Korn‘s Follow the Leader—the album that gave us “Freak on a Leash” and “Got the Life”—is about to turn 20 years old. To celebrate the occasion, there’s a new profile of singer Jonathan Davis at the Ringer, which convincingly positions the nu-metal overlords as the band that “epitomized rock’s last great ‘imperial’ era,” as writer Steven Hyden puts it: the last time a rock band might ever catalyze a massive national fanbase of kids, rub elbows with the biggest pop stars of their generation, or do mountains of cocaine in recording studios on major label dime.
It’s the latter area that provides the piece with its most vivid moments. Davis got sober after making Follow the Leader, but not before the band supposedly spent $60,000 on liquor during the sessions for the album, which is something like 2,000 bottles of Jack Daniels. There’s also this account of recording the album-opening “It’s On!,” which illustrates in more ways than one that Korn were a product of their own era:
The decadence went up a notch during the recording of Leader’s caterwauling opener, “It’s On!” Davis refused to sing until a Scarface-sized pile of cocaine was placed in front of him at the mic. Meanwhile, an orgy featuring some of the band’s rock star friends surrounded him in the studio.
“It was the pinnacle of rock and roll excess,” he says. “I’m singing on a record, I’m high on cocaine, and there’s some bitch blowing an amazing fucking musician that’s in an amazing band—I’m not naming names, I don’t fucking tell. But it was a one of my homies and one of those porn stars. It was amazing.”
If you yearn for the days when rock stars were gods, just remember they were also the days when rock stars could say things like “there’s some bitch blowing an amazing fucking musician” and get away with it. Davis has changed a little since then: the piece describes him as a mellow dad, and he’s apparently since renounced “All in the Family,” Leader‘s insanely dumb and homophobic Fred Durst duet. (Korn will not be playing it at upcoming anniversary shows for the album.) Everyone grows up. Read the whole profile here.