Korn co-headlines at Rocklahoma, where singer will feel at home

Jonathan Davis says Korn has its dual-guitar attack back.
BY GENE TRIPLETT etriplett@opubco.com Modified: May 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm •  Published: May 24, 2013
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Jonathan Davis feels almost right at home when Korn plays in Oklahoma.

That's because he grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., where a lot of Okies and Arkies — including some of Davis' forebears — ended up when they left Arkansas and Oklahoma behind for a better life during the Great Depression.

Along with them came their music, and that's how Bakersfield became the unofficial left-coast capital of country picking, where guys like Buck Owens blossomed. It's also where Owens' famed recording studios still stand, and where alternative rap-metal band Korn has been recording its latest, decidedly uncountry album, due out later this summer.

The as-yet-untitled record marks the return of guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who left the band in 2005 to practice a newfound Christian faith that he felt clashed with the band's lifestyle and often dark lyrical themes.

Fans will witness the restoration of Head and James “Munky” Shaffer's classic duel guitar attack when Korn co-headlines at Rocklahoma, taking the Main Stage of the Pryor outdoor festival at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

But at the moment, Davis was alone in the Bakersfield studio during a recent phone interview with The Oklahoman.

“Yeah, all the other guys are done and, of course, they're practicing. They're rehearsing and I get stuck here doin' the vocals and they gotta rush.” Davis chuckled. “That's how it always goes.”

You've been working on the new album in the Buck Owens Studios in Bakersfield. I've always wondered how a California town so strongly associated with country music managed to produce a radically alternative metal band such as Korn.

Davis: “I think it's just that we didn't have anything to do out here, really. I mean a lot of people, just either the kids got into drugs and stuff like that, or got people pregnant, or were into music and stuff like that. There wasn't much. Growin' up here was about keg parties in fields and that was really it. I think, for us, we got ourselves into music, and there's a really cool scene here in Bakersfield. There's a lot of rockabilly bands and some punk-rock bands. I mean there's talent here. It's really cool.”

This new album and tour also marks the return of (guitarist Brian “Head” Welch). Now didn't his leaving the band (in 2005) have something to do with his born-again Christian faith? Has his heart and mind changed in that regard?