If I had to pick one, it would be “Children Of The Korn.”

Q: From “All In The Family,” what’s your favorite anti-JONATHAN line and your favorite anti-Fred line?

HEAD: My favorite Fred line is “Go back to the dentist and buy yourself a new grill” and JONATHAN‘s is “Come on hillbilly, can your horse do a fuckin’ wheelie?”

Q: If you had the chance to change places with any other member of the band, who would it be and why?

HEAD: FIELDY so I could be a dick all the time. [laughs] No, JONATHAN so I could be the front man. I’d like to change for one show, just be the front man. If I could sing like him though. Feel what it would be like to be the main guy.

Q: What five albums would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with?

HEAD: Faith No More’s “The Real Thing,” Deftones’ “Adrenaline,” Ice Cube’s “Predator,” U2′s “Joshua Tree,” and FOLLOW THE LEADER.

Q: If you could bring five items with you on the road from your house, what would you take?

HEAD: My toothbrush, jacuzzi, my bed, my bedspread (it’s really soft), and my trees. My trees inside my house. I like to take care of them.

Q: Describe your life, right now in five words or less.

HEAD: Happy, healthy, and fulfilled.

Q: If you could open for one of your favorite musicians, dead or alive, who would it be?

HEAD: Beastie Boys.

Q: What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring musician?

HEAD: Best advice is to play from your heart and there are no rules. When I was coming up, people, like guitar teachers, were telling me all these things. We do some out of key stuff that totally works and people would tell me it’s not right. Works fine for me.

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(Close Up With Fieldy)

Q: 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?

FIELDY: I think everybody puts in their own distinctive part. I guess that’s what it is. Most of the time when we write, DAVID, MUNKY, HEAD and I will do all the music and then JON will come in and he won’t write lyrics immediately–he’ll sing a melody of just nonsense words and write lyrics later. On this album, we were getting JON to try writing lyrics without having a melody first. We were just playing along with his words and let a melody come out as the words were flowing. So we did a little bit of different stuff on this album. We actually wrote a couple of music parts around a melody that he already had. That’s different from all the other albums–trying new things. Musically, when we’re writing, I think everybody helps each other. Sometimes, MUNKY will be working on something and I’ll tell him to try this pedal or something. We help each other especially if we’re having problems.

Q: Do you write with the philosophy that if you can’t play something in concert, you don’t record it?

FIELDY: Everything we do on the album, we do live. If we can’t pull it off live, then we don’t record it on the album.

Q: What do you personally contribute to KORN’s sound and to FOLLOW THE LEADER in particular?

FIELDY: My sound is more like a drummer. I’m a percussion-sounding bass player. A lot of times people think that what they’re hearing is drums and it’s actually in the bass. For instance, when Les Claypool (of Primus) heard some of the new stuff, like “B.B.K.,” he said, “That’s a pretty cool double kick!” And it wasn’t, it was my bass. On the business side of KORN, I do all the T-shirt designs for KORN, all the merchandise, like the hats and stickers. All the merchandise you see. That’s all me. I think everybody could do it. I think everybody’s just lazy. So I end up being the one that does it all. I come up with a bunch of designs, show them to the band. They either approve or disapprove.

Q: What’s your favorite new sound or technique that you used for the first time on this album?

FIELDY: I think my favorite thing was the bass synthesizer. It’s a pedal. You can give it pretty much any kind of sound you want. I use it a lot on the new album. Now everybody can go out and buy it and start bitin’ my style.

Q: How do you feel the production was different on this album than it was on the last album?

FIELDY: I guess we had a budget of $500,000 rather than $150,000. That’s production right there. If you have money, then you can make things happen. Of course, it’s gonna sound better, `cause we had a bigger budget. We also just got out of a 1902 studio and moved into an updated 1998 studio. Pretty much all of us put the modern technology to use. We broke out all the new pedals and effects and crap like that.

Q: How do you think working with new producers helped enhance the KORN sound? How was it different than your previous albums with Ross Robinson?

FIELDY: We were going for a whole other level, so we thought we’d try a new producer. Toby Wright, who finished it with us, is someone we’ll probably work with again because we really liked working with him. He was on our level. He had good ideas. He had a good ear for tone and all that crap. When you listen to the new album, you feel like you just went on a huge rollercoaster ride. There’s a lot of dynamics in it, a lot of ups and downs. It’s pretty crazy. That’s how I always feel. I feel like I just got off the Colossus at Magic Mountain. Compared to the other two albums, this one’s gonna make those two look boring. We do what we do. The producers come in and say, “That’s cool.” I mean some producers do more than others. Like me working with Videodrone (KORN‘s second signing to their Elementree Records), I actually write a lot of the music with them and arrange a lot of shit. But on our new record, the person who came up with a lot of the tones and effects that were used was Caco, our guitar tech.

Q: Do you feel like you could relate to JONATHAN’s lyrics even though he writes about his own personal experiences?

FIELDY: I think everybody can from our generation. Not just me, personally. Pretty much everybody we know is just about in our age bracket, and we were all kinda raised the same.

Q: Was there a particular sound that you came up with on this album that surprised you?

FIELDY: The only thing that surprised me was that I came up with “Children Of The KORN” which we did with Ice Cube. I did everything with that song. I just went into the back room one day, when the other guys were working, and I ended up playing the bass guitar, drum beats…everything on that song. It turned out really phat. I just laid down the drums first, put the bass down, and even played the sitar on it. Then I played a couple of guitars on it. It all only took one day.

Q: Compared to when you first started to record the album, how do you think the band has evolved?

FIELDY: Musically? We’ve evolved so much, it’s gonna take us a long time to learn how to play these songs. I mean it’s totally like musicians are gonna trip out on it.

Q: Did you come up with so many new sounds during the recording process that the songs don’t sound anything like they first did when you wrote them?

FIELDY: Some of the songs sound a lot different, `cause when we left rehearsals and finally got in the studio, we started running a lot of pedals and effects and crap like that through them. When JON got to do all his backing vocals, he ended up changing a lot of them, period. There were a few songs that we totally hated. We were like, `No way. They’re not gonna make it on the record.’ And now they’re like our favorite songs. “Justin.” was one of those songs. That was like a “for sure, no way going to make it on the album” song. When JON ended up changing some shit, and all his vocals, it became one of our favorite songs. And a song called “Pretty”; that was another one. After JON changed the vocals, and MUNKY and HEAD changed their guitars, it ended up being the best song on the record.

Q: What are your musical influences, and what books or films or any other cultural stimuli do you feel inspires you?

FIELDY: The only thing that inspires me is hip-hop–all west-coast hip-hop. Not that I favor west-coast or east-cost, but that’s just what seems to inspire me. Just the beats and the style.

Q: How do you feel about the current state of music, and what is KORN contributing to it that’s different?

FIELDY: I think it’s horrible right now. Like alternative music, I hate it. It’s crap. It’s garbage. It’s fuckin’ weak `cause it’s all the same. But I think in the next few years, it’s gonna be really good. What’s different about what we’re doing? There’s no label for us. They always had a label. I mean, Pearl Jam, they were called grunge. And then you had heavy metal. And then you have us. What’s KORN like? Nobody ever has a label for us.

Q: What is the sudden cancellation of Lollapalooza because of MUNKY’s illness mean to you as an individual and to KORN as a band? (Note: KORN played 14 out of the tour’s 27 dates.)

FIELDY: When it came down to it, all that really mattered was for him to get better. Nothing really mattered but his health. We can always tour, but if he’s dead…we’re not touring. Of course we can get another guitar player, but it’ll never be the same. So we were just concerned about him getting better. If it meant canceling the whole tour, then that’s what it meant. We gave it a few days, he wasn’t getting any better. We gave it a week and we just said, “Fuck this.” Even if he does get better, he needs to be off, relax and get well. Our fans pretty much know KORN don’t cancel shows for no reason. I think they got the vibe, and they knew this was a pretty serious occasion. I think all the fans were really understanding and they backed us 100%. As far as what the band thought, I don’t think anything could have brought us closer together, because we’ve grown-up together. We’re already like brothers–we’ve known each other for 15 years.

Q: What are your personal goals for Elementree Records?

FIELDY: I think we’d all like to sign some bands that everybody is scared to sign. That’s pretty much our goal and, of course, to make them as big as KORN, if not bigger. I think the’90′s are really hurting for some music. You only have a handful of good bands right now.

Q: What inspired you to create the “Family Values” tour?

FIELDY: We wanted to do a tour where we bring the bands we like with us. Everybody is in the same vibe instead of putting a “Lollapalooza” together that’s half slow-ass bands and some reggae. Fuck that. “Family Values” is a dream tour for us. And this is going to be an annual thing, too whether KORN is on it or not. And we’ll arrange it, too, setting up the bands who will be on it.

Q: Can you describe the on-stage chemistry in KORN?

FIELDY: We just feed off each other and the crowd. We push ourselves so hard, it’s like when we walk off stage, it’s like we’re going to collapse. A few times a couple of us have. And I don’t know how everybody else feels, but personally, when I’m playing that music and it’s that loud, it fuckin’ makes me go crazy. I guess there could be no crowd out there and it wouldn’t matter. Yeah the crowd enhances our performance when people are going crazy. Still, playing that aggressive, groovin’-ass music just makes you go nuts. Especially when it’s loud as fuck.

Q: What’s your favorite song on the album?

FIELDY: On this album there is so much variety, you can’t pick out your favorite because they’re all different. But if I had to play one song for somebody, I guess it would be “Freak On A Leash.” I think it has a little bit of everything that KORN is about. I tend to play that one the most.

Q: From “All In The Family,” what’s your favorite anti-JONATHAN line and your favorite anti-Fred line?

FIELDY: I think I like when Fred says, “I’ll jack off in your eye, you pumpkin pie.” And when JON says, “Come on hillbilly can your horse do a fuckin’ wheelie?”

Q: If you had the chance to change places with any other member of the band, who would it be and why?

FIELDY: I’d like to get inside HEAD‘s head. He’s kind of a freak. I’d change places with him and see what’s going on up there.

Q: What five albums would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with?

FIELDY: The new KORN record, of course. Chris Rock’s live comedy album. The biggest old school hip-hop compilation you could get. So I could have a variety of a bunch of shit. Psycho Realm. And Erykah Badu Live.

Q: If you could bring five items with you on the road from your house, what would you take?

FIELDY: My car, my big screen TV with surround sound, my couches to go with the big screen, my bed, and a picture of my two daughters.

Q: Describe your life, right now in five words or less.

FIELDY: I’m fuckin’ stressed out man.

Q: What’s the best advice you have for an inspiring musician?

FIELDY: I guess I’d have to say, don’t give up. That’s all.

Q: Any final thoughts?

FIELDY: Yeah. Look for me to put out a solo project in 1999 called FIELDY’S DREAMS. I’m gonna be playing all the instruments on it. Keep an eye out for it.

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(Close Up With David)

Q: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the attitude with which KORN went into the studio this time? What were you hoping to achieve?

DAVID: We were hoping to write and record the best record we could. We didn’t want to make it sound like the first or second record, but we wanted to keep it sounding like KORN. We wanted to take the songs to a new level even with somewhat of a new writing style. We just basically wanted to make a good record, one we were happy with, something that sounded like it took a step up from the first two records.

Q: 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?

DAVID: We sit in a rehearsal studio, set up recording equipment and we meet everyday. Unless someone has an idea they thought of at home or something, we pretty much sit down with our instruments and start trying ideas. And far as the KORN sound goes, it’s just what we like–it was not preconceived that we have to write like this and make every song like this. We try anything and if we like it, we use it. It’s pretty much simple as that. There was not a lot of thought behind the creative direction, and we didn’t say that we have to stay on this direction–it’s music we like and the way we write the songs.

Q: Do you write with the philosophy that if you can’t play something in concert, you don’t record it?

DAVID: Yeah, we try to write like that. There are some overdubs as far as the guitar and vocals go because obviously JONATHAN can’t be three people at once. We try to keep it where the main parts of the songs are always possible to do live so it’s not missing anything big. It’s much better than bands that have one guitar player, but on the songs you hear two or three main guitar tracks. And when they play live, they pick one of the tracks to play and then it’s missing a lot. It really stands out, I’ve always hated it when I hear bands like that.

Q: What’s your favorite new sound or technique that you used for the first time on this album?

DAVID: Technique-wise, I think I still play the way I always played. I started using D-drum samplers on this record, but I actually ended up not using them as much as I thought I would. I just got a few more shaker sounds and stuff like that. I think the feeling of my playing on the songs is just really fun, and it’s the way the songs on this record feel.

Q: How do you feel the production was different on this album than it was on the last album?

DAVID: I don’t think the production was that different, but the studios were a lot different. We used some of the same equipment, some different equipment which varied in sound. I think since the studio the album was recorded in, and the studio the record was mixed in were different studios, it had a dramatic difference on the way the record came out. That was the main thing on the production.

Q: How do you think working with new producers helped enhance the KORN sound? How was it different than your previous albums with Ross Robinson?

DAVID: As far as the KORN sound goes and how it turned into new sounds as we went, I don’t think that had so much to do with a producer. I think most of it was just writing a record, reflecting on it, then taking all of our thoughts and using them towards the way we want to write the next record. I’m not saying I don’t think the producer’s ideas were good, whether it be Steve or Ross. I think that they did have something to do with helping the sound, but I don’t think they had a tremendous amount to do with the sound. I would credit us very much as far as our sound goes. The biggest difference in recording FOLLOW THE LEADER would probably be Toby, the engineer/co-producer, and NRG, the studio. As far as the quality of the songs, I wouldn’t say they got better because the producers were doing this or that. They helped motivate us. They helped us to keep going if we were getting tired of writing or whatever. I think they helped more in that way rather than actually helping us to form a sound. We just listened to what we did in the past and thought, `You know kind of like that. We didn’t like that. Let’s go more in this direction.’ I think we had more to do with it than anybody.

Q: Do you feel like you could relate to JONATHAN’s lyrics even though he writes about his own personal experiences?

DAVID: Personally, I didn’t have a bad childhood, but I can relate as far as I’ve heard other stories and seen so many things that happen. And every time you turn on the TV, you hear the awful things that happen to children. I understand it all even though I didn’t have a bad childhood. Some of the other issues…I understand, but he writes a lot about fighting with your own personal insides. I don’t really have things like that going on in my head. I’m pretty at ease with myself and with my life.

Q: Are you influenced by any other artists?

DAVID: There’s music that I like to listen to, but when it comes to writing our music, I don’t really get influenced by anyone else’s music. I get influenced as we write our music. The part comes up and it influences me to think a certain way about the part and about how to go about writing to it.

Q: How do you feel about the current state of music, and what is KORN contributing to it that’s different?

DAVID: What we are contributing is high-energy music, intense, aggressive music, fun music. And I think there are more mellow-style bands doing the softer alternative, poppy kind of sound. I think the scene needed a little bit more of the intense, high-energy music, which we’re bringing to the fans.

Q: What did the sudden cancellation of Lollapalooza because of MUNKY’s illness mean to you as an individual and to KORN as a band? (Note: KORN played 14 out of the tour’s 27 dates.)

DAVID: It was kind of a disappointment, because all of us in the band had wanted to play “Lollapalooza” for so long. We were excited about doing it. After MUNKY had been in the hospital for a few days rather than a couple of days–like when it turned into five or six days–everyone started getting really worried about him. Then we said we should probably take him out of the hospital, take him home to L.A., get him treatment there and get him better, because no tour was worth anyone’s personal health. We were not going to drag it on and have him sitting in a hospital feeling this weight on him thinking everyone was counting the hours for him to get up and come back to the tour and play. It was kind of disappointing at first about the tour, but everyone was cool with it because we new it was MUNKY‘s personal health that was at stake here. That is more important than a tour. The business aspect of it was just something we had to deal with.

Q: What inspired you to work with Todd McFarlane–the creator of the Spawn comic book–for the album artwork?

DAVID: We had heard from Al Masocco (Epic VP of Marketing) that Todd had actually referred to us as “the Doors of the 90′s” and it got everyone really excited. So after we were asked to do the “Spawn” soundtrack and we had seen his art, we knew what he was capable of. Al came back and asked us if we were interested in working with him more. Then we approached Todd to do our album cover and he seemed real enthusiastic about it. We were really excited and everyone was kind of surprised that he was anxious to work with us as we hoped he would be. I guess we didn’t think he would be into it that much, doing the album cover, but he came back to us right away saying he would love to do it. We were blown away. We didn’t think this guy would want to work with us as much and like the band that much.

Q: What are your personal goals for Elementree Records?

DAVID: My goal is for it to be a real record label. We see things happening in the business with other bands, like we see them being signed and then the way they’re treated throughout their career. We think we can take everything we know and put it all to use in a positive way and actually create a good record label, actually sign good bands, make a success out of it and hopefully earn our way to be taken seriously in the record industry.

Q: How much of hand do you have in the running of the label and overseeing the progress of a band’s development once they’re signed?

DAVID: Our main job is to sign bands to the label. As far as running the company and overseeing it, we actually have as much involvement in that as we want to have. When we’re on the road it’s obviously harder for us to do it. We have phone meetings and sometimes in-person meetings with our management, with whom we’re also partners with in the label and who run most of the day-to-day stuff. We get updates on everything that’s going on, and obviously we ask a lot of questions. As much as we want to be involved, we can be on every aspect of it, from just the signing, to the recording, to any of it, advertising, anything.

Q: What inspired you to create the “Family Values” tour?

DAVID: We saw other festival type tours out there and there really weren’t any of them we wanted to be on. So we thought, “why don’t we try put together our own festival and we can pick the bands and determine the vibe of the festival and how it’s run and where we go with it?” We thought we would give it a shot. So, we got some partners together to help us with it and starting creating the tour. We put everyone’s ideas in a pot and started writing out a map for it. It actually ended up being really good, and we thought we could do something better than what was out there.

Q: Can you describe the on-stage chemistry in KORN?

DAVID: I would say the chemistry is a very comfortable feeling. We have been playing together for so long, everyone feels like we’re tight, like everyone thinking as one. Even though our backs are turned to each other on the stage, it seems like everyone is kind connected through the mind. Obviously there are some days that we feel like we’re more “on” than other days, and we’re all thinking in the same way even more.

Q: What inspired you to create “KORN-TV,” the Internet network, and where do you hope to take it in the future?

DAVID: I think we just wanted to find out new ways to reach out to Internet users. We had Internet shows for our last record, and they went over really well. We just wanted to take it further, do something even more original and bigger for this next record. I guess we’ll figure out more stuff to do on the Internet. Just try to keep everything fresh and new and be one of the leaders.

Q: What’s your favorite song on the album?

DAVID: I think it’s “B.B.K.” I just like the groove of it.

Q: From “All In The Family,” what’s your favorite anti-JONATHAN line and your favorite anti-Fred line?

DAVID: I think I like when Fred calls JON Austin Powers and bags on his teeth, and I think I like when JON calls Fred a hillbilly.

Q: If you had the chance to change places with any other member of the band, who would it be and why?

DAVID: I wouldn’t. I like what I do, and I like my life. I wouldn’t want to have any other life but my own. I found a happy place.

Q: What five albums would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with?

DAVID: I’d say Filter’s “Shortbus,” Blondie’s “Greatest Hits,” Orgy’s “Candyass,” I guess our new record. Gotta be honest. Um…let me think. Probably Helmet’s “Meantime.” And Weezer’s first album.

Q: If you could bring five items with you on the road from your house, what would you take?

DAVID: I don’t know, I’d bring everything. My refrigerator, all the food in it. My bed. My dune-buggy. All of it.

Q: Describe your life, right now in five words or less.

DAVID: Near perfect.

Q: If you could open for one of your favorite musicians, dead or alive, who would it be?

DAVID: Jane’s Addiction.

Q: What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring musician?

DAVID: Persistence. Try to do the best you can do.

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