25 Years Ago: Korn Drops Their Self-Titled Debut Album

October 11, 2019

On October 11th, 1994, hard rock and metal took on a darker, heavier and funkier face upon the release of Korn's self-titled debut album.

Stemming from Bakersfield, CA, Korn brought with them enough angst and power influenced by bands like The Cure and Ministry, as well as touches of funk and hip-hop, to purge the fountain of darness and pain internalized in frontman Jonathan Davis.

During the mid-90's, metal was struggling to find a new identiy in the shadow of grunge/alternative rock. But come the release of their first single "Blind", the youths of America began to embrace Korn's sense of fashion by growing out dreadlocks and donning tracksuits.

Along with the song's building introduction that explodes after the first words to growl out of Davis' mouth are "Arrrre you reaaaadddyyy!", the album unofficially launched the beginning of the genre, nu-metal.

Originally under the moniker L.A.P.D., which consisted of James "Munky" Shaffer, Brian "Head" Welch, Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu, and David Silveria, they strived to bring out the darkness and angst building inside that was born from childhood and teenage trauma. While bands like Nirvana and Tool laid these themes under the guise of poetic lyricism, Davis went in the opposite direction and brought what he had to say in a full-frontal assault.

Their songs "Blind", "Predictable" and "Daddy" originally appeared on Korn's 1993 demo Nidermeyer's Mind, which helped them secure a record deal under Immortal / Epic Records. The rest of the songs of the record were written in Huntington Beach, CA when they moved into a small house together to try their hands in different styles of music. But when night fell, their house and nearby studio, Underground Chicken Sounds, became an epicenter of partying, drinking copious amounts of beer, and doing lots of meth.

Satisfied with how Niedermeyer's Mind turned out, Korn had their producer Ross Robinson to help produce their first album at Indigo Ranch Studios in Malibu, CA. After spending a month recording, doing guitar overdubs, and tracking Davis' vocals, Robinson would sometimes create moments of conflict to capture the band's rawness to tape that added to the overall viciousness of the album.

Davis understood that Robinson knew which buttons to push that would set them off to get them to deliver their best performances. Because Robinson also put strong emphasis on capturing every moment, he was constantly rolling tape in the studio. At the end of the song "Daddy", Robinson included Davis' emotional breakdown in which he screams and sobs "Mommy, why?! You f**king ruined my life," unbeknownst to the singer.

Although Korn was a creative highlight for the band, it didn't see commercial success right out of the gate. Even though it never reached higher than No. 72 on the charts, it was their extensive touring that made them a household name, opening for bands like Biohazard, House of Pain, Sick of it All and Ozzy Osbourne. By January 29th, 1996, Korn went Gold in the US. A year later on January 8th, 1997, it went platinum. Then by November 1999, Korn went double platinum.