The Disturbing Backstory Behind Recording Korn’s ‘Daddy’

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As the seeds of nu metal were just getting planted, Korn were laying the groundwork for what the genre would look like. From the off kilter vocals of Jonathan Davis to the detuned guitars that filled up the mix, every single song tapped into something that was a lot more personal than what you would hear out of a Pantera or Metallica record.

It’s hard enough listening to some of these songs for too long, so you can only imagine what it was like actually living through that kind of trauma. 

Long before Davis found music as his calling, his childhood was surrounded by darkness, including a brief stint where he worked as a mortician. During his childhood, though, he was actually sexually assaulted by a babysitter, only for his parents not to believe him when he tried to confess to them.

After years of keeping those emotions in, “Daddy” was practically a therapy session in the studio, as Jonathan tears into his abuser and explains in as much detail as possible the horrors that he’s had to live with every day. 

Compared to songs like “Shoots and Ladders” or even “Blind,” there’s no real wall between singer and listener, as Davis breaks down halfway through the song, starting to sob as the might of the band continues to play around him. Davis recounted to Rolling Stone that he didn’t even realize that his insanely raw emotions were being captured to tape at the time:

“It was just a special moment that I did not know was being recorded, for one, because Ross [Robison, album producer] is a prick and kept the fuckin’ tape running.” Korn bandmate Brian “Head” Welch weighed in: “It was one of the most intense things I ever witnessed in my life. It was so crazy; I thought he was joking at first ’cause he was really bawling and everything. But it was very, very intense.”

For all of the raw wounds that were in the studio, though, this actually helped the band bond in a strange way, with everyone embracing Davis after his vocals were finished to make sure he was still on stable ground. 

Outside of that one vocal take though, Jonathan has been a bit cagey about the song both on and off the stage, not playing it live all that much since its release and always shying away from the topic when it’s brought up in interviews.

Nu metal may have gotten a nasty reputation as frat boy stuff in the days of Limp Bizkit, but underneath all of that aggression was a lot of raw wounds that never got the time to properly heal.