Two decades into a career that has brought a new generational fanbase to a wholly reconfigured brand of metal music, the members of Korn are still scratching their heads.
"I think it's just one of those things that we could try to figure out and understand," the band's bassist and co-founder Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu says. "But it just doesn't make sense. I don't know how you can keep making so many songs out of such a simple style. It just doesn't make sense to me at all. I don't get it. Music is weird, man. That's all I can say."
Simple, perhaps. But inserting modest levels of groove and melody in the usual metal crunch made Korn one of the initial "nu metal" bands of the 1990s. That it rose to prominence alongside a growing alternative music scene didn't hurt either. That, along with a reputation as a ferocious live act, made Korn's self-titled 1994 debut album a monster hit that spawned double platinum sales and a quartet of hit singles led by the guitar-centric Blind.
"We are so limited in what we do that we're kind of forced to be super creative," Arvizu says. "So these really cool tricks that come out in our songs are because we're forced to make the music cool because we're not that good."
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Korn's current placement on the Prepare for Hell Tour with longtime ally Slipknot cements a restoration of sorts for the band. While its music has never gone out of favor (its 2012 album The Paradigm Shift entered the all genre Billboard 200 chart at No. 8), Korn is coming off its first full year with founding guitarist Brian "Head" Welch back in the ranks. Welch left Korn in 2004 to deal with mounting substance addictions. He subsequently launched a solo project, Love and Death, which he says is still ongoing. Several subsequent attempts to reunite him with the band fell through until Arvizu intervened.
"Over the years, we tried to have it happen a few times and it just didn't line up or work out," Arvizu says. "Then Head just happened to show up at one of these concerts we were doing. So we talked a little bit. The next thing you know, he was like, 'Man, I'm going to go watch your set, but it's going to be weird because I'm used to being onstage with you guys.' So as we were walking over to the stage, I said, 'How about you do the last three songs with us. He said, 'What? Are you crazy? I could maybe do Blind.' When we got to the stage, Jon (Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis) and Munky (co-guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer) were there. I was going, 'Hey, Head is going to do Blind with us tonight.' And that's how it happened. We did it. Everything felt good and it just took off from there.
"Now, the spirit within the band is better than ever because I think everybody is finally at an age where they know their place and their role. With Head coming back, we wanted to do something that was totally just about who we were and what Korn was. That was our mindset in making The Paradigm Shift. We weren't going, 'Well, what role does Head play and Munky play? Where's my role? Everybody was stepping into what they do instead of trying to fill a spot for someone else. So we just took our positions and it turned out exactly the way we wanted."
Following the conclusion of the Prepare for Hell Tour in early December, Korn will break for the winter and hit the road again in March for a more proper 20th anniversary tour that will have the band performing the 1994 Korn album in its entirety at every show. The tour is expected to last into 2016.
"The secret for people to understand in doing this is that the main thing you've got to do is show up," Arvizu says. "We never really think about our careers too much. We just grab hold of the moment."