I’ve been a Korn fan for a long time. Not since day one, but over the first three albums they grew on me to the point where now I’m a huge fan. So when I got the opportunity to sit down with Munky from Korn, face to face, I jumped at it. This interview has probably been the highlight of my Zoiks! Online career. We talked about the tour with Disturbed, playing with bands like Metallica and Ozzy. We even talked about the future of Korn and Munky’s side project Fear and the Nervous System. It was a lot of fun for me, so enjoy.
A - Hey Bob, how’s it going?
Q - Pretty good, how are you?
A - Pretty good.
Q - How have the first couple of shows of the tour been?
A - I think the line up is really good. We know most of these people, most of the crew people and the bands from playing different festivals and stuff. We’ve played with Sevendust a lot of times. Of course Clint (Lowery) was playing with us as the second guitar player for awhile. With Disturbed we’ve done different shows. We know them a little bit.
Q - How did putting two big bands like Korn and Disturbed together to tour, not to mention great opening acts like In This Moment and Sevendust, come about?
A - Monster (Energy Drink) approached us is really what it was, with Disturbed. I think they wanted to put together something that the fans would enjoy.
Q - When you have two huge bands like Korn and Disturbed how do you decide who plays first or second?
A - That’s why we’re flip flopping. Like tonight they close the show, last night we closed the show so it’s kind of rotating. We have the same amount of time for songs. Each band gets an hour.
Q - I’ve seen Korn live maybe 9 or 10 times. On a lot of those shows there are other great live bands on the bill for instance Metallica, Rob Zombie, and Mudvayne. Now you’re playing between two great live acts in Sevendust and Disturbed. Does that pressure add to your performance, make you feel like you have to step it up?
A - I think it helps motivate us. I think it does. I think all of the bands push each band to bring their best game which is a win for the fans.
Q - Whose idea was it to hit the in between markets rather than the big cities?
A - I think it was honestly Monster. We did the major markets in the summer. With the economy the way it is right now, not a lot of people have money to go and drive to Chicago. So we wanted to put together a package that was more affordable and in the smaller towns. We’re from a smaller town and when a band came to Bakersfield it was a big deal. We talked about it for two months ahead of time. A lot of those shows, when I see some of my old friends we still talk about them. ‘Remember when we saw…Ted Nugent,’ or whoever came to Bakersfield that year. We still talk about it. It’s cool to have a band come to a smaller town. That’s where most of the fans…they don’t get a lot of shows. That’s why the fans really enjoy themselves, because they really appreciate it. Larger towns, Chicago, Milwaukee you get shows every week, twice a week.
Q - A lot of times you get two or three shows to choose from a night.
A - Yeah right.
Q - Last year you released your last album “Korn III: Remember Who You Are.” How are those songs translating live?
A - They go over pretty well. Die hard fans still want to hear the old stuff, but we have to promote the new record and get fans up to speed on what we’re doing right now. It’s difficult trying to choose a set list. We’re still trying to figure it out even now. It’s the third show of the tour. We’re trying to make some changes. It’s difficult trying to please everybody and still satisfy ourselves. You’ll never make everybody happy, but we’ll try as much as we can on this tour to play the new album.
Q - What I liked most about your last album was it was a return to your roots, but at the same time it was still new and fresh. What were you going for with the last album?
A - I think we were trying to capture the live element, playing as a band, recording onto tape. We just wanted to get that fire and excitement back about recording a record and not knowing what’s going to happen, being in the moment as your writing and tracking, the excitement it captures, as opposed to getting everything into the computer.
Q - What did Ray (Luzier) bring to the album?
A - Ray brought a lot of…a lot of killer beats (laughs). He’s just a really great drummer and in this business there are very few drummers who can play like him. It was nice to have someone new, fresh blood in the mix, bringing his talent into what we already had. It was refreshing and really exciting. He’d been playing all of our songs, the old catalogue, stuff that he hadn’t written, so it was nice to see him write his own stuff and see the passion behind his performance. Really, he gave more than anybody thought.
Q - Was there much of an adjustment live at any point as a guitar player playing with a new drummer?
A - No, it was pretty seamless. I mean we played with Joey Jordison a little bit, before that it was Terry Bozzio. There were some different drummers, Joey played with us and then Ray came to Seattle, rented a kit at the very end of one of our tours. Fieldy and I played a bunch of songs with him, Fieldy and I knew after about five minutes with him this was going to work. He knew all the songs. He probably learned like 20, 25 songs and was ready. We were just calling out songs and playing them, he was slamming it.
Q - While preparing for this interview I came across an interview with Fieldy and he said that you had already begun recording demos for the next album. How far along are you with that process?
A - We have probably three songs we wrote a couple two three months ago. We went into the studio, we wrote some songs, Jon demoed the songs on his computer, and then we took them into the studio and played them live and tweaked them a little bit. Then we put those down and recorded them. They’re cool. They kind of remind me a little bit of the Soundgarden style, that sort of Seattle sound…just one of them. The other songs are sort of different, a little more in the experimental stage right now. I don’t want to give too much away. We’re definitely moving forward, we’ll probably start recording in April to try and fine tune this sound we’re developing.
Q - Speaking of new albums I was researching on the always reliable Wikipedia and it said that your side project Fear and the Nervous System was on pace to release its first album this year.
A - Yeah, yeah. It’s getting closer. There are just three more songs to mix, find somebody to distribute it and go from there. I still have to talk to my manager and ask him what he thinks about it. I’ve done this up to this whole point all on my own with the other guys in the band. I didn’t want anybody, a manager, a record company looking over my shoulders saying I don’t hear a single here. This is an album, these are the songs. I didn’t want anybody standing over me telling me creatively which direction to go. It just took on a life of its own. I really need advice on what’s the best way to release it, and get it to as many people on an independent level, whether it be Road Runner or somebody else. But yeah it should be ready hopefully by the summer.
Q - You’ve taken several bands under your wings and helped them have success. When you were starting out were there any bands that did the same for you?
A - Machine Head, I wouldn’t say they took us under their wing, but they talked a lot about us in the European press and in the states too. Rob Flynn really hyped us up, so I think there was an expectation and excitement when people heard us. Bands like Metallica took us out on the road. Ozzy, I don’t know there were a lot of bands. Those are the biggest names I can think of right now. Putting us in front of those crowds helped us gain a following.
Q - You’ve accomplished so much; is there a moment, record, album, tour, etc. that stands out?
A – Yeah, I think probably making the record “Untouchables” because it took so long and it was like a huge party for several months. We did some work, but mostly partied (laughs). I think for shows probably Woodstock ’99 was huge. There’s been so many. I remember riding on a tank going down the streets of Toronto which was fucking weird. It was cool. We were doing this press tour for “Follow the Leader.” We were doing this crazy stuff like two cities a day. We had a private jet and when you have a private jet you think party, get really drunk. You go to the signings drinking beer under the table while you’re signing stuff. It was pretty fucking silly, riding on tanks and shit, or driving through on a hummer or monster truck. We had Jim Rose with us for awhile doing a Q&A. He’s a fucking character. He’s funny and a cool guy.
Q - What advice would you have for bands trying to make it in the music industry right now.
A - Self promotion is probably the key. I think a lot of people get stuck at home on the computer saying, ‘wow look how many people are here.’ Try to play as many gigs as you can because the best way to reach people is face to face, and not computer to computer. Those people are cyber people; they’re not real until you see them in person. You hand them your CD or your flyer and then you see them at the show then it becomes a reality. You have to get people out of the cyber world and into reality. I think the most important thing is to get people to your shows and by doing that I think face to face promotion rather than, ‘oh I have 15,000 people on my Facebook or MySpace page, but how many of those people are going to come to your gig?’ That’s what it comes down to.
Q - With the state of the music industry is the online stuff helpful at all?
A – Yeah, I think it’s helpful for everybody. For awhile it was only hurting big bands and helping smaller bands promote themselves, but I think the waves are evening. It’s more accessible for people. It’s sort of an obstacle, not really an obstacle, more like a curve where we were behind but now we use it to reach fans in every little corner of the world, fans who never would have heard about the show, or you or your music.
Read the review of the Music as a Weapon Tour 5 from Rockford, IL here: "Music as a Weapon Tour 5 featuring Korn & Disturbed – Rockford IL." – Concert Review.
Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.