Korn’s Ray Luzier and James “Munky” Shaffer talk about touring with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

The heavy metal group Korn is out on the road this summer as part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. The group recently released a tour version of their 2013 album “The Paradigm Shift” exclusively through Best Buy which features several new tracks along with some exclusive live tracks as well. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with drummer Ray Luzier and guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer during the tours recent stop in Scranton, PA about the release and how they connect with the different crowds they perform for each night.

Adam Lawton: When you are out on a tour like the Mayhem Festival is there any one thing that is the same from day to day?
Ray Luzier: We hear the same bands every day. (Laughs) What’s really great is that we get to play to diverse crowds every show. There are people who have seen us 27 times and there are people who are just seeing us that day for the first time. I’m not sure about constants but I try to stay in a similar routine from day to day.

AL: With the band playing all over the world how do you go about connecting with each of the crowds you perform for?
James “Munky” Shaffer: Every audience is different and that’s really the beauty of it. Like Ray said before you get people who have seen you a lot and you get people who have never seen you before. We are playing the same songs night after night so we try and keep that thought in our heads so we go out and put on a great show every night. We want them to really enjoy the show and to come and see us again.
RL: We may be super tired from traveling or whatever before we hit the stage but once we are up there we are energized bythe crowd. We are fans of music ourselves and still go out and see a lot of bands and buy their merchandise and what not. This is Korn’s 20th year as a band and I have been touring myself just as long. It never gets old. We are still excited to play every time we go up there.

AL: Have you guys seen any bands on this tour that you have really become fans of?
JS: Trivium is a band that has really impressed me. Their songs and how they engage the audience has really impressed me. Those guys are super tight professionally which is really inspiring. I know they have been around a few years but to see that level of commitment is really awesome. I was a mess at that stage of the game. (Laughs) I still am a mess but I have gotten a little better over time.
RL: I go out and check out the side stages from time to time and there are a lot of bands on this tour that have really impressed me. I watch bands like Mushroomhead and Miss May I and you can see just how hungry they are. They all have their own thing going for them which is really great to see.

AL: Can you give us some info on the tour version of your most recent album “The Paradigm Shift”?
JS: We initially released that album last year and after it was out for a couple months there were some songs that never got finished that we wanted to still work on. Jonathan went back in and wrote lyrics for these songs that we didn’t get to finish because we just ran out of time. They came out pretty good and we also decided to add some live tracks on the new release as well. When we are out on the road we like to have something in stores for people to buy that is fresh.

AL: Ray, how do you go about balancing your time in Korn and working with your newest project KXM?
RL: We all have side projects that we work on when we aren’t working on Korn. We just have a tremendous amount of music inside of us. I think these side projects are important for each of us to do as they help us remain creative. KXM is something that George, Doug and I have been talking about doing for years. The idea goes all the way back to my son’s first birthday party when we all were talking about jamming together. Scheduling is always the hard part as Korn is very busy but we hope to get some shows set up before the end of the year. Right now we are just working on videos and such.

Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Nicholas O’Toole talk about composing film “After the Dark”

Photo Credit: Stefano Micchia & Fadewood Studios

“After The Dark” is the latest film by director John Huddles. The film takes place at an international school in Jakarta, where a philosophy teacher challenges his class of twenty graduating seniors to choose which ten of them would take shelter underground and reboot the human race in the event of a nuclear apocalypse. The film was scored by veteran film composer Nicholas O’Toole and Korn front man Jonathan Davis and Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with both of them about their work on the film and their ongoing collaboration with one another.

Adam Lawton: How did you both become involved with the film?
Nicholas O’Toole:  I was approached by George Zakk who was one of the producers on the film. I had known him from another project and they had just started to go into post production on this film. George had known that Jonathan and I had been working together for quite some time and it seemed like a good fit. This led to a discussion with director John Huddles. We ended up hitting it off right away and we have stayed friends since.

AL: What was the creative process like between the two of you?
NO: The dynamic is great as we have known each other for so long. We get what the other one does. I myself am very technically minded and I have a degree in film score work where Jonathan is prolific in songwriting, EDM and a variety of other things including film scoring. We sort of mind shared this project.  Jonathan is very dynamic and variant based. He brings a lot to the table from sound design, to mood and colors. I handle the more technical side of things such as arranging and post work. With Jonathan on the road a lot he and I developed a good solution for sharing our thoughts and ideas. We walked in to the project already having a pretty good flow.

AL: Jonathan, did you find any similarities in your writing style for the film and you writing style for Korn?
Jonathan Davis: It is completely different. That’s why I love it. It challenges me. When you are writing a film score you are trying to convey an emotion part of the film. That’s the whole reason why I love doing things like this as it is so different from the other writing that I do. When you are working on a song you have versus and choruses to stick to and with a project like this there are no rules. It’s really different.

AL: Is scoring something you picture yourself doing more of?
JD: I love doing it and am open to doing more. I am just a musical junkie. When I got sober back in the day I replaced partying with music. (Laughs) It is something that I can’t get enough of.

AL: Did you both work on the same parts together or did you work separately on various parts of the film?
NO: It was purely linear in this particular instance. John Huddles was involved as well from the ground level which made things even greater. Having John involved certainly reduced the re-writes. Normally you create a bunch of material and then show case but for this film John was there the whole time and fully invested. I think we just moved from beginning to end on this and then went back and did some adjusting where it was needed. I think you can sort of hear that in the arc of the story. We kept things moving and it felt very natural.

AL: How much of the film were you allowed to see at one time when you were scoring?
NO: We got the film in a reel which is the general process of post production. We are all contracted to confidentiality. You get the entire film however they may still be editing and changing some of the things. We would get new reels every week. We had a screening with the director where we saw the film in its entirety and we discussed where the music would go and for how long and what type of feel was needed. Everything gets spotted out and then we follow those notes and begin writing. You definitely have to understand the narrative in order to be able to start scoring.

AL: After the initial playing of the film with the score were there a lot of changes requested by the director?
NO: Things did change. The film was shot in Indonesia which is known for a style of music called Gamelan. Jonathan had some previous experiences with this style of music as had I in the past so this ended up being a pleasant coincident. We were going to take a more Gamelan eccentric approach anyhow which we did at first. John Huddles liked it but wanted to try a different approach. We repositioned ourselves in a way that caught fire and we were able to just take off. We kept things quite minimal arrangement wise and then mixed in a little Gamelan with electronic and hypnotic elements. We kept things very natural.

AL: Jonathan, did you have any reservations about working on the project? And do you have to get a specific type of mind set to work on this type of music?
JD: Not really. I love doing music. It’s always fun working with Nick and writing music. It was really great working with a director who had a specific vision. This was something so completely normal from what I do in my day job. I think you have to take yourself away because you are writing a piece of music not a song. I have to wrap my head around that but it’s basically music.

Photo Credit: Scoretek Inc

AL: Being that you guys have a friendship with one another outside of your work what do you enjoy most about working with each other?
JD: For me we are just friends making music. It’s a simple and pure thing. I am having fun making music for a cool movie and getting paid for it. There is no bad side to this what so ever. It’s just fun!
NO: The collaboration process is enhancing because if it was just me I would be writing out of my head. Jonathan adds another creative brain which comes from a completely different place. When you put the two together the result is always something bigger than what it would have been. Jonathan is prolific outside of Korn in ways that I think fans of the band will totally understand after hearing this. Like Jonathan said it’s just fun and we have a good vibe together so it’s great to be able to keep that going.

AL: What other projects do you guys have in the works for the rest of 2014?
NO: I am always negotiating on some sort of film project. Sometimes the project is working with Jonathan and sometimes it’s on my own. Jonathan and I have a good system worked out.
JD: I have quite a lot going on with Korn but with computers these days it allows Nick and me to be in different places but still be able to work together on projects with one another. I always have my noise buried in my laptop writing.

 

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