KoRn frontman Jonathan Davis made an appearance on ‘Steve-O’s Wild Ride!’ podcast recently, giving some insight into his early years, as well as some insight into the band’s 27-year career.
Notably, Davis shed some light on his pre-fame meth abuse. Said Davis (as transcribed by Ultimate Guitar), “I started doing meth when I moved to Huntington, and there’s a lot of meth there from Bakersfield, and I got hooked up with someone that was giving me tons of it there.” He confessed that the song “Helmet in the Bush” from their self-titled debut was about the drug.
His abuse of the substance ended before the band ever went out on tour. “And then I got sober right after we did the third record [1998’s Follow the Leader]. So I stopped meth when we started touring because I couldn’t function; there’s no way I could be up for two days and tour and keep it together, and I had to stop.”
“So the day we took off on tour, the first tour with House of Pain and Biohazard, we got in our trailer and we built bunks, and I just got on that bunk and I slept for five fucking days, got up and played a show, and that’s when I kicked it.”
While he may not have been on meth while on tour, other demons took its place. Asked if he had ever toured while on meth, Davis responded:
“No, it was impossible; I couldn’t do meth and fucking tour, it wouldn’t work. So I started drinking, and then I became a raging alcoholic – and cocaine occasionally when I could find it. But yeah, they go hand in hand.”
Steve-O also tried to get the dirt on any bad trips Davis may have had, but to no avail. “I was always smart enough to know when to put it down,” said Davis with a laugh. “When I start getting paranoid or weird, I’d just go to bed, but I saw a lot of people do that shit.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Davis talked about his childhood, including near-death experiences caused by asthma. The singer revealed that he has been on medication since at least the age of four, saying,
“I grew up in fucking tents, they would stick you a tent over your bed and you’d lay there and they gave you this fucking horrible drug called Quibron, which is like cocaine and alcohol.”
“Horrible asthma started when I was three years old, so around being four-five-six years old, that was like the drug they gave me, and the only thing to open up your airwaves is, like, epinephrine and stuff like that.”
Even though he doesn’t have the same scares anymore, Davis still keeps a canister of oxygen just off stage when he performs. “…That gets me going, I get high off oxygen, it’s really cool.”
He also mentioned his childhood obsession with the “dark stuff” and his stint in high school performing autopsies. That experience led him to attend the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science to become a mortician and ultimately an investigator. That is, until KoRn came along and he left that industry for the music industry.
Davis also talked about the story of how he came up with the band’s name, relating that it had to do with something someone did at a party (very NSFW). Ultimately, though, he said that it didn’t really matter what they called themselves. “The whole thinking behind it was like, ‘It doesn’t matter what you’re called.’ It’s like a punk rock thing; it’s like, ‘Fuck, we’ll call it KoRn – who cares – I don’t need any mysterious, weird fucking name.’”
The full episode of ‘Steve-O’s Wild Ride!’ can be heard/seen here.