Barbara Caserta of Italy's Linea Rock conducted an interview with KORN drummer Ray Luzier after the band's March 12 show at Alcatraz in Milan, Italy with HELLYEAH and HEAVEN SHALL BURN as the support acts. You can watch the full chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On KORN's 2016 "The Serenity Of Suffering" album:
Ray: "I'm very proud of it. 'The Serenity Of Suffering' we started writing, me, Munky [James Shaffer, guitar] and Head [Brian Welch, guitar] around June of 2015. We started writing little ideas and riffs, then we'd go on tour. Then we'd get back together in Los Angeles and write a couple more riffs and go on tour. This happened a lot. Then we compiled a bunch of songs and finally it was time to bring in a great producer. To me, this album had to have the right producer on it. It just couldn't have just anybody. To make a long story short, Nick Raskulinecz has always been a fave of mine. We looked at several guys. But, Nick, there's a reason the FOO FIGHTERS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, ALICE IN CHAINS, RUSH, DEFTONES, his list is just huge. I remember hearing the 'Snakes & Arrows' RUSH album and I'm, like, 'Wow, they sound like young guys again. There's this new energy about it.' I looked at the album and it was 'Produced by Nick Raskulinecz.' I heard 'Diamond Eyes' by DEFTONES and I'm, like, 'They sound amazing' and it was produced by Nick. I thought 'Something is up with Nick besides the FOO FIGHTERS.' Once we got together with Nick, he trimmed the fat, so to speak. Like, 'This riff is not that good. Let's mix this riff with this song.' The outside ears has to happen. Sometimes you get too close to your music when you're writing it; you get too personal. When someone comes in and sometimes hurts your feelings. You don't [just] want to hear, 'Hey, that's a good riff. That's a good lick.' He did such a great job at it. I think there's no fillers on the new record; it's all quality. The production had to be really good. Josh Wilbur came in to mix it and he just nailed it. Think about it, we can play amazing, but if it's mixed wrong and the levels are unmatched… Josh really captured the power of KORN, the low end, the old-school sound, but today's sound mixed together. I'm very proud. Please go buy it!"
On how his role in KORN has evolved since joining the band as a session drummer in 2007:
Ray: "A lot of people don't know that I was a session guy for many years in Los Angeles. I made my living doing that and then I started joining national bands. I did Jake E. Lee from OZZY OSBOURNE for three years. I did David Lee Roth from VAN HALEN for about eight years. I was the original drummer in the band called METAL SHOP that turned into STEEL PANTHER. I did that for about five and six years on and off. Just through the years, and I have a lot of failed, original bands. I wanted to do the dream, just like KORN. My original bands in L.A. would get really close to getting a record deal, and then nothing. You work really hard, you're selling out clubs, you're promoting, but we just didn't have what it took. I found that joining national bands that are already established was easier for me to make a living, to pay my bills, and I didn't starve anymore. Joining a band like KORN is not like joining David Lee Roth or ARMY OF ANYONE, my last band. It's very special, it's a very unique animal. When all the bands in the '90s came out, SOUNDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS, STP [STONE TEMPLE PILOTS], PEARL JAM, KORN came up through the center and said 'No, we sound like this. We don't sound like anybody.' They're five kids from Bakersfield and they had their own unique sound and it's magical. There's a reason that it appealed to the masses and did so well.
"Coming into a band like this, I was looking at it like 'Okay, I'm a touring drummer. They hired me to do this.' A year went by, two years went by, and then in the third year, in '09, they said, 'Hey, we want you to stay in the band. We want you to be a member.' I was like, 'Me?' They said, 'Yeah, we want you to be a part of this.' I was blown away. It really took me years to get my identity in the band, because you don't just join a band like KORN. I don't care how technical you are, how your skills are, how much experience, you have to 'get' the band, you have to understand and get inside the music. It's about emotion and feel. Although I have a lot of technical ability and I know how to read and teach music… all that doesn't matter. It's here in the heart. It took me many years. It's funny because these guys are so great and patient with me. Everything I do, Jon [Davis, vocals] goes, 'Just feel it. You're thinking about it too much. Let it go. Be a part of it.' It took me years, but then five or six years ago, I really started synching into it. It's such a great place to be in. everyone is just focused on music and family. There's no drama or B.S. This is their twenty-third year."
On whether he considers KORN to be a "nu metal" band:
Ray: "To me, I don't know what that is. Anyone could make a style up. I don't know… all of these emo [bands], I don't get it. To me, KORN is KORN. It's its own thing. It's hard rock, it's metal, it's hip-hop, it's funk…all of this stuff wrapped into one. It's not just aggressive metal music. I can't call it metal, but hard rock doesn't fit either. It's KORN. It's the style. [Laughs]"
KORN and STONE SOUR will join forces for a summer tour, set to get underway June 16 at the USANA Amphitheatre in Salt Lake City, Utah and then continue through early August. Presented by Live Nation, "The Serenity Of Summer" tour will be rounded out by support from Japan's female-fronted BABYMETAL, southern rapper YELAWOLF and ISLANDER (June 16-25), followed by a second leg (July 19 - August 2) which will see KORN joined by SKILLET, YELAWOLF and DED, creating a versatile bill reminiscent of KORN's famed "Family Values" tours in the past.