We couldn't miss the opportunity to talk to the legendary nu-metal band Korn and ask them a bunch of questions that we know lots of you are curious about. In the exclusive phone interview, the band's guitarist James
was speaking about the changes in Korn's lyrics and sound, some technical details of playing guitar, gear, and much, much more. Read on!
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Congratulations with your new album! Tomorrow, December 6th, is the release date "See You on the Other Side" - your first new material since 2003. It turned out to be the most awaited album on our web-site, so first a few questions about it. Your new album is gonna sound very different from your previous releases, we know that it's still classic Korn to some extent but it's something you haven't done before as well. Was it a natural evolving of the band or you just tired of following the same concept and decided to change it right away?
James "Munky" Shaffer: We wanted to experiment with a lot of different things because what we were doing started to feel kind of stale. And we continuously made a decision to change things up and we wanted our listeners and our fans have something new and creatively as people we wanted to move into different direction.
The lyrics changed a lot as well - they are more social and political now. You say the reason for that is Jonathan's way of preceding the world now. What exactly made him change so much?
I think he got kind of tired of just talking about himself so much. I think it was evolution in lyrically for him to talk about other things and not so directed inward.
Talking about the band, were there any changes since 2003's "Take a Look in the Mirror" except of the departure of Brian Head Welch? I mean, in the relationship, your attitude to music and life?
I think as we get older, we start to appreciate music more and I think that had a reflection on what we've just recorded. We appreciate music more as we get older, you know.
The change in the music always leads to loosing some of your old fans that used to like what you previously did. Are you afraid of that?
There's always a fear when we release an album that you're gonna disappoint fans or anybody. But you have to remember that as long as you're satisfied as an Artist, you're putting our something good. And that's what is mostly important, I think.
The CD sleeve of "See You on the Other Side" has a wonderful art of weeping child clutching a headless teddy bear. Is there some kind of a story behind it, what does it mean to you?
It's like another world. It's another dimension - sort of reflection of the music.
I've seen that boy's face on lots of other thing, so I though there might be some kind of story behind it?
Well, actually, the cover was drawn up from a lyrics, that Jonathan gave to the artist.
Is that the lyrics for one of the songs?
The lyric is on "'I'm just a child with a tear in his eyes/And I'm holding this gift that is broken" and they gave that lyric to the artist and that's what the artist came up with.
Your Deluxe Edition of "See You on the Other Side" includes two previously unreleased songs. When were they recorded?
Those were the songs that we recorded right in the beginning of the session. One of my favorite songs is called "It's Me Again" - it's probably in top three on the album for me. Originally it gonna go on the album, but I talked to management about putting it on there.
Videos for "Twisted Transistor" and "Hypocrites," that are on the Deluxe Edition of "See You on the Other Side" have been shot in Moscow. What was so special about Moscow?
Other than just being there for the first time and experiencing the culture and the architecture, I think the fan's reaction was unforgettable. When people ask me "What was one of your best concerts?" I always tell them that was the one that we did in Moscow. We had a lot of fun there.
Do you plan release to release concert DVD anytime soon?
We just did a concert in New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom. And we're gonna make a DVD out of that - we shot the whole concert and we did a few production, some cool production ideas - we're gonna release that probably in a few months.
You've had quite an intense tour schedule last summer. Among all the shows, was there the one you liked best? Or just something that stood out from everything else?
We had a lot of fun in Prague. The show was really good too in Prague. Those were the two best spots that we did I think.
What was so special about Prague?
You performed a set on board of transatlantic private aircraft in November (read story on UG). Who came up with that idea and are you planning to do any other extraordinary performances again some time soon?
I think a few of us started to ask for a management starting to shoot ideas, come up with different stuff to keep the fans involved. We don't want to alienate ourselves from them. So we came up to this idea just to bring back contest winners from Europe, also brought back some American soldiers. And then we also decided that we're gonna play on the plane, it was pretty cool actually.
Are you gonna do some kind of those crazy performances some time soon again?
Yeah, we're gonna play on the Moon! Well, seriously, right now no ideas yet.
Talking about your band on our web-site, your fans say that your music matured a lot - in the new album there are great bass lines, more complex and more dynamic guitars. So, when it comes to equipment, did you change it due to the band's evolving? What equipment (guitar, basses, ams) are you using now?
We use the same stuff that we've always used - as far as guitars, equipment. I've used the same stuff for years on records. I used the Boogie amps and Marshall cabinets and my seven-string guitar from Ibanez, I used an SG guitar from Gibson, Fender strap, I used Telecaster through old Fender twin-reverb amp. Basically we kind of started searching for the sound that we wanted for each track. But I think mostly the evolution came from the writing process - we wrote from the control room, which was lot different from we normally do. We normally hang out in the rehearsal studio. And that was probably the most notable change, that we made was in the writing process.
Using the same guitars over year, does it mean you just don't like anything new or you don't want to try?
I'll try whatever sounds good, honestly. I write with seven-string guitar for twenty years now or maybe fifteen years. Ibanez - cause they were so good to us. I've been looking for a Gibson Gold Taper for two years or something like that. It's cause I like the way it sounds - a lot different. It sounds cooool.
Was that something that happened to you that made you change the way of playing guitar? Or you're just naturally growing as a guitar-player?
I think the absence of Brian helped me mature as a guitar player. I didn't have him around to inspire me, so I had to find it within myself.
The interview is gonna be on a guitar web site. Can you tell us about one of your favorite guitar techniques, so that your fans would practice them too?
I think probably working on chord progressions and being able to make the transition from different chords as quickly as possible - I think it's really important - in clean.
How do you feel about the next generation of bands?
Are you talking about 10-year olds? I'm noticing a lot of that like a gring chord type of thing going and emo course thing. They're calling this "screamo." The thing is crapped. It's good to see that thing are moving? but it's just my opinion, doesn't mean a shit really.
It's Christmas time. Do you have any Christmas message to your fans?
Don't heat fried turkey and burn you house down!