Source: Huffington Post
A Conversation with Korn’s Jonathan Davis
Mike Ragogna: So how are you loving the latest tour?
Jonathan Davis: Oh, dude, I love it. It’s been amazing, we’re recording in Australia right now on the big festival Soundwave and we’re doing some side shows with Rob Zombie which have been fun. We’re having a blast, it’s been amazing.
MR: Rob Zombie is pretty smart guy, nice.
JD: That’s awesome. I went and saw Devil’s Rejects tonight on the big screen and he did a Q&A, it was awesome.
MR: You guys are pretty smart as well.
JD: Well, I don’t know if I would call it “smart,” but we threw some s**t out there and a lot of people want to talk to me now.
MR: Well let’s look at that. You have a video out of one of your songs from your latest album, The Paradigm Shift, called “Spike In My Veins.” My interpretation of that video is that there are a lot of issues out there that the government is involved in and they are purposeful distractions like Justin Bieber or other celebrities that are being used. How far off am I?
JD: No, you nailed it right on the head.
MR: Okay, regardless of whoever is doing it, it seems to me that that’s been used in the culture forever. “Hey you, look over here at this shiny object!” This time, it’s with celebrities, although these artists have been particularly “shiny” lately.
JD: Yeah, I don’t understand why people are so obsessed with artists. I’m not going to say that Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus aren’t being what artists are because I’ve never met an artist in my life that was sane; it’s just how it goes. I’m crazy. Artists aren’t normally sane people, so of course, they’re going to be doing this stuff. I never thought it was those people’s fault. I feel like maybe the government takes advantage of that because maybe people want to live through them vicariously and that’s why they’re so interested in them. But I think it’s just a cool opportunity–it’s happened for years and years and years–the government can take that opportunity to distract so the NSA can spy on everybody. Every time you buy something online, every time you talk on your phone or do anything, there’s data collecting. I thought we were living in the United States of America where you’re not supposed to do that. I think people are getting kind of pissed off and fed up. By doing this video, I think it struck a chord with some people.
MR: But might it also be true there’s capitalization of artists’ craziness going on by the media? As Paul Simon said in “Have A Good Time,” “They’re just out to capture my dime.”
JD: Yeah, that’s probably right. I mean, any way you look at it, it’s f**ked. I’m going to be honest about it. I’m not going to try to come up with some quote, I think it’s just f**ked, period. Everything.
MR: A lot of people would agree. Things have spiraled out to the point where it’s very hard to see what reality is. You pointed that out in your video, or at least that could be another interpretation. It’s hard to see what reality is when you’re being bombarded by all of these distractions.
JD: Yeah. Over the years with the internet and everything, we’re so inundated with information all the time people have the attention span of a f**king gnat. “What’s next, what’s next, what’s next?” You can also use that to your advantage. All these texts they put out, people can look at them and be totally disgusted.
MR: Some people have said, “If you want something not done right, then let the government do it.” No considering that, do you think the US government is competent enough to do anything with the data they’ve collected? How do they even know where to begin?
JD: Where do you begin? There are people out there, groups like Anonymous. I go on all of these sites where people are calling for revolution; it’s pretty scary what’s going on in the world. I don’t know how many countries are having revolutions right now, it just seems like it’s in the air.
MR: Or a turning around of oppression and injustice. What about that?
JD: Yeah. People are just fed up with being lied to by the governments. We just want them to be straight with us. Everybody’s broke and on unemployment, people are pissed.
MR: Is there anything that’s happening right now that seems to be a glimmer of hope? Are suggestions like raising the minimum wage or the rolling out of the Affordable Care Act also shiny objects for distraction?
JD: Maybe? I know what you’re saying. They could be. Ultimately, what’s happening? Honestly, I just wish it was the way it used to be when I was a kid, man. Things have changed so damn much and it’s f**king scary. But I have three boys, three little kids, and they’re going to have to inherit all of this bulls**t. That just scares me.
MR: I have a son, it scares me too what he’s going to inherit.
JD: That’s my motivation. I’m not super-pumped. I just don’t like what’s going on right now.
MR: Jonathan, what about the new album? Are you happy that it is such a successful release?
JD: Yeah, man, we’ve been working hard. We’ve been on tour for twenty years; I think the longest we’ve had off is ten months. You have peaks and valleys and it’s nice to see people coming out to our shows because we have fun.
MR: What do you think it was about this album that resonated so well with people?
JD: One of the things is that we got Head back in the band. He’s one of the original members, it’s our first album with him back. We’ve been always trying to come up with new styles of music and do records different every time, we get really bored when we do the same thing over and over again. So I think it’s having Head back and also taking everything we’ve learned over the years of Head being gone. We’re really proud of this record; it’s so experimental and different, we’re taking electronics and heavy metal music and mixing them together.
MR: With this album, do you think Korn has become Korn 2.0?
JD: Oh yeah, Brian coming back revitalized the band. this record was the most fun I’ve ever had making a record and I think it just shows, everybody was so happy and we were so pumped and making it was such a great experience that when it came out people just loved it.
MR: Other than “Spike In My Veins,” are there a couple other songs on this project that you would want a listener to rush to to hear how great this record is?
JD: All the songs are all different. One of my favorite songs on there is called “Victimized.” It’s kind of a jam, and it’s half-electronic, half-rock band, and I love it.
MR: Was the writing process different than other projects?
JD: When we did the record, the band got together in August of last year and started writing and I didn’t get into the studio until February I believe. I had to go to rehab and detox off of Xanax. I have really bad panic attacks, so I was getting detoxed from Xanax because my doctor said, “This stuff is horrible for you, we’ve got to take you off of it.” It took about a year for me to really detox off of that and to be coherent again. When I was writing the record and doing the vocals, I was seriously one foot in the alley, one out. I just flew around trying to make my brain heal itself from the damage it did to itself with those drugs. It made it pretty special for me. I actually moved into the studio and had my two boys, PIrate and Zeppy, living with me. My boys were my inspiration the whole time, going in there and singing and watching me in the studio, because that studio was my father’s and before that, it was Buck Owens’ studio. I remember being a little kid and going in that studio and watching Buck and watching my dad, so it was a treat to have my own children in there watching me. It was a pretty cool experience.
MR: That is really cool. Korn has been around long enough to have a double-disc Essential release. That’s just shy of a box set. What do you think about that?
JD: Dude, this whole thing has been a trip to me. We’re the luckiest band on the planet. We’re just five guys from Bakersville, California. We go from that to the success we’ve had over the twenty years from our first release. It’s just pretty surreal, man. I still can’t believe it.
MR: And I imagine you’re a little more nostalgic these days because Brian is back.
JD: Yeah, yeah, definitely. This time around, it’s nice being on tour because we’ve all grown up more and all the partying and craziness from when we were kids has stopped. It’s actually more fun now than it was then.
MR: Congratulations. The group has had an amazing career to this point. When you look back at songs like “Did My Time” and “Evolution,” what would you say is the legacy of Korn?
JD: [laughs] I don’t know, bro. That’s a hard question.
MR: What would you like your legacy to be? If someone says, “Korn meant this…”
JD: I think it meant a lot. I think Korn means hope for a lot of people who’ve been picked on for anything in our lives. Every day a fan says, “Jonathan, you saved my life with your music” or “Your lyrics did this or that.” That’s the legacy that I want to be remembered by–helping all these kids that didn’t have anywhere to turn but turn the radio on or turn a CD on and that music helped them in some way. More and more, now that we’ve gotten older and the fans have gotten older and are bringing their kids, it seems to ring universally. This music helps them vent whatever frustrations they have inside and they actually feel better from it. I’d like to be remembered for that. It’s the only reason I’m still doing this s**t. I’m getting old. I’m not going to stop because it’s so f**king cool to see these people so touched by some art that we made together, you know what I mean?
MR: It’s true, you’ve affected many. So what advice do you have for new artists?
JD: For new artists? Hustle your ass off. When we were trying to get signed we had a sound that nobody knew what the f**k to do with and was scared of. All we did was hustle and hustle, playing shows, putting our money together to order sticker paper; we slapped Korn stickers all up and down California. Marketing yourself. We didn’t have internet back then. If you really believe in your project and you feel it’s good and you know in your heart it’s good, go out and take advantage of all the things that are out there and just push and don’t give up until you achieve your goal.
MR: Beautiful. One last question, President Obama and the US government feature heavily in the music video of “Spike In The Veins.” If you had one thing to say to them, what would it be?
JD: What would I tell them? What could you tell them? What could I really tell him to change things? Do I really think it’s him? I think he was handed a big giant s**t sandwich from the president before. He started all that stuff. Do you really think it’s him or is there someone behind that? I’m not going to go into one of the crazy-ass conspiracy theories, but I don’t think there’s anything I could f**king say to that guy that could change anything.
JD: I’m being honest. He’d look at me and go, “Okay, okay,” and nothing would happen.
MR: Okay, then what do you think the people should be doing right now?
JD: I think they should be pissed and demand that the government stop spying on them and gathering all this data. It’s all we can do. I mean this in a peaceful way, I’m not saying go out and start crazy s**t, but I think if enough people are outraged by it, then I think the president will start listening. I got an email from my friend today that says the Al-Qaeda are trying to shut down the NSA spying program. I know it’s bulls**t, but at least he said it. All those motherf**kers on Capitol Hill have got to go. We need to let new ones in and maybe it will be all right again. But everybody’s feeding all of them their agendas, how do you know if you’re being represented? It sucks. That’s why the whole thing needs to change.
Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne