Before Korn was formed, three of the original members of the band were associated with the band L.A.P.D. – James Shaffer, Reginald Arvizu, and David Silveria. Originally consisting of Richard Morrill, James Shaffer, and Reginald Arvizu, David Silveria joined when he was 16. When the band moved from Bakersfield, California to Los Angeles, Silveria dropped out of high school and Shaffer stayed in Bakersfield. When Shaffer reunited with the band, they found a manager and released an EP entitled Love and Peace Dude in 1989 through Triple X Records. L.A.P.D. released their first full-length studio album on May 3, 1991 which consisted of eleven tracks. The album was entitled Who's Laughing Now. After releasing two albums, L.A.P.D. broke up. They were also briefly known as Creep, recording a demo with a singer named Corey until Shaffer, Arvizu, and Silveria enlisted Brian Welch and Jonathan Davis to form the band that went on to become Korn.
30-second sample of the song "Predictable" which the band would eventually re-record for their debut album. Neidermayer's Mind featured the first captured, recorded sound of Korn in the form of four tracks.
When thinking of a band name, someone suggested "corn", but the band rejected that name, so Shaffer had the idea to spell the name with both a "K" instead of a "C", and a backwards "R", so the band's name would appear as "KoЯn". It may or may not be related to Korn Ferry, the management consulting firm. The idea of using a backwards "R" came from the logo of toy retailer Toys R Us, for which many of the band members had previously worked. The logo was designed by vocalist Jonathan Davis. Silveria explained, "the music makes the name, because Korn's a dumb name. But once we get established, it makes the name cool."
Korn rented a studio from Jeff Creath, called Underground Chicken Sound, in Huntington Beach, California. While they were recording at Underground Chicken Sound, a crowd had been loitering outside the studio. The band began playing a prelude to a later song, "Clown", resulting in a larger crowd gathering. Arvizu said the crowd gathered because it sounded so "different." Korn started performing at gigs in the summer of 1993, with members saying that touring was a "pain-in-the-ass." While in Huntington Beach, the band was spotted by Immortal Records A&R employee Paul Pontius. Pontius would describe Korn's sound as "the new genre of rock." In 1993, Korn released their first demo album, Neidermayer's Mind. The album had very limited printing, and was not well received by critics or the public. It was released to record companies and to people who filled out a flyer given out at gigs they played for free with Biohazard and House of Pain. With this demo, Korn pioneered the nu metal sound, riffs and rhythm.
After Korn finished recording the album, they began touring with Biohazard and House of Pain. Their record company gave them enough money for their own tour bus. Korn's first gig was in Atlanta. About halfway through the tour, the tour bus that their record company gave them stopped working, and Korn had to find a new one. Their first tour was not very successful in promoting the album. The band went on tour with Sick of It All in January 1995. Later that year, Korn was chosen, alongside Deftones, as direct support for Ozzy Osbourne. The self-titled album went gold in the midst of the tour. It was eventually certified two-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Aside from touring, Korn released four singles. "Blind" was released on August 1, 1994, and "Shoots and Ladders" was released on October 31, 1995. The latter received a Grammy nomination in 1997 for Best Metal Performance. "Need To" was also released in 1995, on April 8. The fourth and final single, "Clown", was released on February 2, 1996. "Blind" was the only single to chart, peaking at number fifteen on the Canadian RPM Alternative 30.
Life Is Peachy (1996–97)
After the success of their debut, Korn decided to enter the studio again for a second album. By then, the band had created a large fan base, and the expectations for their follow-up album were high. They went back into the studio in early April 1996 at Indigo Ranch Studios, Malibu, California.
…We went in really fresh, and we wanted to get it done quickly to capture that energy. So it was probably about 60% knowing what I was going to play and 40% just playing whatever came to mind at that moment… It ended up really good, and it has a kind of energy I probably wouldn't have gotten if I'd worked everything out before hand.
David Silveria on Life Is Peachy's drum quality.
The album was released October 15, 1996, and despite minimal radio airplay and television attention, Life Is Peachy debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, and peaked at number one in New Zealand. The album sold 106,000 copies in its first week.Jon Pareles from The New York Times said that the band was "Mad at everybody, including themselves." The album was certified double platinum in the United States, platinum in Australia, and gold in Canada.
The first single, "No Place to Hide", spawned a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. "A.D.I.D.A.S." was released as the second single on March 4, 1997. It became the band's first charting single on Billboard, peaking at number thirteen on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. The third single, "Good God", was released on July 14, 1997. The band gained more popularity after co-headlining the Lollapalooza music festival in 1997 with Tool. However, Korn was forced to stop touring after Shaffer was diagnosed with viral meningitis. A promotional disc was released in 1997 to promote both the band and the Life Is Peachy Tour featuring Incubus and The Urge, and included three live tracks.
Prior to the release of 1998's Follow the Leader, Gretchen Plewes, a Zeeland, Michigan high school assistant principal, said in an interview for a Michigan newspaper that Korn's music is "indecent, vulgar, obscene and intends to be insulting" after giving a student, Eric VanHoven, a one-day suspension for wearing a shirt with the Korn logo on it.WKLQ was filmed giving away hundreds of free Korn T-shirts, which were donated by the band, outside the school. Ottawa County policemen helped hand out shirts as well. Korn filed a cease and desist order against Plewes and the school district for their comments. They also threatened a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, but both actions were dropped due to the band members' personal lives.
Prior to the release of the band's third album, Korn produced a weekly online TV show, KornTV, which documented the making of the record and featured special guests such as porn starRon Jeremy, Limp Bizkit and 311. The project also gave fans (nicknamed "nibletz") the chance to call in and ask the band questions, an approach that represented one of the first times a band utilized the Internet in such a way. Korn released their third album, Follow the Leader, on August 18, 1998, which featured a number of guest vocalists such as Ice Cube, Pharcyde member Tre Hardson, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, and actor Cheech Marin on the hidden track "Earache My Eye" (written by Marin himself).
Korn launched a political campaign-style tour to promote the release of Follow the Leader. The tour took the group, on a chartered jet, all over North America to help promote Follow the Leader. They talked to fans and answered questions during special "fan conferences", which were organized at every stop along the tour route, and signed autographs. Jim Rose of the Jim Rose Circus hosted the entire "Kampaign" tour.
The album was considered by band members a complete success, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 with at least 268,000 copies sold in its first week of release, and, among other singles, spawning two of their biggest singles: "Got the Life" and "Freak on a Leash". They both exposed Korn to a wider, mainstream audience, with the music videos being mainstays on MTV's Total Request Live. "Got the Life" was the show's very first "retired" video, with "Freak on a Leash" also reaching retirement several months later.
"Freak on a Leash" won a Grammy for Best Music Video, Short Form, and received a nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. The video also earned nine MTV Video Music Awards nominations for Video of the Year, Best Rock Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Viewer's Choice. It eventually won two awards, one being for Best Rock Video and the other for Best Editing. "Freak on a Leash" failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100, although it did manage to peak at number six on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.Follow the Leader is considered by members of Korn to be the band's most commercially–successful album, being certified five-times Platinum by the RIAA, and having sold almost ten million copies worldwide.
In order to mark the 20th anniversary of the album the band partnered with Pleasures, a clothing company to release clothing merchandise dedicated to the album. On May 15, 2018, Korn announced the dates of special shows in order to mark the 20th anniversary of their album, Follow the Leader.
The band's fourth album, Issues, produced by Brendan O'Brien, was released on November 16, 1999, featuring cover art designed by Alfredo Carlos, who won a contest held for the fans by MTV.Issues was released during a week of many highly anticipated records. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with more at least 573,000 copies sold, keeping Dr. Dre's second album 2001 and All the Way... A Decade of Song by Céline Dion from hitting number one.
A little before Korn's album Issues was released, the band appeared on an episode of South Park, titled "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery", in which the first single from Issues, "Falling Away from Me", was premiered. The single became Korn's first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number ninety-nine. "Make Me Bad" was released as the album's second single in February 2000, peaking at number fourteen on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. A third single, "Somebody Someone", followed with more moderate success. Music videos were filmed for all three singles, with long-time friend Fred Durst directing "Falling Away from Me", and Martin Weisz directing a concept video for "Make Me Bad", as well as a performance-based video for "Somebody Someone", which featured the use of CGI effects. Every video was a staple on Total Request Live, two of which made it to retirement.Issues was described by Stephen Thomas Erlewine to be less hip hop-oriented than Follow the Leader. It was certified three-times Platinum, following up the success of Follow the Leader.
"Here to Stay", the first single from Untouchables, went on to win Korn a Grammy in 2003. Jon Wiederhorn said "Although 'Here to Stay' is clearly a scathing commentary on contemporary America, Davis stressed that it's merely a wake-up call, not a cry for action."
On June 11, 2002, Korn re-emerged into the media with their fifth album, Untouchables. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with 434,000 in sales. The band has blamed music piracy for the drop in sales, as an unmastered version of the album had leaked three months prior to its official release date. On April 2, 2002, the Opie and Anthony Show began airing songs from Untouchables. After playing a few songs, the broadcasters received a cease-and-desist letter from Sony Music Entertainment. Opie and Anthony said "The reason for the premature premiere was to infuriate a rival New York station, which disallows their in-studio guests to appear on 'The Opie and Anthony Show.'" The release of this album was preceded by a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, a day prior to the album's release, broadcast digitally throughout movie theatres in the United States.
The album contained experiments and styles never previously attempted by Korn. AllMusic related: "The band is far more experimental this time out, delivering Helmet-like ringing guitars that melt and morph into each other, a mix of Metallica-esque blastbeats and tight funk drumming from the constantly improving David Silveria, and memorable riffs that take the shape of dark sound structures and offer more than just a collection of chords." The first two music videos from Untouchables, "Here to Stay" and "Thoughtless", were directed by the Hughes Brothers. "Here to Stay" earned Korn a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. "Here to Stay" peaked at number seventy-two on the Billboard Hot 100.
Take a Look in the Mirror and departure of Brian Welch (2003–05)
Due to the album Untouchables leaking onto the Internet, Take a Look in the Mirror was released on a Friday, November 21, 2003 – four days earlier than its original release date. The album therefore received a weekend's worth of sales, which resulted in a poor showing on the Billboard 200. During its first full week, Take a Look in the Mirror soared ten places from number nineteen to number nine, increasing the album's total sales to 179,000. It is the first album self-produced by Korn. The band explained that they wanted fans to hear the music as it should be. The album presented different styles and themes compared to previous albums. Lead vocalist Jonathan Davis related: "The whole album is about love, hate and my hate of people and just losing my mind. The previous albums I did, I think the last three, I was coming from a place of hurt. And I just finally got to the point where I'm done hurting and I'm just pissed off about it now. It's turned back to just sheer hate and anger. And it definitely comes across on the album." MTV News said that Davis convinced his fans that they "will be shocked, particularly with the album's second track, 'Break Some Off,' which he called 'brutal'." Korn released the single "Did My Time" on July 22, 2003, which was used to promote the film but did not appear on the soundtrack to Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life due to unspecified legal issues. The single debuted and peaked at number thirty-eight on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Korn's first and only top-forty hit in the United States. "Did My Time" gave Korn another Grammy nomination in the Best Metal Performance category.
Korn released their greatest hits album, Greatest Hits Vol. 1, on October 5, 2004. The album debuted at number four on Billboard, selling more than 129,000 copies. This album assembles choice tracks from six Korn studio albums released between 1994 and 2003. The first single was a cover of the song "Word Up!", originally composed by Cameo. The single peaked at number twenty-three on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. Special editions of Greatest Hits Vol. 1 included a DVD titled Korn: Live at CBGB featuring seven select songs from their show of November 24, 2003 at CBGB.
In early 2005, Brian Welch announced that he would be quitting the band. In front of a crowd of 10,000, in three services at Valley Bible Fellowship in Bakersfield, California, said "I was addicted to methamphetamines and tried everything ... rehab, stuff on the Internet, but nothing helped me kick it. I was trying on my own to quit and couldn't do it. I wanted to die. No one knew what I was going through. I could not quit. Church was my last shot. I would sit in church high [on drugs]. I would wonder why people would go up to the front after the service. But one day it was for me. I said [to God], 'Show me how to quit.'" In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, Head described his final moments in the band as very tense; "the last year I was in the band, we were gonna kick out the bass player, Fieldy, and this guy's girlfriend couldn't be on this side of the stage because there were fights with another wife in the band. And obviously the drugs – it's no secret I was into the drugs, so crazy stuff, like having to finish our blow right before we got to the border because they were gonna come check to see if we had anything." Following his departure from Korn, Welch released two autobiographies, a solo album, and formed a band, Love and Death, who released a debut album in 2013.
See You on the Other Side and departure of David Silveria (2005–07)
Korn in 2006
Upon completing their record deal with Sony, Korn partnered with EMI and signed to Virgin Records. As part of this innovative arrangement, Virgin paid Korn $25 million upfront in exchange for a share in the profits of their next two studio albums, including tours and merchandising. Virgin also received a 30 percent stake in the band's licensing, ticket sales and other revenue sources.
It's taking Korn into another dimension for the listener, I think, that takes you to another world. I think it's really emotional, as far as it's not so anger-based. You know, I think it's a more well-rounded emotional journey it kinda takes you on, the listener.
James "Munky" Shaffer on See You on the Other Side.
The band's first album for Virgin, See You on the Other Side, was released on December 6, 2005, and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, scanning close to 221,000 copies. The album managed to stay in the top half of the Billboard 200 for thirty-four consecutive weeks. The first single from the album, "Twisted Transistor", was accompanied by a music video directed by Dave Meyers in which hip hop artists Xzibit, Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg, and David Banner portray Korn. "Twisted Transistor" peaked at number sixty-four on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single, "Coming Undone", was released in February 2006, peaking at number seventy-nine on the Billboard Hot 100. The music video was directed by Little X.See You on the Other Side was certified Platinum in the United States, and by mid-2007, the album had sold over 2.2 million copies worldwide.
In early December 2006 it was announced that founding drummer David Silveria would be taking an indefinite "temporary hiatus" from the band. Korn then performed at the MTV studios in Times Square on December 9, 2006, for the MTV Unplugged series, which was broadcast on February 23, 2007, through MTV.com and on March 2, 2007, across North American, South American, European and Asian MTV stations. Korn played a 14-song acoustic set complete with guest appearances by the Cure and Amy Lee of Evanescence. The performance was eventually cut down to 11 songs for the album, two of which did not air on MTV. Sales of nearly 51,000 brought MTV Unplugged: Korn to number nine in its first week out.
Untitled album and addition of Ray Luzier (2007–08)
Ubisoft reported in October 2008 that Korn had "written and recorded an original song inspired by Ubisoft's Haze video game, simply entitled "Haze", which was released on April 22, 2008. Korn also released a live DVD, Live at Montreux 2004, one of their performances with former guitarist Brian Welch on May 12, 2008.
...Korn III: Remember Who You Are isn't a numbering device, it signifies an opening of another phase in Korn's career. Somehow, the band has bypassed a Korn II altogether in their discography, but it's commonly acknowledged that the tail-end of the 2000s found the group floundering a bit, going so far as to flirt with the Matrix in an attempt to figure out which direction to go now that they've hit middle age.
Along with the announcement of the Ballroom Blitz Tour in March 2010, the title for the new album was revealed as Korn III: Remember Who You Are. Later that month, Munky announced that Korn has officially signed to Roadrunner Records. Jonathan Davis later confirmed the record deal: "We're going to go to Roadrunner. [It is] real exciting for us, too, because they're one of the last record companies to let you do what you want to do." Davis continued, "All the great bands around are on that label and everything seems to just work out right and it seems like a good home for us right now." The lead single, "Oildale", was made available for streaming in May 2010. "Oildale (Leave Me Alone)" was simultaneously released to radio stations, and became a top-ten hit on the BillboardActive rock and Mainstream Rock airplay charts. A music video, directed by Phil Mucci, received an exclusive premiere on MTV2.
Korn III: Remember Who You Are was released on July 13, 2010. It debuted and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 with 63,000 purchases reported. A second single, "Let the Guilt Go", was released that same month, and managed to peak in the top twenty on the Billboard Active Rock chart. "Pop a Pill" was scheduled to be the third single from Korn III: Remember Who You Are, but plans were scrapped by Roadrunner Records due to unsatisfactory results with previous singles. Korn co-headlined the Music as a Weapon V tour with Disturbed in late 2010 and early 2011. The tour also featured supporting acts Sevendust and In This Moment.
The Path of Totality (2011–12)
Korn performing live at the Metaltown Festival in June 2011
Korn's tenth studio album, The Path of Totality, was released on December 6, 2011. It was the second and final studio album for Roadrunner Records. The album features contributions from Skrillex, 12th Planet, Excision, Downlink, Kill the Noise, Noisia, and various other EDM artists. The Path of Totality debuted and peaked at number ten on the Billboard 200 with 55,000 copies scanned. "Get Up!" was premiered as the lead single via Spin in April 2011. The single managed to peak at number eight on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. 150,000 digital copies of "Get Up!" have been purchased in the United States according to Nielsen SoundScan. The second single, "Narcissistic Cannibal", was released in October 2011, with its music video being directed and produced by Alexander Bulkley of ShadowMachine Films. "Narcissistic Cannibal" peaked at number seventeen on the Bubbling Under Hot 100.
After a stint of festival appearances, Korn promoted The Path of Totality during a headlining tour of the same name. Korn split their show into three sections. The band kicked off by playing "rare" songs from their first two albums, including the b-side "Proud", which was originally included on the soundtrack to the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer. They followed with a different stage set up, playing several of their new songs. The set list ended with hit singles and an encore. Other appearances came from
Dope D.O.D., Datsik and Downlink. A special album release performance filmed and recorded at the Hollywood Palladium was issued in various formats through Shout! Factory in September 2012.The Path of Totality won Album of the Year at the 2012 Revolver Golden Gods Awards. This was Korn's first victory at the Golden Gods Awards, a ceremony that celebrates the best in hard rock and heavy metal music. Korn was also inducted into the Kerrang! Hall of Fame during the 2011 Kerrang! Awards.
The Paradigm Shift and the return of Brian Welch (2012–15)
On May 5, 2012, guitarist Brian "Head" Welch joined Korn on stage at the Carolina Rebellion festival to play "Blind" the first time since his departure. As recalled in the documentary DVD Reconciliation, Welch's appearance was a spur-of-the-moment decision: Welch initially visited the festival because of his daughter who was a fan of bands performing; Welch joined Red on stage for a song, and eventually would be persuaded to join his old bandmates in Korn for a meet and greet. Upon Korn preparing for the show, the guitar tech prepared an extra guitar and amplifier for Welch, "just in case".
On July 18, 2012, Jonathan Davis told Billboard.com that Korn was getting ready to start recording their eleventh studio album that would be released independently. It was also announced that their next album would not contain any dubstep influences like The Path of Totality. Guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer stated in an interview with the Phoenix New Times that the new album would be heavier, with more aggressive "in-your-face" guitars and vocals. He went on to say that he would be using new recording techniques in the studio to give his riffs a fresh approach.
In November 2012, Mudvayne bassist Ryan Martinie toured Korn as a temporary replacement for Reginald Arvizu, who stayed at home during his wife's pregnancy.
In January 2013, Welch was confirmed to return to the band to play a number of festival shows, including Rock on the Range, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park and the Download Festival. His status in the band was initially thought to be temporary and for touring purposes only. Ray Luzier later announced at the Sabian show during NAMM that Welch would be joining Korn for the whole tour. Later in that month, techno artist Beta Traxx confirmed he was working on a new Korn song for their upcoming album, which he commented would sound "like the past and the future at the same time." It was also confirmed by Ray Luzier that Don Gilmore would be producing the upcoming album. On February 12, 2013, The BK Entertainment Group updated their clients list and confirmed that Korn has signed to their management's independent label; Prospect Park Productions. Later, On June 1, 2013 Caroline Records added Korn to their roster confirming that the band have been signed on to a contract with the label; they are partnered with Korn's management Prospect Park. On February 18, 2013, Korn posted a photo showing Head as part of the line up, which escalated rumors that he was in the process to rejoin Korn permanently. This was confirmed by Head himself in May, when it was also confirmed that he had been recording as part of the band for their upcoming album.
Korn performing live at the Rock 'n' Heim Rock Festival in August 2014
Fieldy has said of the album "Right now, I will tell you this ... we've done something we've never done before. Normally if we do a new Korn record, we'll normally put 12 or 13 songs and that's how many we make. This time we've made 20-plus songs, and we'll put the best of what we have on there, whatever the numbers end up being. We have so many to choose from, I think it's going to be a little extra special this time." Munky later confirmed this by saying that the band completed 25 songs and 15 of them would be put on the album. Head later elaborated that musically this was Korn's best album.
Korn's eleventh studio album, The Paradigm Shift, was released on October 8, 2013. Their first single, "Never Never" was set to be released August 12, 2013. The band recorded an episode of Guitar Center Sessions for DirecTV on September 11, 2013 which is scheduled to premiere November 1, 2013 on DirecTV Audience Channel. Korn will also be the latest act to be inducted into the world-famous Hollywood Rockwalk on October 8, 2013. The band brought back their Family Values Tour as a one-day festival, on October 5, 2013. The venue and line up were revealed on September 3, 2013. The music video for "Spike in My Veins" was released on February 6, 2014. The band performed the entirety of their self-titled debut album on several occasions during 2015.
In late 2016, Zac Baird left the live band after 10 years. Jules Venturini completed the tour before Davey Oberlin was brought in to the band. It was later announced that Fieldy would be missing Korn's tour of South America and Robert Trujillo's son, Tye (who was 12 at the time) was brought in to perform with the band for the duration of the tour.
Upcoming thirteenth studio album (2018-present)
According to the Instagram account of Korn drummer Ray Luzier, Korn has begun the process of tracking drums for the upcoming thirteenth album.
On August 17, 2018 Jonathan's wife Deven Davis was found dead from a drug overdose. Later on January 6, 2019 Jonathan posted on his Instagram profile thanking fans for their support after her death and promised to "give his all" for the next album.