HOLLYWOOD — The banner above the stage Wednesday at the Knitting Factory read “Korn,” and there were certainly enough guitars and heads of long black hair swirling around to look like a Korn show, but there was something different about the four stars in front of the cameras.
“It’s basically a video with hip-hop stars playing us,” Korn singer Jonathan Davis explained of the clip for “Twisted Transistor.” “And they’re doing a really good job. They’ve done their homework. Such a good job, in fact, that it takes a few seconds before realizing, ‘Hey, that’s Lil Jon singing, not Jonathan Davis.’ ‘And that’s Snoop Dogg in the dreads and bodysuit, not Munky.’ ‘And that’s Xzibit wearing Fieldy’s signature headband and David Banner banging on David Silveria’s drums.’ ”
“He’s got the Dickies and the chain on, it’s hilarious,” Fieldy said of X to the Z. “Just watching Xzibit holding my bass straight up and down and jumping around, he’s really into character. They’re eating it up, man. It’s gonna be the best video ever.”
Davis said the concept comes from being frustrated that rock videos don’t get as much airtime as they used to. Director Dave Meyers (best known for Missy Elliott’s masterpieces) refused to give up too much about what happens in the clip, but he said the rappers took a complete plunge into the rock world, “so it’s a really surreal kind of mind-twisting video.”
“It’s like an alternate world,” David Banner added. “It’s a day in the life of the actual group, so they took little quirks about everybody’s personality and amplified it a whole lot. David the drummer is the pretty boy in the group, so he keeps a mirror around, he has to make sure that he’s tight before he goes onstage.”
Meyers originally wanted to mock Silveria’s stint as a Calvin Klein model in 1999, dressing Banner up in underwear.
“I said, ‘Hell no! No way!’ ” Silveria said. “And it wasn’t an underwear ad, it was jeans.”
When it came time to cast the video, Korn went with those who knew them best. Lil Jon produced a Public Enemy cover the band recorded last year, Snoop has toured with Korn a few times and shares their management, and Xzibit shares an accountant with some of the guys. As for Banner: “He plays the drums great,” Davis said.
The rappers all knew each other as well, which created a surprising chemistry when they took the stage to pretend to play “Twisted Transistor.”
“It might be a band coming towards you,” Banner joked about actually forming an all-star group. “So y’all can bring us out on tour, hint, hint. Give us some of that Korn money.”
Banner felt somewhat prepared for the role, having grown up watching rock videos on MTV, but he still went to the other David for advice. “David said, ‘Whatever you do, do it with style, ’cause the ladies love me, so the ladies have to love you too,’ ” Banner recalled. “And I told him, ‘Dave, you don’t have to [worry].’ ”
Xzibit has witnessed a few Korn shows over the years, but he also met with Fieldy. “It’s a funny video, but in order to make it work you have to play the part, you gotta do it all the way,” he said.
“I was showing him how I slap on [the bass] a little bit,” Fieldy said, motioning his signature move. “And he just picked it up pretty natural and started banging on it and just going off. And after the first take he was like, ‘How long you guys do this for live?’ And I’m like, ‘About an hour and a half.’ He’s like, ‘Man!’ ”
Snoop claims Munky is his “brother from another mother” and that he could play Korn in his sleep. (Now a seasoned actor, Snoop stayed in character on the set, approaching crew members and saying, “What’s up dude?”)
“I’m a fan, man … so I sit on the sidelines sometimes and watch ‘em perform,” Snoop said. “I even got that [Munky] jump down, too.”
And what did the real Munky think? “I almost fell over ’cause it was so funny!”
“Twisted Transistor,” which was produced by the Matrix (Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff), is the first single from Korn’s seventh studio album, See You on the Other Side, due December 6 on Virgin Records.