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Ross Robinson Elaborates On Why “Korn III: Remember Who You Are” Ultimately Backfired, Says “Daddy” Became The “Power And Foundation” For A “Whole World Of Music”


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Korn‘s 2010 album “Korn III: Remember Who You Are” certainly had a lot of expectations attached to it. Many of the band’s fans had hoped for a return to the early days of Korn, given the much-hyped reunion the album presented with early Korn producer Ross Robinson.

While the group’s self-titled debut album and their 1996 follow-up “Life Is Peachy” were both very much influenced by Robinson‘s unconventional production techniques and approach, the multi-platinum nü-metal pioneers would go on to pursue different avenues until linking back up for that ninth studio album.

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Back in 2017 Jonathan Davis, referred to “Korn III: Remember Who You Are” as the band’s “biggest mistake”, stating of it:

“…That record sounds forced to me and it took me to a very dark place that I didn’t want to go back to. I think going backwards rather than forwards might have been the biggest mistake we made as a band.”

It’s a lesson that Robinson, who has come be known as ‘The Godfather Of Nü-Metal‘, also learned from the process of the making that album, which served as the band’s first with their drummer Ray Luzier.

Speaking recently in an extremely candid and vulnerable appearance on The Peer Pleasure Podcast (hear it in full below), Robinson admitted that his vision for the album “backfired” and that he also unduly punished on Luzier during the sessions.

Robinson commented of the album [transcribed by theprp.com]:

“I think this was to a fault on my part in that I had this idea of what I thought Korn was supposed to be. We worked a year and a half before we did the first record. I was at all rehearsals. I was… just in the room during all the songwriting, and with the vibe of the lyrics and the stories of each person. And then the vibe of each individual and how they worked and my love for them. And then seeing everyone else love them the way I loved them once they figured it out.

There was this thing, it was so much emotion and vulnerability in a metal sound—which never existed before. And I was way, way deep into heart-opening in my own personal life. Getting through an eating disorder and going [through] a 12-step program and doing my mom’s work, and just really going deep into the source, ya know? The source.

With Korn it’s just like the perfection and the love that I had for everything with those guys, individually and musically and the dedication. I’ll always feel like a very important place in my heart is, I’m Ross from Korn. That’s my fucking identity back then. So I was trying to relay that to Ray when he hadn’t drummed on an album yet. I’m like ‘Korn is this, and Korn is that, and it means so much. And the fans and the lyrics and the vulnerability and raaahhhh.’

And he’s this amazing, incredibly talented, happy guy straight off the David Lee Roth band—ya know, like showbiz gig—into ‘this thiiinnnnngg that I wanted to bring back.’ Ya know, without Brian [“Head” Welch, Korn guitarist] there and also… I didn’t realize that the dudes grew into adults with kids and families and… They outgrew their youth into real men, with real responsibilities and life changed.

And in that there’s not this extreme ‘we’re one piece.’ They were fragmented into ‘so & so lives way over here and so & so lives over there’ and it’s like ‘oh, I got this thing I gotta do.’ And it’s not the same thing.

For any musician in any band, you can’t…. and so poor Ray was getting the wrath of me wanting to wave the flag of the 1992 [era], before the record came out. And so yeah, it was confusing for everybody, because I had a mission and I think it backfired. Because I pushed Jonathan too hard when it wasn’t a good time for me to do that.

And I thought ‘The music is god’ [laughs.] And I learned that who a person is at that moment in their life today, now, is the person that is going to express something beautiful and incredible in who they are now. Not ‘Remember Who You Are’—that’s bullshit. Remember. Use It. Respect who you are today and exude that expression clearly and potently and I learned a big lesson on that.”

Later in the discussion Robinson also relayed his experiences working on Korn‘s landmark 2x multi-platinum self-titled debut album. While explaining how the pressure and scope for the record took a toll on his own mental health, he also delved into how meticulous and authentic the recording process was for it:

“If I turned that record that in today, everybody would be like ‘oh, it sounds like shit.’ Because it’s not all compressed and it’s so vintage sounding. But that tone and that sound to me is going to outlast everything that’s happening today, because it’s recorded with gear that was hand soldered with flesh and blood, and intention, and willingness to make it beautiful.

Like ‘I love this piece of gear and I’m gonna make it great’ all the way to the tape ‘Oh, the tape’, the tape machine is modded for low-end. And it’s just ‘oh, the snare drum. We gotta tune it this way’, even though people may or may not like it, it was tuned with flesh and blood fingers, and that’s what you’re hearing. It’s all real.

So it’s… infinite in the detail. And you have no idea when it’s going by, but every little turn of the lug nut, or the tuning, or the amp tune, the pre-amp, the compressor; it was all done with the willingness to be beautiful for them and do a great job. It was all there.

Whether somebody thinks it sounds good or not. That’s what your feeling and hearing… It’s metal, it’s not supposed to be triple-platinum or whatever it is now. It’s probably four-times platinum or something. It’s like how did that happen? There’s no hits on it. ‘Blind‘ isn’t a hit. It is, but it’s not. It’s not a commercial song. I think it’s just love.”

Speaking later of the intense sessions for that self-titled album’s closing track, which saw an emotionally distraught Davis revisiting childhood trauma, Robinson stated:

“That’s the power and foundation of everything that happened for all of us. And all of that bands that I got to touch, and they got to touch, after that. That fucking moment, of that song, is the foundation for the whole world of music that happened from it.

The explosion and the influence and the place that we went. Even though we can’t listen to it, because we’ll start crying, or we’ll joke around, or we’ll leave the room. It’s too fucking powerful. I swear man, I’ve been trying to match that level of transparent god unto microphones this whole time, and have never done it that well. It’s just a fucking blast.”

You can listen to the complete podcast episode at peerpleasurepodcast.com and below:

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