Earlier this year Jonathan Davis, the front man of Korn, released a solo album entitled “Black Labyrinth.”
He will be performing songs from this new album on Oct. 20 at the Anthem stage in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Davis contacted the Weekender for a Q&A and to promote his upcoming show.
Weekender: Tell us about the never-ending labyrinth in your head and the concept of your “Black Labyrinth” album.
Davis: “It’s just me navigating through life, period. In a black labyrinth, you can’t see anything. You are constantly bumping off walls, which basically represents my whole entire life. The whole concept behind this record, which I started and finished ten years ago…it’s a decade old…, is that I was really pissed off at religion and a lot of things. I was trying to figure out what I really believed in religiously, and all that good stuff. I came up with that concept for the record, and it’s just me doing what I do, experimenting with different styles of music, group music. Yeah…all the pieces fell together and here we are.”
Weekender: Can you tell us about the Ganzfeld Experiment workshop you will be conducting?
Davis: “Gansfeld is something I did since way back. It’s basically sensory deprivation. You take away your eyesight while keeping your eyes open. You have these goggles on; it’s like a giant sphere. While you can’t see anything, you put headphones on and listen to white noise. After a while you start to see things, hear things or experience things. All kinds of stuff happens, it depends on the person. A lot of people do it for a half hour. I walk in and talk to them, and then a half hour later I come back and they swear I just left. You lose sense of time. You’ll see windows opening up…it’s basically your brain stimulating itself…you’re looking into your mind. It’s a fun time, and it made me realize there’s other things out there than what we’ve been taught. You ask yourself why you are seeing what you are seeing. Are we plugged into something like a simulation? The bottom line is it is all entertainment, but it’s fun to explore.”
Weekender: How is this solo experience different for you than creating albums with Korn?
Davis: “With Korn I had four other band members and we all had input on things to collectively make the music. My solo stuff is just me by myself and whoever I’m writing with at the moment. Most of it I wrote with my buddy Miles Mosley…it’s just two different vibes.”
Weekender: How many people are in your touring band, and is there any overlap with members of KORN or your other projects?
Davis: “Yeah. Ray (Luzier) is playing drums. It was the first thing he did when he started playing with the band (Korn). I asked him to record on my record. He did a great job, and I wanted to recreate that sound as best as possible, so I asked him to go on tour. I have two others, Chris Nix on guitar and Brian Allen on upright bass, and that’s it. I much prefer upright bass…it’s a man’s instrument, what it takes to play that thing.”
Weekender: Take us inside of your mind. What inspires such darkness and horror we hear in your lyrics and see in your videos?
Davis: “Just life, brother. I’m not necessarily trying to be dark, it’s just the life I’m experiencing. I was born and raised in Bakersfield, so I should be a country artist. The story of my life lends itself to my music. I’m very awe-inspired by the dark. When you are in that spot, and you are hurting, music and lyrics pour from your soul…it’s just a way I work things out…the way that I deal with things on stage, it’s my therapy, and it’s my church. I leave all my problems on that stage when I leave. It’s just how it’s all worked out.”
Weekender: What is your favorite or most personal song on Black Labyrinth?
Davis: “There’s two; ‘Final Days’ and ‘What It Is.’ ‘What It Is,’ because it connected with so many people. It is a song that is very empowering to me. I think when you finally come to grips with what is bugging you in your life, you know, the dark things, and you confront them and mysteriously this stuff no longer has power over you and you can work things out and find your happiness. If you have depression, that’s a different story. I’m just saying usually these things build up and lead to that. It’s just one more weapon in your toolbox to deal with that. The other one (‘Final Days’), I just love the instrumentation. Those are the standouts to me.”
Weekender: How did your writing process change after going sober in 1998? Is it easier or more difficult?
Davis: “It’s way easier and it takes a lot less time. When you’re hammered, it takes you forever…spinning your wheels. Drugs have inspired lots of amazing art, not to say, but it depends on the drug. I’d say if you smoke some pot, which I have, it can be very inspiring. To take a drag off a jay, not get “high” high, it can get you inspired. I’m fully for that. Marijuana is an amazing medicine, and it’s helped lots of people, including myself back in the day…but anything else…I’m glad I’m sober. I have kids. I’m their dad. I like to set a good example.”
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Weekender: What was the moment in your career that you realized you had “made it” in the music game?
Davis: “I think we made it in music when we sold out The Whiskey (a-Go-Go)…and that was before we were signed. We made it when we started playing arenas…when we played the ‘Family Values’ tour, and even before that, when we got our first tour bus…we were opening for ‘House of Pain’ and just thought, ‘we are going to do this!’ And we went on from there.”
Weekender: What is your ultimate goal in your career and has it happened, or are you still working on it?
Davis: “The ultimate goal is longevity, and I think it’s happening. Being able to stay relevant and in the game as long as we have, and to continue to do so is my goal. And whatever byproduct happens, happens, but that is the main one.”
Weekender: What sparked your intrigue in collecting morbid and obscure items and what are some of your most fascinating pieces?
Davis: “I had to stop collecting all this stuff because of the kids. What the spark was, I worked for the coroner’s office for years doing autopsies. I went to mortuary college and I was an embalmer, so of course that’s what sparked my interest. I did that for a long time before I was in Korn. I embalmed a lot of people. It’s an interesting process.”
Weekender: What should Sioux City be expecting with your show? Will it be fully from ‘Black Labyrinth,’ or will you mix in some Korn songs, as well?
Davis: “I’m not doing any Korn songs. I want to keep the two separated, but I want people to have an experience. I want to take them out of their heads for a while, have them watch a show and have their brains go somewhere else…that’s the whole object of this. I hope everyone comes out. From all the shows I’ve been doing, people have been real happy with it…I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.”
Weekender: Will we see more solo projects from you on the horizon?
Davis: “Yeah, as soon as I get home I’m going in to start writing, that as well as a new Korn record. I want to keep doing this.”
Weekender: You mentioned a new Korn record, as well?
Davis: “We are working on it, but we don’t know when it’s coming out. When I get home I’ll start singing on some tracks.”
Weekender: What is your favorite scary movie or series?
Davis: “I love ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.’ I don’t watch that many movies. I love video games and watching ‘Ancient Aliens’ and physics shows…that’s what it’s turned into. But there’s always good ones like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Suspiria’… all those really good old horror films.”
Weekender: When you aren’t creating music, who are some of your go-to artists to listen to?
Davis: “I’ve been listening a lot to 30s and 40s style music. I love that era. Big band, and all that stuff that was going on at the time during the war. There were real musicians and there was no Pro Tools. What else? Let’s see…it’s funny, I’ve been listening to the new ‘Xanadu’ soundtrack with ELO and Gene Kelly. It’s amazing.”
Weekender: If death was a tangible entity, what would you imagine he/she/it looks like?
Davis: “Death? I think it would look like something inviting. They always depict death as the Grim Reaper…dark. But I don’t think that’s the case. When you die, it is just to be reborn as something else. You get to get the hell out of here. It depends on what age you are, of course. To me it wouldn’t be scary, it would be calming…someone to lead you to where you are going. People think it’s a deep, dark thing with a sickle, but I don’t get that. It’s gotta be something that’s very peaceful.”