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Korn’s Jonathan Davis: “My problem with Christianity is the ‘holier than thou’ bullsh*t”

Jonathan Davis
(Image credit: Travis Shinn)

Jonathan Davis helped invent nu metal with Korn’s 1994 debut, and has since sold 40 million albums. It’s not been plain sailing; drink, anxiety, the death of loved ones and Covid have all tried to derail his career, but he’s made it through. Will your questions send him running, or is he here to stay?

Metal Hammer line break

Did you take up any weird hobbies during lockdown. Ice sculptures? Building small houses out of biscuits? Robin Blanchard, via Facebook

“Gardening. Me and my girl were going crazy, stuck in the house. We decided to go to the nursery and buy a bunch of plants. I’d never done it before; I’ve never been able to do that. It was really strange, but it looked really nice. It was one of those mindless activities that takes you out of your head.” 

Have you heard any of the new nu metal bands, like Tetrarch and Tallah? Did you even know that nu metal was ‘a thing’ again? Ursula Currey, via Facebook

“I’m glad it’s back, but the whole nu metal thing, it’s just whatever! Ha ha! I like this one band called Wargasm. They’re pretty cool. They’re heavy, but they’re new and different.”

You’re stranded on a life raft in the sea with Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, Robert Smith from The Cure and Mike Patton from Faith No More. The life raft can only fit three people. Who do you throw off to survive? Paula Herron, via Facebook

“Man, I’d never do that! Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am and I wouldn’t rob the world of their amazing talents. By process of elimination, I’d throw myself off! Ha ha!”

What’s the craziest/weirdest gig Korn have ever played? Ryley Day, via email

“The craziest one was at a lawnmower repair shop in Georgia with Sick Of It All. It was literally a tin-roof shed with a dirt floor. If you had to go to the bathroom, they’d just give you a roll of toilet paper and say, ‘Go shit in the woods.’ There were 200 people there and it was an OK show, so it was kind of cool, I guess – apart from the shitting in the woods part! Ha ha!”

When was the last time you dreamed about cutting up a dead body on a mortuary slab? [Jonathan worked as a coroner’s assistant as a teenager.] Jon Lionel, via Facebook

“I don’t dream about that period. I used to have nightmares about that shit back in the day. I’m over that, but I barely dream. I just found out I had sleep apnoea for fucking years. I got a CPAP machine and that really has changed a lot for me, sleep-wise. I can actually dream! For a long time I couldn’t because I quit breathing in my sleep.”

Korn

(Image credit: Tim Saccenti )

Head and Fieldy are both devout Christians. Have you ever been to church with them? Saz Morton, via Facebook

“No. I’ve been to church and I respect their beliefs; the world would be a much better place if people would just stop fucking sticking their noses where they don’t belong and respect people’s beliefs. My only problem with Christianity is the fucking ‘Holier than thou, we’re better than you’ bullshit. 

But those two, especially Head, don’t talk about that stuff. He just kicks back and accepts everyone for who they are. We played a livestream in a church when we released the new record and that was cool! I love the actual buildings; I decorate my house like a church. I just don’t necessarily like what goes on in them. Ha ha!”

2022 seems to be shaping up to be crazier than 2020 and 2021. What’s your tip for staying sane? Bruce Shipley, via email

“A lot of deep breaths. I do escapism too. Take time out of the day for yourself; whatever it is that takes you out of your head, I suggest you do it. Live in the now, because all that anxiety and stuff comes from thinking about the future. I’d just pick up a hobby – I love playing videogames with my kids. Right now we’re playing Halo Infinite and Destiny 2. I love Destiny because it never ends!”

When was the last time you went round Fred Durst’s house for a nice quiet cup of tea? Will Sheridan, via email

“1998. Ha ha! When this album came out, we texted and that’s it. I live in a different town. But I wish him all the best. When he directed the Falling Away From Me video, he had his shit together. He could get the budget right, get everything right, but it was also fun. 

We had all these concepts for the video, and we were on tour at the time, and he just walked in and went, ‘I have an idea!’ We read the treatment and were like, ‘This is the best one!’ Ha ha! There are tons of good Family Values tour stories, but during that time is when I got sober, so I wasn’t around a lot of the craziness. I was detoxing from all those years when I was a crazy, drunk idiot.”

How’s your collection of serial killer memorabilia looking? What was the last thing you added to it? Keith Grimshaw, via email

“I don’t do that anymore. I collect art, haunted stuff, anatomical specimens… stuff like that. The latest thing I got was a 19th-century kneeler from a Catholic church in Glasgow. I have a couple haunted dolls from the 1930s with very weird energy attached to them; you can actually feel it. 

I’ve a whole collection of them in my office and throughout the house. What else? Tabernacles, old religious art, tons of secret society stuff. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows have some really weird costumes that they wear in their rituals, so I’ve a couple of those in my house.” 

What happened to the Pop Scars game you once talked about making? Will it ever see the light of day? Laurence Reid, via email

Pop Scars was a game I was going to do back in 2000. It was this celebrity fighting game and we had all these different people sign off to be in it – Limp Bizkit, Staind, some pop stars – before it fell apart. The programming team left to go do a wrestling game, so it never happened. We worked really hard on it, we were gonna make it amazing, and they dropped the ball.”

What’s the one Korn song you’d erase from history if you could? Sandip Sathe, via email

All In The Family [on Follow The Leader]. It is the worst song ever! Ha ha! It’s horrible. We were all drunk in the studio and I was trying to rap. We were having a good time, but now I just cringe. I’ve got nothing against Fred [Durst, who did guest vocals on the song]; it just sucks! We were out of our minds drunk! It shouldn’t have made the record.”

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without showering? D Teether, via email

“Back in my drunk days, probably a couple days. It would be a couple days and then my bodyguard would pull me out of my bunk and say, ‘You smell! Get in the fucking shower!’ Ha ha! Now, I’ve gotta have one every day.”

How come you’ve never headlined the Download festival? Spike, via email

“I don’t know. Ask Download! There was one time where we headlined the small tent, I think. There were more people in this tent than at the main stage. It looked like the damn tent was gonna fall down! UK Korn fans always show up. In Europe, you guys don’t go, ‘Oh, Korn’s not a “cool” thing’; once you’re a fan, you’re a fan for life. You support your bands.”

When can we expect your next solo album and what will it sound like? Sacha Carr, via email

“After we do this run [with Korn], we’re gonna go back and start writing again. I haven’t written a lot, and that’s good because I’ve just been really enjoying my life; I’m a lot happier now. I have no preconceived notion of what it’s gonna be; it could be in the same vein, or I’ll try something different. I’ve experimented with all kinds of music, from country to big band. It could be any of them mixed together, as long as it’s got my vibe.”

Louder’s resident Cult Of Luna obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.