Korn tell Rolling Stone they will release their new album, The Paradigm Shift, on October 1st. The record, produced by Don Gilmore (Pearl Jam, Linkin Park‘s Hybrid Theory) finds guitarist Brian “Head” Welch returning to the fold after an eight-year absence.
With the two-guitar sound that shaped the early multi-platinum Korn albums back in place, Welch says the record has a lot of vintage Korn sounds. “I’m a metalhead. I love rock music, and I came here just wanting to do the old Korn vibe, but with a new twist,” he says. “Me and Munky [James Shaffer] haven’t been playing guitar together for eight years, so we came in just wanting to jam out with the bass player Fieldy [Reginald Arvizu] and Ray [Luzier], our drummer . . . The end product is a really good mix of old Korn mixed with some new elements. It’s got a fresh new Korn 2013 sound. And the melodies, the lyrics and the choruses on these songs are at a new level. It’s my favorite album by Korn.”
For frontman Jonathan Davis, having Head back as part of the family is welcome news. “Originally, him and Munky, what was interesting about the band and what we did was that twin guitar thing. So I think it brought unity back between those two,” Davis says. “To have our brother back was really good for morale. It was just fun being in the studio with his goofy ass again.”
Welch agrees that the band is in a far better place than when he departed in 2005. “Everything changed with these guys – everything is more positive,” he says. “Now everybody gets along. Nothing’s perfect, obviously, but for the most part, it’s just really awesome and positive.”
He is confident that the reunited band can make things last long-term this time, because they’ve passed the Europe test on their current overseas tour. “If there was craziness still around, it would come out in Europe, ’cause Europe trips bring out stress, anxiety and stuff. We’re coming into the last stretch of this, and it’s been great,” he says.
Recalling previous European tours, he says there was a lot of tension and some stoner-movie escapades. “The last year I was in the band, we were gonna kick out the bass player, Fieldy, and this guy’s girlfriend couldn’t be on this side of the stage because there were fights with another wife in the band,” he says. “And obviously the drugs – it’s no secret I was into the drugs, so crazy stuff, like having to finish our blow right before we got to the border because they were gonna come check to see if we had anything. Those crazy days are long gone.”
Davis tells us he had his own substance-abuse issues to get past, which heavily affected the writing of The Paradigm Shift. “Writing the record was really weird. They started writing, I think, in August, and I didn’t get into the studio until March, because I was going through all kinds of crazy shit. My boy got diabetes and I had come off medication for my depression, and that fucked me up,” he says. “I was in a straight haze. I detoxed off that medication – it was an anti-depressant, the anxiety and stuff. I’d been on it for three years and the doctor told me you gotta get off this, it’s bad for you.”
Davis decided to go to extremes to make sure that he could kick the meds once and for all. “I went to this county rehab. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this shit ever again,'” he says. “So I went into the most ghetto, fucked-up place I could find and I’m barely coming out of it now.”
Listening to his lyrics for The Paradigm Shift, Davis has a sense of wonderment, as he admits most were crafted in his haze. “The whole writing process I was on autopilot,” he says. “It was weird – I moved into the studio. I stayed there for four months, I only came home on weekends. I moved my boys in with me, so I had my kids with me the whole time. It was an interesting creative space,” he says. “It was stream-of-consciousness – so many songs I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. I didn’t really have to try to write, it just came out.
“It was really kind of magic. I don’t know how the hell I did it. I was so fucked up from coming off all that medicine, and I feel so good about the record. When I look back now, I’m like, ‘Wow, how did I come up with this shit?'”