Davis recalls pain of Korn debut
Frontman Jonathan had abandoned good job, taken up drink and meth - then had to endure emotional recording of Daddy at hands of “sadistic” producer Ross Robinson
Korn frontman Jonathan Davis has recalled the trials he endured while working on the band’s debut album with producer Ross Robinson.
And while he agrees that the deskman brought out the best in his performance, he still can’t forget the turmoil that surrounded the sessions.
The 1994 title was recorded with a budget of just $14,000 – but it propelled the band to the big-time and remains an influential work 20 years later.
Davis tells Rolling Stone: “I never felt like I was a metal dude to begin with. My favourite band was Duran Duran – I was a child of the 80s and I loved more of the gothic and romantic shit.
“I had to quit my job where I was making real money as a mortician, and had my own house, to having nothing – working at a pizza place and living under some stairs.”
He remembers spending much of the time drunk and on meth, adding: “I was 23, I think. That’s when you’re Superman, when that shit doesn’t affect you. I got sober when I was 28, around when I started getting the bad hangovers and could do that shit any more or I was going to die.”
Korn includes emotional track Daddy, which Davis wrote about being abused as a child. It includes an outro where he remains in the vocal booth crying while the band keep jamming behind him.
Robinson says: “I remember just telling Jon, ‘You know what to do.’ That’s all I said. It was one of the most powerful things I've ever experienced. And continuing the song with the sobbing; they were so good at jamming. The engineer, Chuck Johnson, was so great, not thinking about pressing ‘stop’ on the tape machine.”
Davis adds: “When I came out of there I was fucking sobbing, my whole band was crying, and they just all hugged me and shit. It was a crazy fucking experience. We were all a band of brothers.”
The frontman says of Robinson: “He’s a fucking sadistic bastard. I love him, though, but I think it gets him off. When I was 23 I didn’t know any better – I thought all producers were like this until we did the rest of our records and they started becoming fun.
“He figured out his production style on us, then he took it to the next level with other bands. But I don't think he quite fucked people up like he did me; I think I'm his favourite.”
The producer counters: “It was simply 100% belief in everything he was saying and 100% loyalty to being in a comfort place, where he felt so safe with me that nothing bad would ever happen.”
And he admits: “I didn’t know what I was doing at all – when I didn’t know the answer to something I’d go to the bathroom, put my head on the floor and ask for help until I got this chill in my body. Then I’d have all the answers.
Korn just completed a US tour with Slipknot that saw them performing Korn in full – which has raised objections from ex-drummer David Silveria. He says: “I feel like it was wrong to go play the record without me, because I was just as much of a creative input as any of these guys. I think it was wrong, but it's not really weird. They've been playing and touring years without me. I just think they should have asked me to play the tour.”
The band arrive in the UK next month, with Slipknot and King 810.
Jan 14: Dublin 3Arena
Jan 16: Sheffield Motorpoint Arena
Jan 18: Glasgow SSE Hydro
Jan 19: Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
Jan 20: Manchester Arena
Jan 22: Liverpool Echo Arena
Jan 23: London Wembley SSE Arena
Jan 24: Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Jan 26: Nottingham Capital FM Arena
Jan 27: Birmingham Barclaycard Arena