With the upcoming release of Korn III: Remember Who You Are, dirt metal pioneers Korn are making a highly-anticipated return to the sound that we all initially flocked to in the mid-nineties when they hit the scene with their smash single "Blind".
Set for a July 13 release, Korn III is the band’s ninth studio album, not their third, but it represents a stylistic continuation of their first two albums with aggressive hooks and less emphasis on complicated arrangements & progressive sound evolution. After 17 years, the band teamed up with their first producer Ross Robinson once again to take the music back to the roots that made them superstars to begin with.
We called up Korn bassist Reggie Arvizu, better known as Fieldy, to learn the inside track on the making of and mentality behind Korn III, as well as his solo bass project and more.
CraveOnline: How’s the Ballroom Blitz tour coming along?
Fieldy: We’re in Kansas City right now. Blessed, man. Coming along great. We started out in Alaska, we’d never been there in our entire careers. So we did one show, and that sold out so we added a second night. That was pretty cool, then we went to Canada for two weeks, then all over South America, and now we’ve started this tour. So we’re on the run.
CraveOnline: Are there any differences in the touring dynamic with Ray Luzier behind the kit now?
Fieldy: He’s my favorite drummer, I’ve worked with him our whole career. He just fits that missing link, you know? We tried a bunch of drum auditions and went through trying and trying to make it happen, but you can’t force something to work. He just got it, he clicked, and it worked.
CraveOnline: Hooking up with Ross Robinson again for Remember Who You Are seems to have brought you back to a closer variation on your original sound. Was that a conscious effort, or just the general flow of creative energy with Ross in the mix?
Fieldy: We kind of talked about wanting to go back to the roots and back to when we were a beginning back, and we tried every approach we could to do that. And in doing that, it got us focused and back on track to go oh, alright, this is the kind of music we originally wanted to make. This is what we want to deliver.
CraveOnline: What led to this need for renewal I keep hearing about, to get back to your roots? I’ve read things from some of the other guys saying people got distracted chasing the single or appeasing the label…
Fieldy: Yeah, I think you grow as musicians, we all have, and when you can essentially make any style of music you want, you can tend to make this great, huge and epic song. It may still be cool, but it’s not really who we were when we started. We’ve just been evolving as musicians this whole time, and we have to actually step back to play simpler, easier, heavy grooves. We had to relearn how to be beginners again.
CraveOnline: Sen Dog from Cypress Hill mentioned something on how they could’ve made "Hits From The Bong" for the past twenty years and done well with it, but it would’ve starved them creatively. Do you feel as if what’s going on now with the band that your sound is moving forward in evolution, or is there a sacrifice to be made in the full-circle return to the old sound?
Fieldy: You know, I think that when creating these songs we just made sure to maintain the integrity of Korn. We made sure that’s what it was about, so the songs didn’t stray off in some different direction. I still get my release… I just finished a bass album, and I’ve got maybe two songs left to finish out of thirteen, maybe fourteen tracks. From Latin jazz, funk fusion, every style you can think of. It’s called Bassically.
I think you just need to stay active as an artist, and find your ways to be fulfilled. My side band is called Stillwell, and I play guitar in that. It’s a different style, so when it comes to stepping into the studio with Korn, I can’t really stray off and get into this or that. There’s a focus that has to remain.
CraveOnline: As far as Stillwell goes, your album Surrounded By Liars is almost finished, right?
Fieldy: Yeah we’re pretty much done with it. we’re just shopping it right now and trying to get the right way to release it. You can’t even really say you’re looking for a label anymore, ’cause it’s like the best idea and best way to release it might not be the label at all. This is a new age we’re dealing with.
CraveOnline: You’ve been around long enough to see the shift away from the big bands rolling in big money. There’s a new renaissance building, and it’s hard to say where things will end up with the labels. In an ideal world, what would labels do for bands?
Fieldy: I don’t know, really. Korn signed to Roadrunner, and it’s only been a minute, but I love it so far. I love pulling up to the place and seeing Korn posters plastered all over. It’s that street team kind of thing that’s going on again, and little things they do behind the scenes makes a difference. But I think the most important thing is just getting the music to people these days. And I don’t think it’s by a CD anymore. There’s gotta be different ways. For us it seems to be Korn touring. That gets the word out, for sure.
CraveOnline: I heard a few things about Ross playing head games with you guys to push you out of your comfort zones. Care to expand on that?
Fieldy: He’s really good at pulling the best out of people. That’s what he does. He may get into somebody’s head a little bit more than others, to bring the best out of them. He’s a great motivator.
CraveOnline: How did his presence impact you most in recording the album?
Fieldy: For me, he really wanted me to stand up and play, get into it by headbanging or moving around or whatever. I’m just like man, it’s not gonna sound any different if I’m sitting down. But him making me do all that probably pulled that little extra bit of passion out, because you have to stand and force yourself into it.
CraveOnline: You didn’t use Pro-Tools in recording this time, right?
Fieldy: No, we used two-inch tape, sixteen track board… everything all old-school organic. We left live takes where they were even sped up a little or slowed down, because there’s just something about that natural feel of the band playing.
CraveOnline: Any favorite tracks on the record right now?
Fieldy: It’s so cliche, but the single out right now. "Leave Me Alone". Really, I don’t even know why it’s the single, to be honest. It’s just so heavy. Is this really gonna stay on the radio? It’s like the heaviest song we’ve ever written.
CraveOnline: What’s your process behind writing/recording for the Bassically album?
Fieldy: I just plug in, man. I’ve used stand-up basses, fretless basses, doing lead bass, I had a 15-string bass made for me that I call the K-15. I did a song or two with that… It’s just one of those albums that takes you on a ride, you can lose yourself in it. The singer for Stillwell is engineering and producing it.
CraveOnline: What’s the biggest or most common mistake you see up and coming bands making that gets in the way of their success?
Fieldy: That’s a tough question, man. Probably the number one thing is ego, but there’s very little someone can say to that. You can’t just point out someone’s ego, you need to sit down and have a real, direct conversation to try and have an impact. Hopefully they’ll take some advice, but it’s hard, man, talking to someone in their twenties who doesn’t even know what an ego is. The best advice I could give to someone would be to be cool to all the bands. Be cool with everybody, cause you never know. And when you’re an egomaniac, that’s really hard to do. Everybody’s a legend in their own mind.
Hear new Korn tracks, find tour dates and more at Korn’s MySpace. Korn will also be co-headlining this year’s Mayhem Festival – keep an eye out for our coverage of their July 10th stop in San Bernardino!