Interview and Song Premiere: Lynch Mob's George Lynch, Korn's Ray Luzier and dUg Pinnick of King’s X Discuss New KXM Album
By John Katic
Supergroups and side projects are nothing new. The first supergroups debuted in the mid- to late Sixties with Cream; Blind Faith and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to name just a few.
To the ranks of supergroups, you now can add KXM, a band whose name is derived from Korn (K), King's X (X) and Lynch Mob (M). The band features Ray Luzier of Korn on drums, plus guitarist George Lynch (Lynch Mob, ex-Dokken) and bassist dUg/Doug Pinnick (King’s X). The three long-time friends have joined forces to create a distinct sound, and they released their new self-titled album Tuesday, March 11.
I recently chatted with all three members of the band.
REVOLVER: The obvious question is, who approached who? What got the ball rolling?
Ray Luzier: I had a birthday party for my son and invited a bunch of friends and musicians. dUg and George ended up in my home studio picking up my guitars and jamming around a bit. George said, "We should all do a record together sometime," and I said, "That would be a dream come true!"
I've been a huge King's X fan for decades and have been following George and had respected his playing for decades. We just tried to figure out everyone's schedules to make it happen. I give it up for George for being so persistent in getting this going. Korn tours all year, every year, and with dUg and George's crazy schedules, it's just awesome that we made it happen. I'm very pleased with the result.
dUg Pinnick: George was the instigator. Ray and I have known each other for quite a while and always talked about doing something together, but George brought it up at Ray’s party and we agreed. George got after it and Ray did the same! Before I knew it, we were in a studio in the mountains, got a record deal, a video and a CD. As they say in Texas, "You gotta get after it!" George has an incredible amount of energy and humor, and he gets things done. I've learned a lot from him. He’s a true genius with the heart of a saint — and he comes up with some crazy guitar parts.
George Lynch: When you’re working as a pro musician in LA, you're frequently running into other players who you know and respect. A lot of times, the "dream band" conversation comes up. It's fun to talk about. A lot of times, it's the alcohol talking. But the reality for most of us is that we're locked into other commitments and obligations that in the cold light of day don't really afford us the time or flexibility to pull off these projects that look great on paper.
I'm not trying to take credit here, but I gotta honestly say I was determined to follow through and at least push hard enough to see if we could get any momentum going. Ray jumped right in and was obviously really excited about making it happen, despite his insanely busy schedule with Korn. I think for dUg it was sort of like, "well, yeah, sure, I'll invest some time and energy into this," but I don't think he realized how profound and potentially musically rewarding and even important KXM could become. But as the writing and recording started to happen and evolve, he became like a little kid in a candy store!
Can you describe what it's like to "bare your soul," so to speak, with a new band and new sound?
dUg: I've always bore my soul in everything I do, to everyone I know — to a fault! So I'm just being me. And it’s easy being who I am around these guys. And we have a short history, but we're old enough to know that the world is ugly and cold, so there is no bullshit between us, especially on the personal level.
dUg, you've played with drummer Jerry [Gaskill] for quite a while. How is it different working with Ray?
dUg: They're totally different players, so we naturally will have a different relationship. It would be unfair to compare, and I love playing with both of them. I had no difficulty connecting with Ray, especially because he’s very interested in what I'm playing off of what he’s playing. It makes me feel like we're connected. And the result is just a pure surprise and fun. We’re like two school kids in a garage who just learned “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks.
What in particular attracted you to this project?
George: I've said this before in interviews: When I'm hearing the music that's banging around in my head, it's dUg’s voice I hear over it. dUg comes from a gospel and blues background that he fused with his rock sensibilities. I'm woven from that same cloth.
dUg: It was total curiosity. I knew it would be something interesting, and I'm glad it is! I just want to have fun. And these guys are fun.
Ray: I always told dUg that before I die, I'm playing tambourine on one of his solo CDs! I've probably seen King's X like 40 times. He was cool enough to invite me down to play on a track on his CD Up. That was awesome, but I still wanted to do way more and create music with him. George asked me to jam on one of his instructional DVDs years back. That day I knew I wanted to see what we could write together. I love the way dUg and George take control of what they're doing and are very passionate and strong-willed about their music.
Can you talk about how the writing process went?
Ray: I wrote everything [laughs]! We all came in fresh every day in the studio and would create and write on the spot. It was important to all three of us that this is the way we're going to do it. A couple of tunes started with me messing around on my drums, getting tuned up. dUg or George would just join in and start jamming on the groove. George started a couple tunes by messing with a cool effect pedal or riff. dUg has a massive, great bass tone. He would start some really cool ideas. So it was all three of us going through parts, then solidifying the arrangements and making the best songs we could.
dUg: It took me, as usual, a bit longer to find lyrics and a melodic hook, but something about what everyone was playing dictated a feeling that made me find things to sing about that are on my mind.
George: This is amazing, really. We booked a private studio that's in a big house in a very remote part of California. We had no songs or pre-conceived ideas of what we were going to play. We just trusted ourselves and fate to work things out. We set up in a big room, mic'd everything up, just started jamming and the ideas just flowed. We initially spent eight days up there and had a blast.
We worked really hard but had fun hanging and just enjoying the process and our time together. It felt like we'd been playing together all our lives. No tension, no egos. Ray would come up with one of his crazy ambidextrous tribal beats and dUg and I would just be throwing riffs and melodies out. Then we'd spend a few hours working out an arrangement and start tracking it. We'd always get at least one song a day written and recorded.
"Supergroups" don't always equal super results. How would you describe the chemistry among the three of you?
George: It's cool if somebody wants to classify us a supergroup. For us it was just getting together with friends that you also admire and respect as musicians and as people and creating music outside the industry bubble outside of the Hollywood/LA scene and sort of uninhibited.
Ray: We're a super-duper group! We all just laugh a lot. Sometimes you can get along as people but not musically. Luckily, we all three get along both ways. We've all played for so many years and have tons of experience. There's no BS or drama. We just had fun making music. I can't wait for to start writing the next record!
dUg: I have been doing this thing for a very long time so I have no time to waste doing a project without a strong connection musically and as people. We work hard, laugh a lot and have total faith in each other. I can feel it personally. This is something we threw together but thought a lot about in the process. There was no pressure and the music came naturally and quickly.
Did you have an idea in mind of what KXM should sound like before you guys plugged in the first time?
dUg: I had no clue or idea, not even on paper could I come up with any scenario, and I'm surprised people like it!
George: Of course not. How could we? That's what was so fun and interesting about it. Not only being on the "inside" and experiencing what this unique chemistry would result in but also experiencing the "outside" perspective like a fan would. When you're working on this stuff in the heat of the moment, you're not thinking, "Wow, this is cool; this is a band with dUg Pinnick, George Lynch and Ray Luzier." You're just wrapped up in the work and the process. But when you're able to step away at some point and listen to what we've created, you get the chance to appreciate it from an outside perspective.
Ray: It's obvious we all put our stamps on this record. George will always sound like George. No one on the planet sounds like him! And dUg's voice is so soulful and deep, his bass tones and playing are very massive. So I think we all grew and branched out a bit on this, taking our own familiar styles and taking them even further.
Ray, stylistically this is different from Korn. How, as a drummer, do you approach playing with diverse musicians?
Ray: It's very different from Korn, but I still play with all my heart and soul no matter what band or project I'm doing. I really got to branch out with this CD. We all just played whatever we were feeling at the time and didn't over-think anything. I was a session musician for many years, so I adapt quickly to other people's playing styles and feels. dUg and George play from the heart, and that's exactly how I play. I encourage my musician friends to go play with as many different players as possible. You grow so much and broaden your musical vocabulary. It opens your mind in a great way.
Obviously, all three of you have busy day jobs. Do you see the potential to take this on the road?
dUg: There's always time to take this on the road, and we do have a lot of commitments, and I think we like it like that. There's always time. I believe it will be soon, and I cant wait!
George: KXM is going to try and pull off at least a select handful of dates worldwide. We're not going to announce dates until the last minute, and I believe we're going to intentionally route these dates very randomly. Almost like secret shows. I can't say much more about it.
Ray: If Taco Bell gives me some time off, we might tour. My boss loves the KXM CD [laughs]! It's kind of a big secret at this time, but you will see us out there together. Stay tuned, everyone!
KXM’s self-titled album was released March 11 and is available at ratpakrecordsamerica.com.