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Korn France’s Interview of Untouchables Producer, Michael Beinhorn
Translation: Many thanks to Jon Tournier for sending a translation for us to post!
Interview Korn France avec Michael Beinhorn
Hi Michael! First of all, we would like to thank you for according us this interview, we really appreciate it!
Most of the fans think that Untouchables is a KoRn Masterpiece album but maybe don’t know you yet! Could you tell us more about how you have been involved with Korn for this album?
(laugh). It was funny because they contacted me when they were getting ready to make the Follow the Leader. Strangely, we didn’t. When they contacted me for Untouchables, I was kind of surprise. It was interesting and I accepted the meeting. It turned out actually that we get along very well at that point. We interacted well. They expressed an interesting making…I think that they felt they had their epic creatively.
You met the guys and how did they know your work? I mean you work with Marilyn Manson and other artists. How did they know you?
Pretty much that way. I mean I established myself doing a lot of, you know, pretty well-known big budget records at that point. I think they saw me as someone who could be a valuable candidate to work with.
Could you tell us more about the instrumental or vocal recording process?
As far as the recording process, it was very very rigorous. There was a lot of work, making a sound in a certain way… With all the respect for their earlier records, I didn’t think they sound particularly good. I think the people who made those records are wonderfully talented people but I thought for the record they wanted to make…they wanted to make something really intense but also, something like amazing. So I really wanted to use the finest technology that we could find, like the best recording technology ….We start to recording at 96 K Htz, which is a really a very high resolution and this became the first 96 K Htz recording I think that anyone didn’t like for a rock band like this. They wanted systems that at the time they can handle this kind of things. So we had very limited choices as far as that go. We were into it. Instruments getting them to be in a right acoustic environment. Choosing what kind of interfaces we were using for the digital stuff and of course for the vocals. The vocal recording was really extensive. A lot of processing to get his voice to sound the way we wanted to and for him to sound just the good as he can possibly sound and also for the guys when they heard themselves back.
And they do a great job!
Thank you for saying so! I really appreciate that!
Are you talking about the ephonics guitar?
(laugh) Oh! You did your homework! It’s interesting because I don’t think anyone makes anything like that anymore. It was a recording system that really just designed to do one thing. It was design to record stuff in 96 K. We could use lower recording formats as well, but really it was a dedicate recording system with a very limited headlining functions really. You could really get in … and sharp things the way you can. The quality of this system at the time was far better than any of the digital recorder. We choose that road. We also choose this special converter, is DB. We thought it was the best converter at the time that we could use for the recording. Do you want me to talk about the technological stuffs that we used?
Yes of course! Just to know if we understand good. Is it a kind of high recording material? High quality I mean, 96 K. Do you think the CD makes justice to this kind of recording or do you think you lost something when you converted it to a CD?
Without a doubt. Yes there’s no question that it was, which is a shame. The actual master what the record makes extend to with a DST format which is even higher than the 96. It’s a very very high resolution digital format, very few records even now are being mixed down in this format. So if there ever was a high resolution version of this record, you probably hear things you can’t ever hear before.
Maybe what they should release is a super CD!
Yes, it would be great!
So do you think it really makes justice to this album, for this kind of recording?
I think it could make a big difference. I think it would definitively changes a lot of things. It was design to be a kind of breath taking. I always felt that the record was a little more exciting even if I think we did an amazing job. It’s a little bit more prostine, it’s phenomenal. A DST, it makes the sounds extraordinary. It’s almost like you rocking at the music instead of hearing it.
It sounds amazing, but we can’t hear it!
Well, maybe someday?!
I hope so!
What do you remember about the alchemy between James ‘Munky’ and Brian ‘Head’? They always work together and one of the guitar player plays a riff and the other is like answering the other one?
Yes, it’s like a conversation.
And what do you remember about Jonathan’s back into tour in 2002? What do you remember about the singer? About how he came out with his lyrics, did you help him?
I don’t know if I can speak of that. I should probably draw the line but yes I did help him with the lyrics. I don’t think I should go too far to details to be honest. It’s kind of personal. I don’t think Jonathan would appreciate.
No that’s ok! We understand that. We don’t want to know which part of the lyrics, we just want to know if you helped him or not.
Yes I helped him. Well, I helped pretty much every song, except for “Here to Stay”.
Do you keep in touch with the guys?
Sporadically over the years. I have spoken to Jonathan. Actually I heard from Davis a couple years after we did the record. He has called me, I think he was listening to the record or he was playing a show or something like that and he just remembered what amazing record it was, he wanted to thank me for the hard work that I put into the recording. It was very very sweet.
About David, how did you caught this massive and deep drum sound on this album? Amazing! It’s the first time and the last time that we hear this specific sound of drumming. Massive!
(Laugh) Oh! Thank you! I can’t see my face in a mirror but you‘re making me blush! Thank you for that! You know, that was the intent. I wanted to make a drum sound that would be absolutely humongous. I didn’t want to spare any expense, you know we had all the technology, we needed to do something like that. We had great songs and to try at least to make the best record these guys have ever made, to do something you know… musical and artistic statement and we just didn’t stop. I don’t remember but someone took notes and I think there were about 25 or 30 microphones on the drum, insane. We just tried to do everything we could to treat the room, the drum. We didn’t want to spare any expense, we wanted to make a really amazing amazing record. I think there were 3 microphones on the bass drum and the snares. I’m pretty sure we might … (mot coupé à l’audio) top and bottom of the toms, there were benching different overheads solutions and ambient. It was really incredible stuff. We were using so …. in the room to make the best drums sound deeper and louder. We a had a great room to work in. It was a very big room. The drums speak really well on here but there are not overly ambient to get a high interference on cymbals and things like that. He was a perfect drummer, we went through every kind of head combination, what kind of snares we were using, we were very specific about everything that came out beautifully at the end.
This is why it sounds so good I think!
Yes, you can’t get a drum sound like that if you don’t put a few microphones. We had really to work on these kinds of stuff. It takes a lot of effort and takes people who wanted get into the details.
We know that this album was very difficult to make, did you ever think about giving up because of the complexity of recording?
(laugh). “Give up” at least are two words which don’t exist in my vocabulary. “Give up” is against my religion basically. No I mean I think everyone was frustrated at a certain point at the project but there was never questioned to make this thing happened.
Did you ever talk about maybe working together again?
When the album came out, you know a little bit after, they were basically talking to me about doing the next record. But I think after that happened, I’m not sure. I don’t think they wanted to go down again. We didn’t speak about it anymore.
Untouchables was the album after Korn’s two most successful ones (‘Follow The Leader’ and ‘Issues’), and was built and recorded during times where the nu-metal genre was all over the place and lots of bands were copying the Korn’s sound, developed throughout the years.
How much was the pressure to follow up these 2 massive albums and how much effort did you guys put to stay away from the sound everyone was doing at the time and how difficult it was to do so?
It was really a question of trying to make the same record. I think one of the reason that D didn’t work with B. the second time was because B. said the next record will make gonna to be on hits. They told me that there was no way to work with him after that because we don’t need that. We wanted to make a record, making artistic statement instead of trying to make a hits record. Basically what they said to we’re going to make our dark side of the moon. I think the process was very hard because those guys don’t have the best intentions! (laugh). They don’t focus very well, they don’t pay attention for what they are doing maybe half an hour and get distract by something. Kind of kids. It was hard to keep them engaged in what they were doing and I know there were very frustrating because, there was a feeling that all the big success was behind them and that they were not going to be able to do what they have done before. I remember Fieldy one point saying that I just feel that Korn has its days, sort of done. I said I appreciate you’re be honest like that, it’s good to be honest but the fact this is one reason why we have to try so hard to make the best possible record that we can because you guys are only gonna be defeated if you allow yourself to be defeated. You know guys you are in a position to make the greatest record of your lives right now and I think that it really gave them the moral and the hope and it made them try harder and they really make the effort to make the greatest record they could possibly make.
One of their album, called “Issues”, which is a dark album and which has specific sounds, which is very different from Untouchables. It was your idea or from the band?
I don’t think that we can very define in words or analyze technically what they wanted. In my position, if someone gives me imagery or gives me adjectives and tells me you know or says ‘I want to make my dark side of the moon’, that’s a very general comment but it pretends something very specific. The dark side of the moon is a beautifully recording record. It’s a very strong artistic statement; it stands up over many years. It makes me think of certain things, like as far as the song writing goes, how the songs we have done. That came from them when I was in the room with them the entire time when they were actually writing the stuff. I sat in the rehearsal space and they were coming up with the songs and I just helped to direct them for everything. They fed me some general ideas but at the end of the day…that was me! (laugh). That’s appropriate because that’s why you hire someone to produce a record. It’s the job or you wouldn’t need a producer anymore. But it’s not their job to have to think about that stuff. They need someone who they can collaborate with that way.
We found a Soundcloud with your name: https://soundcloud.com/michael-beinhorn
Is that yours or is it a fake one?
No it’s actually mine.
We found two interesting versions of Korn’s songs, “Anaconda” for “No Ones There” and “Jesus Is Mexican” for “Make Believe”. This is amazing! How this album can be rich with so many little sounds here and here! Even 11 years later, thanks for your version, we can hear some effects and sounds that we could not hear in the album! What a masterpiece!
Well, thank you!
When we hear the version you posted on Soundcloud, the two songs sound very different from the album. It’s like you didn’t mix it in the same way, and we can hear some details in the two songs that we cannot hear on the album version. There are many effects!
Well, when I hear a part, I just kind have an idea of how I would like it to be. In some cases, what they did with the guitar stuffs was obviously processed with pedals and things like that. In some cases, I would actually went stuffs through synthesizers with different speak. My idea was, and generally, is to make this kind of wall of sound. If you listen not even to closely, you can pick up all the tiny little individual beats even though a lot of beats are distorted. So for me it’s really about knowing how I wanted it sound to be, knowing that sometimes need to be fast, sometimes need to be slow and sometimes need to have this kind of distortion. Sometimes need this right kind of distortion. In some cases, something needs to be compressed in order to occupy their own place against. A lot of distorted sounds. A sound needs to be placed and so on and so forth. I’m glad you’re able to hear all those things. Actually there are rough mixes that we are done actually when we were recording and there were done before we put vocals on.
We have a funny question. We read on the Internet that in “Beat it Upright”, one can hear a woman just before Jonathan is singing. A short sound, like a woman who’ screaming. Is that true or it’s a fake information?
A woman? Well, if you can hear that, that’s news to me! Effect sound there is also news to me. Ok, I have to go back and listen to it! I don’t remember any of this.
Do you have other instrumental versions of Untouchables like those two songs you posted that would like to share with us? You know we cannot buy the instrumental version of the album. It’s the first time that we find versions without vocals. Do you have other songs like this?
Right. I think so. I can certainly at some point post most stuff and I think I was going to at one point. I have things like that, a lot of it with songs in less developed states.
If you find another one, would you allow us to share it with the fans?
Sure if you just remind me. Probably in a couple of months.
Great! This album never gets old! Even eleven years later, it’s still a masterpiece!
Thank you very much, I appreciate. I appreciate you‘re saying that.
Did you have the opportunity to listen to the last Korn’s album just released (The Paradigm Shift)?
No I haven’t listened to it.
Ok, so what’s the latest album you hear after Untouchables?
Probably Untouchables! (laugh). I think I heard a song of their last record. I don’t really remember…and I heard a song, maybe the second they made after we did Untouchables, but I don’t really follow what they’ve done.
Just take a look on this short video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6VS0EU8qSA (‘Here to Stay’)
This guy backs from the cam at the beginning of the video seems to be you, if this is it, what did you feel at this time when you guys just created one of the heaviest song ever?
Yes, that’s me. Actually I don’t really remember. It’s in Arizona. I was happy that they had a finished song! Because it took so long to get everything… to get put together. You have to remember that we have been working at that point and trying to and doing a pre production without any recording once so ever… I think it’s been about 4-5 once… It was just a rehearsing stuff. I was just happy that something was finished. I think I was so preoccupied with trying to get everything working.
Have you been satisfies by this one, I mean because it’s really the first song of the album. In which kind of mind you were at this time?
I think it was like an easy and obvious song for them. I didn’t really think it would be a single. It didn’t occur to me that it was going to be the first single after record. I was really happy when he had a finished version of it. You have to remember that Jonathan did not have lyrics for that song until he was actually recording his vocals… not a finished song…phonetically…He said things, he did syllables, he actually did not sing anything, he sang his melodies. So we had never a completely finishes song at that point. It sounded great. I was happy to get the thing done. At That point, I was looking for to getting everything finished and actually been able to record it. That’s was very excited.
We heard two different versions on Internet about what’s happened during Untouchables’ recording. One version is they all recorded separately, each member was doing his things. The other version is that they all recorded together, as an entire group. What’s the real version?
Definitively the first one.
Ok, then did it have any impact on the way you recorded?
No. I think it would have been a disaster if they’ll all record together to be honest with you. Because it would be really messing, doing things separately, they were able to really focus on what each one was doing. I think sometimes when the guitars play along with David, he knew he wasn’t on the song, but for the most part, everything was done…The guitar, one after the other for the riff…little riff Head, little riff Munky, a kind of back and forth. Each one tried to finish his parts and not to waste time.
Could you tell us more about the consequences of the leak of the album few months before the release’s date? Munky was hacked.
It was a complete catastrophe, a disaster, really really bad. The version was unmastered but it was essentially the whole record. It was a disaster for epic if I can use the right proportion. It was really really bad. They hired private detectives to trace the leak and to figure out what happened. Private detectives were around and interviewed everyone on the record. They were talking to the assistant engineers, to anyone. Finally they figured out that it was Munky. He told someone that he had the all record on his computer. Someone has moldering with it. A lot of people who were preparing to be really surprised had their surprise; kind of preempted. The record came out with a certain matter of expectations. When the record leaked, no one was ready for it. The fun and the surprise went away. When the record came out everyone who actually wanted to hear the record, had already heard the whole thing. It was very unfortunate but I think the same thing happened to Eminem right before his record finally came out at the time at the Korn’s record did. Eminem’s people were really smart and they decided to rush the release of the record. Unfortunately the people who were working with Korn weren’t as smart about the release schedule. At the end, they really suffered for it.
Do you have any memories of this recording?
(laugh). Things I think that it would not to be shared with anyone! One of my favorite memories was when I was leaving the studio, I was going to my car and Fieldy walked up to me into the parking. You know, he could be very aggressive or difficult sometimes. Ans he walked up to me and he said to me “I know what you have done to us, that’s why I say thank you. It really means a lot. I just want to thank about that”. Honestly it was my favorite moment of the entire recording. I had a great time, being creative on that record. Just knowing that the process really affected him, it was really powerful for him. It meant a lot for him and a lot to me too.
All Korn fans really thank you for the amazing work you did with the guys and for this awesome album you work on in the rock scene! Do you want to say some words for French fans?
Thanks for listening the record that we made I guess! (laugh). I don’t know really what to say. No seriously thank you very much for listening to the Untouchables and for appreciate it. I’m glad that you are able to recognize our hard work. It was a very special record and I’m glad it means so much for the Korn fans up there.
We are still listening to this album almost every day! That’s a crazy album! We want to thank you so much!
It’s nice to meet people proud and hear the record more than I have! Thank for saying that, I appreciate that. Honestly it’s one of the reasons why I’m sure the rest of the guys put so much into making a record.
Ok now let’s go working with them again to create the new Untouchables!
(laugh) That’s very nice of you to say, I appreciate that. I think they might be afraid of doing something like that again! I wouldn’t them alone until they made an album at least as good as Untouchables! In the meantime, if you email me I‘d try to give other mixed tracks and in return I expect you to buy me a nice meal!
Sure! A beer, a meal!
That’s all I ask!
We have finished with the Korn’s part, we would like to know what you’re doing now, what you’ll do in the future, your projects… What’s Michael doing right now?
I’m working with this band called Mew. Really now my focuses is trying to help artists develop, you know, just kind of the way I was able to add something for the Korn’s record. I feel that people really make poor records these days and I want to try to make sure people make really really great and amazing records; that’s really my focuses. I don’t know if you know I have also a blog. It’s about a lot of stuffs, addressing a lot of issues, the way people are making records these days. I also make a book that’s gonna be here sometimes next year which deals with things a little more in depths. I want the music a better place, something better for the world.
What’s the title of your book?
I don’t have a title yet! (laugh). The title hasn’t been figured out but I work on that. You guys will know what when I know what it is.
What’s your favorite album that you produced?
I really don’t have one. I can’t. I’m just really attached to all these records that I have done and I ‘m really proud of the work that I did with them. Untouchables is vey higher on the list but I also love the sound of other American albums I did, the Manson record…the all records I did. I think there are so many good records that I was part of. It’s hard for me to choose one of them.
We have a Facebook page for Korn fans and we said that we have the honor to interview you! There were so many questions and comments on it. Take a look if you speak French. Go to Korn France page on Facebook! We asked people if they had questions. For instance, someone asked why there are no bagpipes on Untouchables?
Thank you very much! Well, it’s not something that he wanted to do. He could find a place, but the song just didn’t seem to. I think at one point he was talking about doing something about in between with the songs. But it just did not happen.
What does it mean to you to produce one of the most amazing rock album of the rock scene?
Oh that’s a question! That’s a good question! I don’t think there’s more rewarding feeling that knowing that you’ve done something like that. Not only satisfying other people and make them feel, and really brought something wonderful into their lives but also made me feel creatively fulfill in every possible way. It was just an amazing experience from start to finish, a lot of effort went into it. It is one those things that remind me that I did not waste my time, doing the right thing to do, it was a good decision to work with those guys. I can’t imagine anything that could possibly be more fulfilling and satisfying in that.
Thank you very much Michael for your time. We really appreciate from the deep of our hearts.
Thank you. That’s wonderful! I’m so glad.
The last question is a funny one: one fan is asking if you wear pants or boxers?
(laugh) You can say it depends on the day! Please say this!
Thank you very very Michael!!
My pleasure! Have a good evening!