TARZANA, California — There are a number of bizarre objects in Korn singer Jonathan Davis' recording studio. A metal bondage mask. A pair of stuffed sheep. A picture of Korn dressed as cowboys.
Nothing, however, stands out more than what hangs above the door to the vocal booth. A boar game trophy complete with a plaque confirming, "Killed by Jonathan Davis, May 20, 2003." (Click here for photos.)
"That's ... my pal right there," Davis said on a recent afternoon, with the smell of the nearby Southern California wildfires in the air. "That helped ease the pain. That was some hate right there."
Throughout the mid-'90s, Davis was a poster child for anger and pain, a tortured soul whose accounts of abuse and alienation fueled nü-metal anthems like "Faget" and "No Place to Hide." Although some might disagree, Davis believes he strayed away from that on recent albums, and that Korn's sixth LP, Take a Look in the Mirror, due November 25, is a return to form.
"The whole album is about love, hate and my hate of people and just losing my mind," Davis explained. "The previous albums I did, I think the last three, I was coming from a place of hurt. And I just finally got to the point where I'm done hurting and I'm just pissed off about it now. It's turned back to just sheer hate and anger. And it definitely comes across on the album."
Metal bands are always declaring their new music as their heaviest yet, but Davis is convinced Korn fans will be shocked, particularly with the album's second track, "Break Some Off," which he called "brutal."
"It's the heaviest Korn song we've ever done," he said. "It's about me losing it. You ever get in a situation where some things aren't going your way and you want to just lose your mind, but you can't? You're trying to maintain yourself, but it's just screwing with you and you're doing everything to keep it back? That's what that song is about."
Davis also has a hunch the Nas collaboration "Play Me" will surprise some people (see "Korn Land Nas For Mirror, Ask Fans To Direct New Video"), but otherwise, he hesitated to call any track a highlight. "I swear man, all of them are," he said. "I know it's a cheesy thing to say, but I can't pick one because it's just a body of work that's really, really good."
Listening to Take a Look in the Mirror, though, there are certain songs that stand out. The expletive-filled "Ya'll Want a Single," which seems to speak directly to a record executive, is a candid commentary on the commercialism of the music business, a rare theme on a major-label release.
"Counting on Me," on the other hand, is strikingly personal. "It's about being in relationships," Davis revealed. "Your girl, your family, when everything is going bad for them, you're always there for them. And when things go bad for you, in turn, they are not there."
One song that should have fans especially psyched is "Let's Do This Now," as it features a staple of Korn albums that was absent from last year's Untouchables.
"They really missed the bagpipes on the last album and I wasn't feeling it," Davis said. "I think it's something special and I felt it on that song, so I did it."
Take a Look in the Mirror marks a couple of firsts for Korn, who formed a decade ago in Bakersfield, California. It's the first album for which Davis wrote the lyrics primarily in the studio (minus three songs he penned on a cross-country road trip), but more importantly, it's the first the bandmembers produced themselves.
"Normally we always hire different producers every time to take us in a different direction, but we didn't want to," Davis said. "We wanted to do something new by our band producing it. And we accomplished that. ... Not to say that the next album we're not going to hire another producer, but this was something more special."
As if Take a Look in the Mirror were not special enough, Korn are also releasing a limited edition of the album that will include a bonus DVD with a collage of the band's videos, an alternate video for "Right Now" directed by Nathan "Karma" Cox, a live version of "Here to Stay" and behind-the-scenes tour footage from 2002.
Meanwhile, Korn and Limp Bizkit are co-headlining the 12-date Back 2 Basics Tour, which kicks off Monday (November 10) (see "Limp Bizkit And Korn Reunite, Get 'Back 2 Basics' With New Tour"). Afterwards, Davis and cohorts will play some holiday shows in November and December before heading overseas next year.
"We're doing a world tour this time, so we're going to places we haven't been to in a long time," Davis said. "We're going to Japan, Hong Kong, Jakarta [Indonesia], Manila [Philippines], Australia, New Zealand, and doing all that, then coming back and we're gonna do our first headlining arena tour in probably March."
Take a Look in the Mirror track list, according to Epic Records:
- "Right Now"
- "Break Some Off"
- "Counting on Me"
- "Here It Comes Again"
- "Deep Inside"
- "Did My Time"
- "Everything I've Known"
- "Play Me" (featuring Nas)
- "Let's Do This Now"
- "I'm Done"
- "Y'all Want a Single"
- "When Will This End"