HOLLYWOOD — Korn fans apparently should not be worried that more than half of the band's new album was produced by the Matrix, the team best known for its work with Avril Lavigne and Hilary Duff.
"The first day I came in I heard this song, and it was so banging I couldn't believe it," bassist Fieldy enthused. " 'Cause you think, 'The Matrix, they've done pop stuff,' but it was like the heaviest song I ever heard in my life. I was like, 'Man, you guys can't do this! This isn't even in your ballgame.' But I was just blown away."
With an altered lineup (see "Korn On Head: Davis Hasn't Spoken To Him, Munky Still Sees Him As Inspiration") and a new record label, Korn wanted a new start for their seventh studio album, See You on the Other Side, which is due December 6. So the band went left-field and tested the waters with producers from outside the metal world, from Glen Ballard to Dallas Austin.
Korn decided on the Matrix as well as Atticus Ross (who has worked with Nine Inch Nails and Pink) because they got along with them, and because they understood where Korn wanted to go with the album.
"We still wanted to be Korn," singer Jonathan Davis explained. "We just wanted to look at it a different way and have some outside people come in — people who are musicians and could help us do things we know we wouldn't usually do or hear things that we wouldn't usually hear and make an album that would trip people out."
The Matrix, who normally write for or with the artists they produce, worked more as arrangers with Korn.
"They were having a ball working with us 'cause we knew what we were doing," Davis said. "It was more me and Munky and Fieldy and David [Silveria] going in a room and jamming out parts and stuff, and Scott [Spock of the Matrix] would take 'em home and come back with them arranged. He brought stuff out of us that we'd never have thought of. And Lauren [Christy of the Matrix] and me would work on vocals and lyrics, and it was a true collaboration. It wasn't like, 'Here, here's your song. Play it.' None of that."
Among the collaborations that came out of the Matrix sessions is the first single, "Twisted Transistor" (see "Lil Jon, Snoop, Xzibit, David Banner Star In New Korn Video"), which Fieldy said fans have heard on the radio and not recognized as Korn.
"It's very different from what we're used to doing," Davis said of the hooky, sludgy tune. "When we started this album we totally wanted to reinvent ourselves and do something different, and I think we did with this first single. But not all the songs are like that — there's a lot of different things going on."
Parts of See You on the Other Side go in a dark, industrial direction, while other tracks explore more straightforward rock.
"We wanted to make a concept album, and I think this is the closest thing that we have done to that," guitarist Munky said. "It's a bit more progressive and a lot more emotional. It's not so much anger, anger, anger, like on previous Korn albums. It's got sadness and anger and darkness, and lyrically it's kind of a perverted album."
Korn, who just returned from two months of touring in Europe, plan to play promotional shows through March, when they'll launch a massive North American outing.
"There's a new kind of revived energy within the whole camp and I think everyone's really excited about the new direction we're in," said Silveria, who noted that he's doing more difficult drumming than ever before.
"I feel like this is Korn's first album," Fieldy added. "People are gonna hate it or love it, I guess. I think most people are gonna love it, but the haters, they can just continue to rock out to the first Korn record. Whatever."