The band’s catalog consists of nine consecutive debuts in the top ten of the Billboard 200, including a compilation album, Greatest Hits Vol.1, and their untitled eighth album, released on July 31, 2007. To date, Korn has sold over 45 million albums worldwide (to date), including 20.5 in the U.S., while earning six Grammy nominations—four of which they have lost.
History|Formation, Neidermeyer’s Mind demo, Korn (1993–1995)
Korn formed after the group L.A.P.D. folded, due to singer Richard Morrill’s drug addiction. Musicians Reginald Arvizu, Brian Welch, and David Silveria wanted to continue, and recruited guitarist James Shaffer and vocalist Corey Cinque and started a new band called Creep. Corey was soon dropped due to the band being dissatisfied with him.
In early 1993, the band took notice of vocalist Jonathan Davis after seeing his band Sexart and attempted to get him to join Creep. Davis initially did not want to join the band, but after consulting a psychic he decided to audition and then joined the band. The band soon changed their name to Korn (After Jonathan was recruited, they decided to get a new name. Jonathan suggested Korn as just a brainstorm, but everyone else liked it. So Jonathan got a Crayola crayon and wrote their logo in a child’s handwriting, with a “K” instead of “C” and a backwards upper-case “R”. Korn was born.)
In April that year, the band began a working relationship with producer Ross Robinson, which led to their first demo tape entitled Neidermeyer’s Mind. The band had problems getting signed during its first year, due to the 1990s rock scene, which was primarily grunge. After many attempts at a record deal, Paul Pontius from Immortal/Epic Records heard the band in a nightclub and was so impressed, he signed them on the spot. With a producer and a label, Korn started work on their self-titled debut album.
Musically, the album was a mix of both heavy metal, alternative rock, hip hop, and funk; the latter elements encompassed in the rhythmic approach to the band’s compositions. “Blind” was the first single from the album, which got a fair amount of airplay and attention. Once Korn saw a release on October 11, 1994, the band toured incessantly with no support from radio or video stations. They relied solely on their intense live shows, which created a large cult like following of dedicated fans. It was through the effort of this fan base that helped push Korn onto the Billboard 200, eventually peaking at #72 in 1996, with “Shoots and Ladders” being their first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.
On their first large tour, Korn opened for Danzig alongside Marilyn Manson. Other bands for which Korn opened in 1995 included Megadeth, 311, Fear Factory, Flotsam and Jetsam, and KMFDM. However, the first tour that widely exposed the band was opening for Ozzy Osbourne alongside the Deftones. After opening for lesser-known bands such as Dimestore Hoods, Sugar Ray (obscure at the time), and Life of Agony, Korn returned to the studio to record a second album.
Life Is Peachy (1996–1997)
Korn teamed up with Robinson once again for their second album, Life Is Peachy, released on October 15, 1996. Musically, it was similar to the first album, but also showed more of a funk influence on tracks like “Porno Creep” and “Swallow”. The album included two covers, War’s “Low Rider”, with Davis’ bagpipes and Head on vocals, and Ice Cube’s “Wicked”, with guest vocalist Chino Moreno of Deftones.
To help promote their new album, Korn opened for Metallica, along with utilizing the Internet. Life Is Peachy sold more than 106,000 copies in its first week and reached #3 on the Billboard 200. The first single, “No Place to Hide”, spawned a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. “A.D.I.D.A.S.” was the second single and only music video, which also did well.
The band gained more popularity after co-headlining the Lollapalooza music festival in 1997 with Tool. However, Korn were forced to drop off the bill after Munky was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Also that year, Korn augmented their growing crossover appeal by collaborating with Los Angeles based production and remix duo the Dust Brothers on the track “Kick the P.A.”. This track appeared on the soundtrack of Todd McFarlane’s film Spawn.
In late 1997, Korn formed their own record label, Elementree Records. The first signing was Videodrone, whose singer, Ty Elam, is credited for giving Jonathan Davis singing lessons. Orgy, however, released their debut album prior to Videodrone’s, giving Elementree its first Platinum certification. Orgy’s guitarist, Ryan Shuck, is known for playing alongside Davis and Elam in the band Sexart. Over the next few years, Korn signed other acts like rapper Marz and Deadsy.
Follow the Leader equals mainstream success (1998–1999)
Prior to the release of the band’s third album, Korn produced a weekly online TV show, KornTV, which documented the making of the record and featured special guests such as porn star Ron “The Hedgehog” Jeremy, Limp Bizkit, and 311. The project also gave fans the chance to call in and ask the band questions, an approach that represented one of the first times a band utilized the Internet in such a way. Korn released their third album, Follow the Leader, on August 18, 1998, which featured a number of guest vocalists such as Ice Cube, Tre Hardson from the Pharcyde, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit and actor Robert “Cheech” Marin on the hidden track “Earache My Eye” (written by Marin himself.)
Korn launched a political campaign-style tour to promote the release of Follow the Leader. The tour took the group on a chartered jet all over North America to help promote the album. They talked to fans, answered questions and signed autographs during special “fan conferences” which were organized at every stop along the tour route. Jim Rose hosted the entire “Kampaign” tour.
The album was a complete success, debuting at #1 on Billboard with 268,000 copies sold, and spawning the singles “Got the Life” and “Freak on a Leash”. They both exposed Korn to a wider mainstream audience, with the music videos being mainstays on MTV’s TRL. “Got the Life” was the show’s very first “retired” video, with “Freak on a Leash” reaching that same success months later. The singles also fared well on the Billboard charts, with “Freak on a Leash” peaking in the top 10 of both Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock, the latter of which it spent 27 weeks on—more than any other Korn single to date.
“Freak on a Leash” won a Grammy for Best Music Video, Short Form, and received a nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. The video also earned nine MTV Video Music Awards nominations for Video of the Year, Best Rock Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Viewer’s Choice. It eventually won two, for Best Rock Video and Best Editing. Follow the Leader is the band’s most commercially-successful album, being certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and having sold almost ten million copies worldwide.
The same year Follow the Leader was released, Korn started their own annual tour called the Family Values Tour. Korn headlined the highly-successful tour along with Incubus, Orgy, Limp Bizkit, Ice Cube, and Rammstein. A live CD and DVD were released and earned Gold and Platinum certifications, respectively. In 1999, Limp Bizkit headlined, along with Primus, Staind, The Crystal Method, Method Man & Redman, and Filter. Korn were not featured on the bill and instead only made surprise appearances at a few of the stops to perform “Falling Away From Me” from the album “Issues.” The tour took a break in 2000.
The band’s fourth album, Issues, produced by Brendan O’Brien, was released on November 16, 1999, featuring cover art designed by Alfredo Carlos, who won a contest held for the fans by MTV. Issues was released during a week of many highly-anticipated records. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with more than 573,000 copies sold, keeping Dr. Dre’s long-awaited album 2001 and Celine Dion’s greatest hits album from hitting #1.
To celebrate the album’s release, the band performed the record in its entirety in front of a live audience at New York’s historic Apollo Theater and broadcast the concert simultaneously across many radio stations. This performance made Korn the first rock band, and only the second predominantly white musical group, to ever perform at The Apollo, after the legendary Buddy Holly in the late 1950s. This special event featured the NYPD marching drum and bagpipe band conducted by Richard Gibbs as well as a group of back-up singers to enhance the more melodic choruses Davis used on the album.
Earlier that year, Korn had appeared on an episode of South Park, titled Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery, in which the first single from Issues, “Falling Away from Me”, was premiered. Korn released two more singles from Issues, “Make Me Bad” and “Somebody Someone”, both of which fared well on Billboard. Videos were shot for all three singles, with longtime friend Fred Durst directing “Falling Away from Me”, and Martin Weisz directing a concept video for “Make Me Bad”, as well as a performance video for “Somebody Someone”, which featured the use of CGI effects. Every video was a staple on Total Request Live, two of which made it to retirement. Issues is considered by some critics to be less hip hop-influenced and closer to alternative metal than nu metal. It was certified 3x Platinum, following up the success of Follow the Leader.
On June 11, 2002, after a year and a half of hard work and a long creative process, Korn re-emerged into the media spotlight with their fifth album, Untouchables. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 with 434,000 in sales. Sales were disappointing in comparison to the first four albums, as Untouchables has only been certified Platinum once. The band has blamed Internet piracy for the drop in sales, as an unmastered version of the album had leaked three months prior to its official release date.
The release of this album was preceded by a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, a day prior to the album’s release, broadcast digitally throughout U.S. movie theatres. Untouchables featured electronic beats, strings and various guitar effects the band had never used in an album before. The overall feel was drastically different from previous efforts, particularly tracks like “Alone I Break,” “Hating,” and “Hollow Life,” which singer Jonathan Davis claims is one of his favorite Korn songs to this day.
The first two videos from Untouchables were directed by the Hughes Brothers (best known for their films, Menace II Society and From Hell). The first video, “Here to Stay,” has the band playing inside a TV with a static background along with controversial news stories and world issues being presented. The song itself earned Korn a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, and would become their highest-peaking single on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart. The second video, “Thoughtless”, was a nod back to Davis’ childhood as the character in the video (previously featured in the first Vanilla Coke commercial) is picked on and constantly beaten. The third video for Untouchables, “Alone I Break,” was directed by Sean Dack, who won the honor of directing the video through an MTV contest.
Prior to their next album, Korn released a new single, “Did My Time” on July 22, 2003, which was used to promote the film and appeared on the soundtrack to Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Angelina Jolie appeared in the Dave Meyers-directed video. “Did My Time” also gave Korn yet another Grammy nomination in the Best Metal Performance category.
Take a Look in the Mirror, Greatest Hits, Head’s departure (2003–2005)
Take a Look in the Mirror, was released on November 21, 2003, four days earlier than originally planned. Korn produced the album themselves, and released “Right Now”, “Y’All Want a Single”, and “Everything I’ve Known” as singles. “Right Now” and “Everything I’ve Known” had animated music videos, whereas “Y’All Want a Single” featured Korn and a large group of fans destroying a record store. The album was an attempt by the band to return to its roots with a more raw and heavier sound. The album peaked at #9 on Billboard, selling over 179,000 copies in its first full week.
Korn released their greatest hits album, Greatest Hits Vol.1, on October 5, 2004. The album debuted at #4 on Billboard, selling more than 129,000 copies. It featured two cover songs as singles, and a compilation of the band’s hits from the past 10 years. The first single was a cover of the song “Word Up!”, which was originally made popular by the group Cameo. The second single was a medley of all three parts of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”. A remix of their hit single “Freak on a Leash” was also included as a bonus track. Special editions of the album included a DVD titled Korn: Live at CBGB featuring seven select songs from their November 24, 2003 show at CBGB.
Prior to Korn starting work on their next album, Brian “Head” Welch announced that he had “…chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end,” and was formally leaving Korn. Initial speculations that this was a hoax or practical joke were proven wrong; he has become highly spiritual, even being baptized in the Jordan River and speaking openly about his faith and conversion. This was the band’s first official line-up change in their history.
See You on the Other Side, EMI/Virgin (2005–2006)
Upon completing their record deal with Sony, Korn partnered with EMI and signed to Virgin Records. As part of this innovative arrangement, Virgin paid Korn $25 million upfront in exchange for a share in the profits of their next two studio albums, including tours and merchandising. Virgin also received a 30 percent stake in the band’s licensing, ticket sales and other revenue sources.
The band’s first album for Virgin, See You on the Other Side, was released on December 6, 2005, and debuted on #3 on the Billboard 200, scanning close to 221,000 copies. The album managed to stay in the top 100 of the Billboard 200 for 34 consecutive weeks. The first single from the album, “Twisted Transistor”, was accompanied by a comedic video directed by Dave Meyers in which rap stars Xzibit, Lil’ Jon, Snoop Dogg, and David Banner portray Korn. The single itself peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks, Korn’s highest entry thus far, and #9 on Modern Rock. The second single, “Coming Undone”, had its performance-based video directed by Little X, who previously helmed only hip hop and R&B videos. See You on the Other Side is certified Platinum, and has sold over two million copies worldwide.
Korn held a press conference at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on January 13, 2006, announcing the See You on the Other Side Tour. 10 Years and Mudvayne were selected to open all dates of the trek, which kicked off in their hometown of Bakersfield, on what Mayor Harvey Hall officially declared as “Korn Day”, February 26. The resurrection of their Family Values Tour was announced on April 18, 2006, which featured co-headliners Deftones, Stone Sour, Flyleaf, and Dir en grey on the main stage. Korn and Evanescence co-headlined the 2007 edition, with Atreyu, 2006 alumni Flyleaf, Hellyeah, and Trivium rounding out the main stage.
While promoting See You on the Other Side in Europe, Jonathan Davis was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood platelet disorder that hospitalized him for the weekend and prevented him from performing at the renowned Download Festival. The band still performed, with guest singers including Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour fame, Skindred’s Benji Webbe, and Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows. This led to Korn canceling the rest of their European bill for 2006, including the Hellfest Summer Open Air. It was originally unknown to the public what his ailment was, but the singer revealed in a letter to fans that he was “dangerously low on blood platelets and at a high risk of death from a hemorrhage if the problem was not treated”. His illness did not affect the 2006 Family Values Tour.
Untitled album, MTV Unplugged, David Silveria’s departure (2006–2008)
In early December it was announced that founding drummer David Silveria would be taking an indefinite “hiatus” from the band. Korn then performed at the MTV studios in Times Square on December 9, 2006, for the MTV Unplugged series, which was broadcast on February 23, 2007, through MTV.com and on March 2, 2007, across North American, South American, European and Asian MTV stations. In front of a crowd of approximately 50 people, Korn played a 14-song acoustic set complete with guest appearances by The Cure and Amy Lee of Evanescence. The performance was eventually cut down to 11 songs for the album, two of which did not air on MTV. Sales of nearly 51,000 brought MTV Unplugged: Korn to #9 in its first week out. The disc has yet to receive a Gold or Platinum certification because in comparison to all the other albums it was a serious disappointment.
Korn’s untitled eighth album was released on July 31, 2007, debuting at #2 with 123,000 copies in its first week. The album has been certified Gold for shipments in excess of 500,000 copies. It also concludes Korn’s unique deal with Virgin Records, and features touring keyboardist Zac Baird, giving the tracks a deeper, atmospheric sound. Drumming duties were left up to Terry Bozzio, Jonathan Davis, and Bad Religion’s Brooks Wackerman, as well as Joey Jordison from Slipknot (who played for the band on live shows) as David Silveria went on a hiatus. “Evolution”, “Hold On” and “Kiss” have been released as singles, with the former two charting on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks at #4 and #9, respectively.
Recent events (2008–present)
Korn was nominated, along with 31 other artists, for the Best of 2007 by Fuse in November 2007. They ended up making it to the final round, but lost to 30 Seconds to Mars by roughly 200,000 votes.
Ubisoft reported in October that “Korn has written and recorded an original song inspired by Ubisoft’s upcoming Haze video game”, simply entitled “Haze”, which was released on April 22, 2008. As a first in the video game industry, “Haze” will be released and promoted as a full-fledged single and music video, not just as an exclusive download with the video game.
In 2008 The band played in Dubai for the annual Dubai Desert Rock Festival.
Korn performed their second leg of the Bitch We Have a Problem Tour in Australia, with drummer Ray Luzier of David Lee Roth and Army of Anyone fame, which was preceded by a Latin American and European run, plus festival dates in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. Munky left the Bitch We Have A Problem Tour shortly after the beginning the European leg began due to his father becoming ill. Despite rumors that he was leaving the band, Shane Gibson has stated on Kornspace.com that his [Munky’s] father had fallen ill and that Munky was not leaving the band, but Munky returned to the tour in Milan on February 23. This has been confirmed also as a video of Munky playing “Falling Away From Me” surfaced on Kornspace on Feb. 24th, filmed the night before. Due to Munky’s return, Rob Patterson is no longer touring with Korn.
In an interview, Fieldy stated that Korn would be recording a new album sometime this year (2008), and that it would be a return to their heavy roots. He stated in the same interview that he would also be releasing a solo album of funk and jazz fusion pieces, as well as releasing his own book. The recording of the 9th album should take place sometime in November of 2008, with a Spring 2009 album release, Ray Luzier will take over drumming duties unless David Silveria comes out of his hiatus.
Korn released a new live DVD, Korn: Live in Montreux 2004, one of their performances with former guitarist Brian Welch on May 12, 2008. Additionally, a second greatest hits compilation titled, “Playlist: The Very Best of Korn” was released on April 29, 2008.
Jonathan Davis has stated at some concerts with the AIP tour and in some interviews, the interest of having Brian “Head” Welch back in the band, at a concert in Europe he told the audience “I miss that motherfucker and one day he will be back people”. In an interview with Head, he said that he’s “not ready to come back,” while acknowledging that it’s a possibility.|In year 2010, Head stated that he’d like to return to Korn, but the band said that they’re at the end of making their album “Korn 3” and that he can return after it’s release.
Korn recently contributed to the album Nightmare Revisited with a cover of the song, “Kidnap the Sandy Claws”.
In a September post from Jonathan on MetalUnderground.com, Jonathan said that Korn would be taking a longer break. He assured that it wasn’t a ‘hiatus,’ but merely a well-needed rest, while he works on his solo album.
After the yearly Family Values Tour, Korn will headline Mayhem Fest 2010 with Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, and Lamb of God. Korn is looking at a summer 2010 release date for their new album.
Origin: Bakersfield, California, USA |Year active: 1993