The culmination of an 11-year odyssey of writing between Korn’s tours and recording sessions has come to fruition as Jonathan Davis tours in support of his upcoming solo release Black Labyrinth.
After more than 10 years and numerous record company executive changes, Jonathan Davis, lead vocalist in Korn has finally released his first solo album Black Labyrinth. National Rock Review sat down with him prior to his gig at The Majestic Theater in Detroit, Michigan to discuss the tracks as well as his many philanthropic endeavors.
NRR: Wow…you just popped off a long tour with Korn and now you are on show 14 of a 44 gig solo tour. How are things going?
Jonathan: It’s great, I’m having a blast. It’s very different from Korn, no stress…..I’m having a good time! Nothing to worry about.
NRR: After so many years and 12 Korn albums, I can’t believe this is your first solo album?
Jonathan: I started this record like ten years ago…a decade ago! I recorded “Walk on By” in January even though I wrote it in like 2010, but the majority of the songs were done and recorded back in 2006-2007. It was scheduled to come out on a major label, but the president left, and they gave me the record back. I had the tape, which was all good. I stuck it back on my computer and by that time, Korn had started back up again, and you know how we do it in Korn – we tour just non-stop. After the tour ended, I finally sat down and finished what I started. Now, the record is done and it’s time to hit the road solo. I’m really excited. It’s been frustrating, I’ve been waiting a long time.
NRR: So it’s almost like watching a baby being born and raised over that ten year period?
Jonathan: Yeah I guess…We put out these 13 songs, but I actually wrote and recorded 26 songs…I’m really happy and proud of all of them.
NRR: The lyrics on many of the songs really hit home concerning the current political and social climate in this country right now.
Jonathan: When I started laying down the licks for these songs, I was very pissed off about organized religion. I don’t have a problem with the ideology of Christianity. It’s a beautiful thing and everyone has a right to live the way they want and I don’t want to judge. However, my situation, my life, the things I’ve been through with the church would make anyone f**king hate it.
There is a lot of religion in the record with me trying to figure out where do I stand and what do I believe in with all of this. This isn’t just a record, it’s a whole performance art called the Ganzfeld Experiment.
NRR: I was going to ask you about that….
Jonathan: Basically, you deprive yourself of all inherent stimulus, you take a ping pong ball, cut it in half, put them over your eyes and listen to white noise. Your brain will begin to freak out because it isn’t getting anything and it will begin to stimulate itself. So basically, you are looking into your subconscious. I’ve seen all kinds of things…shapes, out of body experiences, all kinds of stuff.
NRR: So you have tried this stuff?
Jonathan: Oh yeah…..everyone has a different experience, but that was proof to me that there was something else out there. That led to the recordings and to the videos where you see like in the “What It Is” video where I do something very bad and get incarcerated, so it’s more than just a record…it’s a whole concept, performance art…whatever you want to call it. I just wanted to do something different, something people could digest and say this is cool….an experience.
NRR: Like old school records, when you would sit down, listen to an album and digest the whole thing.
Jonathan: Yeah. I showed Zeppelin and Pirate ( his sons from second wife Deven Davis ) a record player and they were like “ What’s That? Why wouldn’t you have all your music in your phone? ” I told them to shut the f**k up, sit down, and I made them listen to an album and they were like “this is crazy.”What I love about vinyl, it was like a ritual. You went into your room, turned the lights down, put the record on, and watched it spin as you listened to the tunes…it was mechanical.
NRR: It was an event.
Jonathan: Yeah…..it was a whole event. You actually sat down all night and listened to the entire album…the lyrics, the meaning…it was truly an event. That’s what I’m trying to do, make this album an event, you have to embrace yourself into it….I’m stoked about it.
NRR: I agree, I’ve listened to it. It’s raw, it’s bitching dirty rock and roll, but then there are songs with sitars.
Jonathan: There is no sampling at all on the album. The sitars, the violins, the synths, all the cool instruments on the record were done live.
NRR: Cool…I love every part of that. I want to touch on your charitable work. You work with suicide prevention, bullying, and something close to my heart as I’ve just lost my mother-in-law…diabetes. In particular, juvenile diabetes.
Jonathan: The diabetes one is really f**king simple. My son, Zeppelin, is Type 1 diabetic. I want to find a cure for my son and all these other kids. Not just my kid, but I want the cure for all families because it really does tear families up. It’s a disease that doesn’t go away. It’s 24 hours, there are no breaks. It’s a horrible disease and it’s a battle every day, so I want to help that go away for people. The other charities I work with are anti-bullying because I was a victim of being bullied my whole life. It still happens. It never goes away.
NRR: But I’m sure diabetes is number one on your list of priorities.
Jonathan: There are so many good charities out there doing great work – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Heroes for Hope and Stomp Out Bullying – but if you can only support one then I push for JDRF…Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They are doing such great work out there, fighting the fight to find the cure. It just breaks my heart to watch my son go through that. A lot of people talk about how it f**ks with your family. Me and my old lady are basically his life support system. Every time he eats, even the littlest thing, I have to test him. I have an app on my phone that is linked to a Continous Glucous Monitor ( CGM ) mounted on his arm, where I can monitor him no matter where I am and the system warns me when his levels are critical. ( Jonathan gets choked up ). It’s really hard on the parents but even harder on the kids who didn’t ask for this shit. That’s where my foundation comes in, as I am raising money to help families get psychological counseling to help them deal with the issues. When you meet another parent whose child is also suffering from this issue, you have an immediate bond, you cry, you feel their pain, it’s really something.
NRR: Jonathan, thank you so much for your time, I am pumped for the show tonight.
: Thanks! To see it live is a really cool experience!Black Labyrinth
drops May 25th and can be pre-ordered now on iTunes.
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