KORN guitarists/co-founders James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch spoke to Premier Guitar about the making of the band’s latest album, “The Serenity Of Suffering”, which came out at the end of October.
Munky said: “Head and I got into a small room and started to write riffs with Ray [Luzier, drums], who had an electronic kit, and it was a little bit different because it wasn’t all of us at once. We wanted to just get the ball rolling and stockpile a bunch of riffs and ideas.
Added Head: “We started first in early June  in Hollywood, just ripping out half-song ideas. When we started writing, we used eight-string guitars. We were, like, ‘I want to try something different.’ It was so fun and sparked a different way to write just because it sounded different, and then we brought the idea to the studio and let Jonathan [Davis, vocals] hear it, and he was like, ‘This doesn’t sound like KORN.’ And then we went back to the basics. He said it wasn’t in his vocal range and was, like, ‘You guys sound like MESHUGGAH now.’ We took a couple of those songs and made them into seven-string, just the regular tuning, and only a couple of them worked. The other ones we had to throw away because it didn’t sound good on seven-string.”
Continued Munky: “It was a combination of the vocal range and the fact that it was too outside of what KORN should sound like, I think.”
Asked how producer Nick Raskulinecz got involved with the making of “The Serenity Of Suffering”, Munky said: “We started talking about producers once we had 20 or 25 ideas, you know, like a verse and chorus, recorded. Not complete songs, because we wanted someone to help us through the writing process and tell us, ‘Maybe this is good, maybe this isn’t, where do we take these ideas?’ And probably a month or two into the writing process we went up to Bakersfield to get everyone in our studio over there with live drums, and have Fieldy [bass] and Jonathan be part of the writing process on the music end, and to help with the direction. That’s when we started thinking about producers and making phone calls, and Nick‘s name came up a few times. We’re big fans of his work and we love what he did with the DEFTONES records, and the two ALICE IN CHAINS records that he did.”
Added Head: “Actually we wanted to talk to him on ‘The Paradigm Shift’, the previous record, but he was busy. So his name came up again, and we talked to a bunch of other producers, but you know, he just had an energy about him. He’s just a guy that you grow to like instantly and we became friends instantly. He’s got that personality and is just a fan of music. He told us he used to flip burgers and listen to KORN while he was working. He was, like, ‘As a fan, I know what you guys need right now. I know you guys have ventured off and done stuff, but I want to take your whole career — your last 20 years — and put together what I would like to hear, as a fan.’ Once we got him, he started going over songs with us, throwing stuff away, keeping other stuff, and making stuff better. That was the beginning of the process.”
Continued Munky: “He went out on a limb and was just honest with us, and we had to kind of step back and were, like, ‘We want to go down that road again. We want to experiment with guitar sounds and just let songs develop into whatever they might be,’ and we hired him pretty much on the spot. It was actually difficult because we were doing a lot of these one-off festival shows, and flying back and forth from Europe, but maybe it led us to have good energy on the record because we were playing in front of a lot of audiences. I remember Head saying during the writing process, ‘We gotta make sure these songs are fun to play live.’ Because a lot of songs that we write in the studio, we get them out and play them live, and it just doesn’t translate to the audience.”
“The Serenity Of Suffering” was released on October 21. The follow-up to 2013’s “The Paradigm Shift” marks the band’s return to Roadrunner, which previously released 2010’s “Korn III – Remember Who You Are” and 2011’s “The Path Of Totality”.