It’s hard to imagine, but Korn — who’ve been a band for more than 10 years, and one of rock’s biggest acts for most of them — have never performed on “Saturday Night Live.” In fact, until Jonathan Davis and the boys played “Word Up” and “Freak on a Leash” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” little more than a year ago, Korn had shunned television altogether.
“We had a thing against doing TV for a long time because of the way it sounded and the way bands came across on it,” Davis said. Korn’s “SNL” set will start with “Freak” and end with “Twisted Transistor,” the first single off of their forthcoming See You on the Other Side, due December 6 (see “Lil Jon, Snoop, Xzibit, David Banner Star In New Korn Video” ). “But there have been leaps and bounds with the technology, so we’re going to be giving it a try.”
The morning after Korn’s “SNL” debut this weekend, the band will fly to England for a club gig at London’s Forum. Before they head home to play New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, however, they’ll round up 40 European fans to accompany them across the Atlantic. It’s all part of a contest the band’s unleashing via MTV Europe in the coming days. Winners will be chosen from seven countries (Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, the U.K., Sweden, Norway and Holland) and get some quality time with Korn on the seven-hour transatlantic flight.
“We’ve talked about doing something like this for a while,” Davis said. “We’d talked about getting on a plane and playing eight different countries in 24 hours. But it just seemed cool to get some fans and fly ‘em in and do a special show.”
“It’s just another way for us to reach out to our fans and let them know that we care about them and that they’re still important to us,” guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer said. “They’re dedicated and love Korn, and we want to show that love back.”
The one-off November 29 concert — a pre-release gig celebrating See You on the Other Side, the band’s seventh studio LP but Korn’s first for new label home Virgin Records — will be taped for a half-hour special on MTV2 airing December 3 at 9:30 p.m. and December 6 at 10:30 a.m. Korn will also be hosting MTV2′s “T-Minus Rock Countdown” December 6 at 11 a.m., and the Hammerstein show will be available online via MTV Overdrive in early December.
“It’s a one-time-only show, all the production that’s going on,” Davis said. “So you either see it or not.”
The New York date is one of a handful the band has lined up in December. Davis said Korn will embark on a full-scale, two-month U.S. headlining run toward the end of February; an itinerary is still being confirmed, he said. “The cities we don’t hit, we’ll hit when we come back this summer” as part of a second U.S. trek, the frontman promised. “It’ll be a world tour — we’ll start in the States, go overseas to Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia. We’re hitting the whole world.”
Of course, See You is an album some of Korn’s fans might not accept right away — it could take some time for them to get used to the new Korn, given that the band has undergone something of a rebirth since the departure of founding guitarist Brian “Head” Welch (see “Brian ‘Head’ Welch Explains Why He Left Korn” ).
“I think the loss of our friend and him as a musician was devastating to us,” Munky explained. “We turned the loss around as an opportunity for the band to re-create ourselves, because it made us feel very fragile — like this whole thing could fall apart at any moment. So we wanted to reinvent ourselves and give ourselves another opportunity to create something totally new. … December 6 is Korn’s new birthday.”
Virgin will release two versions of the album, including a deluxe edition featuring a bonus disc of five tracks: “It’s Me Again,” “Eaten Up Inside,” “Last Legal Drug (Le Petit Mort)” and two “Twisted Transistor” remixes. The disc will also include live footage shot during a Korn show in Russia.
The album’s songs are one thing, but Davis said he and the rest of Korn are perhaps most proud of See You‘s art, which features a weeping child clutching a headless teddy bear.
“It was done by a friend of mine named David Stoupakis. He’s a local artist here in New York and I first saw his artwork at the CBGB gallery, when we did that free show there,” Davis said (see “Korn Play Surprise Free Show At CBGB” ). “I gave him this lyric from one of the songs ['Seen It All'] … ‘I’m just a child with a tear in his eyes/ And I’m holding this gift that is broken.’ And I go, ‘Paint that.’ And he came up with [the cover], and it really blew everybody away.”