You might think that being the frontman for metal band Korn would take enough of a toll that you'd want to enjoy every day off that you could. That's not the case for Jonathan Davis, who is using a break from touring with Korn to launch his first-ever solo tour. His main goal — to do something special.
"I've been wanting to do this for a long time," Davis says during a Nov. 1 conference call with journalists. "I just wanted to go out, just for the sake of just playing. I put together a really, really insane band."
Together, they'll play redone Korn songs as well as Davis' solo work for the Queen of the Damned soundtrack and selected covers. He lets on that the covers include "Love on the Rocks" by Neil Diamond, "Chauffeur" by Duran Duran and "Blue Monday" by New Order.
He says his Korn bandmates don't mind the decision by Davis to do a solo tour, even asking him for tickets to the show. With a two-month break in the tour, Davis feels it was the "perfect time to do it." The band has toured and recorded consistently since its formation in 1994.
The current plan is to do a CD/DVD that will be available at the shows. It will include a performance done for family and friends, along with a making-of documentary of how the whole show got put together. Davis said he'll also hold a meet-and-greet to sign copies for fans that buy it.
He notes the vibe of the shows, which he hopes to do more of next year, isn't just acoustic, though that's what most people will assume given the recent Korn Unplugged album.
"There's going to be ambient and other stuff going on," he says. "There's not going to be no distorted guitars. I really like it because it is just so ... it's a complete polar opposite from what I do in Korn, where it's intense wall of sound, huge guitars and you get on stage and you're rocking out and putting 100 percent of my body and soul into it. This is more laid back and more intimate."
The different vibe can also change the meaning of the song. Davis says one example of this was the cover of Radiohead's "Creep" on the Unplugged album. He thought the lyrics came over as more intense than the original and hopes the same thing happens with the Korn songs and others on the tour.
As far as the visual presentation, Davis also plans on the upcoming tour being more stripped down like the music. He said they'll be in suits and surrounded by candles to keep the minimal feel of the show.
His eyes first opened to the idea of a tour like this after the Unplugged album, as one might expect. That album offered listeners a different view of the usually heavy music. The Korn members didn't want to do an acoustic tour at this point because they wanted the break, Davis said. "It's kind of intimidating, but I'm excited to do something different and go out and just play," he says. "This is not to push an album. The only reason behind it is I want to play music and I want to do something cool for the fans."
While there are Korn songs that lend themselves more to this format, Davis says some of the most fun behind a tour like this is reworking the heavier Korn songs. "It's like figuring out a puzzle," he says. "We're really hopped up on musicianship and, you know, the backing men that I've got are all kids that went to Berkley. We're up to the challenge. It's definitely different from what Korn did in Unplugged, too."
While it sounds like Davis is going to have a blast doing the solo stint, he also points out that it doesn't mean an end to Korn. "You know, any time you do anything solo, it freaks people out," he says. "We're tighter than ever. The heart of this band was me, Fieldy [Reginald Arvizu] and Munky [James Shaffer]. Losing David [Silveria] and Head [Brian Welch] really hurt us and we miss them and it hurts more emotionally than anything. I wish Head the best and I'm really happy David's taking time off to spend time with his kids. We're really excited to get in and do another record."
One other factor for Davis with the tour is that it lacks some of the business side of the music. While Korn has now become a large production, the solo tour will offer Davis a chance to get back to basics. He won't have to wake up to the sight of large tractor trailers and hundreds of stagehands.
"It feels like ... like when it makes me feel like when Korn first started playing, when we were nothing to nobody. There was no pressure, it wasn't a business and there was no bullshit. It kind of makes me feel like this way again, like a little kid, because I'm going out to play for the sake of fucking playing. I'm not worried about an album. I'm not worried about ticket sales. I'm not worried about shit. I'm going out there for the fucking sheer love of it and it makes me feel good."
Jonathan Davis will play at Tremont Music Hall on Nov. 21. For more information, go to www.tremontmusichall.com.