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KORN IS CAUSING MAYHEM
The ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAYHEM FESTIVAL 2010 made a tour stop in the Mile High City this July. Just as in prior years, the line up of all three stages had something for every fan, but the main headliner for this year's event was KORN. The new album Korn III -Remember Who You Are sold over 60,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release and debuted at number two on The Billboard 200 chart. Sonic Excess had the opportunity to chat with KORN drummer Ray Luzier before they hit the stage in Denver.
Interview by: Brigit Haugen Photos by: Brandon Marshall
The ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAYHEM FESTIVAL 2010 made a tour stop in the Mile High City this July. Just as in prior years, the line up of all three stages had something for every fan, but the main headliner for this year's event was KORN. The new album Korn III -Remember Who You Are sold over 60,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release and debuted at number two on The Billboard 200 chart.
Sonic Excess had the opportunity to chat with KORN drummer Ray Luzier before they hit the stage in Denver.
Interview by: Brigit Haugen Photos by: Brandon Marshall
Interview by: Brigit Haugen
Photos by: Brandon Marshall
Sonic Excess: How is the tour going so far?
Ray: It's been going really good. Tickets are selling, and I am really happy about that. There are a lot of tours out there this summer, and there are a lot of things going on. So, it feels great, and tonight's show is sold out. It's crazy. We are having fun and yeah, mayhem. It's literally mayhem, (laughs) there are motorcycles jumping up and little people running around. (Ray was referring to the METAL MULISHA team which did not perform in Denver and to the Oompa Loompas that were part of the show)
SE: Do you change your set list, or does it stay the same for every show?
Ray: We do change it. In fact, quite a bit. The first show we added two or three songs off the new record. We took some out, and put some in. Sometimes Jon (vocals) comes up to us and says "Hey let's try this." So last night we took out "Right Now", second, and put in "Coming Undone". They have such a huge catalog. I mean this band has been together for 17 years, and this is the ninth studio record. So, having that mass catalog sure helps.
SE: Since you are no stranger to big production tours, what is the difference between this one and others you performed?
Ray: Well, this one is more chaotic, because I have never been on a tour with three stages. I toured many years with DAVID LEE ROTH. We have done everything from stadiums to clubs, but we have been the main bill with a bunch of opening bands. Now, this three stage thing, it's amazing how they coordinate it and it stays all together. It actually runs like a smooth machine every day, well, more or less, (laughs) but, it's great. The main stage has a lot of great bands, from FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and LAMB OF GOD to ROB ZOMBIE, and we close it.
SE: You will be on OZZFEST (one day shows) in England and Israel later this year. How did this opportunity materialize?
Ray: Ozzy loves KORN. (laughs) Well, the management books everything. They see what packages go together, and KORN played with OZZY before. There was definitely a good relationship. So, I'm sure that had something to do with it.
SE: I read that KORN felt they had to earn playing on big festivals, even though from the start the band produced award winning albums. What is your take on that statement?
Ray: I think every band has to pay their dues. I come from a background where I was doing a lot of sessions, and playing with a lot of other bands, to get to where I am at now, but they were just KORN. That's it, these guys from Bakersfield, CA, and they did amazingly well; even though a lot of people slammed them, saying they wouldn't be anything. They proved everyone wrong. So, for that in itself, to me it's paying mass dues. They were in that little cesspool of nothingness up there, and they took off with Ross Robinson helping them produce their first album. Boom, you know.
SE: Speaking of Ross, he produced the first two KORN albums, and he also produced the latest album. Is there a reason you guys got him back for this one?
Ray: To the three original guys, it was like a family reunion. Ross had a lot to do with the way they sounded on the first two records. We went back, old school. Ross said no click tracks. Usually, for a drummer that is a nightmare, because we always want a machine that is keeping time for us. He said no click tracks at all. We are going to two inch tape, and we are going to go into a small, tiny room. We were in a 13 by 12 foot room, and he just wanted us as uncomfortable as possible, old school. He wanted us like back to the way when they started with that hungry passion, and it was brutal. We left there sweating and bleeding every day. (laughs)
SE: I heard that Ross had it out especially for you?
Ray: He rode my ass hard. Me and Jon got it the worst. He wanted me to make sure I knew, well, you don't just join a band like KORN. I have been in a lot of big bands, like Stone Temple Pilots and David Lee Roth, but nothing compares to KORN.
SE: Then apparently they saw something in you that made them think that this was going to fit.
Ray: My dimples. (laughs and informs Munky (guitar) the reason why he drums for Korn is his dimples) But no, it just works. Some things work in bands, and sometimes the members don't mesh. But, it's great. They are like a cool brotherhood, and KORN is so identifiable. There is no one that plays guitar like Munky, no one plays bass like Reggie, and no one sings like Jonathan. So, to get into that fold you really have to get inside of it. I guess this is why Ross rode me so hard. He wanted to make sure that I knew what was going on.
SE: So after it's all said and done, are you satisfied with the end result of your drumming on the album?
Ray: Totally! The first two weeks I wanted to kill that guy, to be honest with you. I wanted to strangle him. (laughs) I never wanted to strangle someone so bad in my entire life. He made me feel very small, and I felt like I was the worst drummer. But, after a while, I started seeing the method that he was going for. We would write a song, and, about 30 or 45 minutes later, we tracked it for the record. It was so fresh, and there was no time to think about transitions or the next part. If I stopped in the middle of a song, he said: "What are you stopping for? Don't ever stop!" I replied: "I don't even know what's next!", and he said "Make up something, do time". I might have gotten two takes, maybe three, and that is what you hear on the record. So for me, and I am kind of a perfectionist when I do records, those things will outlive us all. When we are dead and gone, that record lives on. So, to me it has to be perfect. But, you know what, now when I look back, we are all humans, our hearts beat at different rates. I am so sick of those perfect sounding records. Everything is fixed. It's quantified, the vocals are perfect, and the drums are so perfect. You don't sound like that live. So why are you doing it in the studio?
SE: So, whose idea was it then to go all analog for the new album?
Ray: It was a combination, but Ross defiantly fueled the idea to bring the old analog in and the guys were all for it. The drums have a warmth. You hear that sound on the record. You can't get that from digital. Maybe the oil of the tape or something does it, I don't know. (laughs) Of course it was transferred to Pro Tools, but with minimal overdubs.
SE: KORN III -Remember Who You Are, does the title reflect how you guys feel at this point in your career? Remembering who you were when you started?
Ray: I think so. Some are saying it sounds nothing like the first two records. Well, we were not trying to sound like that. When we said "back to the roots" and going "old school", we merely meant going back in a small room; you know, when bands are hungry, because a lot of famous bands are getting too comfortable in their rooms. Ross wanted attention, he wanted fury, and passion from the gut. He didn't give a shit about the instruments in front of us. For him, that was a low priority. He wanted the feeling.
SE: I heard that Jonathan sometimes cried during recording?
Ray: Full-blown. You can hear it on "Holding All These Lies", the last track on the record. He left it all out there. I mean it's all about that. That's why it's Korn III -Remember Who You Are. It's back to that feeling, that hungriness.
SE: So, is that a reason why KORN did the "Ballroom Blitz Tour"; to keep you honest?
Ray: (laughs) Honest is an interesting word. Well, we started in Alaska went thru Canada, South America, and then did some small B-markets in the states. We wanted to get back to that intimacy. Don't get me wrong, the big tours are great, but when there are 1,500 people, the balcony is hovering over, and the fans are right in your face, I love it. There are no fancy stage antics. It's the KORN backdrop, bass, drum, guitars, and we have keys helping us out. Nothing escapes. You can't fake that. So, to me, I love that, because you have to bring it every night. Yeah, we did everything from small clubs, to theaters, to mini arenas.
SE: So, what do you prefer?
Ray: I prefer both. You know I love this (Mayhem tour), it's awesome. There is nothing like seeing all of those people, feeling the power they give back to you. But, I played enough clubs in my career that I can do without them. (laughs) Especially the small, smelly, sweaty ones, with the backstage area where the shower hasn't been cleaned in ten years. I will take this (Rockstar Mayhem) any day.
SE: Whose idea was is to do that Crop Circle performance?
Ray: That was very cool. The management was going to do that for a while, a Live at Pompei (Pink Floyd) kinda thing, and the guys wanted to do something different. So, we went out there with no audience in the middle of Bakersfield. People came from overseas and built these crop circles, and it's really eerie. We did this whole thing. We started around dusk, and it faded into the night. That came out on HD.Net, and you can actually see the whole thing on MySpace. It was crazy though. We did those hippie jams. We went into this thing where Fieldy would come up with a groove, Monk would hit the pedal, we would just play something, and then do a new song.
SE: So, it was not choreographed and all planned out?
Ray: No, we just did it on the fly. We tentatively wrote a set list; put some things together, like maybe we should play this, but the jams and everything else were all off the cuff. That was crazy, because we were all looking at each other and thinking hmmm. (laughs) There were helicopters flying overhead. Takes you out of this room, for sure.
SE: Speaking of Bakersfield, are you also from California?
Ray: No, I'm from Pittsburgh, PA. Way different, but I did grow up on a 118 acre farm; close, very close to how their surroundings were. There was a lot of nothingness; 118 acre farm to Hollywood Blvd. (laughs) So just a little change.
SE: I have to bring it up. What did you think about the South Park episode with KORN?
Ray: Loved it, one of the best ever. When I was watching "Pirate Ghosts", I had no idea that I would ever be a part of this band.
SE: Any famous last words?
Ray: I would like to thank the fans for all of their support. Seriously, there are no better fans than our fans. I know every band says it, "there are no fans like our fans", but there are NO fans like KORN fans. It is crazy. After I joined the band, we did a 35 country tour in four and a half months. There were people with KORN tattoos all over their body, with the album covers going down their leg and Jonathan's face on their back. It was insane. I have never seen the power they had before that. I mean, they have changed a lot of lives with their music, and this is very powerful. There are a lot of lifer's out there, and I want to thank all of them for accepting me into the band.
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