Korn – The Facts
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Korn is a nu metal band from Bakersfield, California.
They are often credited with creating the nu metal genre and inspiring a wave of nu metal, alternative metal, and rap metal bands in the late 1990s and early 2000s, assisting in particular Limp Bizkit (who were discovered by Korn themselves), Staind, and Incubus.
Since their 1994 self-titled debut, Korn have sold over 25 million records worldwide – including 16 million in the U.S. – making them one of the best-selling metal acts of the last twelve years.
Forming and Their Debut Album
Drummer David Silveria, guitarist Munky (a.k.a. James Shaffer) and bassist Fieldy (Reginald Arvizu) were involved with Rick Morrill-fronted hair band L.A.P.D. (Love And Peace Dude). It was later changed to stand for Laughing As People Die in order to be taken more seriously as a band. During the mid-80s, Fieldy and Head (Brian Welch) were also members of glam rock outfit Rag Tyme. “Head” took his nickname (an unwanted one), not from any sexual connotation, but from the large size of his head, “Munky” a reference to primate like feet whilst “Fieldy” was an abbreviation of “Garfield”, in honor of the bassist’s prominent cheeks. Bizarrely, Arvizu had also temped for a Keith Galloway-fronted band named Pretty Boy Floyd, although not the familiar glam outfit of the same title. L.A.P.D. undertook gigs around southern California and contracted a label deal with independent label Triple-X Records, resulting in a 12″ single and an album entitled “Who’s Laughing Now,” both released in 1992. When L.A.P.D. folded, due to time honored musical differences, Morrill forged Supermodel with erstwhile Sexart personnel.
During 1993 Davis got together with Human Waste Project for their first demo tape dueting with vocalist Aimee Echo on a strictly non-saccharine cover version of “This Town” by The Go-Go’s. This recording was to be unearthed on a subsequent Korn bootleg. (Such was the fascination between fans of both bands that during late 1997 the acts convened once more in the recording studio to lay down a further take on the song interbred for use as a Korn single B side).
Munky, Head, Fieldy and Silveria had meantime assembled Creep. Whilst on the lookout for a singer Silveria was headhunted for Mike Muir’s Infectious Grooves, but opted to remain with his colleagues. Whilst on the hunt for a singer the quartet spotted Davis performing with Sexart at John Bryan’s Bar. Auditions in Huntington Beach secured the band’s new frontman.
Korn would be the name of the band, chosen not because it was so odd but that none would forget it. Their manager Larry Weintraub found it so bad that they would never get a record deal with it. Davis then proposed another name to Weintraub: Larry. He promptly denied his own name Larry as the band’s name, and got them signed within three months under Korn, with Jonathan developing the logo with the infantile reversed “R”. The band released their self-titled debut album, “Korn,” through Epic/Immortal Records in October, 1994. “Korn” is arguably the album most responsible for the rise of nu metal and has been a vital influence to legions of other bands of the genre including Limp Bizkit, Coal Chamber, Adema, and Slipknot, earning Korn the frequent nickname “Godfather of Nu-Metal.”
Life is Peachy and Elementree Records
The band followed up their debut album with their second album, “Life Is Peachy,” in October, 1996. The album was more successful than their first, debuting at No.3 on The Billboard 200. It spawned a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in the song “No Place to Hide.” The album’s release featured the first live Internet broadcast by the band, and thus Korn became the first music artist to appear live on the Internet to promote their new LP. Korn performed songs from the new album and took calls from Internet fans watching at home. The event was hosted by longtime Korn friend, Adam Carolla, known best for his hosting of Loveline. The online performance was one of the first of its kind and helped launch Korn’s Internet presence which soon became a predominant part of their marketing and availability to fans.
In late 1997 the band formed their own label, Elementree Records. The first band they signed was Orgy (featuring former members of Davis’ old band Sexart), who became successful with their debut album “Candyass,” which was certified platinum. Over the next few years they signed such acts as Videodrone, rapper Marz, and Deadsy.
Follow the Leader, KornTV, and Family Values
Prior to the release of the band’s 3rd album, Korn was featured once a week on their Internet TV show, KornTV, which showed behind the scenes of the making of the record as well as special guests such as porn star Ron Jeremy, Limp Bizkit, 311 and many more. It also gave fans the chance to call in and ask the band questions. Korn was already ahead of the game by utilizing the Internet to reach their fans. August 1998 saw Korn at their peak as they released their third album “Follow the Leader.” It is generally recognized as their breakthrough album, and the album that ultimately ushered nu metal into the mainstream. It featured a number of guest vocalists such as Ice Cube, Tre Hardson from the Pharcyde and Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. Korn launched a whirlwind political campaign-style tour (from August 17, 1998 in Los Angeles through September 1 in Phoenix) to promote the release of “Follow the Leader.” It took the group all over North America to spread the news of their “Family Values” platform to hordes of fans at special “fan conferences” that were organized at every stop along the tour route. Korn chartered a jet, which took them to record stores in such cities as Riverside (CA), San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Toronto, Atlanta, and Dallas. They talked to fans at every stop, answered questions during the special “fan conferences” and signed autographs. Jim Rose hosted the entire “Kampaign” tour. Celebrities at various stops included Ice Cube and Todd McFarlane. The album was a success, reaching No.1 on the U.S. and Canadian charts and spawning the singles “Got the Life” and “Freak On A Leash.” “Follow The Leader” debuted at the #1 slot in Canada, New Zealand and Australia; #4 in Finland; #5 in France, the UK and Norway; #8 in Japan; #10 in Holland; #12 in Germany; and it registered the highest debut on the Pan European “Music & Media” chart (at #6). The animated segments in the video for “Freak On A Leash” were directed by Todd McFarlane (creator of the Spawn comic book and a former artist for Spider-Man comics), who also drew the cover for the album. The live action in the video, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, used innovative techniques which featured ‘the magic bullet” that the camera followed through various scenes as well as a performance of the band in a Twilight Zone like room. “Freak On A Leash” won a Grammy for Best Video (Short Form), earned 9 Mtv Awards nominations, for: Video of the Year, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Viewer’s Choice. Eventually it won 2, for: Best Rock Video, and Best Editing. Follow the Leader is the band’s most commercially successful album, being certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and having sold almost 10 million copies worldwide.
The same year “Follow The Leader” was released, Korn started their own annual heavy metal tour called the Family Values Tour. That year they headlined the tour along with Incubus, Orgy, Limp Bizkit, Ice Cube and Rammstein. It was highly successful tour, there was a live CD and DVD from Family Values Tour ’98 which earned gold and platinum status, respectively. In 1999, Limp Bizkit headlined, along with Primus, Staind, Korn, The Crystal Method, and Filter. Korn were not featured on the bill and instead only made surprise appearances at a few of the tour’s stops to perform their first single off of their next album, “Falling Away From Me.” The tour took a break in 2000 due to heavy competition.
In 1999 Korn performed at Woodstock ’99 on July 23rd in front of 250,000 fans. The band cites this performance as one of its most memorable moments.
Issues and the Apollo
The band’s next album, “Issues,” was released in November 1999. The album debuted at #1 on The Billboard 200 and was certified 3x Platinum by the RIAA, following up the success of “Follow The Leader.” It featured a broader range of styles and vocals compared to previous albums. To celebrate the album’s release, the band performed the record in its entirety in front of a live audience at New York’s historic Apollo Theater and broadcast the concert simultaneously across many radio stations. This performance made Korn only the second white musical group to ever perform at The Apollo after the legendary Buddy Holly in the late 1950’s. This special event featured the NYPD marching drum and bagpipe band as well as a group of back-up singers to enhance the more melodic choruses and backing vocals Jonathan Davis used on the album. Earlier that year, Korn had appeared on an episode of South Park, titled “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery,” in which the first single from Issues, “Falling Away From Me” was premiered. In the episode, the band helped the boys solve a Scooby-Doo style mystery. Korn released two more singles off of Issues, “Make Me Bad” and “Somebody Someone,” both of which fared well on US charts. Videos were also shot for all three singles, with longtime friend Fred Durst directing the dark “Falling Away From Me”, and Udo Kier and Brigitte Nielsen starring in a concept video for “Make Me Bad.” The video for “Somebody Someone” was a simple performance with some CGI effects.
In 2000 Jonathan Davis commissioned famous Swiss, surreal artist – H.R. Giger to create a special mic stand. The idea was suggested to him by one of his friends who knew that Jonathan was a fan of his artwork. H.R. Giger is an artist for whom music is really important, and he must like it before he will work with the band. He listened to the Korn CDs the band sent him, and on the same day agreed to do the project. He started doing some sketches of plantlike snakes and vertebrae mixed with technical elements. In the meanwhile Giger’s agent went to the U.S. to tape some Korn shows, in order to analyze the way Jonathan performs. Jonathan called him from his dressing room and told him that he had complete freedom to design the microphone stand as he wanted and his only concern was that it had be totally functional and as movable as possible. He also wanted it be biomechanical and very erotic. The band visited his museum and met him in July of 2000 when they were touring in Europe. The bio-mechanical mic-stand was finished in 2001. It was introduced to fans one year later during Korn’s Untouchables Tour.
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Untouchables and Tomb Raider
In June 2002, after two and a half years of hard work and a long creative process, Korn re-emerged into the media spotlight with their 5th album “Untouchables.” The release of this album was preceded by the show at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on June 10th, 2002, one day prior to the album’s release, broadcasted digitally through the theaters in U.S. As befits the trend-setting rock pioneers, Korn recorded “Untouchables” in a way that no rock artist has done before. By utilizing the new Euphonix R1 Digital Hard Disk Recorder with a 96k, 24-bit sampling rate – which is twice the highest rate that’s normally used for recording – Korn and producer Michael Beinhorn were able to create a rich sonic panorama that accentuates clarity as well as harmonics that are perceived rather than heard as musical sounds. The album had a very dark and gothic feel while featuring synths, strings and various effects the band had never used in an album before. The overall feel was drastically different from previous efforts particularly tracks like “Alone I Break,” “Hating,” and the haunting “Hollow Life,” which singer Jonathan Davis claims is his favorite Korn song to this day. While the album received critical praise from fans, “Untouchables” had disappointing sales. The band has blamed Internet piracy for the drop in sales – as an unmixed version of the album had leaked a whole five months prior to its official release date (from Munky’s computer).
The album’s first single “Here To Stay” earned a Grammy for Best Metal Performance. “Untouchables” has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA. The first 2 videos from “Untouchables” were directed by the Hughes Brothers (best known for their films, “Menace II Society” and “From Hell”). The first video, “Here To Stay,” has the band playing inside a TV on a static background along with controversial news stories and world issues being presented. The video was nominated to MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video and won MuchMusic Video Award for Best International Video (Group). The second video, “Thoughtless,” was a nod back to Jonathan’s childhood as the character in the video is picked on and constantly beaten. The character ultimately gains revenge in a rather grotesque but deserving way. The third video for “Untouchables,” “Alone I Break,” was directed by Sean Dack who won the honor of directing Korn’s video through an MTV contest. The video kept with the darkness of Korn, showing Jonathan Davis killing off the members of the band after a supposed mistake made by Munky when they were performing. The band later admitted the video would have been more fun to do if the director was actually a Korn fan.
Prior to their next album, Korn released the single “Did My Time,” which was featured on the soundtrack to the Angelina Jolie film, Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life in early 2003. Angelina Jolie appeared in the video for “Did My Time,” however due to scheduling conflicts the band’s performance was shot at a different time and location than Angelina Jolie’s. The single “Did My Time” was also used on the next album.
Take a Look in the Mirror, Greatest Hits, Head’s Departure
Korn’s sixth album “Take A Look In The Mirror” was released in November 2003. Korn produced this record themselves and cited it as a look back upon their career by returning back to a more stripped down and raw sound. The album featured the singles “Right Now,” “Everything I’ve Known,” and “Y’all Want A Single.” The first two singles were animated videos while the third single, “Y’all Want A Single,” was a performance video, which featured Korn and a large group of fans destroying a record store. The album peaked at No. 9 on The Billboard 200. Although the album provided what the fans were supposedly looking for, it was considered a disappointment by many who thought the first album could never be duplicated. The album also features the remastered track “Alive,” which is the song Davis sang back in 1993 while first trying out for the band.
In 2004, Korn released their greatest hits album “Greatest Hits, Volume 1.” It featured two cover songs and a compilation of the band’s hits from the past 10 years. The first single was a cover of the song “Word Up!,” which was originally made popular by the group Cameo. Many fans have wondered why the compilation did not feature the hit single “Thoughtless.” The album also featured a medley of all three parts of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.” The song has become a concert staple ever since.
On 22 February 2005, Brian “Head” Welch announced that he had “…chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, and would be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end,” and was formally leaving Korn. Initial speculations that this was a hoax or practical joke were proven wrong; he has turned highly spiritual, even being baptized in the Jordan River and speaking openly about his faith and conversion, especially on his website. Welch has also stated that his reason for leaving the band had to do with his daughter reciting obscene Korn lyrics and the fact that he was fighting an addiction to crystal meth. This was to be the band’s first, and so far only, line up change in their history.
See You on the Other Side and a New Beginning
Upon completing their record deal with Sony Records Korn has since partnered with EMI and signed to Virgin Records. EMI has paid Korn $25 million upfront in exchange for a share in the profits of their next two LPs, including tours and merchandising. In exchange, EMI received a 30 percent stake in the band’s licensing, ticket sales and other revenue sources.
The band’s first release for Virgin Records, “See You On The Other Side” was released on December 6th 2005, and debuted on #3 on the Billboard 200, representing the band’s 7th Top 10 debut. The first single off the album, “Twisted Transistor” was accompanied by a comic video directed by Dave Meyers in which famous rap stars Xzibit, Lil’ Jon, Snoop Dogg, and David Banner portrayed Korn. It has received massive video play in TV music stations throughout whole world. The single itself peaked on #3 on Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and it’s among 2006’s Top 5 Active Rock songs so far in 2006. The second (and current) single, “Coming Undone” peaked on #4 on Mainstream Rock Chart, and the video directed by Little X also received considerable video play. Korn also for the first time has brought two singles from one album to the Hot 100 Chart. The album has sold over 2 million copies worldwide up to date, and went platinum in the U.S. on 16th March. Even after a couple of months, it still remains at a safe spot on Billboard 200 chart, and it’s very likely that it will be certified double-platinum later this year, signaling the success and acceptance of their evolution, as well as a sales lift from 1.1 million copies sold of “Take A Look In The Mirror.”
On January 13th, 2006, Korn threw a giant party at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery announcing the See You on the Other Side World Tour. Guests at the party included Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose, Linkin Park members – Chester Bennington, and Joseph Hahn, and actress Jessica Biel. The first leg of tour, with 10 Years and Mudvayne, began on February 24th, 2006 in their hometown Bakersfield and ended on April 4th in Toronto. It was highly successful leg of tour, and Korn earned $6.4 million gross for it and reached #47 spot on Pollstar’s Top 100 Concert Grosses of 2006.
The Australian part of the See You on the Other Side tour consisted of Korn, 10 Years, Hatebreed, and Disturbed. The bands peformed in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on the 24th, 27th and 29th of April 2006, respectively, and were received well in all three cities. This marked the first time Korn visited Australia since their Take A Look In The Mirror tour in February of 2004.
Support acts for headlining shows past this point have not been confirmed, however, Korn are slated to perform at various European rock festivals over the summer of 2006, many of which feature such legendary bands as Guns N’ Roses and Metallica.
Korn have also recently announced the resurrection of their “Family Values Tour,” which will kick off on July 27 in Virginia Beach, VA. The Family Values Tour will feature Korn, Deftones, Stone Sour, Flyleaf, Dir en grey (when confronted about the news that this band may be there, Jonathan called them “this crazy Japanese band that are just out of their minds”), 10 Years, Bury Your Dead, Deadsy, Bullets and Octane, and Droid). This is also the first Family Values Tour that will have a second stage and is in outdoor-pavilions.
Korn recently teamed up with the Atlanta crunk rap group Dem Franchize Boyz to record a mash-up of their latest hits “Coming Undone And Lean Wit It” and “Rock Wit It,” which occurred due to both the groups being signed to Virgin Records. During the session, Jonathan Davis stated that he believed that crunk and heavy metal were in the same vein. “They are both energy. It just works,” the singer said.
In 2006, Korn’s most popular song “Freak On A Leash” appeared on a countdown of Vh1’s 40 Greatest Metal Songs Of All Time at #23. They also charted on a user-based interactive list of the 100 Greatest Videos Of All Time in the UK magazine Kerrang! at number 10 with the same song.
On May 6 Korn won a MTV Asia Video Music Award in the “Favorite Video” category with their first single off of “See You on the Other Side,” “Twisted Transistor”, beating Green Day, Kanye West, My Chemical Romance, and Franz Ferdinand. The band also performed “Twisted Transistor” live in front of 5,000 people. Jonathan Davis also presented an award for favorite artist from China, Vicky Zhao.
Recent History and Jonathan Davis
On June 12th, 2006, Jonathan Davis was diagnosed with Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood defect that hospitalized him for the weekend and prevented him performing at the renowned Download Festival England & Ireland and has led to Korn cancelling the rest of their European bill. It was originally unknown to the public what his ailment was, but the singer revealed in a letter to fans that he was “dangerously low on blood platelets and at a high risk of death from a hemorrhage if the problem was not treated.” His illness is not expected to affect the upcoming Family Values Tour. Recently it has been rumored that a new album, “Korn Kovers” is to be released by the band.
On July 13th Jonathan Davis announced that “Politics” would be the third single off “See You On The Other Side” and promised music video. What’s more, James Shaffer told CJAD.com that he and Davis are writing the score for an animated short film that tackles national politics which actually will be separate project and not a music video for band’s latest single.
On July 18th band appeared in Jimmy Kimmel Live performing in television acoustic versions of their latest two singles “Coming Undone” and “Twisted Transistor.” That was the band’s first televised acoustic set.
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