A Conversation with Jonathan Davis and Munky of Korn

This is the original transcript of the interview, only minor editing has been applied for readability. This has been the basis for articles but has never been published in the original form.
Wortraub: I was wondering why there is such a rush with the album? They just informed the press about a week ago and the album is already coming out in a couple of weeks.
Jonathan:
No rush really.
Munky: Yeah, we knew about the album release for two months now.
Jonathan: I think they do this, so that we can get a lot of press done, while we are here touring and that way we don’t have to come back and do another press tour. We are in Europe till the end of July and that way it all gets done by then.

Wortraub: When have you been in studio for this album then?
Jonathan:
Right after the last Family Values tour. October. But we did not know any release date then. We did not know how long it would take.
Wortraub: So, when did you finish this album?
Jonathan: Yesterday!
Munky: No, we finished about a week ago. With the mixes and everything.
Jonathan: At first the release was supposed to be July 17th but we pushed it to July 31st now. All of that shit is just the record label scrambling shit. We got our stuff together and had the album done for a while.

Wortraub: I only heard like two songs because they are really tight on security with this album, so I will have to wing this interview …
Jonathan:
Sure man, just wing it …

Wortraub: So, who produced the album then?
Jonathan:
Atticus Ross, who did some Nine Inch Nails stuff and has his own band called 12 Rounds. Atticus is the keyboard player of that band and his wife Claudia is the singer. I think they have like two records out, and he has another one out with his brother.

Wortraub: How did you come by him?
Jonathan:
Actually, he did some remix for us, I think. And some guy from our live band was friends with him …
Munky: … oh, was that how you knew him?
Jonathan: Yeah, he hooked us up. Said we should do some shit together. So he came and worked together and it turned out great. First couple of days were fucking chaotic, I did not know if it was going to work. He brought some New Order like beat type shit for us. I thought fuck that. But it worked out.

Wortraub: I had the feeling that the new songs sounded somewhat more electronic than before. Are you going experimental?
Jonathan:
Yeah, we actually have a keyboard player with us now. Our touring keyboard player Zack came in the studio with us. He is all over this album. It is still rocking. It is still what Korn is about but it is different. Completely different sound of the band.

Wortraub: Is that producer influenced or did you guys want to go in that direction?
Jonathan:
We change our sound everytime we do another record. We don’t want to sound the same every time.

Wortraub: But you did have keyboards before, it is not a completely new sound …
Munky:
… yeah, but those were added after the fact. We really did not write anything with keyboards in it. Like from the beginning, in the process. But now, some of these songs begin with a keyboard player. We tried different and new approaches to writing.
Wortraub: How well do you think it came out? Is it a one time thing or something you will pick up on the next record as well?
Jonathan: I don’t know. It will probably evolve into something else.
Munky: But it is definitely a step forward in the evolution of Korn …

Wortraub: Which is the title of the new single as well … but you are not talking about musical evolution there, are you?
Jonathan:
I am talking about thinking that human beings are monkeys and haven’t evolved in at least a thousand years. We are still the same fucking animals.

Wortraub: So, are we going to be extinct?
Jonathan:
Yeah, if we keep up what we are doing. If we were evolved since the time of monkeys. There would not be any wars, trying to find out who had the bigger dicks. There would not be fighting. There would be no money spend on making weapons of mass destruction. There would be more money spend on finding on curing cancer and feeding people. There would be compassion and we would care about each other. We need to be less animalistic. The fighting and all the other bullshit that is animalistic.

Wortraub: Is that a matter of evolution or just enlightenment?
Jonathan:
Enlightenment is also evolution. It is all evolution of mind and body and everything. You need the brain, man. Grow up. Let’s not destroy our planet. Let’s not use up all its natural resources. Not fight. Let’s help each other out. Not worry about oil and wars and what religion is better than the other religion. It is all so stupid.

Wortraub: So do you think that there is a chance of us evolving or is it never going to happen?
Jonathan:
There is tons of people there that are trying to make a difference. There is tons of people that have the right idea. It is just that the people in power ignore it. There is never any kind of person with a sane mind allowed that kind of power. It is humans being humans. If I was to become president or you to become chancellor, everything would change and you would suddenly have all this power. Then, the animal inside you would take over. You would think, I don’t like this person so I will push him around. You get powerhungry. That is just the way we are wired.

Wortraub: So, Bush was kind of ok before he got into office?
Jonathan:
No, he was fucked up from the beginning. He is a dumb ass, a puppet of his dad.

Wortraub: The elections are coming up … would you rather say that the Americans are up for a black man or a woman as president?
Jonathan:
I want Obama.
Munky: I like him too.
Jonathan: If that is what I think is going to happen? No!
Munky: I don’t either. But Hillary doesn’t stand a chance either.
Wortraub: So, neither one? It still has to be a white male?
Munky: Yup!
Jonathan: Man, we are fucked up. We are rednecks im America. There are too many man, that would never accept a woman president. I don’t think they are ready for it. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like Hillary either.
Wortraub: Maybe, it is that she is a male in disguise?
Jonathan: She is a fucking lesbian. A bull-dyke.
Munky: I know why Clinton had to get his fucking dick sucked.
Jonathan: I don’t know, but I don’t like her fucking views on shit. And I am a pro-gun guy too. I love my guns. My freedom in the states. And they are trying to take that away.

Wortraub: But that is so animalisti, right? Why would you need guns, if the brain is evolving?
Jonathan:
‚Cause I like shooting. For Fun. I go hunting once in while. I hunt pigs. Wild boar. It is not like shooting any poor innocent deers, fucking kiddie stuff. Hunting pigs is fucking dangerous.
Wortraub: But you do have a gun, that is kind of an advantage for you …
Jonathan: … bullshit, they got big ass fucking tusks and will rip you in half.
Wortraub: They got to get close to do that though…
Jonathan: Yeah, but you got to get close to shoot the fucker … It gets your blood pumping.
Wortraub: That is animalistic though, hunting …
Jonathan: That is how I am though, I am animalistic.
Wortraub: Yeah ok, but if you propagate evolution wouldn’t it be more consequential to be a vegetarian though?
Jonathan: Dude, I need meat man. I do, really.
Wortraub: Yeah, club sandwich, I can see that …
Jonathan: I cannot be that hippy. I am down with that, I was vegetarian for a year and I almost fucking passed out. It is cool, but I can’t do it. But when I go hunting I use the meat. I went hunting on a huge water melon farm and I gave the pig to this poor black family and they live from it for a month. So I don’t just do it to kill things. When I go shooting on my own, I shoot long range ñ two miles out with the target. … In America there is this big anti-gun movement but … they did a special on 20/20 about citizens having guns and there is actually a place in the midwest, where by law they have to have a gun in the house…
Munky: Really, what for?
Jonathan: … and the crime rate plummeted. I mean, it is a necessary evil. If there weren’t any guns, then there would be something else. Billy clubs and we would be bashing our bones with it. Still the same shit. Now that the people were carrying guns, the crime rate plummeted. Nothing anymore. Washington D.C. they banned guns and have one of the highest crime rates in the world.
Wortraub: Does that say anything though? Thinking of Europe, we should have a huge crime rate because we don’t have any guns around …
Jonathan: That is probably because America is a little bit crazier.
Wortraub: Ok, but what is wrong with American society then …
Jonathan: The system.

Wortraub: Ok, let’s try a different topic … what is the rest of the album about, ‚I will protect you‘, for example?
Jonathan:
That song is about talking to my son, explaining to him that one day he is going to die, I am going to die. It would mean everything to me to protect you. But at the end it is impossible. At one point I can’t anymore. It is about explaining death to your child. It is hard, pretty fucking intense. That one is about death. ‚Starting Over‘ is about sickness. I was in Europe and got really sick, this blood disorder. I thought I was going to die, laying in the hospital. So in a way that song is also about death but getting through. There are a couple of songs about Head.
Wortraub: Head?
Munky: Our guitar player, man. Not about blow-jobs.
Wortraub: I am sorry, I did not get that acoustically …
Munky: Yeah, right …
Jonathan: You Germans are dirty fuckers. No, really. There is one about his book coming out and one about him always being on our asses ever since he left the band. He tells people that we are bad and satanic. I never really got to get it out on the last record, there is only like one song on it. This time I wanted to get the rest out and be done with it. Two more songs about that.

Wortraub: So, you are drawing a line after this record?
Jonathan:
Yeah. I was shocked man, he was our brother. The reason to be who he is and what he is doing and to able to help people is because of the four of us. And all he does is attack us. That really bugged me. If you want to leave the band, then leave the band, man, that is fine. You got to deal with your daughter, you got a drug problem, fine. But don’t attack us.

Wortraub: Is that a way to get attention?
Jonathan:
Yeah, he needed to get attention but still I don’t do that to the guys that gave me everything I got. If we had a fall-out in the band, you know, I would not go about attacking everybody else. We spend thirteen years together, living in busses. There is a certain bond there. We might get on each others nerves sometimes, but it is like a relationship.Like a marriage. When it comes down to it though, I would have taken a bullet for this guy. We are brothers.
Munky: You have to draw a line. You got to think about, who you talk with. My wife and I, we don’t get along, but I don’t write a book about how much I hate her.
Wortraub: Unless you wanted to get a lot of money out of it …
Munky: Yeah, I know. There are reasons why people do that kind of thing. There just has go to be some line.
Jonathan: It is so fucking hippocritical. He is supposed to be a born again Christian and shit. Talking all that bullshit about us. But he is even worse.
Munky: I don’t believe it for a minute. I never did. That he is a true believer. I don’t even understand what the fuck that is supposed to mean.

Wortraub: Is that maybe along the lines of recent discussion in the US about rock being evil?
Jonathan:
Yeah, that has been happening a lot with the Family Values tour and we were attacked before. Those fucks don’t even know what the music is about. There is nothing evil about it, it is just entertainment.
Munky: Maybe also it is about his record. Head has a new record coming out and needs a way to promote it. It is a good promotional tool. The record ain’t that good, so needs something to talk about.
Wortraub: But doing two songs about it is promoting it as well, isn’t it?
Jonathan: I don’t care. I got it out of my system.

Wortraub: So, the record is balanced between personal and political?
Jonathan:
No, there are no political songs on the record. We try to stay away from that. We have never been a political band. It is more about things that affect us directly. It is a more personal record. We are not going to jump the ’no war‘-bandwaggon or any of that bullshit. Everybody else is doing it, so I don’t wanna do it. The best political album so far is Green Day’s ‚American Idiot‘. Leave it at that. It is amazing. It sums everything up perfectly. I am not going to fuck with that. No one should fuck with that. People that don’t know any political shit should not try to be political. That is why I am so glad that we got Rage Against the Machine back. Tom knows his shit. Leave it to the political bands, that’s why there is stuff like System of a Down. All those bands.

Wortraub: So what is it for you then? Entertainment?
Jonathan:
Yeah, entertainment.
Munky: Art!
Wortraub: But that is a difference, right? How do you keep the balance?
Jonathan: It is the same thing to us.
Munky: I don’t know man. When we are in the studio it is art and when we take it on the road it is entertainment.
Wortraub: No decision of ‚either or‘? No interferance? Like taking the electronics in there?
Munky: No, that is usually a matter of personal taste. What you want to paint on the canvas. That is just our taste.
Jonathan: Yeah, we do the record we want to do, as artists. And the minute we go out on the road, we try to make it as entertaining as possible.
Wortraub: But there are no electronic beats on the album? No New Order beats?
Jonathan: Just on one song, the rest is real drums. But it is an art decision, we wanted Korn to sound that way.

Wortraub: Ok, so you just decided that Korn is a rock band and that that is the art you do?
Jonathan:
We don’t even decide that. We don’t have the notion that Korn is any type of band. I think the best description of Korn up to now, is that we are not afraid to change, we are not afraid to put some electronic, techno-sounding shit in there. If it is fucking good and we like it. We even did ‚unplugged‘ for fuck’s sake. We don’t give a fuck. We took the challenge to play heavy ass songs acoustic and let’s see what happens. It is all about the experiment. It is about keeping an open mind. It came out beautifully. We have been playing some really heavy songs and just found out that they are really beautiful and light. We even did that live on Family Values with one song. It is not for us all the time. It was a project and it was fun to do but people don’t come to see Korn for that. It is good to have that in our body of work but it’s time to move on. We played in the big arenas. We had a little plattform out in the crowd and played it there. It was a moment.
Munky: Yeah, it was good to get in touch with the fans. To be out their with them.
Jonathan: It was for our fans.

Wortraub: To get in touch with the fans … last time I saw you, you had a really tight security. Is that necessary?
Jonathan:
Yeah it is. You never know what someone is up to. You don’t take that chance. You just never know. We’ve had knifes chucked at us. You look back and there is a buck-knife stuck to the back of your cabinet. You just can never be too careful. We have fans run up, getting so fucking excited, they run up and pummel me. I’ve had a split lip once. All kinds of shit.
Wortraub: But that makes it hard to be intimate with the fans though, doesn’t it?
Jonathan: We are close, we just don’t want them on fucking stage with us, hurting us. We had people get on stage and act crazy. We got our guitars taken away. I got suckerpunched in the jaw, someone tried to get my mike from me. We are getting bigger and the fans are getting crazier. It is both. So we made that decision, that we don’t want anyone up with us. You have no idea, what people got. It can be crazy. I even got a couple of crazy stalkers. Some fucking insane myspacers.
Wortraub: What are they like?
Jonathan: I have never met them but I am their best friend in the world. This and that. Some of the most psychotic shit you ever read in your life. They sometimes reply, even though I did not reply, they got my answers in there, like I wrote them. I know you like this, and that … they make up things. They message me constantly, like fifteen messages a day. Whole conversations with themselves. One day I might do a song about it. It is fucking sick. But ‚Stan‘ by Eminem is so perfect. He hit it right home. Probably can’t do it any better.
Wortraub: What has been the craziest thing that has been done in your name?
Munky: Probably something really scary we don’t know about.
Jonathan: Yeah, I am sure there are things. But I don’t want to know. I mean if someone is moved to do something crazy by listening to a song … that is not right, that is not the music doing it. You must be fucked up in the head to begin with. There is millions of people not doing it. There would be millions on a rampage, killing each other, if it were that way. It is ridiculous.

Wortraub: What would your world look like then? Your utopia?
Jonathan:
In my world, we would take care of each other. I would get rid of all the victimless crimes. Like taking drugs. If you want to take drugs and hurt yourself with it, then do drugs. That is your thing. We can help you, but you don’t need to go to jail. What is jail going to do? Fuck you up even more. Put you in the system and make it worse? My world would be a society that would help each other, it would be about good stuff, like good food. Not mass produced fucking antibiotics and steroids in our system. All this shit to cut corners to make a buck would not be there. I think money is a problem, but it is necessary right now. In a perfect world maybe we won’t need it. It would be great but I don’t see it happening. I just wish that everybody took the time and cared more for each other. I think the first thing I would do is cut out all religion. All of it, wiped out. It is the source of our problems. Spirituality is ok, but organized churches must go. The bible, all that stuff, that is a way of controlling people. What is the source of all that fighting. It is religion. You could stop all that. The middle east is all about Islam and Judaism and Christianity. I would stop all that. If that was gone, things would start getting better. No more right and wrong. Spirituality is good, that supreme being kind of thing but it’s got to be personal not organized. Not fucking Jerry Farwell.
Wortraub: Well, that is a very US thing …
Jonathan: Yeah, you laugh at us about it, I even laugh at us … we have all that penned up Christian thinking in the States. A woman pops out her titty at the superbowl and the whole fucking country shuts down. And it wasn’t even the whole tit, she had her nipple covered.
Munky: I have seen this sick documentary, called ‚Jesus Camp‘. You want to get mad at something, this is the real shit. You got to see this. ‚Jesus Camp‘. It is about these children going to a summer camp, teaching Christianity. This lady reads to them, trying to teach them Evangelism. There is this fucking kid, you feel so sorry for. He just sits there, crying all the time. They ask him what is wrong. And this kid is like six or seven years old. He goes: ‚You ever feel like you can’t feel the Lord? I can’t feel him all the time.‘ And all the other kids are looking at the minister. And she is really shocked, doesn’t comfort him. The other kids are singing church songs, he just sits there crying. He doesn’t get it.
Jonathan: That is so not God. He is not in a camp and if you don’t feel it then you are going to hell. It is horrible. If I was Jesus, I would whip those motherfucking assholes. That is what my tattoos are about, Jesus whipping some priests. All kinds of stuff.

Wortraub: Well, we could talk on for hours about this. Unfortunately our time is up, so thanks a lot for the interview.