In many ways, the low-tuned, trudging music of Korn reflects the Cleveland spirit — tenacious, working-class anthems written for the underdog.
Perhaps that explains The Land’s enthusiasm, as noted by Korn guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch, when the group rolls through — garnering throngs of metal-head locals prepared to push, shove and scream their night away.
“That's how it should be everywhere,” Welch says. “We totally feel that energy every time we play [in Cleveland] … it’s just really cool and eccentric.”
The nu-metal icons make their return to Blossom Music Center on Aug. 23 alongside Evanescence, the bands’ first tour together since the infamous Family Values Tour in 2007. Furthermore, both acts share a similar fan base, with many supporters hoping to experience Amy Lee’s and Jonathan Davis’ renowned MTV Unplugged duet of “Freak on a Leash” in the flesh.
Before you rock down to Blossom Music Center, Welch fills us in on the new tour, what it’s like playing old hits and their experiences in Cleveland through the years.
Cleveland Magazine: The world is primed and ready for your tour with Evanescence, your first together in more than a decade. How did this come together?
Brian ‘Head’ Welch: 17 years ago was the last Evanescence-Korn tour, and I wasn't there because I had just left the band. I really liked Evanescence; I think Amy is one of a kind and they have a great vibe to them. I love the matchup because it's not totally the same, but it's a little bit different — Evanescence has an elegance to them; we have a heaviness to us. Then, also, Amy sang “Freak on a Leash” with Korn on MTV Unplugged back in the day. So, there's a cool connection. You know, she's a big fan of Korn, as we are of her band. It just kind of made sense.
CM: You’ve toured through Cleveland often over the years, has the city left a mark on the band in any way?
BW: I love the city. And I know the history of the city and how it grew so fast back in the day, and it just has such a great reputation. Great fans out there that just love music. And, you know, it's like the wild city of Ohio — that's how it should be everywhere. We totally feel that energy every time we play there. And I want to mention that we're coming through with a new show, too. We just came up with a cool new design that's going to feel totally different from any of the past Korn shows. So, we're really excited about that. And I think people are going to be pleased with what we came up with.
CM: That brings up an interesting topic — you have a long catalog of old hits, with new music coming out often. Where does the balance lie between the fresh and the iconic sides of your setlist?
BW: It's so weird and difficult to do because there's certain songs that I think you have to play. But then, some of the other diehard fans are like, ‘Won’t you play some more obscure new ones?’ and so it's kind of a difficult thing to figure out what to do to balance. But especially if the song is energetic and it makes the crowd jump and all that stuff, then I could play it another 25 years — all the time. Like a song like “Blind” or “Here to Stay” or “Falling Away From Me.” There's such a crowd synchronicity and unity that's happening that it doesn't matter how many times we play it. It's fun every time.
CM: You’ve got a newer album that came out in February. How did that all come together?
BW: The main thing to do is to write the best songs you can write, that's what we signed up to do for each record. And during the COVID pandemic, we had nothing but time. So, you know, I'm sitting here thinking all of Korn is going to have time off for the first time in their whole career. I left for eight years, but these other guys never quit. And so, I thought, ‘They're going to take like, half a year off or something,’ but a month in, they're like, ‘Let's go do something.’ [Other members] got young kids, they went from rockstars to schoolteachers. And so, they were like, ‘Anything to get out of the house for a break.’ Just a break.
CM: What’s the writing process like when you’re with everyone?
BW: I’ve known Monkey since we were 14. Jonathan, I mean, I didn't know him, but we went to the same school — he was in third grade, I was in fourth. We go back so far. And so, when we write, we just get in the room and jam out and piece songs together. Then we'll put it into the system and, you know, we'll change some things around later; maybe the verses or a chorus or something. But we just get the basic idea down by just jamming as friends. That's what's worked. I love jamming in person.
If you haven't checked it out yet, Korn's latest album, Requiem, is available across all music-streaming platforms.