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Q&A: Korn's Jonathan Davis on EDM's Positive Vibes, Gay Marriage

'To me love is love,' says singer

Jonathan Davis of Korn performs at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey.
Paul Zimmerman/WireImage
May 16, 2012 5:45 PM ET

Korn are still riding the momentum from their ambitious tenth LP, The Path of Totality, which found the hard rockers experimenting with dubstep via collaborations with Skrillex and others. The band just announced a fresh round of tour dates through June, including a headlining slot at Canada's EDM- and hard rock-leaning Boonstock festival. And they recently released a new video for the track "Way Too Far," produced by 12th Planet, Flinch and Downlink. 

For singer Jonathan Davis, branching out into dance music offers the kind of camaraderie that he's been missing in the rock scene. Davis spoke with Rolling Stone about the EDM community, his views on gay marriage and how his kids let him know when a song is working.

What can Korn fans expect from the summer tour?
We're bringing this new type of music we made to all the fans. It's a dance-rock hybrid show. We got these video screens. It's just a mixture of both scenes. It's really cool seeing metal fans and EDM fans with glow-sticks in the same room; it's pretty intense.

You don't see a lineup like Boonstock's very often. What's it like for you to play with acts like Chukie, Kill The Noize and Puddle of Mudd at the same festival?
I love those guys. The [EDM] scene is a family-type scene; everybody is like homies. It's way different than the rock scene, so it's really nice to go out there and experience that kind of crowd and then go back and see the other crowd, 'cause I love both.

How is it more of a family vibe than the rock scene?
They're always together, they're all friends; it's different. I don't want to talk shit about the rock scene – it's just nice to see that kind of brotherhood going on. It makes me feel good, and I saw that in rock before but I haven't seen it in a while. We used to have that when we were touring around with the Deftones in like '93, '94, and then it just kind of stopped. Everyone else did their thing and we did our thing, but in the dance scene they're looping everybody in with everybody. It's just all one big scene.

What do you think caused all the band beefs?
I think there was a lot competition in the rock scene. And I know there's gotta be competition in the EDM scene, but the people I've been around – I can't say I've been around everybody, but that's what I noticed.

It was nice to see bands like Gaslight Anthem show support for Tom Gabel after he came out as transgender last week. What was your reaction to that news?
I think it's cool. If you feel inside you are a woman, be a woman – no one can take that away from you, man. No one can make that feeling go away. If that's what you need to do to be complete, then no one has the right to tell you you can't do that.

In the same week, North Carolina voted to ban gay marriage and Obama officially declared his support for it.
It's cool Obama supported that – that's one good thing he's done. I think if two people love each other, they should be able to get married. That's pretty much simple. But there are people who are very, very conservative that believe it should be between a man and a woman. I don't want to get in the middle of this stuff. As long as people get treated equally, I don't care. If a man and a man get together and they get the same rights and everything, whatever they want to call it, call it. But it's just a touchy-ass subject. Everybody gets offended.

People get so crazy, and that's the problem – these preconceived notions in people's heads that they should have the right to judge people on what they do. "Oh, that's horrible, those two men are together." "What the fuck does that have to do with you?" I never get that.  To me love is love, and if two people love each other they should have the right to be wed or union-ed, or whatever the hell you want to call it. It sucks that North Carolina made it illegal, and it sucks that California made it illegal. I think people should be able to do what they want to do.

You're recording an EP under your DJ name, J Devil. How's that coming along?
Oh, it's coming out so good. I'm having so much fun doing whatever, going against the grain. I got three or four more songs done while I was out here. I'm just having a blast writing electronic music that's really different. People have been freaking out about it. I'm just writing and writing, trying to find what I really want it to be. And when it's ready we'll pick a single, put it out on Beatport and do it the old-school way. I got some different styles I'm mashing together and I want it to be really, really right.

Will you go to any of the upcoming dance festivals?
I got three boys now – they're young and they need their dad and I'm gone months at a time, so if one of the festivals is close by, I'll grab my two little ones that are with me and check it out. It's funny, one of them loves rock music and one of them loves electronic music, so they're little critics. Pirate loves rock and he's seven, and Zeppelin just turned five and he loves electronic music. He's a huge LMFAO fan. All he does is walk around singing their songs, and when I'm producing J Devil stuff he'll come in and say, "That's so awesome, Daddy!" He'll get so excited. I know I'm doing a good job if he starts dancing. He's my little muse, I guess.

Watch Korn's "Way Too Far" video below:

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