Korn resurrected in Cinci

By Mike Ritchie

A good band can play with one light bulb on if the songs are good enough. Ray Luzier of Korn and Rob Zombie resurrect the air-born hair with The Return of the Dreads tour, a sequel to 2013’s Night of the Living Dreads. The locks fly through 26 cities this summer with In This Moment opening.

The Bakersfield, California, five-piece started in ’93 with newest member Luzier joining in 2007. With 11 records and multiple awards, Korn proved to be here to stay with The Serenity of Suffering dropping in October.

Korn III: Remember Who You Are marked the first record Luzier played.

Peter Criss was Luzier’s first inspiration on drums. Raised on a farm, his musical education began with his sister’s stolen records: KISS, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Ozzy. At 5, his parents got him a starter kit, which he quickly destroyed. “At 6, they got me a semi-pro kit. I started playing along with records, basically self-taught ‘til high school.”

He got accepted at MI (Musicians Institute) and drove cross-country, determined to make L.A. his long-term home. After graduation, session work, teaching, cover gigs, and small tours kept him going.

“It’s a rough business these days. It’s about timing, blood, and sweat,” Luzier says. “You really have to be passionate.” He promised himself if he could survive playing drums, he wouldn’t go home – and he survived. When his family asked what he was going to do if it didn’t pan out? “I said, ‘It has to.’”

Korn has enjoyed long term success, but Luzier says he did not experience that on his own. “I’d tour and be out with Jake E Lee. Go home and be broke again, between lessons, then get a call for a tour here and there. It’s a big struggle, if you’re willing to take that risk.”

Luzier was the first drummer for Metal Shop or Steel Panther, playing the Viper Room every week with intimate crowds. “Next thing you know,” he says, “Chad Smith from the Chili Peppers, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, all these random rock stars would show up, get on stage, and jam.” The crowds showed up and word spread.

A session with David Lee Roth turned into an eight-year gig. “They called and said, ‘Dave wants you to cut these tracks for his vocals.’ It was a dream to play on a track with him.” Being “just a session,” Luzier was calm when Roth asked several shop questions. The next day, his bodyguard called: “You passed with flying colors.” Luzier asked, “Passed what?” He said, “Your audition.” Luzier was shocked. “I had no idea he was auditing me.”

Luzier got the gig two and a half years into Metal Shop. “It’s David Lee Roth—I’m not going to turn that down.” Luzier left Metal Shop to play with Roth, then spent three years with Army of Anyone with members of Stone Temple Pilots and Filter.

Korn and Army of Everyone had the same management. “They called one day, looking for someone permanent,” Luzier says. “I don’t have long hair or tattoos and they said neither did the original drummer.”

Luzier’s first Korn gig was nerve wracking. “I was dry heaving backstage,” he remembers. “Korn [has] a lot of diehard fans. I was petrified. We rehearsed at the venue in Dublin, Ireland, the day before opening night and everything was sold out.” It took him awhile to
get comfortable.

Luzier likes the new record: “Serenity of Suffering, it’s one of my fav Korn records, let alone one of the ones I played on. It sounds old school, yet modern [in] 2016.”

Luzier explains how Korn counters the theatrics of tour mates, In This Moment and Rob Zombie: “We went the opposite way because Zombie has so much production, and In This Moment, she changes clothes almost every song.” They went more modern: “Let’s get some cool lights and imagery behind us. A good band can play with one light bulb on if the songs are good enough. The songs should speak for themselves. I like the diversity of this show.”

They keep a stable setlist touring, he says, but “It’s hard because you’re always pissing someone off not playing the hits. If you play [something] obscure, the diehards get bummed.”

Luzier’s thrilled to still be in Korn: “If you’d told me I would’ve been in Korn for 10 years, I’d laugh in your face—it’s surreal.”

Korn plays Sunday Aug. 7 with Rob Zombie and In This Moment at Riverbend Music Center, 6295 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati. Doors open at 5 p.m., show at 6:30. Tickets range between $15-$150. For more information, please visit official.korn.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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