Korn Essay, Research Paper
In the early ’90s, heavy music looked to be going the way of the
dinosaurs: Well-heeled Brit-pop and well-scrubbed pop-punk were
thoroughly dominating the guitar-rock landscape, and the few surviving
old-school metal acts seemed hopelessly unable to adapt.
But somewhere within the vast, murky Southern California wasteland, a
dynamic new species was being born, a forward-thinking beast that
disregarded the mistakes of heavy bands past while meshing dark, urban
rhythms and low-tuned guitar sludge with violent, expressionist blasts
of hip-core noise. That and the wildly emotional vocals of JONATHAN,
which alternated between a bourbon-smooth croon and a viscerally sharp
howl, made for a revolutionary mix that redefined heavy rock better than
anyone had in a decade. The result was a monster 1994 self-titled debut
album that went solid platinum, and by the time 1996’s Life Is Peachy
was released, this beast had a fanbase over two million strong–and a
legion of musical imitators so large it threatened to saturate the
It was time for a change of rules.
Hence KORN’s latest, greatest slab, aptly titled FOLLOW THE LEADER. From
the broadened musical and emotional scope to the much beefier production
values to the stunning cover art courtesy of Spawn-creator Todd
McFarlane, FOLLOW THE LEADER is indeed an ambitious and deeply
satisfying outing for the band. And while there is considerably more
hype surrounding this rightly anticipated disc, JONATHAN is quick to put
things in perspective.
"Our only goal was to take our time on this album," he says. "Because I
knew we had it in us to do something great. To full integrate both
(previous) albums and put out a record we could be proud of…we wanted
to do some phat shit."
"I think working with a new producer and going into a new studio helped
us grow musically as a band," adds guitarist MUNKY. "All of us really
have that fire again about being excited about a record…We all feel
like we grew, like when you grow out of some old shoes; your feet are
all crammed in forever and you know you need to buy a new pair, but you
need to save up the money to do it. We kind of saved up our confidence
and made that leap into our new shoes."
Fans of old-school KORN needn’t despair–the new shoes kick just as much
ass as the old pair. "Freak On A Leash" is a molotov cocktail of
scathing, psychedelic guitar runs, hypno-groove bass grind, hip-hop
jungle drumming, all sliced in two with an ingeniously placed scat line
reminiscent of PEACHY opener "Twist." Then there’s "Children Of The
KORN," title courtesy of legendary gangsta rapper Ice Cube, who
contributed an arresting series of verses to the tune, as well as a
mallet-blunt mantra that speaks for every fed up kid in America: "Stop
fuckin’ with me!" Check the epic closing track, "My Gift to You," one of
the band’s heaviest songs to date, rife with the sort of lyrical honesty
that’s earned JONATHAN true street cred with the kids–and dismay from
the parents. Which is just fine with him–KORN, after all, speaks
directly to those disenfranchised with a world of spent opportunity and
violence, due in large part to the short-sightedness of generations
"Yeah," says JONATHAN, "I am pissed off that I inherited it. I wish
sometimes that I was born back in the day. But today’s society is so
fucked up…we gotta thank the parents for doing that to the kids."
Yes, they still rock. But FOLLOW THE LEADER also illustrates just how
much JONATHAN’s vocal and lyrical abilities have broadened from the
"straight fuckin’ cathartic rage" of KORN and PEACHY to a level that
communicates a full range of human emotion, from regret ("It’s On!") and
empathy ("Justin"), to lighthearted if incredibly vitriolic banter ("All
In The Family"). The band’s musical growth is also well evident–from
drummer DAVID’s successful integration of D-Drum sampling to FIELDY’s
ever-more-percussive bass playing. Meanwhile, twin guitar towers MUNKY
and HEAD have made their joint stylistic fusion nearly seamless. "It’s
like we’re one person," adds HEAD. "We’re one guitar player thinking.
It’s weird." The end result is an album that could well be KORN’s swan
song–and one that’s sure to find the band’s ever-growing throng of
musical imitators scurrying back to the chalkboard.
Although FOLLOW THE LEADER will not be officially released until August
18 on Immortal/Epic Records, MUNKY considers it a mission accomplished:
"I think we’ve already achieved success on this record," he says. "We’re
all 100 % happy with all the songs. That was the personal goal for me."
In the making of FOLLOW THE LEADER, KORN’s also been busy with their
ground-breaking live weekly Internet program, as well as the formation
of its own record label, Elementree Records. Its first signing,
California "death pop" outfit Orgy, has already drawn critical acclaim
for its debut CANDYASS (Alternative Press enthusiastically endorsed the
record, saying it displayed enough "smart melodies, head-banging crunch
and electro-kicks to impress even the most fickle music fans"). CANDYASS
will hit the shops the on the same day as FOLLOW THE LEADER. As for
Elementree itself, FIELDY offers up the band’s business philosophy
"I think we’d all like to sign some bands that everybody’s scared to
sign. And of course to make them as big as KORN, if not bigger. I think
where we’re at in ‘98, the whole decade is really hurting for some good
In addition to the new record and the new label, KORN has also put
together its own answer to Lollapalooza: the "Family Values" tour, an
eight-week U.S. tour which will feature Ice Cube, Limp Bizkit, Orgy,
Rammstein and, of course, KORN, in addition to a throng of breakdancers,
fire-eaters and a myriad of other cultural oddities. Why would an
already overworked band want to tackle such a monumental task?
"There are all these festivals that have weak links in them," says
DAVID. "It’s not easy to put together a big festival because there are a
lot of people involved–but we thought we could give it a shot and do
1998 is proving to be an intensely creative year for the band. An
ambitious new record that redefines the school KORN defined in the first
place–that’s already garnering massive airplay for its first single
("Got The Life"). An ambitious new label that’s already undermining the
alternative world. And an ambitious new tour showcasing some of the
heaviest acts of the day. No surprise. KORN has always been about
ambition–and much more often than not it’s paid off.
"We’re not out to change the world, just music."