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9th February 2015

Interview: Korn

Donald Spencer chats with James “Munky” Shaffer, guitarist and founding member of Korn

So it’s finally happened, the dream tour. It’s a monumental line-up! “It’s good, I can’t believe it didn’t happen sooner. I think each band was sort of carving out their own paths for a while, and I think it took a certain point in our careers, as well as a certain level of opportunity to make it happen.”

What about King 810? “They’re really great, I think a lot of people are becoming more familiar with their music, and if I’m ever touring with a band I like to check them out to see what they’re all about. They’re pretty heavy, but they also have some funkier songs. They’re from Michigan, really nice guys. They’re trying to behave for the tour, but we can tell they’re fucking crazy.”

Around a year and a half ago they released the latest record The Paradigm Shift, but on this new album we hear a mixture of old and new Korn… “I came up with the title, and it felt like with Head coming back in the band and the fact we were reaching our 20th anniversary as a band, it was time to move forward and shift our way of thinking. We wanted to push ourselves, we don’t want to fade out and become a thing of the past.

I don’t want to sound pretentious but we want to excel, and in my heart when I was a kid I wanted to be the next Metallica.” Not far from it. “I’m not saying we’re anywhere near that, but I think we did present a new way of thinking about metal… With such a massive library of songs to choose from I think we might have to change our way of playing in the future. Perhaps we will play songs in part, then switch it up at the bridge the way DJs do it, that way our fans can hear more stuff.”

Metal is a very misunderstood genre of music, and there are some people who dismiss it. “It’s an art, and it’s not for everyone. I can walk through a museum and say ‘Hey I like that painting, but not that one.’ It’s just personal taste, if there’s something that makes you feel something, whether it’s good or bad, it’s still cool. If it’s not for you, find something that is.” Have you heard of Bring Me The Horizon? “They’re excellent, I like that band a lot.” The front man Oli Sykes says: ‘‘Love us or hate us, it’s still an obsession.”

“That’s a nice quote. British metal is great, Black Sabbath got me into this sort of music, I love me some Sabbath. There’s so much great music out there.”

Talking about Bakersfield, CA: “It’s a very working class kind of town, I was born in L.A. but because my dad was in the oil industry we had to move. There was pretty much zero going on for music around there. People thought our dreams would never come true, but when we turned 18 we got the fuck out of there. And so began Korn.”

“The name? It’s a pretty fucking disgusting story. There was a story in Bakersfield that there were two gay guys, one of them was eating the other guys ass and the other dude farted, and shat corn all over his face. The K and the backwards R just gave us a trademark.’’ What about actual corn? “Yeah, it’s delicious on the grill.”

Finally, I ask Munky his favourite film: Tough one. I would have to say Apocalypse Now. A long film. My Dad took me to the movies one night and we watched that movie and it scared the shit out of me… But I was intrigued about it. I can still see the images in my head, it opened up a world of dark imagery, which I think satisfies a part of the human soul. It all reminds you how temporary this body is, that’s one thing we all have in common, we’re all gonna be fucking dust.”

Slipknot and Korn went on to play a furious and fantastic show that evening, along with King 810. Slipknot return to the U.K. on the 12th of June to headline Download festival.

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