He loves the end product, but making the just-released “Korn III — Remember Who You Are” was “sheer fucking torture and hell” for Korn frontman Jonathan Davis.
Give the credit, or blame, to producer Ross Robinson, Davis tells Billboard.com. Robinson, who also produced Korn’s first two albums, dug deep into Davis’ angst-filled lyrics, forcing him to confront his demons and at one point even having Davis sing one track as his wife looked on in the studio.
“I’d come in with some lyrics,” Davis recalls, “and we’d go through them line by line and talk about everything that was behind them, and [Robinson] would really want to get inside them. And once I’d get in there and start to sing he would use those things against me, like pouring salt on the wound. He got into my head and took me to a very bad place. I relapsed into fucking depression, hard. I got suicidal. I even had my psychiatrist pissed off, wanting to call him and say, ‘What are you doing to this poor kid?’ It was getting bad when the doctor started to get involved.”
Davis — noting that Robinson also played mind games with drummer Ray Luzier — says he didn’t talk to Robinson “for a long time” after the album was recorded. “But I called him up and said ‘thank you,’ because he did what he had to do to get this record right. I knew it was necessary, but it was hell.”
Less painful, however, was the more organic approach to the album, eschewing sequencers and ProTools in an effort to recapture what Davis calls “the original vibe of those early Korn records…We stripped away all the technology, the bullshit. We did it on two-inch (tape). We didn’t use any click tracks, no vocal tuning, none of that bullshit. I didn’t stack my vocals like I did on previous records. It’s just a simple Korn record…with just drums, bass, guitar, me. It was like a breath of fresh air, and…that’s the only way we’ll make albums anymore, with Ross or anybody else.”
Korn will be co-headlining the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival through mid-August, then heads to Europe for a set of shows that includes the London OZZFest on Sept. 18 as well as some other shows with Ozzy Osbourne in Paris and Milan and a Japanese appearance in October. Davis, meanwhile, is 28 songs deep into a solo album he describes as “world music, like a heavy Peter Gabriel or David Bowie record.” He hopes to have out in 2011 but plans some major changes after the “Korn III” experience.
“[The songs] are already recorded, but I’m probably going to re-track them all ’cause I did them on ProTools and shit like that,” he explains. “I want to catch that real feel like we did on [‘Korn III’], and I’m gonna keep writing more on this [Mayhem] tour. It’s very different than Korn; it still has a heavy edge in it, but it’s something more.”