KORN Guitarist: 'We Have Always Been Open To Trying Different Stuff'

On March 31, Lithium magazine conducted an interview with KORN guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Lithium: "Korn III" gets referred to as a "comeback album" for KORN. I don't really see it that way. In order to come back, you have to have gone away... and I don't feel like KORN went away at all. I feel "Korn III" is a little snappier than your past few albums — punchier maybe… but it's still a valid progression of KORN in my books.

Munky: Yeah, it's a bit more in your face, a little less electronic. We think it's a more organic album.

Lithium: KORN has had some fantastic remixes over the years as well, letting their source material get mixed up by DJs and electronic production.

Munky: I definitely think there is room in our music creatively for all of that, you know? I don't think we have limited ourselves to being (finger quotes) "just a metal band." We have always been open to trying different stuff. Even on the very first record — there is a song on there called "Helmet In The Bush" that sounds quite industrial. That track has a drum machine on it, and we included it because we felt we could grow into that sound and play in that arena a bit more. I think through the years we have sort of tried different stuff. You have to see what sticks; what stays interesting through the years. I think the core of the band — our base sound if you will — that has stayed true on all of our albums. We've retained an energetic drum sound on all of our albums.

Lithium: And a signature bass and guitar sound. KORN's music sounds like KORN from album one through to the last untitled album that came out in 2007. KORN music has a certain snap to it.

Munky: Yes. That's the essence of our material. That's KORN. And when we picked Ross [Robinson] to produce this latest record, that essence is what we were looking for once again. We were open to whatever the outcome was going to be.

Lithium: At the twenty-year mark in your careers as KORN, how would you describe recording now compared to your early demos and first album? Is it harder to find your mojo now? Does KORN's music come together the same way as it did back in the day?

Munky: It really is exactly the same for us.

Lithium: Seriously?

Munky: I swear to God — it's crazy, especially with getting Ross back into the room. He really makes us feel open to try different stuff, more challenging stuff. He removes that fear somehow and pushes you. He's very supportive that way. If it becomes a bad idea after a few takes… it's OK, you know? It will just come off on the next idea, or that failed idea will develop into something on another song. Ross will push you on a thing until it develops into something great. He can see that little seed and he will just keep nurturing the idea until it becomes something great. He does that with every member of the band. That is something that we have regained through recording with him.

Lithium: You've been with Roadrunner for about a year now, James. How have you found them as a home for KORN?

Munky: They're great. We really like them. They offer everything that a major label offers — good distribution and promotion. Everyone at the label is really cool. All the regional reps are always there to say hello at our shows and help us out in any way they can. They feel like a family to us, like a small, tightly-knit family of people who really care about music and work for the label. I don't think they're doing things for any huge financial advancements either… I think they really do it because they love music. When I talk to the people at the label, or swing by the offices in New York, I get the impression that these guys are die-hard music fans.

Read the entire interview from Lithium magazine.

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