There is no denying that Jonathan Davis has found the right ingredient, considering the fact that he’s been at it with music since the early ‘90s and can still perform at absolutely massive venues all around the world. Though most know him as the energetic vocalist (and occasional bagpipe player) behind the metal band Korn, it’s worth noting that Davis has also had a successful career scoring film and DJing under the alias JDevil. He also has a new album coming out. When I got the email proposing an interview with the musician, I took it as a way to get to know him and his work outside of Korn, something that is a bit rare considering that is what most of his interviews in the past have been about. So in this, though the band is brought up every now and then, FPH speaks with Jonathan Davis about his solo work, his musical upbringing and life in Bakersfield.
Free Press Houston: To begin, I want to talk about this tour; is it your first outside of Korn and your DJ work?
Jonathan Davis: I did one back in 2007 called Jonathan Davis and the SFA (Simply Fucking Amazing); I did all of the work from [the film] Queen of the Damned on that tour. That’s where I got the idea for [this tour].
FPH: What are you playing on this tour?
JD: I’ve been playing stuff from my new record Black Labyrinth, which will be out on May 25. I’ve also been playing some Queen of the Damned songs as well as some other stuff I’ve done for movies. I also cover Neil Diamond’s “Love on the Rocks.” All that crazy shit. People seem to be enjoying it, and it’s so much fun to go out and do something different. I’m really having a good time.
FPH: You have some singles from the album out now. The track “What It Is” is a bit more gothic than how I, and I would assume most others, perceive Korn’s work as. Is that a fair assessment and perhaps the route your solo work is going?
JD: Oh, yeah. This is totally goth. I’m a closet goth kid, dude. I grew up listening to Bauhaus, the Specimen, Christian Death — all that shit. Yeah, it’s very gothic. I mean, that shit is inspired me to do the QotD stuff back in 2001 or whatever. Like, I had to write [the score] as a 200-year old vampire or some shit. It fit perfectly for me, and now, over a 10-year span, this record is ready for me to put out. That’s definitely where it all came from.
FPH: I was going to say I hear some huge Peter Murphy-inspired vocals with this.
JD: Yeah, man. I have Peter Murphy’s violinist in my band.
FPH: Speaking of Bauhaus, as you know, they’ve been doing side projects for decades now.
JD: Yeah, like Love and Rockets, Tones on Tail — they all spurred into different shit, right?
FPH: Yeah, for sure. The drummer recently put out a book of unreleased Bauhaus photos. I wonder if they took any influence from the Korn book that came out a few years ago? Can you talk about that book?
JD: It’s a coffee table book that we put out; it’s really cool. It’s stuff from the first 20 years of the band for its anniversary. You can see all kinds of photos that no one has ever seen. It’s signed. It’s just about our journey and our come-up.
FPH: In regards to 20+ years, I wanted to give you a quote: “I don’t want to let go from the.” What did you not want to let go of?
JD: Nope, that’s not me. I have a song called “Inside.” Yeah, that’s the only song that was released. That was on a compilation called Cultivation ‘92 with my band and the singer from a band called Cradle of Thorns. That shit, I don’t even remember!
FPH: Can you talk about your relationship with the band Adema, besides going to the same High School, that is?
JD: Yeah, well the singer of Adema is my brother! I know all those guys. The bassist was in SexArt with me.
FPH: So SexArt is Bauhaus in a way, right? As in, it turned into other bands.
JD: Yeah, four different bands spawned out of that: Korn, Adema, Julien-K, and Orgy.
FPH: Being from Bakersfield, Ca, can you talk about the importance of both World Records and the Fox Theater to the young Jonathan Davis? Did you develop your taste for metal there and see your first horror films at the theater?
JD: Yeah, Bakersfield was one of those towns where there wasn’t a lot to do; that’s why I got into music. You could order vinyl at the stores and get it in a week. People would have shows at houses, or there was also a club called Bam Bam’s. Bakersfield has spawned a lot of cool stuff over the years, like country music that inspired the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and countless others in the ‘60s. There is just a ton of history in that town, for music.
The Fox Theater, I saw Star Wars there. Then a lot of Disney movies, they had a lot of Disney Movies. Now it’s a venue. I mean, sometimes they still screen movies, but it’s a live music venue.
FPH: Continuing on film, you recently played a show with Danny Elfman as well as contributing to the After the Dark soundtrack with Nicholas O’Toole! I know you’ve mentioned the QotD material, but do you see yourself starting to branch out more with scoring film when you’re not doing Jonathan Davis and/or Korn stuff?
JD: I mean, when one comes around that I’m into, I’ll do it. The last one I scored was called American Satan. I’ve been doing it for awhile, so when I get a chance to do one that I like, I’ll do it. Yeah.
Jonathan Davis will play Warehouse Live on Wednesday, April 25.