Korn is back with new album Requiem. RockUrLife got the chance to talk to guitarist Brian “Head” Welch to discuss the details of this new record.
Brian “Head” Welch (guitar): I got two people I get to talk to you from France today. Amazing. I wish I could do the interview in in in French! It would be awesome because I love the language so does everybody else in the world.
Let’s dive in into the new album Requiem. The first question will be: who this requiem is adressed to?
Brian: We were hoping that it spoke to a wide group of people around the world. The meaning is the mass for honoring of the dead and we could take that literal with all the people that have lost lives, these whole couple years, or it could be symbolic. We were holding on to that name Requiem for about a year or two, we wanted to use it for something. And so, I think it was just a very meant to be title for this record. We’re pleased with it. And we hope that people feel our heart with it.
The record starts with “Forgotten”, heavy and catchy riff, but the first thing that really strikes is the way Jonathan Davis sings on this song. It’s softer, more vulnerable. There is a melody that we are not used to hear. It’s very layered as well, with lots of superposition. Tell us a bit about it.
Brian: Jonathan Davis, obviously, he loves to sing. He just he worked very well with our producer Chris (ed. Collier). They went in and they did multiple layers and multiple melodies. Jonathan said, it was his idea. On every last Korn records we’ve used keyboards and our synth, he said: “On this record, let’s not use any synth. We’ll do all the layers with guitars and my vocals.” And so that’s what he did. And I really love what he did, with the layers and very happy with the record and his vocals and, and I hope the fans like it. We love we love it so much. It’s got energy, it’s got a heavy riff. It’s got melody, it’s got a new vulnerability, I think. It’s lighter than the last record as far as content wise. The last record was really just dark. He was grieving the loss of a loved one. This record is a natural progression, I think, to the next step that where we need to go after grieving.
Some songs like “Let The Dark Do The Rest” feel more aerial, like, it suggests the battle between light and darkness took a different turn with this record or the way your project your own struggles.
Brian: Have a song like “Let The Dark Do The Rest”, the music and the chorus make you feel good and everything but then Jonathan always throws a twist and uses the word dark in it. He doesn’t want to be too light. What’s really cool is the bridge to that song. It’s very melodic, dare I use the word “pretty” on that bridge. How he sings. I really love it. I remember we were in the studio; we were writing the music for “Let The Dark Do The Rest” and we came to that bridge section. I was like, I go okay, I’m hearing something in my head. We usually go to a heavy riff, so I wondered what if we do this? And is this too light? Is this too? Major happy sounding and Jonathan listened. He said he liked that. So, then we kind of added those Korn‘s Bumblebee guitars, we call them that droning guitars to make it like kind of Pink Floyd he maybe a little bit so but yeah, I really liked that song how it went.
It’s different from what you did in the past. You went exploring different universes. With “Hopeless And Beaten” you almost went doom and death metal. How did you come up with these ideas?
Brian: We’re very fans of death metal and doom metal and all that stuff. And Korn started out always wanting to mix up different genres of music. That’s what Jonathan wanted; I’ll give it to him. He came in, he’s like: “let’s just write like a really doomy song“. I was wondering if it was a little bit too much, just wasn’t Korn, but then we started writing it. We came up with the chorus, it has a cool melody on it. It’s funny that songs like one of the heaviest songs on the record in, but the bridge in the choruses are some of the most melodic. It blended well together. One of my favorite lines is on the song. It’s so simple, but it’s so true. It says: “nothing soothes the hurting, only time“. And it’s on the heaviest song in the record. I like that we didn’t stay heavy on it, then we experimented with some melody.
It’s also a change of pace, because it’s heavy, but it’s also quite slow with the doom ambience. And so, it takes the time to develop your riffs and to, to explore them and the work on the voice is quite impressive.
Brian: You’re right on. Thank you so much. That’s what we planned on doing. When we’re writing a song and we are a little scared of it, that usually ends up good. That’s what happened on this song. And it happened all the way back to “Got The Life”. One of our big songs. And we were like, what are we doing? We can’t do a song like this. We’re heavy Korn, but with Jonathan screaming on it during the verses, it just kind of worked. It was upbeat and energetic. We like to experiment, and Korn has experimented with a lot of different electronic music and everything. I like more experimenting with the heavy music, I’d rather go that direction. That’s just me. But I think that’s where we’re all at right now. Because we fell in love with our, our sound again, all of us.
It’s like you reinvented your sound a bit. The songs breathe more, the focus on melody is strong and the balance between the heavy stuff, the very dark and the lighter parts has taken a new turn.
Brian: Thank you, I agree with you. I must say I’m a sucker for melody. I love melody so much. I really am glad where with the direction we went. I think it’s a good balance. And I love that it feels lighter, melody wise, and some of the lyrical content. I really like that because we all need this. We don’t need gloom and doom we need something to lift us, with these crazy times.
We completely agree. But we’ve heard you saying that you got some inspiration from Tool. Do you care to comment?
Brian: I feel like Tool always is an inspiration to everybody because they’re so good. Those musicians are just incredible. We’ve done some stuff on certain records that were like: “Does that sound too much like Tool?” It’s like that with every record, so we got to be careful because we have a similar type of sound.
There is a bit of Muse in “My Confession”.
Brian: We love Muse so much that it is a compliment. Ray (ed. Luzier) our drummer always jokes saying that if we get too old and stop touring, he will join Muse. I’m like: “yeah, right. Okay. You wish“. (laughs)
That would be something unexpected! With this dark period, we probably need lighter records, but we certainly need live music. What are the chances to see you on stage in the coming months?
Brian: Oh, we’re coming in May unless we can’t. You guys need concerts so much. We’ve opened up a bit in the States and we hope to come and play for you. We love France so much. We’re just waiting to hear if we can because we’re coming to Hellfest. I hope that it’s gonna be okay. I feel like, in my gut, that things are gonna be okay.
We would love to see you live in France, for sure. Are you anxious to go back on stage with these new songs? It’s quite different from what you did before.
Brian: We are very excited to play these new songs. We’re playing with System Of A Down in a week in the States and I haven’t rehearsed with Korn yet. So, we’re gonna talk about what new songs will play. It’s very exciting. We can’t wait to come to Europe and play the new songs. I think we’re gonna play quite a few of these songs live this year, because we’re digging them. It’s a sensitive balance. When we come to let’s say Hellfest, a lot of people want to hear the old songs. But the real fans want to hear the new songs too. It’s a crazy balance we got to come up with.
With the old songs, each time you hear the bass, it’s like your body starts moving by itself. There’s something so powerful and so groovy. It’s something we need as well.
Brian: That’s a good, excellent description. Awesome. So, I think the best thing to do is we try to do this, like we play the familiar songs, and then we throw a new one in there, and then go back to a familiar one, and then sprinkle them throughout the set. Yeah.
Do you know what song will be released as a new single?
Brian: No, we’re talking about a lot of songs. “Let The Dark Do The Rest” is awesome. “Worst Is On Its Way” is awesome. I don’t know, there’s like two others too. There’s the label, the band, the management, then we talked to the radio people and say: “Hey, which one do you think will have more success?” You got to involve everybody. So, we should have that information in the next month, I think I would think in February.
Last question: we are RockUrLife so what rocks your life?
Brian: So many things rock my life. I don’t mean to give the obvious answer. But being back in Korn these last few years and traveling and seeing all the fans like really rocks my life. It’s like they say that we are rocking for the fans, but it’s actually rocking my life because I love to see the fans, I love to see so many people still enjoy us after all these years. I never thought we’d be 50 years old and still going. I thought Korn would be broken up and being grandpas. So that’s my answer. I don’t know if it was too obvious, but that’s my answer.
It’s okay to be a grandpa and keep rocking the stage.
Brian: Yeah, you’re right, look at The Rolling Stones! Please send my love to all everybody in France.