Korn exploded onto the music scene in the early ‘90s and ushered in an exciting new era in the post-grunge music scene. Along the way, Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu and his bandmates in Korn paid their dues, outlasted most of their peers and have risen to dizzying heights of rockstardom without compromising their integrity. Showing no signs of slowing down, the band returns to their roots on ‘Korn III – Remember Who You Are’. Reuniting with legendary producer Ross Robinson, the results of their ninth studio album are a true return to form for this legendary band. Jason Price of IconVs. Icon sat down with the infamous bassist to discuss Korn’s new album, his thoughts on the band’s longevity, his upcoming side project called StillWell and much more!
Korn has been a groundbreaking band and has influenced so many people over the years. Looking back on the early days of Korn, did you think you would still be going strong all these years later?
Ya know, we were started out back in 1992, but even before then, when we were young kids starting out, we were saying “Man, we are going to be the biggest rock band!” We had that attitude. Now that I am 17 years into this, I cannot believe how hard it is and I cannot believe that we are still doing it, now that I realize how hard that it is. When you are a kid you dream, ya know. It is amazing because we have extremely loyal fans.
Internally, the band has had its share of struggles along the way. As a key member of the band, what do you attribute the longevity of Korn to?
We started out with a strong foundation. We were friends before any of the success. In any relationship, it takes going through something really bad to see if they are really your friends. I think that we have been given every test that you could possibly come up against at this point. I don’t think that there is anything left! [laughs] I think every relationship needs to go through that and that is what has given us longevity.
As an artist, how do you think you have evolved from the first record all the way to the release of ‘Korn III – Remember Who You Are”?
I guess with the first record, we were laying the groundwork for who were were. I guess at the time we were kinda making what we felt. Over the years, we started experimenting and trying to make these big, epic songs and trying to show our musicianship skills. With this new record, we wanted to go back to the beginning of how we were writing those on fire, bangin’, poppin’ riff songs and we kinda just went back to that.
What was the writing process like for this record?
We would all meet at the studio, which was a 10,000 square foot studio, but we would go to this little back storage area that was 8’ x 10’, put all our equipment in there and jam out because back in the early days that was all we had, a little, tiny place to play. We were just trying to recapture that feeling of being together in a little room. We just jam out as a band and make up the songs day by day as a band.
Another element from the band’s early days was producer Ross Robinson. What was it like working with him again years later?
When we got in the studio, we started writing right away and then Ross showed up. It felt the same as when we left off with him in 1992-1993. It was almost like no time had passed.
I know Jonathan said this was an emotionally brutal recording session. Where you prepared for that going into the studio?
I think that Jon kind of expected it because he really digs in with everything that he has got.
Was that a difficult experience for the rest of the band, dealing with his emotional state while recording?
Ya know, it is kinda hard to see someone digging in like that. Jon went through some heavy emotions and was crying. To sit back and watch it was difficult. I was like “Man, it sucks that he is going through all that. I don’t think I could do it.” But I guess that is why he is Jonathan andI am Fieldy! [laughs]
It really seems that the band has stabilized its lineup with the addition of Ray Luzier on drums. What has he added to the mix?
Working with Ray has felt so natural. It’s not forced and I think that is why it works so well. Ray has been known to do drum clinics around the world and has an amazing reputation but he didn’t come in trying to show off all these skills. He knew what we needed and knew what Korn was about. He fit the mold and didn’t come in with this “Check me out everybody!” attitude. It really just clicked and we are really happy with him!
Was that the biggest challenge in making this record?
I guess the biggest challenge was — making the record was so much fun because we were going to the studio, jammin’ out and having so much fun. So it wasn’t a difficult process. Probably the biggest challenge in all honesty was driving from Orange County to Hollywood every day because of the traffic! [laughs] It kinda wears you out! I was even at the point where I was taking the train back and forth, just to mix it up a little bit. Everything else was just smooth and natural because we were just being Korn. We went in with the mindset of just making what we felt was Korn. Sometimes we would get off track and started writing some crazy song and we would say “Wait, let’s get back into what Korn does.”
You guys still manage to tour extensively. This year you have done the Ballroom Blitz Tour and you are currently out on The Mayhem Festival. Is life on the road easy or harder on you now as opposed to when you started out?
It is a lot easier now because we got to the point where we just understood how to tour and what comes along with it. Probably the hardest part of it at this point is being away from our families. If I didn’t have the family, I would absolutely love touring, it is fun! You have to travel a lot of years before you figure out how to do it. At this point, I think that we’ve got it down! [laughs]
I know that you have a solo project in the works. What can you tell us about StillWell and any idea on when we might expect it?
I just finished mixing the last song for StillWell. I play guitar in this project! That has been a lot of fun for me because I started out as a guitar player. I’ve got Q Unique on vocals, Ess Spider on Bass and I’ve got Wuv from P.O.D. playing drums. The music is called “Street Metal”. We are actually looking for a deal right now. I am supposed to meet with some people today about that. We are looking for a “different type” of deal to release it. So, it is finished! The name of the album is “Surrounded By Lairs.”
Will you be touring in support of that project?
We will probably do something in February because Korn is pretty booked up right now. We are going to Europe after the Mayhem tour, then we are going to Japan. So we will probably take a little time in November and December to chill out because we have been touring non-stop. My plan would be to have StillWell open up for Korn. It’s easy! People say “How do you do that?!!” but really an opening band really only plays for 20 to 25 minutes. That is easy! It is fun to go rock out! [laughs]
You guys came of age in an era where the big record companies dominated and now the game has totally changed. Being in the music industry as long as you have, are there still surprises?
Yeah, man! It has changed a lot! For us, it is all about touring. The music industry has changed so much, to the point where everybody just burns CDs or it’s on your iPod. It is almost like CDs are obsolete. My youngest daughter is 8 months old but I think that by the time that she is a teenager I will show her a CD and she will say “What’s that!” [laughs] A good example is StillWell. I was talking to my singer Q and said “Let’s put a product out a T-shirt or a doll and you would get the StillWell CD for free with it.” Today, you just want people to get it the music and hopefully give them a little extra in return.
Korn has always been a little ahead of the curve on that in regards to marketing, dating all the way back to the home videos, to the “After School Specials”, to the special concert events for album releases and even the launch of Family Values. As a fan, I have always appreciated the time that you take to give so much back.
Thank you! Yeah, we just try to understand where the fans are coming from. You have to think like that instead of being mad about the situation. That is what we always try to do, to be on the fan’s side.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for Korn?
We are just focused on the new album, ‘Korn III – Remember Who You Are’, which just came out two days ago. Really, it is all about seeing what happens with that. We are out on tour trying to promote it and then we will see what happens. I guess I need about five more days! [laughs] It takes a week before you know where you are with SoundScan and you know what the sales numbers for the album are and if people are digging it or not. Until then, you just don’t know!
I can’t remember a time where I didn’t head out on the first day to pick up a Korn album and you guys have definitely made a record that lives up to your previous work.
Thanks, man! We appreciate it!
Korn spearheaded a boycott of BP and many artists took notice and joined the movement. Has the reaction to that movement surprised you?
I guess when you do something like that, you get both positive and negative feedback. There has been both in this case. The whole thing that we are trying to do is positive. The people who are being negative about it, if I ask them “Well, what are you trying to do about it,” most of the time the response is “Nothing, but I want to do this.” To that I say, “Well, do something then!” Like I said, most of the naysayers aren’t doing anything more than pointing a finger.
Is there something that jumps out at you in your mind as the defining moment of your career?
When we did Woodstock ‘99 in Rome, New York. We did a show and I think there were 300,000 people. We hit the stage and because of the way that music travels, sound doesn’t reach the people until later. So when we started with “Blind”, people started hopping and it made a wave because the people in the back weren’t hearing the music until later because of the way the sound travels. We just saw a sea, a wave of people and you couldn’t even see the end because 300,000 people is a city! Just seeing that amount of people was amazing. There was another point where the crowd put their lighters up in the air. To see that amount of people do that was crazy. The whole experience was absolutely mind-blowing! I don’t think that we have done anything since then that could top that because that is as big a moment as they come!
You certainly have left your mark on the music landscape. As a career musician, what is the best piece of advice that you would give to someone looking to make music their livelihood?
I guess I would tell them to put 100% into their practicing but at the same time, find some people around you that you can trust that aren’t “Yes Men”. A lot of people get stuck in these bands where people are telling them what they want to hear. Find someone that you can trust and respect musically and listen to what they have to say because there is so much ego involved when you are in a band. Most of the time it is a bunch of egomaniacs. Put your ego aside, find someone that you can trust and listen to them, so you don’t get stuck in some band that goes no where forever!
Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans before I let you go?
Yes. I would like to thank all of our fans for their support and loyalty. It has almost become this weird sorta family, ya know? Thank you all for supporting us for all of these years. We truly appreciate it.
For all the latest news and tour dates for Korn, visit their official website at www.korn.com.
Fieldy released his autobiography in 2009. ‘Got the Life: My Journey of Addiction, Faith, Recovery and Korn’ is a no-holds-barred look at his extreme highs, drug- and-booze-fueled lows, and, finally, redemption through a conversion to Christianity.
Got the Life is simultaneously an insider’s look at rock n’ roll superstardom—the good, the bad, and everything in between—and a survivor’s story of a life brought back from the precipice by a new found belief in religious salvation. With never-before-seen photos, and never-before-heard stories, the book is raw, candid, and inspiring—the ultimate story of rock and redemption.