Jonathan Davis: ”Star Trek’ Inspired Me To Play Bagpipes’
In early August - a few weeks before the tragic death of Devin Davis -- Korn frontman Jonathan Davis sat down with Ryan J. Downey for an interview in front of an audience at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. Here are some excerpts from the Q&A. Watch the full version here.
Even though his solo album, Black Labyrinth, is just a few months old, he's already thinking about the followup. "I’ve got so much material, man," he says. "So many different kinds of projects I wanna do, different genres too, not just like the stuff I did on this record. I’ve got pop stuff, I’ve got country stuff, I’ve got all kinds of music. I just like writing music. I do have a lot of stuff that I wanna do." (It's worth noting that most of the material for the album was written about a decade ago.)
The difference between writing for Korn and his solo projects: one string. "The only thing that’s different is for Korn [is] I grab a seven-string guitar, and for me I grab a six-string guitar. I wish I had something cooler to say, but that’s really all it is. I’ve done stuff on six-string, songs that turned into Korn songs that we transposed them down into [the key of] A and it works.
He wants Korn to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some artists are a bit to cool to care about the Rock Hall -- and some are too cool to admit that they care. Not Davis. "I’m not one of those artists that’s gonna fucking lie to you and say that’s fucking cool as fuck to get in there. When you get a Grammy or you get any kind of fucking award, it is cool, to me, to be recognized for something like that. I know there’s other bands, way more bands that deserve to be in there than us right now that haven’t been in there yet. But shit, if it happens, I’m gonna be stoked. I’ll be partying like a motherfucker. When you get an award, it’s fucking dope. It really is. It’s cool.
His son is an aspiring rapper. Upon mentioning that, an audience member asked how he felt about it. "I think it’s fucking awesome. I’m gonna let him do his shit. And his big brother’s writing the tracks for him. It’s really fucking cool. Downey pointed out, "You’re one of the few dads in the world who can say, 'Oh, you wanna be a rapper? I did a song with Ice Cube.'"
He compared a Korn album to an album by '70s yacht rock act, Steely Dan. This came in respone to an audience member who asked him what his favorite Korn album is. "My favorite Korn album is Untouchables, hands down. It took fucking damn near a month to just put mics on the drum kit. Everything was done with Michael Beinhorn. He’s a good friend of mine, I love him. But he takes forever, and he hears shit that is just not fucking there. But the end product was amazing, and I wish people could hear--when we mixed it, we put it on this Super Audio Sony format, and that even is more intense. I just hung out with Beinhorn, and he sent me the board mixes back when we did vocals at the Village, and they’re so much thicker and heavier. Something just happens when it gets converted into all this shit. But that record is gonna always be my favorite. Check it out. I call it the heavy metal Aja... Steely Dan Aja. That record is the heavy metal Aja, just sonically."
Star Trek inspired him to learn to play the bagpipes. He discussed this in response to an audience question about whether or not he'd use bagpipes on his solo material. "I like them, but I don’t wanna milk the motherfuckers to death. I don’t wanna do it on every record, and that becomes some cheesy shit. I’ve only used them in two or three songs in Korn’s history. It depends if the song, if I’m feeling like there’s a spot where I could use it, yeah... But the bagpipe thing, that came from my grandmother. I remember my earliest memories of her, and me being a small child, her playing records of pipe bands. You’re making me such a fucking nerd right now. The real reason I wanted to play bagpipes was that in Star Trek [1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan] when Spock died, and that motherfucker [Mr. Scott] played “Amazing Grace”... Everybody tears up, and I’m like, “I gotta play bagpipes.” And then I was going to a high school that had a pipe band, so there you go. That’s some really fucked up shit, but it’s true.
He's a huge fan of '80s music, including Duran Duran. He noted that he bought a studio console from Swanyard Studio in London, because it was used to record a number of '80s hits. Davis and Downey discussed Duran Duran a bit, and Davis said he was a fan of one of their side projects which featured DD's singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and drummer Roger Taylor. "Arcadia was dope. I loved 'Election Day.' That was a dope-ass tune. Another band that I really, really got into was called Sigue Sigue Sputnik."
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