Korn (often typeset as KoRn or Ko?n) is an American rock band from Bakersfield, California, which formed in 1993. The band's catalogue consists of nine consecutive debuts in the top ten of the Billboard 200. To date, Korn has sold over 30 million albums worldwide while earning six Grammy nominations?two of which they have won.
Formation, Neidermeyer's Mind demo, Korn (1993?1995)
Korn formed after the group L.A.P.D. folded, due to singer Richard Morrill's drug addiction. Musicians Reginald Arvizu, James Shaffer, and David Silveria wanted to continue, and recruited guitarist Brian Welch and started a new band called Creep.
In early 1993, the band took notice of vocalist Jonathan Davis after seeing his band Sexart and attempted to get him to join Creep. Davis initially did not want to join the band, but after consulting a psychic he decided to audition and then joined the band, as mentioned by Jonathan Davis himself in interview in the DVD Who Then Now?. After Jonathan was recruited, they decided to get a new name. Soon, they later changed their name to "Korn". Jonathan suggested Korn as just a brainstorm, but everyone else enjoyed it. So Jonathan got a Crayola crayon and wrote their logo in a child's handwriting, with a "K" instead of "C" and a backwards upper-case "?".
In April that year, the band began a working relationship with producer Ross Robinson, which led to their first demo tape entitled Neidermeyer's Mind. The band had problems getting signed during its first year, due to the 1990s rock scene, which was primarily grunge. After many attempts at a record deal, Paul Pontius from Immortal/Epic Records heard the band in a nightclub and was so impressed, he signed them on the spot. With a producer and a label, Korn started work on their self-titled debut album.
Musically, the album was a mix of alternative metal, grunge, hip hop, and funk the latter elements encompassed in the rhythmic approach to the band's compositions. "Blind" was the first single from the album, which got a decent amount of airplay and attention. Once Korn saw a release on October 11, 1994, the band toured incessantly with no support from radio or video stations. The band solely on their intense live shows which created a large cultlike following of dedicated fans. It was through the effort of this fanbase that helped push Korn onto the Billboard 200, eventually peaking at #72 in 1996, with "Shoots and Ladders" being their first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.On their first large tour, Korn opened for Danzig alongside Marilyn Manson. Other bands for which Korn opened in 1995 included Megadeth, 311, Fear Factory, Flotsam and Jetsam, and KMFDM. However, the first tour that widely exposed the band was opening for Ozzy Osbourne alongside the Deftones. After opening for lesser-known bands such as Dimestore Hoods, Sugar Ray (at the time), and Life of Agony, Korn returned to the studio to record a second album.
Life Is Peachy (1996?1997)
Korn teamed up with Robinson once again for their second album, Life Is Peachy, released on October 15, 1996. Musically, it was similar to the first album, but also showed more of a funk influence on tracks like "Porno Creep" and "Swallow". The album included two covers, War's "Low Rider", with Davis' bagpipes and Welch on vocals, and Ice Cube's "Wicked", with guest vocalist Chino Moreno of Deftones. To help promote their new album, Korn opened for Metallica, and utilized the Internet. Life Is Peachy sold more than 106,000 copies in its first week and reached #3 on the Billboard 200. The first single, "No Place to Hide", spawned a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. "A.D.I.D.A.S." was the second single and only music video, which also did well. The band gained more popularity after co-headlining the Lollapalooza music festival in 1997 with Tool. However, Korn was forced to drop off the bill after Shaffer was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Also that year, Korn augmented their growing crossover appeal by collaborating with Los Angeles-based production and remix duo the Dust Brothers on the track "Kick the P.A.". This track appeared on the motion picture soundtrack of the film Spawn.
In late 1997, Korn formed their own record label, Elementree Records. The first signing was Videodrone, whose singer, Ty Elam, is credited for giving Jonathan Davis singing lessons. Orgy, however, released their debut album prior to Videodrone's, giving Elementree its first Platinum certification. Orgy's guitarist, Ryan Shuck, is known for playing alongside Davis and Elam in the band Sexart. Over the next few years, Korn signed other acts like rapper Marz and Deadsy.
Follow the Leader, mainstream success (1998?1999)
Prior to the release of the band's third album, Korn produced a weekly online TV show, KornTV, which documented the making of the record and featured special guests such as porn star Ron Jeremy, Limp Bizkit, and 311. The project also gave fans the chance to call in and ask the band questions, an approach that represented one of the first times a band utilized the Internet in such a way. Korn released their third album, Follow the Leader, on August 18, 1998, which featured a number of guest vocalists such as Ice Cube, Tre Hardson from the Pharcyde, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit and actor Cheech Marin on the hidden track "Earache My Eye" (written by Marin himself).
Korn launched a political campaign-style tour to promote the release of Follow the Leader. The tour took the group, on a chartered jet, all over North America to help promote Follow the Leader. They talked to fans and answered questions during special "fan conferences", which were organized at every stop along the tour route, and signed autographs. Jim Rose hosted the entire "Kampaign" tour.
The album was a complete success, debuting at #1 on Billboard with 268,000 copies sold, and spawning the singles "Got the Life" and "Freak on a Leash". They both exposed Korn to a wider, mainstream audience, with the music videos being mainstays on MTV's Total Request Live. "Got the Life" was the show's very first "retired" video, with "Freak on a Leash" reaching that same success months later. The singles also fared well on Billboard, with "Freak on a Leash" peaking in the top 10 of both Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock, the latter of which it spent 27 weeks on?more than any other Korn single to date.
"Freak on a Leash" won a Grammy for Best Music Video, Short Form, and received a nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. The video also earned nine MTV Video Music Awards nominations for Video of the Year, Best Rock Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Viewer's Choice. It eventually won two, for Best Rock Video and Best Editing. Follow the Leader is the band's most commercially-successful album, being certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and having sold almost ten million copies worldwide.
The same year Follow the Leader was released, Korn started their own annual tour called the Family Values Tour. Korn headlined the highly-successful tour along with Incubus, Orgy, Limp Bizkit, Ice Cube, and the German industrial band, Rammstein. A live CD and DVD were released and earned Gold and Platinum certifications, respectively. In 1999, Limp Bizkit headlined, along with Primus, Staind, The Crystal Method, Method Man & Redman, and Filter. Korn were not featured on the bill and instead only made surprise appearances at a few of the stops to perform "Falling Away From Me" from "Issues". The tour took a break in 2000.
The band's fourth album, Issues, produced by Brendan O'Brien, was released on November 16, 1999, featuring cover art designed by Alfredo Carlos, who won a contest held for the fans by MTV. Issues was released during a week of many highly-anticipated records. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with more than 573,000 copies sold, keeping Dr. Dre's long-awaited album 2001 and Celine Dion's greatest hits album from hitting #1.
To celebrate the album's release, the band performed the record in its entirety in front of a live audience at New York's historic Apollo Theater and broadcast the concert simultaneously across many radio stations. This performance made Korn the first rock band, and only the second predominantly white musical group, to ever perform at The Apollo, after the legendary Buddy Holly in the late 1950s. This special event featured the NYPD marching drum and bagpipe band conducted by Richard Gibbs as well as a group of back-up singers to enhance the more melodic choruses Davis used on the album.
Earlier that year, Korn had appeared on an episode of South Park, titled Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery, in which the first single from Issues, "Falling Away from Me", was premiered. Korn released two more singles from Issues, "Make Me Bad" and "Somebody Someone", both of which fared well on Billboard. Videos were shot for all three singles, with long time friend Fred Durst directing "Falling Away from Me", and Martin Weisz directing a concept video for "Make Me Bad", as well as a performance video for "Somebody Someone", which featured the use of CGI effects. Every video was a staple on Total Request Live, two of which made it to retirement. Issues is considered by some critics to be less hip hop-influenced and closer to alternative metal than nu metal. It was certified 3x Platinum, following up the success of Follow the Leader.
On June 11, 2002, after a year and a half of hard work and a long creative process, Korn re-emerged into the media spotlight with their fifth album, Untouchables. It debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 with 434,000 in sales. Sales were disappointing in comparison to the first four albums, as Untouchables has only been certified Platinum once. The band has blamed Internet piracy for the drop in sales, as an unmastered version of the album had leaked three months prior to its official release date.
The release of this album was preceded by a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, a day prior to the album's release, broadcast digitally throughout U.S. movie theatres. Untouchables featured electronic beats, strings and various guitar effects the band had never used in an album before. The overall feel was drastically different from previous efforts, particularly tracks like "Alone I Break," "Hating," and "Hollow Life," which singer Jonathan Davis claims is one of his favorite Korn songs to this day.
The first two videos from Untouchables were directed by the Hughes Brothers (best known for their films, Menace II Society and From Hell). The first video, "Here to Stay," has the band playing inside a TV with a static background along with controversial news stories and world issues being presented. The song itself earned Korn a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, and would become their highest-peaking single on Billboard's Modern Rock chart. The second video, "Thoughtless", was a nod back to Davis' childhood as the character in the video (previously featured in the first Vanilla Coke commercial) is picked on and constantly beaten. The third video for Untouchables, "Alone I Break," was directed by Sean Dack, who won the honor of directing the video through an MTV contest.
Take a Look in the Mirror, Greatest Hits: Volume 1, Head's departure (2003?2005)
Prior to their next album, Korn released a new single, "Did My Time" on July 22, 2003, which was used to promote the film but did not appear on the soundtrack to Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Angelina Jolie appeared in the Dave Meyers-directed video. "Did My Time" also gave Korn yet another Grammy nomination in the Best Metal Performance category. Take a Look in the Mirror marks Korn's attempt to return to a more aggressive sound as featured on their earlier albums and brings back the classic rap style on songs "Play Me" and a Live Version of Metallica's "One" as a Hidden track, making it the first album since Follow The Leader to feature such attributes. The album peaked at #9 and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA. It Spawned 4 singles "Did My Time", "Right Now", "Y'All Want a Single", and "Everything I've Known" charting on Billboards Mainstream Rock Tracks at #12, #11, #23, and #30 respectively.
Korn released their greatest hits album, Greatest Hits Vol.1, on October 5, 2004. The album debuted at #4 on Billboard, selling more than 129,000 copies. It featured two cover songs as singles, and a compilation of the band's hits from the past 10 years. The first single was a cover of the song "Word Up!", which was originally made popular by the group Cameo. The second single was a medley of all three parts of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall". A remix of their hit single "Freak on a Leash" was also included as a bonus track. Special editions of the album included a DVD titled Korn: Live at CBGB featuring seven select songs from their November 24, 2003 show at CBGB.
Prior to Korn starting work on See You On The Other Side, Brian "Head" Welch announced that he had "...chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end," and was formally leaving Korn. Initial speculations that this was a hoax or practical joke were proven wrong; he has become highly spiritual, even being baptized in the Jordan River and speaking openly about his faith and conversion. This was the band's first official line-up change in their history.
See You on the Other Side, EMI/Virgin, Return of Family Values Tour (2005?2006)
Upon completing their record deal with Sony, Korn partnered with EMI and signed to Virgin Records. As part of this innovative arrangement, Virgin paid Korn $25 million upfront in exchange for a share in the profits of their next two studio albums, including tours and merchandising. Virgin also received a 30 percent stake in the band's licensing, ticket sales and other revenue sources.
The band's first album for Virgin, See You on the Other Side, was released on December 6, 2005, and debuted on #3 on the Billboard 200, scanning close to 221,000 copies. The album managed to stay in the top 100 of the Billboard 200 for 34 consecutive weeks. The first single from the album, "Twisted Transistor", was accompanied by a comedic video directed by Dave Meyers in which rap stars Xzibit, Lil' Jon, Snoop Dogg, and David Banner portray Korn. The single itself peaked at #3 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, Korn's highest entry thus far, and #9 on Modern Rock. The second single, "Coming Undone", had its performance-based video directed by Little X, who previously helmed only hip hop and R&B videos. See You on the Other Side is certified Platinum, and has sold over two million copies worldwide.
Korn held a press conference at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on January 13, 2006, announcing the See You on the Other Side Tour. 10 Years and Mudvayne were selected to open all dates of the trek, which kicked off in their hometown of Bakersfield, on what Mayor Harvey Hall officially declared as "Korn Day", February 26. The resurrection of their Family Values Tour was announced on April 18, 2006, which featured co-headliners Deftones, Stone Sour, Flyleaf, and the Japanese metal group, Dir en grey on the main stage. Korn and Evanescence co-headlined the 2007 edition, with Atreyu, 2006 alumni Flyleaf, Hellyeah, and Trivium rounding out the main stage.
While promoting See You on the Other Side in Europe, Jonathan Davis was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood platelet disorder that hospitalized him for the weekend and prevented him from performing at the renowned Download Festival. The band still performed, with guest singers including Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour fame, Skindred's Benji Webbe, and Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows. This led to Korn canceling the rest of their European bill for 2006, including the Hellfest Summer Open Air. It was originally unknown to the public what his ailment was, but the singer revealed in a letter to fans that he was "dangerously low on blood platelets and at a high risk of death from a hemorrhage if the problem was not treated". His illness did not affect the 2006 Family Values Tour.
Untitled album, MTV Unplugged, David Silveria's departure (2006?2008)
In early December it was announced that founding drummer David Silveria would be taking an indefinite ?hiatus? from the band. Korn then performed at the MTV studios in Times Square on December 9, 2006, for the MTV Unplugged series, which was broadcast on February 23, 2007, through MTV.com and on March 2, 2007, across North American, South American, European and Asian MTV stations. In front of a crowd of approximately 50 people, Korn played a 14-song acoustic set complete with guest appearances by The Cure and Amy Lee of Evanescence. The performance was eventually cut down to 11 songs for the album, two of which did not air on MTV. Sales of nearly 51,000 brought MTV Unplugged: Korn to #9 in its first week out.
Korn's untitled eighth album was released on July 31, 2007, debuting at #2 with 123,000 copies in its first week. The album has been certified Gold for shipments in excess of 500,000 copies. It also concludes Korn's unique deal with Virgin Records, and features touring keyboardist Zac Baird, giving the tracks a deeper, atmospheric sound. Drumming duties were left up to Terry Bozzio, and Bad Religion's Brooks Wackerman, as David Silveria went on a hiatus. Joey Jordison from Slipknot played drums during Korn's live shows until the permanent addition of Ray Luzier. "Evolution" and "Hold On" were released as singles to promote the album, charting on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks at #4 and #9, respectively. A third single, "Kiss", had a limited release in April 2008, being pulled from radio stations over a month after its release.
Ninth studio album and recent events (2008?present)
Ubisoft reported in October that "Korn has written and recorded an original song inspired by Ubisoft's Haze video game", simply entitled "Haze", which was released on April 22, 2008. As a first in the video game industry, "Haze" will be released and promoted as a full-fledged single and music video, not just as an exclusive download with the video game.
Korn also released a new live DVD, Korn: Live in Montreux 2004, one of their performances with former guitarist Brian Welch on May 12, 2008. Additionally, a second greatest hits compilation titled, "Playlist: The Very Best of Korn" was released on April 29, 2008.
On February 12, 2009, Korn announced they were playing at the Rock Fest in Cadott, Wisconsin, as well as the 3rd annual Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio. Later on, the band were confirmed for the Download Festival taking place in the UK, sub-headlining to Faith No More, as well as the simultaneous German festivals Rock am Ring and Rock im Park.
In 2009, Korn (Jonathan Davis playing drums, Fieldy on bass and Munky on guitar) appeared in Lil Wayne's Prom Queen music video.
It was also revealed that drummer Ray Luzier was now an official full time member of Korn, and that he is writing for the new album also.
In a recent Interview with Ross Robinson, he stated that this will be his third Korn album and that the album was going to be ruthless and remind everyone who can kill them. Also in response to the question "Will Korn be returning to their roots" Robinson replied: "What roots? They have Bakersfield and I have Barstow - we really don't want to go back there. If 'roots' is to destroy and wake people from sleep walking through life, then yes." Ross also mentioned that if he had to sign any unsigned band to his record label it would be Korn, since they are unsigned right now. It has also been revealed by Ross that Munky and Fieldy are already in the studio writing material for the new album.
In a YouTube video in May, Fieldy talked about the "Chi Song" project he was putting together (released as A Song for Chi) which was released recently to raise money for Deftones bassist Chi Cheng who was in a car crash in late 2008, which resulted in him falling into a coma. Fieldy revealed that Slipknot guitarist Jim Root, Clint Lowery of Sevendust, drummer Dave McClain of Machine Head and former Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welch, would be one of the many musicians playing on the song. This was the first time Head has played with any of his former bandmates since his departure in 2005.
Jonathan has recently stated that after the band finish the "Escape from the Studio Tour" in the fall of 2009, he will be able to go into the studio and start writing and recording on the songs fellow members Fieldy, Munky, and Ray have already written. He went on to state after that the band can pretty much add to the songs and fix the cracks then let Ross go through them, and the album will start coming together fast and should be aiming for an early 2010 release date. Korn have recently used a teaser for their new 2010 album release on their website.
Ross recently revealed via Twitter that "I just finished up recording two new tracks with Korn with the band back underway on work for their next album. Tracked two korn songs and now watching Repeater play- I feel so cool seeing them rip it so hard! Why is life so good?"
Controversy with Head
In September 2009, Korn guitarist Munky, in an interview with Altitude TV, alledged that the band had denied a request by Welch to rejoin the outfit. In the interview, Munky claimed:
"Brian ('Head' Welch) actually contacted us recently and wanted to come back to the band. And it was not the right time... for us. We're doing well, and it's kind of like... It's kind of like if you divorced your wife and she went on and she stayed successful and her career flourished, and you go back and , 'My gosh, she's still hot.' 'Baby, can we get back together?' 'Wait a minute... All the stuff's been divided, and it's like...' I don't see it happening right now. It's not gonna happen right now."
Shortly after, Welch responded to the statement via his Myspace, denying the claims:
"I recently learned of an interview that Munky gave where he said that I came to Korn and asked to be taken back in the band. That's definitely not a complete and accurate picture. The full truth is that for about a year, ever since Jonathan publicly said he wanted me back in Korn, Korn's managers have been requesting my manager to work on getting me back into Korn. The calls were initiated by Korn's managers, not my manager. I shut the door on their requests many, many times over the last several months, through my manager. However, Fieldy personally called me during Korn's last tour in Europe and we talked as friends for a long time. He also told me if I ever wanted to rejoin Korn, or open for Korn as a solo artist, the door was always open. Since Fieldy is sober now and a christian like me, I thought it may be a good idea to visit with Fieldy, a friend of mine, to see what he was up to and what it was all about. I had a great time re-connecting with Fieldy. I mainly went to his house to connect with an old friend. The Korn stuff we talked about was secondary, but It was discussed. Fieldy thought that Jonathan, Munky, and I should all meet AS FRIENDS; re-connect; and maybe discuss the possibilities. Both Jonathan and Munky refused that meeting. I learned a lot visiting with fieldy. I learned that I love and miss my friends, but the visit confirmed to me that I have a different calling in life than to reconnect musically/professionally. As far as Munky's comment that "everything has been divided already" that is also not accurate. In fact, from January 2005 when I left, and for the next 4 years, Korn failed to pay to me royalties that were due me on records that I did with them. However, I don't believe this was done intentionally. We are trying to be patient and work with their management to get the financial issues resolved so that "everything can be divided as we agreed long ago in our contracts." I am optimistic that we can resolve it as friends. I continue to wish nothing but the best for Korn, and that includes all of my friends there--Fieldy, Jonathan and Munky."
Musical style and influences
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According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Korn borrows elements from such acts as Pantera, Jane's Addiction, Rage Against the Machine, Primus, Helmet, Faith No More, Mr.Bungle, as well as other Mike Patton projects, Anthrax, Public Enemy and N.W.A. According to author Cheryl Lynette Keyes, Korn's sound originates from the acid rap style of Esham.
Although Korn is considered to be the pioneer of the nu-metal genre, the band members themselves have mixed ideas on the genre, with Jonathan Davis looking at it as a neologism (as noted below), and Fieldy accepting it as a functional term for the band's sound.
"We've spawned a lot of clones, but let me explain... Well, I hate the nu-metal term. We have always just been a band that rocks. We didn't like when people called us a metal band, we are just Korn. People just use these terms when they cannot describe something, but nu-metal... when so many bands started making music that sounded like us, that is when nu-metal was born. We don't have anything to do with it for real, I feel. I wouldn't wanna call Red Hot Chili Peppers a funk band, and we are not metal or nu-metal, we are Korn. Nu-metal is just a term that doesn't mean anything."