From the October 1996 issue of Metal Hammer Magazine
ON TOUR WITH KORN
by Dan Silver
Date: Sunday, August 25th
Venue: Krazy House, Liverpool
Dan Silver hangs out with Korn in Liverpool and witnesses total fan hysteria! There are plenty of politically correct, self-appointed spokespersons for a nation who will go to great lengths to eradicate the proliferation of regional stereotypes. At best they're mildly upsetting, at worst genuinely insulting (and I should know, being a cockney who lived in Essex), but, as the proverb goes, there's no smoke without fire. This afternoon, Liverpool's much maligned reputation has taken a further battering: some "fans" have stolen a selection of Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis' custom made (and thus extremely valuable) Adidas clothes, including a couple of pairs of his rather fetching sequinned tracksuit bottoms. The normally mild-mannered singer is not best pleased, but then that's one of the problems with being the hottest metal band in the world -- everybody wants a piece of you.
Jonathan's flight case-cum-wardrobe was, you see, too heavy to carry up the back stairs of Liverpool's aptly named Krazy House venue, and was thus carelessly left, unattended, by the open loading doors. "Well, it is Liverpool", snorts Hammer snapper Mac, adding weight to a couple of bystanding fans' concern that their city's name is about to be dragged through the mud once more.
"Someone ripped off your pants? Ha ha ha!" laughs Korn's beefy bass player Fieldy, breaking off from taunting Steve, ace Lee-Hurst-look-a-like and drummer of support band Bullyrag. "No, really, that's fucked up," he adds in a more serious vein before returning to his sport once more. "Anyway, you should change your name to Bullyfags!" Any message for the tea leafs, Fieldy? "Yeah, I sure hope they look good on ya." For Jonathan it's just another chapter in what is already a pretty dismal day. Suffering from a pretty nasty cold which, by his own admission, has turned him into a ball of mucus and shot, matters are not helped by the fact that Korn are about to play their third gig in two days. "My cold sucks," sniffs Jonathan. "I fucking hate being sick. It's a waste of time. I feel like shit and I can't play as well as I possibly could. Every time I come to Europe I get sick for some fucking reason. Always."
The remainder of Korn are wisely holed up in their hotel rooms, leaving Jonathan and Fieldy to mill about playing coin-ops and a highly competitive round of table football (the singer won by a country mile, if you're interested, a result achieved as much by furious spinning and Fieldy's inability to see the need for moving the goalie).
Then comes the soundcheck, the most unglamorous and downright tedious point of any concert, especially considering that Korn's highly talented tub thumper David is a perfectionist to the point where he insists on checking each drum individually, pounding his skins one by one at head-cracking volume for nigh on 40 minutes. "Soundchecks are a pain in the arse," agrees Jonathan, eager to get it out of the way and grab a beer (or six). Outside, the waiting crowd of Korn fanatics stretches 'round the block and it's still a good hour until the doors are scheduled to open. Amidst the throng of mad-for-it Scousers we spot the familiar face of Kevin Strange, last month's Korn superfan who's made the trip up from London for the show. Now that's dedication.
When the floodgates are opened, it's premature: the police, patrolling the area in flak jackets and squad cars loaded with some serious-looking firepower, have ordered the Krazy House management to get the kids inside and off the streets, obviously fearing large-scale trouble from the 800-strong capacity crowd. Like I said, stereotypes, man....
As the time for California's premier extreme metal act to hit the stage approaches, Korn's spacious dressing room has adopted a rather surreal edge. The venue's promoter is chatting to Pete, the band's manager, while juggling apples from the rider. The up to now comparatively reserved guitarist J. Munky Shaffer is lying in a heap on the floor, demanding that Pete be given a plentyful supply of passes to distribute to young girlies in the audience before declaring, bottle of Bud in hand, that he's too drunk to play.
With superb timing, Fieldy bounds into the room, stands stock still, and then states with full sincerity that he's had too much to drink and will not be able to take to the stage. At this point Jonathan leaps from his chair brandishing an impressive long wooden pole, threatening to spear the hapless guitar player through the heart should he even consider dropping out of the gig. Wisely, Munky opts to retreat to the toilet for his pre-gig ritual - "The Munky shit" - instead. Discussion then turns to Donington, and then to the size of Dino Cazares' breasts (a D-cup, reckons Fieldy - at least!). Time to leave....
The gig itself is typically manic and not without incident. A rammed and overcapacity Krazy House is swiftly turned into the world's largest Turkish bath, complete with stage-divers coming as thick and furious as wasps on the swarm. On their current short tour, British and European crowds have gone Korn krazy. It's a fact that has not escaped the band.
"I hate to fucking bag on the US," enthuses Fieldy after the show, "but European crowds are better."
"No matter how the shit is," interjects exhausted guitarist Brian, "the crowds just go Richter mad."
"In the US it's all about violence. They just hit each other, beating up on 12-year-olds; European crowds shred, they fucking hop! I think it's 'cause they're so sick of eating cheese, they just hop. They have fun! US bitches better get a clue or we're never gonna play there again."
"Do you remember New Brunswick?" chips in Jonathan. "This guy gets up on stage, comes up to me and goes POW! right in my mouth, grabs my mic and starts singing! What did I do? Socked him right back!"
Speaking of violence, at one point during the set it looks as if everything's about to go off here too, albeit between a member of security and Care Bear, the far-from-soft-and-cuddly-man-mountain who guards Korn's stage, ejecting crap divers. After a misunderstanding in the heat of the moment, followed by threatening pointing and shoving, the sidestage tension increases a notch or two. Care Bear is later heard asking various band members if they'll bail him out should he get arrested, before heading off in search of said security man. Not nice.
Still, there have also been many magic moments on this tour so far, Jonathan's best coming in Glasgow. "I cried. The biggest dream in life for me was to play bagpipes in Scotland for people. I busted them out and the crowd started singing 'Flower Of Scotland'. I knew what it was and I cried. That was the best show I ever had in my career. I thought people would think, 'Who is this American guy coming to our country and playing bagpipes?' To sing the national anthem at me though...."
Then again, not every gig goes so well. In America the band have had black witches come up to them after their show and attempt to put curses on them. Manager Pete also relates a fine anecdote relating to how Korn have been banned from playing the Desert Sky Pavilion in Phoenix, Arizona, after their fans constructed huge bonfires - and then stole the fire hoses that security attempted to douse the flames with and burned those too, racking up $15,000 worth of damage.
It's now midnight and the dressing room is awash with beer, Bullyrag and women (one distressed female approached myself and Korn's press officer, distraught that her 15-year-old sister had been whisked off backstage!), while Fieldy is lolling around with a bottle of vodka, initiating mass choruses of Cameo's 'Word Up'. It's at this point that everything goes, well.... pear-shaped. Security arrive and present a suitably soused Jonathan with his missing clothing. Apparently the thieves had turned up at the gig wearing the stolen clobber (duh!). A genuine fan reported them and gave security their home adresses. One half-mile trek later and the goods are once more back in safe hands. The sozzled singer is once more moved close to tears....
A fairytale ending, then? Not on your life - this is Korn, remember. As Jonathan's jubilant celebrations continue, he begins to singlehandedly demolish a bottle of Jack Daniel's. We congregate on the Korn tour bus and Jonathan takes the seat opposite mine, gulps further a large mouthful of bourbon, smiles sweetly, coughs.... and then brings the lot back up again, depositing the regurgitated whiskey inches from my feet, before flashing a "butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth" smile. Now that's a finale!