Rock and metal royalty comes in many faces, abilities and longevity within the heavy music scene and our next Virtual Hangs guest encompasses all of the aforementioned traits… and then some!
It is our absolute pleasure to welcome KoRn‘s James “Munky” Shaffer to Wall of Sound as the band prepare to unleash their 14th studio album (yep, you read that right, fourteenth) Requiem on Friday, Feb 4 via Loma Vista Recordings.
The new release comes less than three years on from the band’s return-to-form masterpiece The Nothing (our review here), which unfortunately didn’t get the proper service/touring it so rightfully deserved because of COVID, and that hurt according to the dreaded-haired guitarist:
“It was kind of a fucking bummer, I gotta be honest man. I was so excited [with] that album. We put the artwork together, we designed the stages, we got everything ready to roll out, merch and all; you know everything a band does before they go on the road and promote an album. And we had this fucking kick to the balls [laughs] and everybody did, frankly everybody that had a project or something all got kicked in the balls.”
And from a lack of momentum, came the motivation to just get working on the next project to pass the time according to Munky. With all the chaos going on around the world, what better time to write about it for this new release:
“So, it was like ‘Okay, what’s our next option? We can’t tour. What are we gonna do?” the band questioned amonst themselves. “‘Well, we can all get in a room and maybe write some new music’ And then that was kinda like ‘Well we just released an album though and it was so good and we felt really excited about it;’ but this [album, Requiem] comes from a whole different place.”
The pandemic album, as they called it, was inspired by the day-to-day happenings KoRn experienced in their own personal lives, which much like the rest of us, included covering up and venturing out into the wild, unaware of the potential encounters and pressures that would arise with such an exercise:
“Not only did we write it in the middle of a pandemic… I was having mental health issues [at the time]. My anxiety was through the roof when I would just go out for milk… I was like [wearing] goggles and wrapped up in fuckin’ saran wrap shit… I was kinda losing my shit.’
“Our music has kept us going, because it’s the only thing keeping us alive!”
But the band found sollace in their own personal comfort zone, their recording studio in California where they regrouped alongside producer Chris Collier and started writing songs for what would later become the new album they’re set to release on Friday.
Chris, as a producer (and fan), pushed KoRn to create new material that was unlike their back catalogue to prevent them from doubling up on paths they’ve already walked down muscially as Munky explained:
“He was always the guy saying ‘uhhh not that riff. I’ve heard that before from Korn… That’s on 1995 Life Is Peachy‘ or whatever. You get so excited like ‘oh dude I got this…’ and they’re like ‘yeah but it sounds like No Place To Hide or some shit like this’ and it’s good to have somebody speak up in the room, otherwise you’ll get invested in this whole wasting your time going down this road you’ve alredy been down.”
And, as we always say, a band progressing is better than a band milking a signature sound that got them famous in the first place and after living through four different decades in the music industry, KoRn are always adapting to, and trying new things with their releases.
It’s scary to think about how much time this band have been in our lives. They first broke out in the late 90s and set the tone for nu-metal acts like Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Evanescence and Linkin Park to wreak havok on mainstream media alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Aqua, Backstreet Boys and N*Sync (more on that subject later), but also, they’ve adapted to all the ways their fans consume their music.
From cassettes, radio and Channel [V] (or MTV), VHS releases and even listening to their CDs on the wall at local CD/record stores (before deciding if you actually wanted to buy the album and take it home), through to downloading, YouTube, DvDs/Blurays, streaming services and now the resurgence of vinyl collecting, KoRn have always been at the forefront, ready to tackle what the music industry throws at them.
When I questioned how they were always able to keep up with the demand, he brought it all the way back to the relatability of the voice behind the band… Jonathan Davis:
“I think because, and this is just total honesty, I think people have such a connection with Jonathan singing. And that thread can thread all of the years up because he’s so vulnerable and that takes such fucking courage… So when you find that thing, or that band that lets you feel those feelings with whatever you’re struggling with… he gives people a door way to walk through safely and makes them feel like they’re not alone.”
That connection alone is what has kept KoRn fans coming back for more with each and every album they drop along the way. Sure, not every single album is for every single fan (new or old), but it’s the emotional connection and binding ties to the songs we know and latch onto that are the most important things to remember about why we jumped on this band in the first place.
It has to be said, it was an absolute honour to chat with Munky about this forthcoming, mature release from KoRn. To get a better understanding of the relationship he has with his own music and with Jonathan Davis‘ personal musical journey, really opened my eyes to the way this band have been staying true to themselves while making songs that have followed me from my youth and angsty adolescent years; all the way to my mid-thirties and Dad life… I think we all need a bit more KoRn in our lives and we’ll definitely be better off for it.
Virtual Hangs/Words by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
Requiem is out Feb 4th via Loma Vista Recordings
Read our review here
KoRn – Requiem tracklisting
2. Let the Dark Do the Rest
3. Start The Healing
4. Lost in the Grandeur
6. Hopeless and Beaten
7. Penance to Sorrow
8. My Confession
9. Worst Is On Its Way