Korn's Bassist Fieldy Talks About Braving Bomb Scares and Sobriety
After breaking the news three years ago they were adding Skrillex-influenced electronic beats to their nu-metal sound in "The Path of Totality," Korn have not only transformed their musical direction, but have shifted the band perspective with positive morale that is audibly noticeable in their latest album and collaborative sober lives.
Coming off of a worldwide tour in support of October 2013's "The Paradigm Shift," vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarist Munky Shaffer, bassist Fieldy Arvizu, re-instated guitarist Head Welch and drummer Ray Luzier are coming home to tour the United States for Rockstar Energy Drink's Mayhem Festival. Korn will share the main stage with Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandria and Trivium on Saturday, July 5 at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino. Recently, Fieldy talked to us about a bombing scare Korn dealt with while in Russia, touring sober, and how his religious views affect his tattoo choices and daily lifestyle.
OC Weekly (Rachael Mattice): What's been going on with Korn and your lives lately and since the release "The Paradigm Shift" in October?
Fieldy: We've been touring all over the world. We just got back from Europe and Russia and we're hitting the whole world now. The touring cycle now to hit every area is usually a two or three-year cycle.
We canceled one of our shows in Kiev, Ukraine because it was getting too gnarly. Another situation was when we were in Russia on the other side of the border of Ukraine; we finished the show when our manager came in and told us to stay put because we heard reports that the airport was going to be bombed. We didn't really know what to do.
We waited and were trying to figure out a plan. We had 10 vans that were driving at 2 a.m. to try and get out of that city. They were going to spot us.
Then, we were told we were going to drive to the airport anyway even though we heard the reports that it could be bombed. They ended up opening the airport back up and we got out of there safely. It was a little scary for a minute.
When you released "The Path of Totality," Korn was one of the first heavy bands to mesh electronic music into their traditional sound without really sounding like an industrial metal band. Why did you decide to go in this direction with the development of Korn's music?
Jon found Skrillex online doing some weird sounds. He played it before and sounded like it would be so cool if we added heavy music on it. We wanted to put out a few songs like that for fun, and we started liking it more. Then we thought we'd turn it into an EP and then into a whole album.
One of your signature bass styles is slapping. Was it intentional to fade that out and not use that as much in the making of "Paradigm Shift?"
It's 50/50. There are quite a few songs with slapping in it and several that don't. It's mostly when the song calls for it. That's what it is now. "Love and Meth" has a lot of slapping; "Pray for Me" has a lot. I can't go through the whole song like that, but it's at least fifty percent.
I know you just released an album last October, but have you started working on another full-length yet?
Not really. There's dabbling here and there. As far as dabbling though in a specific direction, we don't really know what's next or what it's going to be until we start messing around.
Korn's toured around the world and played numerous festivals throughout the years. Is there anything that sticks out about Mayhem Festival from any others? Honestly, it always just has to do with the lineup. This year it's going to be cool at Mayhem because there's going to be a lot of great bands we are friends with on the roster. I can walk to Zacky (Vengeance) from Avenged Sevenfold's house who is a friend of me. It's cool to be working with people you know and be backstage working on a set with them.When you're out touring and when you're going to be with Mayhem Festival this summer, how does your band spend their days and post-performances now that most of you are sober?
It does get challenging. What people don't understand is that we spend a lot of time sitting around and there's a lot of boredom. You see rock stars with lots of tattoos because we are sitting around and there is nothing else to do, so we get tattooed.
Getting tattoos is a hobby and I'll go work out and go to the gym. We got to a point on this last tour in Russia where it got really boring and when I got home, I picked up some art classes. I have so much sitting around time that I'm getting into drawing art more. I did that a lot as a kid.
What do you like to draw? I like the cartoon style; I like simplicity.
The stints of highs and lows in the process of recovery from these addictions all had their different time periods with each member of Korn. "The Paradigm Shift" was your latest release and also had the return of Head, and JD coming back from some of his struggles with drugs. One of your singles off that album was "Love and Meth." Even the new documentary "Reconciliation" previews Head talking about his addiction with amphetamines. How and why did speed become a drug of choice in Korn? I don't know why it was a drug of choice. Meth happened to be the drug that was around the area we were in. I'm sure if were in an area where there was a clique of people smoking weed, or people doing something else it would have been something else. It's who you run into doing what.
During your toughest years struggling with your own addictions, why did you decide to stick with Korn instead of maybe choosing a similar path that Head did at the time? I'm more of one to take a long time to think things out. I think Head would've done the same thing, but he was in a situation where he received a phone call and told him "your wife left and she left your daughter with the nanny." He was stuck in a situation and I just didn't have those variables. I can't say I wouldn't have made the same choice; it just depends on the situation.
Since the start of your recovery and release of your book over five years ago, are your religious views still as pertinent in your life now as they were then? I would say they are even more. I'm rooted even deeper and fascinated and love. What is love? God is love from what the Bible tells us and fascinated the more I find the true meaning.
It's not easy in this world to love unlovable people so I'm challenged by it. I try to reach out to everyone and love them, their relationships and marriages and just try and help people out.
All of your Twitter followers found out about your new tattoo not too long ago. It must really have a strong meaning to you to have another tattoo imprinted on the side of your face. It was in Hebrew, correct? Do you know what you're getting next? Yeah it was in Hebrew and it translates to "love" or "god" and God is love, like I said before, so it ties all together. It's such a deeper and more brilliant meaning to me than the word "love." Still ask people "what is love?" and it's really so deep. It's gotten so shallow in the world and people will throw around the word with little meaning. Do you know what you're going to get next? Are you going to bring the tattoo artist any of your own work? I'm not sure. I go through different phases. Since I'm starting my art class soon I may get a few more gap fillers. That's a good idea though; I might bring some of my own work.
Jonathan Davis' microphone stand is very iconic and a known signature piece to the image of Korn. Did H.R. Giger design anything else or have any other pieces in the making for Korn before he died? Since Ibanez is your brand of choice, did you happen to add that guitar to your collection? No that was it. That was Jonathan's thing. I didn't follow his art or movies. I do remember him doing the special edition signature series guitar for Ibanez though, but I wasn't really involved.
What is the status with your other band StillWell? What are you working on right now? We're in the studio right now and we're finally getting finished and it's getting mixed. It's all done as far as the making and creating music. We spent a lot of time on it and is more of a solid heavy rock record. The old Stillwell was more of a throwback, heavy blues record.
We don't have a solid release date yet, but it's going to be soon since it's in the final mixing phases.
Are you able to talk about Korn's future plans after Mayhem is over with? We have a few more tour dates here and there, nothing in the States though. We're taking September off to relax for a minute and have some dumb fun. We've been going for awhile.
I'm always working on projects; this world is so busy and we're doing something all the time. We haven't disappeared on you!
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