Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with Jonathan Davis of Korn



As the frontman for heavy duty California rock band Korn, Jonathan Davis has turned angst into an art form, and has sold an impressive 32 million albums worldwide since the group's inception in 1993. Having battled addiction and long-term depression, much of the inspiration for Davis’ lyrics has come from internal demons. But right now he’s making noise about an external issue that will likely affect us all in some way – the April 20th drilling explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.


Owned by Transocean but leased and operated by BP, the disaster at the rig appears to be caused, at least in part, by the oil giant’s concern for profits above safety. Channeling his anger at the company’s culpability into action, Davis is the instigator behind a boycott of BP’s products by a coalition of touring bands. Initially it consisted mostly of those on the traveling Mayhem Festival bill, which Korn are currently co-headlining, however the coalition’s ranks have rapidly swelled and now include artists such Lady Gaga, Anthrax, Backstreet Boys, Maroon 5 and Filter.


Though the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the human and environmental issues it raises are far closer to home for Davis. He was born and raised in Bakersfield, a city within the borders of Kern County, CA, which has the dubious honor of being the largest oil producing county in the US. Though rich in oil, eighteen percent of Bakersfield’s population lives below the poverty line. The city also ranks as one of the least educated in the nation.


Music was a way out for Davis, but his ties to his hometown remain strong, as evidenced by the first single off Korn’s new album, Korn III: Remember Who You Are. The track is called “Oildale (Leave Me Alone)” and is named after a suburban town 3.5 miles northwest of downtown Bakersfield. Surrounded by oil wells, Davis calls Oildale “the most impoverished, fucked-up place I think I've ever been to.” Though this statement is anecdotal, if the video for “Oildale” which was shot there is anything to go by, it's clear the place could do with benefiting a little more from its oil wealth.


SuicideGirls caught up with Davis shortly after he came off stage after performing at the Mayhem Festival in Idaho. Talking the day after the new album’s release (Korn III: Remember Who You Are has since debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 sales chart), we spoke about life, music, organized religion, close encounters of the crop circle making kind, and his hope that his wrath for big petroleum will prove to be contagious.


Read my interview with Jonathan Davis of Korn at SuicideGirls.com.

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