Nu metal was already snowballing by 1998, but it would be the Family Values tour that took it to another level. The brainchild of scene leaders Korn, it hit the road in America in the Fall of 1998 and featured a stellar line-up that included stars-in-waiting Limp Bikzit, Teutonic controversy-magnets Rammstein, gangsta rap godfather Ice Cube and death-pop pretty boys Orgy. By the end of the year, it had established nu metal as a genre-mashing cultural force and a heavyweight commercial proposition. More than 20 years on, we sat down with Korn frontman Jonathan Davis to look back on the tour that took set the nu metal revolution ablaze.
Jonathan Davis (Korn): “This idea started super early. For years, we always wanted to do a festival and put something together that was new. We went back and forth with our management and figured out what we were going for and how to do it. It was fun to do.
“It was about showing what was going on at that time. We were at a turning point in heavy music and it felt huge and we wanted to put something on that showed what the fuck was going on. Everyone was given a full production so it felt like you were getting a headline show from all of the bands: Limp Bizkit with their big-ass spaceship, and we had the Korn Kage that put kids on the stage, rocking out with us. I think the cage was Fieldy’s idea and to this day, I still think it’s one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.
“It served its purpose in the way it exposed people to what was going on at that time and what we were doing in Korn. It blew everything up. It was the first time we ever played arenas and it seemed everyone who was on that tour – except for Cube, who was already huge – blew up and were playing bigger shows after. It was a stepping stone to all of our bands and that scene taking over for a couple of years.
“We were convinced we needed to have a hip hop act on there. We all listened to hip hop at that time and it was a big influence on us and the scene, and who better than Ice Cube? That was the shit. It was awesome. That guy is a legend and people had to respect that. I didn’t worry about the crowd not taking to him at all because he ripped it up every night and you can’t deny that. He was bringing old NWA into his set and the crowd loved it. The kids who liked us and Bizkit came from the same school of thought as us so having Ice Cube on there made total sense to everyone.
“We always tried to get Deftones on the tour but we could never figure it out. Other than that, it was the exact bill that we wanted to put on the road. Everyone hung out and it was a good time, but it was when I was dealing with anxiety for the first time so I spent a lot of time in my bunk. I remember everyone in the band had a great time and got along with every other band and there was no bitching – it was an amazing tour.
“Family Values could definitely happen again. I’d like to bring out trap artists and things reflecting what’s going on right now in music, just like we did back in the day. There’s plenty of aggressive acts in all forms of music that could tour together and do a new Family Values so it’s definitely something we could look at doing again in the future.”