Korn's Follow The Leader is turning 20 years old this year, and to celebrate the band is performing select shows to celebrate the album. Recently, The Ringer posted a pretty revealing interview with Jonathan Davis in celebration of this monumental anniversary, and there are some juicy bits in there.
Davis noted to The Ringer that the recording sessions for the album were fueled by “cocaine, speed, and just constant gallons of Jack Daniel’s,” before Davis got clean for that fall's Family Values Tour. According to Head, Davis was on suicide watch during the sobriety as anxiety and depression took a hold on him.
Davis expressed that he needed security during the peak of the Follow The Leader album cycle due to all the attention MTV gave the band.
“It was Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and fuckin’ ’NSync at the time,” he says. “We were the only rock band on TRL that was doing that shit. I had people showing up to my house trying to jump the fences to get in, all kinds of crazy shit.”
Davis joined Korn after consulting a psychic:
Enter Davis, the weirdo lead singer of yet another local funk-metal band, Sexart. While his future bandmates were raised on metal and the knuckle-draggiest alt-rock bands, Davis’s early inspirations were Duran Duran and Jesus Christ Superstar. Later, he became enamored of the Cure, and took to wearing eyeliner and trench coats in high school, making him an easy target for the local asshole-jock population. He claims he didn’t listen to metal until he heard Pantera’s 1992 groove-oriented classic Vulgar Display of Power.
“I was a mixture of Jim Morrison, fucking Robert Smith, and Rakim,” Davis says of his early performing style. The guys in Creep immediately tried to hire him away after catching a Sexart gig. After consulting a psychic, Davis finally relented.
As for the amount of drugs present, there was A LOT:
The liquor bill for the three months of sessions was astronomical: Davis estimates that it topped out at $60,000, though Korn’s buddies in Limp Bizkit and Deftones helped to partake in the copious amount of beer and Jack Daniel’s flowing through the studio.
“That’s not even counting the fuckin’ drug money I spent on blow,” Davis adds.
The decadence went up a notch during the recording of Leader’s caterwauling opener, “It’s On!” Davis refused to sing until a Scarface-sized pile of cocaine was placed in front of him at the mic. Meanwhile, an orgy featuring some of the band’s rock star friends surrounded him in the studio.
“It was the pinnacle of rock and roll excess,” he says. “I’m singing on a record, I’m high on cocaine, and there’s some bitch blowing an amazing fucking musician that’s in an amazing band—I’m not naming names, I don’t fucking tell. But it was a one of my homies and one of those porn stars. It was amazing.”
As for the song he's most embarrassed about, it's "All In The Family," one of the songs they definitely won't be playing when celebrating the 20th anniversary of Follow the Leader, a dumb diss track he duets with Fred Durst:
“We were fucking out of our minds, insanely drunk and high when we did that,” he says. “It’s like that scene out of Boogie Nights, when they were all fuckin’ on crank and they’re like, ‘No no, this is the best shit ever!’”
(Davis also dismisses “Cameltosis,” an unfortunate exercise in self-explanatory juvenilia featuring Tre Hardson of the Pharcyde. “What the fuck was I fucking thinking? I was 27. I was still really immature,” he says.)
The excess didn't stop with Follow The Leader. The article notes how much money was spent on 2002's Untouchables, which Davis considers the band's best album:
The massive scale of Untouchables puts the relative smallness of the NYC bands in perspective—it cost a whopping $4 million to make, in part because Korn had to keep its 15-person road crew on retainer for two years as it tinkered with “the heavy-metal Aja,” as Davis puts it, a reference to Steely Dan’s 1977 yacht-rock masterpiece.
The first album ever recorded in 96kHz digital sound, Untouchables was as excessive sonically as Follow the Leader was chemically. Fifty mics were set up to record one drum kit. Davis spent almost six months tracking his vocals. No expense was spared to make Korn sound elegantly ugly. “I know tons of soundmen who use that record to check their P.A.s,” Davis says proudly.
Read the whole write up here.