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Korn makes shift into Mayhem mode

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Korn is certainly an appropriate fit as one of the headliners on this year's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.

After all, it's been a crazy year for the headbanging troupe from Bakersfield, Calif. -- good crazy, that is.

Korn, which is making its second appearance on Mayhem, reunited with estranged guitarist Brian "Head" Welch in 2012 following a six-year absence, a return that led to a Top 10 debut and plenty of critical acclaim for the group's 2013 album "The Paradigm Shift" -- with the single "Never Never" becoming Korn's first No. 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart and "Spike in My Veins" following at No. 5. Korn was also inducted into the prestigious Hollywood Rockwalk in October and nominated for four Revolver Golden Gods Awards.

And all of this coincides with the 20th anniversary of Korn's formation (in 1993) and the release of its self-titled debut album (in 1994).

"We're jsut really in a good place," says frontman Jonathan Davis. "Making ('The Paradigm Shift') was really fun. Doing the shows has just been incredible, just seeing all the people. We're still drawing 16-year-olds, like, little kids in the crowd; it's not all middle-age 40-year-olds from when we started. There's young kids. There's metal kids. there's kids that are into dance music.

"I'm still blown away that it's been 20 years and we're still relevant, still making music. People can't count us out as some nostalgia act, playing casinos and fairs the rest of our lives. We're still doing big things, which I'm very happy about."

Korn has, in fact, used its recent success to make its latest album even bigger. "The Paradigm Shift: World Tour Edition" comes out Tuesday, July 15, via Best Buy, featuring three new studio songs and a six live tracks. "I had two weeks and I had 25 songs" when original making the album, Davis explains. "So within that two weeks I got 15 songs done for the record and I had to go on tour to Europe, so there were leftovers. We did a couple more songs off that and we threw it on this." The new single "Hater," meanwhile, is a fresh creation, although its theme is timeless.

"It just seems like in the world everyone has haters. Everyone has someone who hates on you 'cause you have something they want," says Davis, 43. "And it's really, like, the first empowering song I've ever written, where it's just blatantly telling you 'You can't bring me down/I've already had my life turned upside down/I ride a downward spiral round and round/But I keep flying, I keep fighting/Don't ever bring me down.'

"That's, like, the most positive (stuff) I've ever written, and it's so different. And everyone that's heard it loves it, and I think it's gonna give people that get down on people pickin' on them, hating on them, like 'F*** this! I don't (care) what you think. I don't (care) what you say. You just... are a hater.' I think people will relate with that."

"The Paradigm Shift's" new tracks aren't the only new music Davis has created, meanwhile. He's also recorded a solo single called "Son Unfair," which was inspired by his youngest child Zeppelin's battle with Type 1 diabetes, with proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. "He was diagnosed with it at (age) five," Davis says. "It's kind of me dealing with that, and it's very personal to me,"

Korn has a couple of other festival dates on the book after Mayhem wraps on Aug. 10, but Davis says the group is particularly looking forward to getting back in the studio, and hopefully continuing the forward momentum it achieved with "The Paradigm Shift." The group is, however, allowing itself a minute to enjoy this year's anniversaries as well.

"It feels like 200 years, really, 'cause we`ve just jumped leaps and bounds musically and as people from that time," says Davis, who's also working on a new album with his EDM side band Killbot. "When we did that first Korn record, we were kids, man, just crazy-assed kids getting drunk every day, making music, living a dream. It was just insanity, which I loved and I don't regret one bit.

"But 20 years later it's about making music and impacting people's lives and helping people that go through depression and go through bad things growing up. People come up to us and say, 'It's your music that keeps us going. It's your music that keeps us alive,' and that's the payoff for me, man. There's no amount of money, nothing you can give me to replace that feeling. I think we're blessed to still be here, doing it."

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem festival with Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Body Count, King 810 and more

1 p.m. Thursday, July 17

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township

Tickets are $42-$94 pavilion, $28 lawn with a $92 lawn four-pack

Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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