But don’t go thinking The Nothing is Korn’s Road To Damascus moment, taking them into some wishy-washy spiritual healing commune where they don white robes and practice hot yoga – this remains very much a classic Korn album. Experimentation has been at the band’s core since the beginning, embracing everything from bagpipes to dubstep throughout their career, and while every record sounds like them, no two albums sound alike.
“That’s the biggest thing for me,” says Jonathan on the topic of reinvention. “I always pound on my bandmates like, ‘Let’s not do the same thing that we do.’ It works for some bands. AC/DC are one of them – it’s the same song over and over again, but it’s fucking brilliant! For us, why would you play it safe? You want to take chances, you want to get better as an artist, you want to challenge yourself. Those are all things I like to do.”
Admitting that he’s often his own worst enemy when creating music, having to overcome issues of self-doubt, JD says he’s the primary force of Korn wanting to push the form and the sound into uncharted waters – citing The Nothing’s interludes as his album highlight, rather than a particular song.
“I just want to make good art so I don’t care,” he says with a smile. “That’s my mentality, but there are equalisers in the band. Some people want to do what people will like, but I want to push. There’s that dynamic where we come together and check each other and it comes out alright. It’s good.”
Recognising that Korn were “the last of the bands that labels spent money on,” it’s been their ability to adapt and transform that has ultimately led to their survival. From the band’s beginnings in the basements of Bakersfield through the booze-fuelled mayhem of the ‘90s, to the splitting of the ranks in the noughties, to the tragic events of last year, it’s enough to push any band to breaking point. But Jonathan can’t stop.
“I have to make music or I die,” he says with a stern expression. “That’s what we do. I don’t know what I would do, I love it that much. I just want to fuckin’ play music until I can’t anymore. It’s to make people feel like they’re not alone, to give hope. It’s a place you can purge your bad feelings. Music’s a universal language and it’s something everybody can relate to.”
It’s a curious crossroads Korn find themselves at today. Partly looking to the past as their debut record celebrates its 25th anniversary, but also to the future with their darkest ever record – and Jonathan’s favourite. They’re a band that mean so much to so many people across the world, being that outlet of anguish and aggression whenever it’s needed. But what does Jonathan Davis feel when he hears the word Korn?
“Honestly,” he pauses, slowly breathing in. “I laugh my fucking ass off that my band is named ‘Korn’” he bursts out, practically convulsing with laughter. “That’s the whole reason why we named it that, it was a ‘fuck you’. Your band name doesn’t have to be mysterious; we were being fucking stupid drunk kids. But we made it cool, so fuck it.”
And just like that, in three short words, Jonathan sums up the Korn doctrine that has lasted a quarter-century.