By Desiree Heiser
Korn is by far one of the best well known hard rock bands of the 90s to present day. Jonathan Davis has stated that “The kids out there want something they can relate to, something that’s real; most of that whiny stuff isn’t real. The cheesy pop songs just bore me to death.” This style is what makes Korn’s musicality so unique.
The band members from Korn originated in Bakersfield, California and started their journey as a hard rock band in 1993. Three of the main members were from another band called L.A.P.D and the names of these guys were James “Munky” Shaffer who was the bands rhythm guitarist, Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu the band's bass guitarist, Brian “Head” Welch who was the lead guitarist and backing vocals and Jonathan Davis who was the lead vocalist and played bagpipes. Ray Luzier became the band’s permanent drummer in 2007 after the original drummer David Silveria left the band to pursue his solo career.
Korn’s first demo tape ‘Neidermayer’s Mind’ was distributed free to record companies in 1993 and to members of the public. Their debut album “Korn” was released in 1994. One of the most memorable songs on that album is entitled “Daddy”. Jonathan Davis wrote this song about his babysitter that raped him. He told his parents and they didn’t believe him. At the end of the track he was so overcome with emotions that he ended up crying and the producer of the album kept the track rolling. His fellow band members were concerned about him and you can hear one of them ask him on the track “Jonathan, are you ok?” What? Once Davis came out of the recording booth all of the band members were crying with him and they all hugged each other. Davis stated “it was a crazy experience.”
This is a photo of Jonathan Davis
This album’s theme was of child abuse, drug abuse and bullying. ‘Jonathan Davis was bullied in high school for wearing heavy eyeliner and listening to new wave music. They called him homophobic names and another song on their debut album “Faget” was inspired by these instances. Even teachers sent him to the counsellors office for wearing eyeliner’. This excerpt was taken from Iheartradio.com
This debut album has sold more than 2.1 million copies in the US and 10 million copies worldwide. This album started the nu metal genre. Nu metal is a subgenre of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal, hip hop, funk, alternative rock, industrial and grunge. In 2018 Loudwire named this album the greatest nu metal album of all time. Jonathan Davis has stated that this is his favorite Korn album. Rolling Stones in 2017 listed this album as number 30 on the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.
Life Is Peachy is their second album to be released. This album was more criticized than their first album. Some critics stated that they felt like this album was more rushed. Despite all of this, the album was nominated for a second Grammy nomination in Best Metal Performance category in 1998. This album sold more than 106,000 copies in the first week that it was released. Released on October 15, 1996, Life Is Peachy was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on January 8, 1997. On December of 1997 the album went certified platinum by the RIAA. On November 10, 1999, the album was certified platinum 2x by RIAA.
The album that I remember the best was “Follow The Leader” which was Korn’s third studio album. This album the band members admitted to doing drugs, drinking alcohol and having women in the studio while recording one of their hit songs “It’s On”. This album was better received by the critics than their previous one had.
“Follow The Leader” peaked at number one on four charts including the Billboard 200. The album peaked at number five on the UK charts. The album received five times platinum in the US and triple platinum in Australia and Canada. The album also received a gold platinum in the Netherlands. The two most popular songs on the album were “Freak On A Leash” and “Got The Life”. “Freak On A Leash” was nominated for nine MTV Music Awards and won for Best Rock Video and for Best Editing. All of the songs on the album were written by Korn except for one. “Earache My Eye” was written by Tommy Chong, Gaye Delorme and Richard Martin. ‘These guest appearances feature an extra winning feature by the guest.’
Their fourth album “Issues” had mixed reviews when it was first released. The first six days that it was released it sold almost 575,000 copies and went to number one on the Billboard 200. One month after the album was released it went to 3x certified platinum by the RIAA. This album sold over 3,000,000 copies in the US!
Korn’s fifth studio album was “Untouchables”. They wrote the lyrics in Scottsdale, Arizona in the hopes to help ease the tensions that were mounting between some of their band members. They hoped that the change of scenery would help their creativity.
“Untouchables” debuted at number two in the Billboard 200 with approximately 434,000 copies sold within the first week and making it second only to Eminem’s “The Eminem Show”. “Untouchables” was certified platinum by mid 2002 and sold about 1.4 million copies in the US.
‘Thoughtless’ one of the albums more popular songs was about the shootings at Columbine High School Shootings through the eyes of the murderers. ‘Jonathan Davis, the vocalist of Korn said that “Thoughtless” is about people that are constantly ridiculed and the collateral damage it can cause.’ This album didn’t sell as much as Davis had hoped and he blamed it on internet piracy. This album is one of my favorites that Korn has produced.
Korn released its greatest hits in late 2004. It featured songs spanning from 1994-2003. In early 2005 Brian Welch announced that he would depart from the band. He stated that it was because of the drugs he was using and even though he tried to stop the habit by checking into rehab and that didn’t work for him so he turned to Christianity. He became a Christian and wrote two autobiographies, a solo album and formed a band Love and Death which released a debut album in 2013.
Korn released its seventh studio album “See You on the Other Side”. It was their first album as a quartet since their guitarist Brian Welch left the band and the last album that their drummer David Silveria (who would leave the band in late 2006) would be featured in. This album reached certified gold in January 2006 and a platinum record would be given in March of 2006. “Twisted Transistor” was their lead single on that album. The album went on to sell over 1,000,000 copies in the US.
Korn had an untitled studio album that came out next. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 list and sold over 100,000 copies within the first week. This album was certified gold by RIAA. Since David Silveria went on a hiatus, the band was able to get Slipknot’s drummer Joey Jordison to fill in until they were able to get a new drummer. Ray Luzier was the guest drummer that replaced Silveria. Korn made a cover song from the Nightmare Before Christmas called “Kidnap The Sandy Claws” which originally was performed by Paul Reubens, Catherine O’Hara and Danny Elfman. This song would later be added onto the soundtrack “Nightmare Revisited”.
Korn took about a ten month hiatus so that they could regroup and be allowed to focus on solo projects. They then came back and made a ninth studio album which featured Ray Luzier as their new drummer that replaced David Silveria. This was the first time that Ray Luzier was added to their studio album. This album Jonathan Davis said that this album was the band’s biggest mistake. The album sold over 60,000 copies in the first week and landed number two on the Billboard 200.
They had a tenth studio album which featured a collaboration with Skrillex who is a famous dubstep/electronica musician. The band wanted to change things up a bit. This album received varied views by critics. It debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 list and sold over 50,000 copies in the first week. This was Korn’s eleventh studio album to make it on the top ten Billboard list.
“The Paradigm Shift” is Korn’s eleventh studio album and it featured Brian Welch since their 2003 album. When the deluxe edition is purchased you get a bonus two tracks and a DVD that features the return of Brian Welch as one of Korn’s guitarists. This album sold over 40,000 its first week and it debuted at number eight on the Billboards 200 list. This was Korn’s twelfth studio album to make it within the top ten Billboard list.
“The Serenity Of Suffering” is Korn’s twelfth studio album to be released. It is said to be their most heavy music in a while and more vocally intense as well. This album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 50,000 copies in the US.
A picture of all of the band members.
Vocalist Jonathan Davis has been sober from drugs for about twenty years now and so has his fellow band members for a while. Just this past August Jonathan Davis lost his wife Devon Davis to an accidental overdose of barbiturates. She had been struggling with her addictions for years. They had two children together. Korn broke down crying on stage about a month after her death while performing her favorite song called 4U. The band had been performing a three show stint about the 20th anniversary of their album “Follow The Leader”. Davis gave Shaffer a hug after his emotional breakdown.
So why is Korn one of the best hard rock bands of all time? Well to me they were able to overcome their drug and alcohol addictions, were able to create amazing songs and they didn’t break up. As a matter of fact later this year they will be coming out with a new album and its greatly anticipated!