Listening to such daring new songs as "Twisted Transistor," "Politics" and "Love Song," among others, it's clear that KOЯN—JONATHAN DAVIS, JAMES "MUNKY" SHAFFER, FIELDY and DAVID SILVERIA—have opened the doors to even more creativity and disarray. And no one does "disarray" like KOЯN.
"We were sitting there with one less member, and we decided to check out some other types of producers, experiment, and see what happens," says DAVIS, referring to the departure of former guitarist Brian "Head" Welch (who left for spiritual reasons), and the band's ensuing decision to switch things up in the studio following the self-produced release of 2003's Take A Look In The Mirror.
Their decision was anything but closed-minded as KOЯN—who've already sold over 25 million records worldwide and encapsulated their body of work on 2004's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1—entered the studio with a team of producers as different as night and day. The one constant is DAVIS. He handled the majority of the production on the band's last album, and remains a producer on SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE, joining forces with The Matrix and Atticus Ross. "We knew we wanted to experiment and see what would happen, but we had no clue it would end up like this," laughs DAVIS. "It really worked out-we may have lost a member, but we gained another two with Atticus and Matrix."
SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE is more than just the evolution of KOЯN, it's an evolution of heavy.
"There needs to be something more," says DAVIS. "A lot of people are doing 'heavy,' and they're doing it great, but we've always been about pushing the levels and coming up with some new shit. We ushered in a genre of music, and now we're trying to stay ahead of that curve. This isn't minimalist, old-school KOЯN—this is a natural progression for us, and we're kicking it up a notch."
Kicking it up a notch, with pulverizing effect. A hybrid funk and medicating, metallic shimmer radiates from opening track "Twisted Transistor," steamrolling into the abrasive guitar attack of "Politics," the industrial textures of "Throw Me," and the military precision of the anthemic "Coming Undone." While "Eaten Up Inside" and "Getting Off" don't stray far from the decimated path KOЯN has left in its wake, the true gems are found in their more forward-thrusting manipulations. While DAVIS notes that "Love Song" is a song sure to impress "all my depressed, Goth peeps out there," his delivery is more in the style of David Bowie, than death metal Bauhaus.
KOЯN have always spoken directly to their fans through their music, and the new release is no exception. In fact, DAVIS found his co-producers to be the perfect collaborators to free even more of his inner demons.
"I've written seven albums worth of [crap], and I have my style, but I wanted something different, not the typical lyrics that I always write. I want to come out and say things in a different way, so getting those different people around me, with their different perspectives and different talents, really helped me a lot. I've always had a problem getting across what I'm trying to say, because I'm always limited to what I can do within the phrasing and melody of the lyric, but they helped me a lot with that, without losing our vibe."
For evidence, look to closing track "Tearjerker" where the arrangement is ambient, spacey and soft, yet the emotional baggage is heavy. "That's just inspired by some ... bad times, like when I'm on the road and I get in a fight with my chick, and I feel like I can't go anywhere or do anything, and I'm so alone that there aren't even ghosts chilling with me. I know people can relate to that-maybe not in the same way I do, because everybody's not out on the road, but everyone has [crap] happen in relationships, or they lose a loved one, and they're like, 'What.... am I going to do?'"
At a more global level, "For No One," rings of adolescent rebellion, but isn't limited by boundaries of age. "It is very adolescent rebellion, but I still feel that way now," says DAVIS. "People try to label it as 'teen rebellion,' but I don't think anyone ever really gets over feeling like that. There are times I just want to ... rebel. That's more about America, in general-I'm having a real hard time with how conservative the United States is. I love it here, but it drives me ... nuts! A [breast] pops out, and the whole world stops-so what if a child see a breast...!"
On a lighter note, though biologically similar, the frontman has other words to describe the rhythmic vocals and effervescent, techno bounce of "Open Up." "Fieldy gets really funky on his bass with that one—that's a titty-bar song."
You think someone might have a problem with DAVIS' inspirations, and off-the-cuff choice of words? If so, "Hypocrite" was written with them in mind. "That was straight from my heart," he says, suppressing a laugh. "That's my jab at organized religion, and the whole movement, in general—those same fools that are taking our money for God?" And it's all served with a side-order of irony—if you think the chorus to "Hypocrite" sounds a bit like some twisted Broadway romp, you're not wrong. "I'm telling a story, and it's very... Broadway—I love that [crap], it's what I grew up on, and those influences have finally come out. The reason I got into rock 'n' roll was because of the Jesus Christ Superstar. Funny, huh? Of course, when that came out, because it was a rock opera, they thought that was blasphemous."
Blasphemous. The same has been said of KOЯN, but it hasn't slowed them down one bit. The scariest part? They seem to only be getting stronger.