Korn’s Jonathan Davis Further Explains Why He Hated Being Lumped In With Nü-Metal: “You Don’t Call Metallica Some Thrash Band!”


It’s pretty indisputable that Korn helped pioneer the style and sound of what that came to be known as nü-metal. The Bakersfield, CA-based outfit were certainly responsible for ushering it into the collective mainstream, even if it was ultimately bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit who truly launched the then fledgling genre into the stratosphere.

For Korn frontman Jonathan Davis, the nü-metal tag quickly became more burden than blessing, and a descriptor he was uncomfortable with for many years. He also wasn’t a fan of what sprouted up on the foundation he and his bandmates helped lay, telling NME back in 2019 that the late 1990s/early 2000s nü-metal was “full of misogynistic, opportunistic dickhead jocks.”

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While Davis ultimately found peace in unwittingly spearheading a musical trend, his band’s role in the genre remains a topic of conversation to this day—especially in the wake of a full-blown nü-metal resurgence.

Live Nation recently took a bet on the nostalgia for the genre with next year’s launch of the ‘Sick New World‘ festival. With a lineup featuring not only Korn, but also their scene peers in System Of A Down, Deftones, Incubus, Papa Roach and many more, all apparent 60,000 tickets for that festival were sold in roughly 120 minutes.

In a recent issue with Metal Hammer, Davis once again explained his reasoning for being averse to being lumped into  the genre and why he and his bandmates sought to distance themselves from it:

“For me, we were making [2002’s] ‘Untouchables‘, and that was when so many bands were coming out and jumping on the [nü-metal bandwagon. Now, I don’t mind the tag ‘nü-metal’ – they named an entire subgenre after my band? Holy shit! That’s cool! – but punk-ass, crazy Korn back then, we were like, ‘What the fuck? Fuck everyone! We’re going to make this insane record. Keep people guessing.’ It had become a parody of itself – ‘I don’t want to be defined like that!’

Nowadays, I don’t care, but back then I hated it. I make the music I make…you don’t call Metallica some thrash band! They’re fucking Metallica! You don’t call the Chili Peppers a funk rock band! They’re the fucking Chili Peppers!”

The band’s pointed attempts to distance themselves from the genre and how they were presented were also apparently a source of conflict behind the scenes, as Davis added:

“We always told them that it was going to be our way or no way. We got into fights with magazines, fights with video directors, literal physical altercations, because we were so sure that it wasn’t going to go down like that.”

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