Hoopla

Korn headlines at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday

Korn will rock the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids on Saturday (2/15), along with openers Breaking Benjami
Korn will rock the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids on Saturday (2/15), along with openers Breaking Benjamin and Bones UK. Korn band members are (from left), Ray Luzier, James “Munky” Shaffer, Jonathan Davis, Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu and Brian “Head” Welch. (Brian Ziff)

As a member of a band that’s been playing amphitheaters and other large venues for the better part of a 25-year history, Korn bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu has seen his share of spectacular visual concert productions.

Although his initial reaction was underwhelming, Arvizu says fans are in for a show unlike anything Korn’s done before on tour, when the band swings through the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night (2/15).

“This time we brought out some new technology — stage-type situation — that has never been done before. It’s mind blowing,” Arvizu said in a recent phone interview. “I remember when (the production people) were talking about the stage they were bringing out, I was like, ‘It sounds lame. That sounds dumb.’

“But then when I saw it, I had chills. This is the next level, something I’ve never seen in my whole life. It’s bigger than life. It’s so massive that I can’t even wrap my head around it. But it’s pretty cool and probably one of my favorite Korn stages we’ve ever brought out.”

Another thing that’s impressing Arvizu is “The Nothing,” the new album Korn released Sept. 13. The band is beginning to add songs from “The Nothing” to its live set.

“The Nothing” is Korn’s 13th album and like other Korn albums, the project began with the four instrumentalists in the band — Arvizu, guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch and drummer Ray Luzier — getting together with a producer to write music to which lead singer and frontman Jonathan Davis can then add lyrics and vocal melodies.

This time around, Davis was touring behind his first solo album, “Black Labyrinth,” while his Korn bandmates wrote music for what eventually became “The Nothing.” But the album became especially personal for Davis in August 2018 when his wife, Deven, died from an accidental drug overdose after battling mental illness and addictions for more than a decade. Although the couple was estranged at the time, Davis’s statement following her death clearly showed his love for his late wife.

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Deven’s death became the inspiration for the lyrics Davis started working on for “The Nothing.” But the writing wasn’t a quick and easy process and he sought help. But eventually he locked himself away in his studio and decided to follow his own instincts in completing the songs — committing himself to take whatever time it took to get the results he wanted.

Arvizu said that’s normal for Davis.

“He’ll work a little bit with somebody and maybe bring someone else in or maybe do some on his own,” Arvizu said. “It all depends on his mood. There have been a few (albums) that he’s worked with one producer the whole time or one other (person). It’s always changing, but that’s normally the norm.”

Collaborators this time included Billy Corgan, frontman of the Smashing Pumpkins; John Feldmann, frontman of Goldfinger; and album producer Nick Raskulinecz.

“If you look at the credits, you’ll see it. It’s never 1-14 (by) Jonathan Davis,” Arvizu said. “He already knows if he does it alone what’s going to come out of it. It’s going to be him. So he likes to pull something different out of himself and he tries to do that by bringing in an outside ear.”

This approach to album making has worked very well for Korn. Formed in Bakersfield, Calif., the band quickly made an impact with its million-selling 1994 self-titled debut album. Things accelerated from there. By 1999 Korn had established as the leader of the nu metal genre — a label the band never liked.

The group has continued its popularity even with the departure of Welch from 2005 to 2013. The recent albums, “The Paradigm Shift” (2013) and “The Serenity of Suffering” (2016), also have been well received.

Given the circumstances in Davis’ life that preceded the making of “The Nothing,” it’s no surprise that the vocalist has described the new album as being very dark. Arvizu, though, sees another side to the new songs.

“I see victory, I see overcoming, pressing on and not giving up,” Arvizu said. “That’s what I see him going through. It’s some of the most difficult times of his life, but that’s what I see through it.”

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Arvizu said Davis’ vocals on “The Nothing” are a primary quality that sets this latest effort apart from Korn’s other albums.

“I’ve never heard his voice in such a sweet spot and how the creativity and the level that’s coming out of him is right now ... is top notch,” Arvizu said. “The most exciting thing for me is when the singer of a band gets to that place.”

Get Out!

• What: Korn, with Breaking Benjamin and Bones UK

• Where: U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday, (2/15)

• Tickets: $49 to $89, venue box office, (319) 731-4510 or Creventslive.com

• Band’s website: Kornofficial.com

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