Korn’s Jonathan Davis On Nu-Metal: “The Last Big Movement Was Us”
25 years ago this year, Korn changed the game with their groundbreaking self-titled debut album. With its aggressive, swaggering mix of metal, hip-hop and industrial it heralded a whole new scene in heavy music – soon to be dubbed nu-metal.
Speaking exclusively to Kerrang!, Korn frontman Jonathan Davis looks back on the early days of the band and shares his thoughts on being pioneers of the last mainstream-tickling movement in metal.
“We were ultimately just outcasts,” remembers Jonathan. “Nobody knew what to fucking do with us in the early days; we were doing tours with No Doubt, Pennywise and KMFDM, but the metal community took us in. We had distorted guitars and were heavy, but no-one knew what to do with us.
“We didn’t fit in anywhere. Who’s this guy with a fuckin’ tracksuit playing bagpipes? It’s the weirdest fucking shit.”
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Bursting out of Bakersfield with a wholly unique sound, the denim and leather world of heavy metal wasn’t a perfect fit for Korn. But they were soon designated their own territory.
“It’s crazy. I used to hate being called this and that, I hated labels,” recalls Jonathan. “When we first started we were like, ‘We’re not a metal band, y’all’ then they’d go ‘Oh, then you’re nu-metal!’ Well fuck you!”
Over two decades later, however, Jonathan is much more comfortable with the dreaded ‘nu’ prefix.
“If we invented nu-metal then fuck yeah, cool,” he laughs. “It’s pretty cool to say we helped invent some kind of movement, that’s pretty insane. The last big movement was us. Other bands helped along the way, but we spearheaded that whole thing.”
Korn’s new album The Nothing is released on September 13 via Roadrunner Records. In the new issue of Kerrang! (in stores September 4 and available to order now) Jonathan discusses the darkness and pain that underpins their most personal record yet.
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