Munky lays into one of his Ibanez APEX200 signature axes. Among his favorite effects is a Dunlop Cry Baby 105Q Bass Wah, which he uses for added grit when he plays in the lower registers. Photo by Ken Settle
Your sound has evolved a lot over the years. What aspects did Nick retain and what did he want to move away from or back to?
Head: Intensity. We wanted that, going into it. We wanted to write music to make the crowd move like when we first started in 1993. We’d get into a room and say, “What would the crowd do on this part?” We thought about all of these songs with the live shows in mind. We’re the ones that have to play them every night for the next decade or whatever it ends up being, so we were focused on live and he was focused on live.
Did you reduce the number of layers on the studio tracks in consideration of how the songs would be played live?
Munky: We did. We removed a lot of unnecessary layers so when you come to see us play live, it’s not like there are five or six guitar parts going on and you’re only hearing two. Basically there are only two guitar parts going on throughout the album.
I understand you recorded the parts live in the studio, which is a first for you guys.
Munky: Yeah, it was Nick’s idea. We were trying to get a group of three or four songs completed so we could send it to Jonathan, so he could start working on vocals. One of the ways Nick came up with was, “Let’s do it together.”
Head: Me and Munky recorded every song together facing each other for the first time. We would mess up and have to do it over. But we did the best we could and got a really live feel.
Head, you said in our last Rig Rundown that you’re a little sloppy as a live band, and that writing, not playing, is your strongest point. Was that a concern when recording the parts live where you have to get perfect takes?
Head: That’s when I sit down—I don’t stand up—and concentrate, and play the best I can. I can do pretty well in the studio. Live is different because you’re banging your head all around and everything. Some people say I’m harder on myself than I should be.
Do you double parts or play different things through the course of a song?
Head: It’s a lot of doubling and then we’ll often do some other things. Sometimes one of us will do an octave up or whatnot, just to get a different feel. It’s mostly doubling with the verses doing separate things.
Did you confer on specifics, like how you’re each articulating parts when you’re doubling? If one guy is pulling-off a part and the other is picking that same part, the inconsistency can keep it from sounding tight.
Head: Yes, we talk about everything.
Munky: We figure it out on the fly. We get the chord changes and 75 percent of it when we’re writing the song—how it’s going to be picked and stuff. When we go to record, that’s when we narrow it down and really fine tune things like what notes and how many times it’s struck and with what velocity, etc. And we play differently, which is what a Korn song should be. I always love when there’s some movement within it. Everything has to lock and sound good, but I don’t like when something’s too rigid that it feels mechanical. We’re not really that tight of a band [laughs]. Even live, we’ve made a career out of being a loose, kind of funky band. As long as we’re hitting the strings at the same time and everything’s in tune, it doesn’t matter if one’s going up and one’s going down.
There’s a big tempo change in “A Different World” at around 1:59. How do you do that live?
Munky: Honestly, just 30 minutes ago we were soundchecking that song onstage and it sounds massive. It adds a really heavy, slowed-down thing that’s missing from music nowadays.
Head: It’s cool that you noticed that. We were just talking about that. We did a thing that Nick called a “stripe,” I think.
Head: I think. Hold on, I’m going to text him real quickly. Okay, it’s called a stripe, and what he does is a tempo change with the click track. So the click does it, and Ray follows the click on the drums.
Munky: It was like, “How are we going to stay on the grid?” Nick created these tempo maps, because if we want to slow down the verse, then maybe the chorus needs to be pushed a little bit. So we created our own click track depending on the song. Say the verse is at 104 (bpms) and the chorus needed to speed up a little bit, we’d figure out what that tempo might be where it wasn’t completely out of the range, and we’d do like 108 (bpms).
Korn brings the crowd to their knees at the Louder Than Life Festival with “A Different World” (featuring special guest, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor), a song off their new album The Serenity of Silence. The sick tempo drops at around 1:58 and 2:53 add to the intensity of the performance.