Korn, L-R: Reginald Arvizu, Ray Luzier, Jonathan Davis, James Shaffer and Brian Welch.
For a brief period in 2012, bassist Ryan Martinie joined Korn as a fill-in bassist for Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu. As Korn frequently travels with filmmaker Sebastien Paquet, the group’s YouTube channel is loaded with behinds-the-scenes videos and Martinie’s featurette highlights the battle-tested nu metal band on tour in Europe. There’s a line in the short film that may seem like a toss-off, in which drummer Ray Luzier mentions that he’d always wanted to experience the Black Sea.
It’s not a knock on the group’s other members - who came together as teenagers in the Bakersfield, CA, of the early 1990s - to say that Luzier seems cut of a slightly different cloth. He spent years teaching drums and doing session work before landing a full-time, full-membership gig in Korn, which he joined in 2007. So having been through the rigors of pick-up work for years, yeah, you can see why actually laying eyes on the Black Sea’s a pretty cool thing, indeed.
Korn play the Peabody Opera House on Saturday, May 25, after multiple St. Louis dates at the Verizon Amphitheatre. The group’s on tour with Brian “Head” Welch, who left the group to pursue a drug-free, born-again life the mid-aughts; his personal group, Love and Death, are on the bill as an opening act. Saturday’s lineup, then, will feature: Luzier, Arvizu, Welch, vocalist Jonathan Davis and guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer; longtime touring keyboardist Zac Baird’s also ever-present, hidden in the shadows.
Last week, stlmg.com had an opportunity for a sprint-it-out, 10-minute interview with Luzier, who was as nice and accommodating as you could ever hope for from a musician working at his level. Seriously: what a gent! Our Q-and-A follows.
You’ve played in all kinds of venues with Korn. Here, you’ll be at a classic, old theatre that’s been rehabbed. What are the joys of playing in a smaller room?
We’ve played everywhere. This is my sixth year with the band. This summer, we’ll have shows at Donington Park and Rock am Ring, which are 60,000 to 70,000 capacity. But it’s also very cool to play smaller venues or clubs, with the intimacy of those spaces. We’ve played the House of Blues in the last year and there’s something about 250 people raging that close to you. There’s something really special about the power of that. With bigger venues, you can literally see the power, these waves of energy. I don’t prefer doing one or the other. They’ve all got a different vibe or feeling. You can tell that people at our shows love it, anywhere. We’re not playing love ballads and these fans want a release for those 90 minutes, or two hours. Some really go off; there are some crazy-ass folks that come to our shows.
Funny enough, I was just watching a YouTube video on the band’s channel, from the time when Ryan Martinie was brought in to replace Fieldy for the European shows of last year. That had to be an interesting dynamic, to change out half your rhythm section. Then again, there have been a lot of lineup changes since 2005.
That one was pretty drastic. I would say that I’m beating a dead horse here, but Korn has such an identity. I’ve had the privilege of playing with many great bass players over the years, but no one plays like Fieldy. It’s kind of like when I was replacing Joey (Jordison) and Terry (Bozzio) in Korn. Everyone has their own feel, and I feel like I finally just my groove with Korn in the last couple of years, my niche in the band. Ryan was a great bassist with Mudvayne, and is a good all-around guy. We had to work to get Reg’s tones down, but Ryan was really cool with the parts, he pulled it off. I was a session guy myself for a lot of years, and you learn to adapt to other people’s playing styles. He did a really great job.
Talk about your role in the creating the new album and your relationship with the producer.
With Don Gilmore, we’re all really happy. Everyone always says that “this album is our best stuff ever.” But this really is the strongest Korn record in quite some time. Having worked with Ross Robinson a lot, and then many producers on the last one. Don’s got a good influence on the sound. He’s good at what he does, without pushing you over-the-top. No matter what the material is, a great producer’s job is to really get inside the vocals, or make the drummer play something he’s not used to playing. He’s done a great job of pushing us and we’ve gone in and tracked 20 songs. The songs are so strong. Sometimes, you hear one or two great songs on a record and know that they’re great. But we’re getting to songs seven and eight and our jaws are still dropping. There’s no filler on the record, no B-sides. We’re really stoked about this record.
With the last album, The Path to Totality, you worked with quite a few different producers, with a lot of them coming from electronic backgrounds. How did you feel fitting into that recording?
I’m an old-school drummer. I love to play as real as possible. But I also love technology and how these DJs are bringing their sounds to life. Jonathan’s such a big fan that he turned us onto that style. He had me really checking a lot of those acts out. Initially, I thought that we were working on a side project for him, but it wound up the Korn record. I did play everything live on there, but the programming was so massive that there are times when it’s just my live cymbals on the track, or a fill. But that’s what that song called for and I’m a team player in that respect. I play everything from that album live. But every records’s so vastly different. It’s really cool that the band is so adventurous. With this record, especially, when we got back in the studio last July or August, there was no writing session when we weren’t all represented. I might be playing a groove and they’ll join in, or they’ll bring riffs. We’re all about the music these days. None of us are 22, none of us are messing around. I was never into the party scene, but now everything’s focused on family and music, which is great.
I have to go ahead and ask about Head’s rejoining the band. I’m guessing you heard a lot of stories, but hadn’t worked with him before. What’s your relationship with each other?
He’s just awesome, I love to have him along. The way he attacks his guitar is amazing. He and James have this thing. When they’re together, they’re able to play off of each other in a way that you generally don’t hear from two guitar players. It’s a really special thing they have. Since I’d been in Korn, I’d only met him a couple of times. But I always wanted the band, ever since I joined, to be me and the four original members upfront. Which is what we have again. Since he’s rejoined, there’s been no attitude or issues, from anyone. I can tell him to drop his tunings an octave, or he can say that my fills are getting a little busy. There’s never, ‘hey, man, that’s my part,’ which is really cool. He and James are two great players with strong personalities. And when they’re playing the old songs, the ones that stand-out, the rehearsals get really wild. The fans, when they hear these old songs, are going to freak.