Korn returns to roots on new CD
Veterans of hard rock look to replicate sound from first 2 efforts
Friday, June 11, 2010
Don’t tell the guys in Korn you can’t go home again. As the title of the band’s next album — “Korn III: Remember Who You Are” — suggests, this project was all about getting back to the sound the band had when it started.
If you go
• What: Korn, in concert.
• When: 7:30 p.m. June 15.
• Where: Roseland Theater, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave., Portland.
• Cost: $39.50 through TicketsWest, 800-992-8499 or http://ticketswes...>
• Information: 503-224-2038 or http://roselandpdx.com
For “Korn III,” which is actually the group’s ninth studio CD, the group reunited with Ross Robinson, who produced the first two Korn albums, a self-titled 1994 release and the 1996 CD, “Life Is Peachy.”
“He definitely helped revive our passion for this, for what we do,” guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer said in a recent phone interview. “He helped us to remember who we are. That’s the title of the album.”
Then the group decided to go back to basics in recording “Korn III.”
“We were tucked away in a little iso (isolation) room, all five of us,” Shaffer said. “And it gets hot and sweaty in there. That’s how it used to be when we were renting rehearsal space when we were 20. We didn’t have money then to have a big studio.”
Although the band used a computer program for editing, it also went old school with recording, using two-inch tape and no click track.
“So with this record, it feels like it’s alive and breathing,” Shaffer said.
Korn’s music has evolved notably since the band made its first two albums. On the band’s third CD, 1998’s “Follow the Leader,” and especially the 1999 release, “Issues,” the group’s sound moved in more of a straight-forward melodic hard rock vein.
The musical direction paid big dividends. While “Korn” and “Life Is Peachy” were successful and put the band on the hard rock map, “Follow the Leader” and “Issues” broke through in a big way, each topping 3 million copies sold. This elevated Korn into the upper ranks of metal bands.
Subsequent albums have been quite varied musically. On the 2002 CD, “Untouchables,” Korn went experimental, blending in electronic beats and effects with its guitar-based sound. The 2003 CD, “Take a Look in the Mirror,” meanwhile, represented a step back toward the kind of dark, churning metal that was at the center of the band’s first two albums.
The more melodic, hard rock sound returned on the 2004 CD, “See You on the Other Side,” while the band’s 2007 self-titled release took the band in a darker, more serious musical direction.
The various musical shifts have been met with diminishing commercial returns, as sales of the four most recent albums have gradually fallen back to about 1 million copies each. Of course, some of that decline can be attributed to downloading. As a live act, Korn has remained a legitimate arena headliner all along.
Still with the varying musical flavors of the recent albums, it’s understandable that the members of Korn — Shaffer, singer Jonathan Davis, bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu and drummer Ray Luzier — would have felt it was time to reconnect with their musical roots.
Shaffer didn’t go into detail when asked to describe the sound of “Korn III,” but he hinted that the band recaptured the spirit of its early albums.
“I think musically it does sound more mature, but it has that raw energy of the first two (albums),” he said. “But you can tell that musically, as musicians, we’re better.”
“Korn III” will be released June 13, but the band hasn’t waited until then to begin touring. It headlines the Jagermeister tour, which runs through June 15.
The band had toured last year as a four-piece, but has added a second guitarist and a keyboard for this year’s touring.
“It’s … kind of a nice wall of sound,” Shaffer said.