Korn's 'Life Is Peachy': 10 Things You Didn't Know About "Raw" Second Album | Revolver

Korn's 'Life Is Peachy': 10 Things You Didn't Know About "Raw" Second Album

Heavy scatting, bandmate biting and the vulgar lead single that could have been
korn jonathan davis 1996 GETTY LIVE, Niels van Iperen/Getty Images
photograph by Niels van Iperen/Getty Images

Less than two years after the release of their 1994 self-titled debut, Korn faced the monumental task of following up the commercially successful and creatively groundbreaking album. To do so, they reunited with producer Ross Robinson and returned to Indigo Ranch in Malibu, California, where they had made Korn. Under the gun to deliver in a short tightframe, the band banged out what singer Jonathan Davis has called a "very rushed, very raw" LP.

"We just did the first Korn record and we went out and toured for 18 months, and we had to hurry up and do this record and get the fuck back out there to keep touring," he told Vice in 2015. Davis added, "It's still a cool-ass record. I was so scared when it came out, for the sophomore jinx. But it came out killer."

Whereas the band's debut is a tight, cohesive and unrelentingly dark affair, Life Is Peachy is all over the place, veering from Korn-style ragers ("Chi," "Lost") to jokier, more sophomoric jams ("K@#%!," "A.D.I.D.A.S.") to party-hard covers ("Wicked," with Deftones' Chino Moreno, and "Low Rider," with guitarist Brian "Head" Welch on lead vocals). More than their first album, Peachy reflected the band's diverse influences. "We were listening to a lot of hip-hop," guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer recalled. "I was probably listening to a lot of Mr. Bungle, hip-hop like early Outkast and the Pharcyde, Sepultura records and Rage Against the Machine, just to name a few."

Those influences and more coalesced on Peachy's shambolic 14 cuts. Here are 10 fascinating facts about the milestone album.

1. Jonathan Davis' bandmates were taken aback when they first heard "Twist"
Life Is Peachy opens with a bang — via the surreal vocal freakout that is "Twist." As much as the track has thrown listeners for a loop over the years, it also blew the minds of Jonathan Davis' bandmates when they first heard it. "Once [Jonathan] did 'Twist,' it was, like, 'What in the hell was that?'" Welch recalled on the "Do You Know Jack?" podcast. "And we were like, 'Let's open the record with that. And people will be like, "What? What is this?" No one ever has done that.' ... We looked at [Jonathan after he had recorded his vocals]. We were like, 'Who are you?'"

2. The "heavy scatting" on "Twist" was inspired by hip-hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh
Before he was a singer, Davis was a DJ and a drummer, which likely informs the more rhythmic aspects of his vocals, particularly his signature scatting, as heard on Peachy's maniacal opener. "'Twist,' that was really the heavy scat. I was beatboxing because I love to beatbox." Davis told Fader in 2018. He pointed to Doug E. Fresh as a primary influence: "[He] was the best beatboxer back then."

3. Korn felt a lot of pressure to avoid the "sophomore jinx"
"Definitely, it was a thing where [the record company and management] tried to scare us," Welch told the "Do You Know Jack?" podcast. "They were, like, 'Sophomore jinx. You don't want that. So you guys need to go work. But at the same time, we need you to have an album ready in six weeks.' And we didn't write nothing yet. The first record we had our whole early twenties to write, and now we had two months to write and record a record. We did it so fast. And the management was — they weren't pressuring us, but they were like, 'It would be really helpful if you guys could just bring it.' We told the producer and everything. And Ross [Robinson] back then, he was young. We were all young. We were like, 'Yeah. Let's go do it. Let's go tear it up.'

4. Davis would bite his bandmates while drunk
One way that Korn dealt with all the massive pressure surrounding the album was to drink and get high — a lot. Alcohol and drugs would lead to fighting, and Robinson was often caught in middle, trying to keep the group on track with the recording process. As for Davis, his aggression toward his bandmates sometimes took another, toothier form.

"We were drinking mass quantities of everything, and when we were really fucked up you didn't want to be around us," Davis recalled. "I'd bite people when I was drunk. I bit everyone in the band hard. I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't care."

5. The song "Chi" is named after late Deftones bassist Chi Cheng— but, lyrically, has nothing to do with him
Life Is Peachy's second track, "Chi," is about alcohol and drug abuse as a way of numbing emotional pain, but the title is a loving nod to Korn's friend, Chi Cheng, founding bassist of fellow nu-metal trailblazers Deftones. "We named it after him because he used to call it 'Reggae,' and he loves reggae music," Davis explained. "We nickname all of our songs before I have the lyrics, like, I had 'Dick Nose' for one song. We name them fucked-up because it's just the music and I have to write the lyrics before we name the song. So, it was first called 'Reggae' before I got the lyrics, then we renamed it 'Chi' because we always think of him when we played it."

6. The song "Kill You" is about Davis' stepmother, who allegedly force-fed him Tabasco sauce when he was feeling ill, among other abuses
As is his way, Davis dredged up all kinds of agonizing personal demons for his lyrics. One of the most venomous and cathartic songs on Peachy is album closer "Kill You," which sees the singer voicing a homicidal fantasy toward his stepmother, who, he alleged, was sadistically abusive toward him. "[The song is] about a relative I first met when I was 12," David explained. "I fucking hate that bitch. She's the most evil, fucked-up person I've met in my whole life. She hated my guts. She did everything she could to make my life hell. Like, when I was sick she'd feed me tea with Tabasco, which is really hot pepper oil. She'd make me drink it and say, 'You have to burn that cold out, boy.' Fucked-up shit like that."

7. "Mr. Rogers" was inspired by Davis' hatred for the popular children's TV show and its host — a hatred that also led to obsessive, drugged-out viewing sessions
Another personal demon of Davis' was Mr. Rogers, host of the children's television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and the source of the singer's ire on Peachy's seventh track. "When I was a little kid watchin' Mr. Rogers, that shit was scary," Davis said of the song's source material. "He was a freaky old man ... Land of Makebelieve and Mr. FuckinMcFeely and shit ... made me sick. So back when I was doing speed, like, for five or six days I'd be trippin out and my brain would start to get freaky and get schizophrenic and stuff, and I'd tape it and watch it everyday over and over ... I don't know, I was sick in the head. As a kid he told me to be polite and all it did was get me picked on. I fucking hate that man. Thanks for making me polite and trusting everyone, and easy to take advantage of. So I spent three months on that one song, just tweakin' on it, and it was totally just my Mr. Rogers obsession, about how evil I thought he was. Pretty much drug-induced."

8. Korn wanted to submit the expletive-packed "K@#%!" to radio as Peachy's lead single
A ridiculously foul-mouthed "fuck you" to Davis' various ex-girlfriends, "K@#%!" is pretty much the last song anyone would pick as a radio single. But Korn had designs on doing just that. "We were gonna [send it to radio] as a joke 'cause we knew they wouldn't play it, then follow up about a week later with the real thing," Munky revealed in the book Korn: Life in the Pit. For Davis, the intended "joke" cut a little deeper. "I'm so tired of [the radio people] cutting out my cuss words," he explained. "That's how I sing, and this is to make a stand. We're throwing a big wrench into the fucker."

Needless to say, the suits at Korn's label nixed the idea, issuing the much more radio-friendly "No Place to Hide" as the album's first single instead.

9. "Ass Itch" was the last song Davis wrote for Peachy, and it's about the struggle of the songwriting process itself
Not suprising, considering how deep the singer digs for his songs, Davis found the experience of writing lyrics for Peachy to be exhausting and draining. So, when it came to penning the final words for the record, he wrote directly about that experience. "['Ass Itch'] was the last song I wrote, and I was so burned at writing out lyrics because every time I write I get depressed because I start thinking about things, you know?" Davis said. "So the whole song is about that. In the chorus it says, 'Before long, my song is dying.' It's because I put myself on the line all the time and for what? Because people aren't going to be listening to it anyway."

10. Even Korn themselves admit that Peachy is far from the band's best album
As soon as a couple years after Life Is Peachy's release, Davis conceded that he and his bandmates were less than stoked on the album. "We weren't that proud of Peachy," he revealed. "At first we were, but to live with it, no. We were just so rushed. It sucked." Nearly two decades later, in 2015, when Davis ranked Korn's discography for Vice, he placed it in the bottom half, at No. 8.

Head reiterated this low opinion on the "Do You Know Jack?" podcast. "I feel like that's not the best record as far as sounding and production-wise and everything," the guitarist said. "If it weren't for those three or four songs, we would be in trouble, I think."