Nu-Metal Rockers Korn Take an Old School Approach on Forthcoming Album

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When the hard rock act Korn emerged in the early 1990s, critics coined the term nu-metal to describe its sound, an amalgam of hip-hop and metal.

“We had a band with everyone but [singer] Jonathan [Davis] in it at the time,” says bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu via phone from a St. Louis tour stop. “We were looking for a singer. None of us wanted a singer who sung high. We wanted to have lower tune on the guitars and the bass, so the singer would have to have a low voice. We thought it sounded cool and the sound happened like that. That sound happened like that and once Jonathan came into the band that’s when everything just clicked.”

In the wake of the release of its 1994 self-titled debut, Korn soared in popularity.

“We hit the road right after that,” Arvizu says of the band’s approach to promoting itself. “It started climbing really fast in three years and it was mega big. We just hit the streets. That was the only way to do it. At the time, I think it was perfect. There’s not really a way to know when something is unfolding like that. It was happening so fast, we were excited.”

Korn, which also includes guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer, guitarist Brian “Head” Welch and drummer Ray Luzier, returned to the U.S. last month after a European tour to begin a co-headlining trek with shock rocker Rob Zombie. The tour comes to Blossom at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24. The tour with Zombie marks the band’s first big tour throughout North America since last year’s 20th anniversary jaunt.

The tour comes in advance of The Serenity of Suffering, the band's 12th studio effort. Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Deftones, Mastodon) produced the album that features a special guest appearance from Corey Taylor of Slipknot, who sings on the track “A Different World.”

“It was a pretty long process,” Arvizu says of the recording process. “We started writing together in this little room in North Hollywood and took it from there. We were looking for producers and found Nick, who lives in Tennessee. We went out there and jammed out in a studio. We did the old school thing where as we were jamming it was getting recorded. It was a super old school approach. This album one is of the best in a long time. We all feel like this is some of the best work we’ve put out there to date.”

On songs such as “The Hating,” Davis makes his vocals sound distorted and even harsher than normal. He delivers a particularly intense performance throughout the disc.

“When he does his vocals, it’s just his thing,” Arvizu says of Davis. “The band isn’t there. He did his vocals in [the band’s hometown of] Bakersfield. In the history of the band for the majority of time, we make all the music and give it to him. Most bands do that. It’s not like Jonathan was in the studio waiting when were in the studio in Tennessee. It doesn’t happen the way people think. I love it. When he does some distortion or any effects he does, I like what he does. He tends to keep it relevant and hip and cool. That’s what I’ve always liked about him. He’s always reaching for the next hip, cool, relevant thing.”

Since the band had previously toured with Slipknot, the guys knew singer Corey Taylor and recruited him to sing on the album.

“At one point, we were on tour, and I ran into [percussionist] Clown and said that we should do a song together on stage,” Arvizu says. “I was like, ‘What about Beastie Boys “Sabotage”?’ That developed something we did. Anything he sings on, his voice is amazing. We asked him to sing on the album and he said yes and that’s pretty cool. We like everything he sings on.”

Given that many of its nu-metal peers have fallen by the wayside, what’s been the key to Korn’s survival?

“I would have to say that a big key that we even talk about to this day is that we grew up together,” says Arvizu. “We were friends before the band came together. It’s like we’re brothers. It’s a little deeper than a band. We were homies before. As brothers, you go through the good and the bad and ugly. When you make it through all that, you’re brothers, so it’s more than that. I don’t have any real brothers, but these are my brothers.”

Rob Zombie and Korn: Return of the Dreads Tour, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24, Blossom, 1124 Steels Corners Rd., 330-920-8040. Tickets: $25-$69.50,

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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