Ex-Korn Drummer Exlains Why Band Lost Groove: 'I Was Asked to Be a Puppet'

David Silveria reveals intricate writing and studio recording details in his explanation of why Korn lost their sound.

Ultimate Guitar

Former Korn drummer David Silveria gave a lengthy explanation of his recent comments regarding band's current lack of groove, delving deep into early days of Korn.

After stressing he has zero intention of bashing Korn and dissing "haters that will talk smack," Silveria kicked off his Facebook statement.

"We didn't play shows while writing," he said after a detailed explanation. "The music and vocals were written all together. This is the key point. The first three records had all kinds of strange and off-time breaks in the songs. We would purposely speed up and slow down parts. Most of the weird breaks were made up by [bassist] Fieldy and I. We would change the timing in the middle of songs that made no sense.

"One of the great things about music is [that] there are no rules," the drummer noted.

Silveria then went into the thick of it, "Fast forward to our next record, 'Issues.' A big-name producer was brought in telling us he would 'take us to the next level.' I immediately called bullsh-t. I thought we had just made three legendary records?

"Here is the next key point," the drummer explained. "He wanted to record the record on the digital system Pro Tools. He also wanted to record everything to a click track, eliminating all crazy timing changes and off-time breaks and the pushing and pulling of parts. I was the only one to think this was a horrible idea. Our signature style was under attack and the guys said [to] just listen to this 'big-time' producer."

He continued, "So we started writing music. I did my thing on the drums by playing in my style. The producer immediately wanted me to simplify my playing. I said to him, 'This is not your record. I'm going to do my thing.' The next day, I get a phone call from our manager saying one of the band members says I'm being hard to work with. Seriously!

"So I was being asked to be a puppet and dumb down my playing and be a good boy. I heard this enough times I finally just simplified everything. Pretty lame, right?"

Silveria explained further, "Then next it came to our attention that we were going to record all of the music before Jon [Davis] even started on the vocals. That's another major blow to our signature sound. We always wrote songs as a five-piece band and made unique accents and breaks specifically to the vocals. Well, there goes that unique Korn sound. Once our original way of writing was totally changed, the original sound was also changed. I was disappointed."

The drummer then pointed out that by no means does he dislike post-"Follow the Leader" tunes, but is certain that the band lost a great deal of signature sound by that time. "I love the music we made after 'Leader,' don't get the wrong idea," he said. "It just lost so much of our unique trademark sound. I really think the fans noticed.

"I made several attempts to get the band to get back to the basics and write and record like we did the first three records, but was met with opposition every time," the post reads. "I don't know why. All I wanted to do is make better records. But the other members didn't want to spend the extra time it takes to write the original way. But hey, I tried. When I was talking about bringing the funk back, I was talking about the original writing style."

Silveria then talked about the possibility of reuniting with Korn, naming it a great desire.

"I would love to get back in the rehearsal studio with the guys and resurrect the original passion and unconventional writing style and make a record that stands up to the first three," he said. "Of course, before that could happen, I would love to just sit down with guys and talk about our humble beginnings and really put things in perspective. I really hope to see you Korn fans again soon from behind my drum kit on stage with the guys."

The drummer then concluded his post, saying, "I hope you true Korn fans thought this insight was interesting. Take care everyone. Talk soon."

71 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The more I read the more I think this guy has a point.
    I was going to write a paragraph detailing my feelings on this article, but I think you just nailed it in one sentence.
    He seems to be acting like a dick, but the way he describes it does seem to make sense.
    Except, he's really not. Re-read the article, and notice how even though he is complaining, he never once names names, nor, does he really bash anyone directly (not even the producer, who I'm sure he does not like one bit). IMO, this was an extremely respectful airing of feelings/issues.
    Someone came in and ****ed up what they had going. Something that he spent the past 6 years developing together with the band. And he stayed pretty still about it until now, if anything this guy has all the right in the world to act like a dick. He acted respectable for twice the duration of his career with Korn. Also, i'm listening to the records right now and god damn is he spot on. Their first 3 albums were a huge inspiration for me to start playing drums. I've never learned a song of theirs that wasn't on one of those 3 albums, they didn't speak to me without the groove.
    To me it's never felt right without him, both musically and aesthetically. Underwear model or not (come on, that's one of the greatest, daft things to have upset metalheads for not being metal enough!) he is a key part of the Korn that the world fell in love with, and all these reasons seem perfectly sensible.
    But... I loved Issues...
    So did I, and apparently so does him, but the sound and feel of that record is really something else, compared to the previous efforts.
    Yes, now it's making sense. A perfectly good explanation of why the first few albums were so much more sophisticated than "post-Leader" albums.
    I'm not sure sophisticated is the word. They were less poppy, that's for sure. The post-Leader albums took less musical risks.
    Man, so that's what happened to the Korn I used to love. I can just imagine an album cover for Korn where the protools box is propped up monolithically on top of the studio control table and all the members crouched and slouched in on eachother ooing and aweing. Bigshot producer blarring in from the intercom too lol. "I'm trying to help you"
    Well....I think it is safe to say that...he actually has a point. David Silveria 1--0 Korn Your move Korn.
    Korn still recording, touring, making money +1, David sitting on his couch, unemployed, trying not to go to jail for DUI -1. I think Korn is winning this one.
    Well I gotta say that at first, I thought this guy was an ass, but he makes really good sense, a band losing its roots as a "band" also the records losing its "humanity" inside of them, those are quite serious problems from lot of bands
    As a sound engineer who recently quit from studio for the same reason, I agree with him. The amount of times the guys upstairs would get the artists to dumb down their tracks, change their original writing and play to clicks when it clearly took out the natural feel of the songs was terrible. Don't get me wrong, sometimes a click does work, but you gotta respect the musicians opinions, after all we worked for them, not the other way around.
    He would have never been able to do this song with a click and get the same feel. And if you listen to Chi with the vocals and all you can hear what hes talking about and those albums have feel.
    Goddamn it people music has only been a (product) for less than 100 years and when drums were invented there was no click track. When they made all those old great Motown songs there was no click track. Sure theyre useful but also take away the human element. Music isnt meant to be perfect its just beautiful.
    Interesting that you would use Motown as an example. They were basically the Pro-Tools/Auto-Tune of their time in terms of taking the "soul" out of soul music by turning music production into an assembly line instead of a craft.
    I second this. Most Motown artists couldn't even wright their own songs. They were engineered to be hit machines.
    I haven't heard ray come anywhere close to the subtlety of David. The way he hits cymbals and snare is just so perfect.
    Might as well reunite the full lineup. Go big or go home.
    I like the idea, but even if David managed to return, it would still be pointless if the producer did the same thing.
    this is an age old story and its a ****in sad one. or maybe half an age old. anyway... he can come write with me and well bring back the groove
    I'm not a Korn fan but when listening to their albums I totally see what he's saying here. There's 2 schools of writing music and he is clearly from the old school. Get in the garage and jam!! Let the creativity bounce off each other... that's how you expand a decent guitar/bass/drum line into a great line... with the input and creativity of the guys you are playing with. The new school is for bands that don't want to sit together and play music together. They write their instrument part separately, record it to protools and then mix it all together in post. Interesting writing style if you are a solo artist but when you are collaborating with a band, it doesn't leave any room for that spontanteous moment of inspiration that makes music soo good. This is what happens when bands get too big... their priorities change and they don't have the time/desire to get into a studio for months to write together. It's easier to write/record your line and have the producer make it work. When I heard Metallica's plan on how they are writing their new record, I was like OMG!!! That's going to suck!! They have hundreds of riff in a 'riff bank' and they are then going to go into the studio and try to put it all together. Are you kidding me??? Ugh.
    thats not how metallica is going to do things. they say they have a large riff bank, but they arent going to mash them all up for anything. a "riff bank" is just there for ideas. a band would listen to a bunch of riffs and choose out of that the ones they really like and change and expand on the ideas of some of those riffs. its almost always best to have some original riff bank to help get started on an album than to go into a garage an spend days winging it out trying to find a good idea.
    It's kind of cool when you get a down to earth, honest response on why a band changed as much as it did over time from one of its ex-members.
    if some one told me i had to play a guitar a certain way when i had already established my way of playing and writing with three successful records I'd walk
    do people still listen to Korn?
    The last time I cared about Korn was when "Issues" came out... which I thought was a pretty weak record. The last Korn album that I enjoyed at all was "Life Is Peachy". Interesting article though. I can see what Silveria is saying but it seems like somewhat of a cop-out. I've seen more than a few drummers get pretty pissed off the first time they're asked to play to a click. What is he talking about when he says "strange and off-time breaks" on the first few records? There are a few spots with some sort of free time stuff but besides that the whole album is 4/4 with very few, if any, real tempo changes... am I wrong?
    Don't get me wrong, I mean no disrespect at all, I didn't even think they were a band anymore, I tuned out on Issues as well
    Silveria has a point. Listening back, its the rhythms that stand out on their records more than anything.
    always had mixed opinions on Korn's music but I cannot deny that the grooves in the first three albums are incredible. One of the reasons I love their early work
    Ste Ramakers
    I loved Davids drumming. and i agree with his points. Can i say, also, that JD is hopeless at writing and singing now anyway... all albums up to and including Issues had great and creative vocals, but now its just painful to listen to ..... and i do try...
    Dave is right IMO,the rest of Korn,,need to get back to their roots and they might make an album bigger than Follow the leader if they can unify themselves with the old style.
    Once a band goes big they begin to do what they want, not what they think will make them more big. Of course, this isn't the case with Korn, who instead do what Jon wants
    All you guys were giving him a hard time in yesterdays article xD. Now you all suddenly changed your minds. Wtf lol.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm a Logic guy, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say maybe you could just, ya know, record in PT without a click track?
    you can. he says its the producer who wanted them to record with a click track. dont know what exactly was the problem he has with Protools, unless they used to record music the old fashioned way.
    The "digital system Pro Tools"??? Is this guy from the 60's? I understand he probably felt threatened by his creative process being questioned but ffs...you can groove along to a click track. You just have to take some time planning the click track out before you record the master tracks.
    clearly you are unfamiliar with any aspect of recording, writing or playing music...nor did you comprehend the article...re-read it until you understand
    oooooh Scary Pro Tools!! Sounds like an idiot to me.. You can still do any weird time signature stuff in Pro tools with a click, you just have to actually know what you're doing instead of making shit up as you go along
    a drummer
    You're missing the point. A lot of times recording to a click will kill the natural "feel" of an album or the music being recorded.
    Hell Kaiser Ryo
    "A drummer." There's your problem. You just don't like having to play consistantly enough, which the click will force you to do.
    I've been a professional drummer for about 6 years and actually play to a click with my band, even live, because of all of the looping and prerecorded snippets we use. And because we're a progressive rock band, we have to use ProTools to **** with the click to change time signatures or tempos mid-song. While it's true that a click makes you play more consistently, there are also downsides. For example, it's possible, but very very difficult to do a gradual increase or decrease in tempo in the middle of a song. Parts that are extremely off-beat can also be even more awkward to play than without. In addition, playing to a click in general has a tendency to make everything sound borderline robotic, whereas many artists would prefer to have the human inconsistencies so that everything sounds natural. But like you say, clicks DEFINITELY help keep you on time when you're playing relatively straightforward parts. It all depends on what you're looking for in your sound. If you're ok with sacrificing a bit of looseness for sheer precision, then clicks are the way to go. And like I said, I use them all the time. But they're not the best option for every situation and every band.
    Thirdeye hit the nail on the head. It's all about the style you are playing. Some music is meant to be tight, precise, and fit into a nice groovy pocket, while other music is meant to be loose and a have a more natural feel. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but each offers different sounds.
    i'm a drummer, and for demo's of tracks, which my band is currently in the process of doing, i'll sit with logic and program out the drum parts. i have samples of each part of my kit and will happily sit here for hours and work out the parts, transcribe them then have them in the background in the actualy live recording session so i can hear if i go out. if i go out. scrap that take start over. i prefer a click, it makes me keep in time. but a lot of drummers argue that playing to a click kills creativity, i argue it helps, if you've programmed out a section, then into another section you're usually just 'feeling' your way into it, as opposed to looking at the thing as a whole and seeing well this section needs this beat, so i'll put a shorter roll into the next section instead of flying wildly into a fill, it makes you more conscious of what you can play in that area, meaning you have to be more creative musically and technically to create a sound that you're happy with and the band will be happy with playing with.
    If you think 'making shit up as you go along' is wrong you have no conception of how to make music.
    There is a term called "stuck to the gird" and that's what he's talking about. Everything is manipulated to look right on the beats - odd meters or not. It eliminates the pushes and pulls (just ahead or just behind the beat) which really takes the groove out.
    Wait a minute. So Brendan O'Brien produced Issues. But who mixed Follow the Leader, the supposed third of the "three legendary records?" Oh, that's right...Brendan O'Brien. He wasn't a big time producer that was just "brought in." You worked with him on the previous record!!!
    Mixing and producing are two totally different things.
    Of course they're two different things. I understand that. But Silveria is making it sound like he had no idea who he was. It's not like it's out of the blue or he never worked with him before. It's just his phrasing. "Brought in." Like he had never met him before. Also: It happens all the time. A guy mixes a record and then subsequently produces a future album because they like the guy. Plus it just doesn't fit. O'Brien has produced Pearl Jam, RATM, and Incubus. Bands that have a lot of groove and a "live" studio sound.
    Seriously, it sounds like David was just butthurt when everyone else - even Fieldy, who he said was his writing-bro from the start - didn't want to do things his way. It's the nature of bands to progress - hell, nobody wants to hear a band stuck in a rut, writing the same record for fifteen years. I could give some credence to his viewpoint here if practically ANYONE else in the band shared it, but when everyone is opposing, it just comes off as whiny because he didn't like the producer and pro tools, mostly.
    I bet he had a secret lol at Korn 3 then when they didn't use any of that digital shit and it sounded more forced than ever. awful record that was, it was that bad of an attempt to go back to Korn 1 it makes me cringe. Ray is a brilliant drummer. David is a brilliant korn drummer. JD clearly likes ray too much to even listen to anything david has to say. egos.
    Fred Bob
    Its interesting, in fairness probably not the best way to sort things out with the rest of the band, could have done an interview with a drumming magazine or something at least. He is totally right though, all the little rolls he used to add in the first few albums are notably absent from Issue's on. Brendan O'Brien was the producer too... which is worrying because he is becoming the Bob Rock of Pearl Jam (made some great music with the band but the line between producer and band is gone) I stopped listening to Korn after Issues even though there is some cool stuff on the album. They are obviously a talented bunch but the chemistry is off. Retreating to roots on Korn III and then grafting on dubstep to the formula just shows they are struggling for direction. Maybe a real return to the original band line-up is what they need, instead of it being like this Jonathan Davis Music Producer Project that it has become
    David's era was my favorite, but bands evolve and I personally enjoy Korn's new stuff on occasion. I honestly don't think that I would still listen to Korn if they made the same record over and over again like Nickelback. Bands have to go their own way and that's what Korn did. But I still have nothing but respect for David and his oppinions.
    He definitely has a point about Korn losing their signature sound after Follow The Leader. They still made good singles but the albums overall didn't compare to the first 3. I thought Take A Look In The Mirror was an attempt to recapture the old sound and it was pretty good, but you can't beat the rawness of the self-titled album or the groove of Life is Peachy and Follow the Leader.
    He is totally right, the first three albums were awesome. Everything after was just a shadow of what they used to be
    I remember the guy that recorded a band I was in being surprised we didn't want to play to a click track. To us it felt natural to do it without one. We also wrote our songs as a five piece. Outside of knowing that David started his own restaurant, I haven't heard much about him since he left Korn. So I find it interesting to hear his insight into the band these last two days.