are currently in the middle of a North American tour behind their latest opus See You On The Other Side. In this exclusive interview for Ultimate-Guitar, Joe Matera catches up with Korn's seven string meister Munky
to talk recording techniques, guitars and Munky's planned solo album.
Joe Matera: You've got some really amazing techniques that you use in the studio when it comes to capturing your guitar tones. What did you use for See You On The Other Side?
For See You on the Other Side
I really wanted to sound like two guitar players coming out of one amp. I tried a lot of different amps in the studio. Basically I ran four amps into a four channel switcher; there was a Mesa-Boogie Road King, a Mesa-Boogie Dual Rectifier, a Diezel VH4 - I tried the Herbert model but it didn't sound as good as the VH4 model for some reason - and an old 1979 Marshall amp that I've had for a long time. I ran those all into two Marshall cabs. For some of the stuff, I also used an Orange amp which was really cool as you could sweet that out with a distortion pedal and it gave me a lot of texture. So with the signal running all four of those, when I'm playing a chord you're hearing all those four amps miked up to those Marshall cabinets coming out all at once. So I was able to do those tracks with the four amp sounds and then double it for on the right side.
When it came to overdubbing, that is where I really get to play with everything by using all sorts of guitars. I used a Telecaster through a Fender Reverb amp and an old Baritone Les Paul
. The Baritone guitar is a really rare guitar that a friend of mine who owns a rental place in Los Angeles, brought in to me as he thought I'd like it. I did a lot of overdubs with that particular guitar. Most of the guitar tracks were done like that really, just with the four amplifiers on, getting a nice sweet tone between all four of them and then combining those four tones so that they're all filling in their own air space. I tracked the album like that, and is basically the foundation of all the basic tracks and all of the rhythms.
You've adhered to this method of using various guitars during the overdubbing process for the majority of your career with Korn. On Blind for example, you used an old Silvertone with an amp built in its case. What's your philosophy behind this approach in using old and vintage or even rare instruments?
|"On the next Korn record it is really quite possible I'll do a couple of guitar solos."|
I just want to create an atmosphere because basically, you know and let's face it a good song only consists of a good chord progression and a good melody. And that's it. Everything else is just cheese on top of it. It is just decorating all of that with a lot of texture and atmosphere, so that is where I get to have a lot of fun. In the overdubbing process, I like bringing in a lot of different guitars, like Gibson
SGs and Stratocasters
or whatever as I want to create a different emphasis on a certain chord or a certain note. To give you an example of my approach, if there is a melody that needs something bright, I'll use a Les Paul
with a bridge position pick-up or if it is something subtle and I just want to hear it over the top, I'll use a Telecaster through a Fender amp and it'll create a whole different dimension. And behind all of that you still have the four amps - the Mesa and Diezel - that are providing the full balls to the tracks.
When it comes to the live environment, how do you go about recreating that wall of sound you've achieved in the studio?
Live, I'm running two dirty channelled Mesa
heads which go through to a switching box that we have off stage, that way the mixer up front can get a really clean mix. A lot of that replication is from the effects. I've found different pedals that I can combine to recreate those sounds. It is like if I've got a Leslie
amp, I'm not going to travel with it you know, it is going to remain at home. Instead I'll seek out a stereo chorus that will sound similar and will be able to recreate that sound for me onstage. I have a lot of different effects in front of me laid out on the floor, old school style. I've stayed away from going MIDI because I like to be able to hit certain pedals and improvise with my effects that I have. And it makes it more interesting for me this way for when I'm playing live.
What sort of guitars do you take out on the road with you?
For this tour we're doing right now, I have about ten Ibanez seven string guitars with me. For instance at the moment we're doing a song on our set list called Counting On Me
which I wrote on a guitar that I had capo-ed. And so I have a capo-ed guitar with me and because it has a different tuning, I also need to have a backup capo-ed guitar just in case a string breaks. So having another one right there and ready to go is important. My main guitar is a brand new Ibanez guitar that has just been made for me prior to heading out on this current tour. It's a one-of-a-guitar with a beautiful black alligator skin finish. I'm working with Ibanez at the moment that will see another guitar out this year. It has a fixed bridge and it is awesome. There is going to be a couple of different models, one that will have a fixed bridge and another one, which will be a lot more expensive, that will come with a floating bridge. I think we'll be doing that guitar with a black leather finish. And I have another main guitar too that I play on songs like Throw Me Away, which has a cool Stratocaster single-coil pick-up in it. Also I've been doing a guitar solo in the middle of the set list which has become part of the show now.
In the guitar solo showcase you're performing, you're really pulling out the stops with some amazing shredding. How hard has it been for you all these years to hold back from doing guitar solos in Korn's songs?
|"I'm going to start working on solo record in late April."|
The solos wouldn't fit in with what we're doing but you know maybe on the next record it is really quite possible I'll do a couple of guitar solos. I don't know really, but it'll depend on when we get in there and start the writing process and if it feels right, we'll go with it. If it doesn't then I'm not going to be heartbroken.
Ever thought of doing a solo album to give these shredding tendencies of yours an outlet?
Absolutely, and it's going to happen. At the moment I'm kind of going with the concept of what it is going to sound like. It's going to be an instrumental record and it's going to have a lot of atmospheric and ambient guitar textures and a lot of open cut spaces. But there won't be too much shredding but just enough to get the point across. That is the concept I have about it right now. I'm going to start working on the record after once we get back from an Australian tour in late April.
One of your distinct characteristics of your playing style is the way you bend the strings and then slowly release them to create the effect of a guitar going out of tune, how did that technique evolve?
It was something I came up with around 1992. If you've ever heard an orchestra tuning up, it sounds really eerie and when I first heard it on a sample that a DJ friend had of an orchestra tuning up, I thought it was the scariest thing I ever heard. So I wanted to emulate that on that on my guitar and that is how it came out.
In regards to your guitar playing and approach to it, who do you class as being the cornerstone musical influence on it?
|"Steve Vai had a big influence and remains my main influence."|
I would definitely say Steve Vai
had a big influence and remains my main influence. I mean that is the reason why I went out and bought a seven string guitar in the first place. He had come out with a record called Passion and Warfare and it just blew my mind. So he's always and will always be an influence and an inspiration. He's always pushing the envelope and I respect that, so I try to incorporate that into what we do as a band and in regards to pushing ourselves. I harness the same ambition that he has, for us too.