As the ‘90s turned a corner, Korn made heavy metal dangerous again.
After grunge died, Jonathan Davis’s totally unique vocals combined with the harshest riffs imaginable struck a nerve with the youth burnt out on Seattle.
While Korn may have kickstarted the nu-metal bandwagon, all that pain was coming from a genuine place.
In their ascent to one of the biggest bands ever, they had their fair share of demons to wrestle with. For as many hit singles they had with the metal crowd, Korn had to deal with everything from abuse to bankruptcy in the background.
As their star rose, some of those stories got brought to light for the world to see. While the band members have been open to talking about their problems, that hasn’t stopped them from hammering on each other either.
Korn might bring pain when they play, but they always know there’s a fine line between having a good time and absolute mayhem.
The Origins of Korn’s “Daddy”
Korn’s debut album carries a sinister streak throughout every song. On the album’s closer “Daddy,” that darkness hit too close to home for Jonathan Davis.
Written about being sexually assaulted as a child, Davis broke down in the vocal booth because of his previous trauma, leaving the rest of the band in shock. Davis had mentioned his parents not believing him saying “They thought that I was just joking around. They didn’t believe it was happening to their son.”
While the final song felt like emotional torture, Davis credits the song with helping bring the band closer together saying “When I came out of there I was sobbing. My whole band was crying and they all hugged me. It was a crazy experience. We were all a band of brothers.”
Head Goes Broke
After years of raising hell in Korn, Head is proud to make it to the other side. While he mentions using his religious faith to overcome addiction, everything changed when he went broke.
When going out on his own, Head was working with an owner of different recording studios. While business was booming at first, Head found out his new business partner was taking hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the budget for his solo album.
By the time Head found out, this unknown business partner went into hermit-like seclusion, and Head has never been able to find him. Despite years of doing drugs, Head credits this as rock bottom saying “That was the low point. And my biggest fear was possible…having to move back in with my parents. I just didn’t know how far I was going to fall.”
Years Lost to Drugs
Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll have always been intertwined. If you’re not careful though, the drugs can take you over like they did Korn.
During their first few years on top, the band talked about overindulging themselves with Davis remembering “It was the pinnacle of rock and roll excess. I’m sitting there in the studio high out of my mind.”
Davis dealt with his drinking while both Head and Munky had their own demons to fight. Head mentioned hiding caps of crystal meth in deodorant so he could travel with them through the airport.
Although the band partied enough to put Motley Crue to shame, Munky summed it up by saying “It was fucking crazy. You’re giving a bunch of kids money who are already drunks and drug addicts. Probably not the best thing.”
Working in the Morgue
Korn always had dark undercurrents in their music. It might seem intense to listen to, but their brand of twisted darkness came naturally to Jonathan Davis.
Before finding his calling in music, Davis was originally working as a mortician, spending his nights working with dead bodies. Although the job paid well, Davis quit his promising career and put his house up for sale so he could roll the dice in Korn.
While Davis was fascinated with working in a coroner’s office, he mentioned the drawbacks of working with corpses saying “I thought it would be fucking cool. But lo and behold, little did I know that that shit would fuck me up for a long time. I saw some really fucked-up shit, which at the time made me a really hard, no-emotions motherfucker.”
David Silveria Feud
It’s never easy for a band to let go of one of their own. Although “all for one” might work in the beginning, David Silveria left the band with a bitter taste.
After being let go in 2008, Silveria went on a tirade about his former bandmates, calling Fieldy a “cowardly little bitch” and claiming that the bass player had once threatened to fight members of the crew while on tour.
Aside from his own problems, he told fans that Jonathan Davis and Fieldy rule the group with an iron fist. He also made light of Head and Fieldy’s commitment to Christianity. Although Fieldy said that he has no problem with Silveria these days, there’s a slim chance we’ll see a reunion of a classic lineup.
Fieldy’s Father’s Death
Nothing can prepare you for losing a loved one. When Fieldy lost one of the most important people in his life, the grieving process was long.
After taking his father to the doctor, Fieldy never got a straight answer about what was wrong. In an interview, the bassist said “They kept trying to tell me that my father had cancer. They sent tests away but every one of them came back negative.”
Even with some of the best specialists in the world, Fieldy never figured out what illness took his father’s life. Although the bassist tried to come to terms with loss, his father’s passing helped him get in tune with his spiritual side. Since that dark chapter, Fieldy has been outspoken about his faith helping him through every hardship he faces.
Jonathan Davis’ Ex-Wife
There was nothing that could tear Korn down by 2018. After getting Head back in the band, everyone was firing on all cylinders during the tour for Serenity of Suffering. Once they came off the road, one tragedy hit too close to home for Jonathan Davis.
In August 2018, the band put out a statement saying that Davis’ ex-wife Devon had unexpectedly passed away. While it wasn’t clear what had happened, Davis eventually spoke up about his wife’s struggles with mental illness saying “Addiction was a side effect of her illness. She’s the reason why I’ve been an advocate for those struggling with their mental health.”
While Davis was heartbroken, he has used his star power to champion mental health causes, working with organizations like You Rock to help those struggling with depression and other mental illnesses.
Anxiety on the Road
Life on the road is not for the faint of heart.
Around the time of Follow the Leader, Jonathan Davis didn’t mince words about how hard it was trying to keep himself together saying, “We were put right into arenas for the Family Values tour. I was detoxing for the entire tour. I was going insane and was having terrible anxiety attacks. I can’t put it into words.”
While Davis does blame part of his anxiety on detox, he was never comfortable with the added security saying “We’re the type of band where we played a club gig and we have tapes that we hand out to people. We couldn’t do that any more. It was like being stuck in a box.”
Even though Davis has a better handle on it these days, he still finds it difficult to have a bodyguard around him when he goes out in public.
Davis’ Blood Infection
When on tour, your body can sometimes give out on you. Instead of the common cold, Jonathan Davis came close to death after doctors found an infection in his blood.
In 2006, Davis complained of some gnarly symptoms after the show, including bleeding from his gums and bruises from his performances. Once he sought medical attention in London, his doctor diagnosed him as having a severe blood infection due to low platelets in his blood.
As it turns out, Davis took time off just in time. If he hadn’t taken a break to clear his infection, there was a good chance that headbanging onstage could have indirectly given him a brain aneurysm.
Munky’s Wicked Bike Accident
Part of the appeal of Korn is Head and Munky’s guttural riffs. Before he had even picked up a guitar though, there was a good chance Munky’s days with a six string were numbered.
When playing on his three-wheeler as a kid, Munky crashed his bike and ended up severing off one of his fingers when it got caught in the chain of the bike. Instead of the usual rehab sessions, Munky picked up a guitar to help him recuperate from his injuries.
Since some of Korn’s greatest tunes are tuned down, that almost meant less tension on his hands when he had to play some of their best riffs. Tony Iommi had used prosthetics to help him with his severed fingers, but Munky shaped his guitar playing around his injuries.