Korn’s Jonathan Davis Had to ‘Become’ a Vampire for ‘Queen of the Damned’
After all, how else would one make music for the Aaliyah-starring movie that pairs the late singer and actress as vampire queen Akashahad with actor Stuart Townsend as Lestat, an undead character from author Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles?
"I had to become Lestat," Davis remembered in a new Metal Hammer retrospective about the soundtrack drenched in the nu-metal of the era. "I read the books and wrote lyrics about being a fucking 400-year-old vampire, and it was so fucking fun."
Davis co-helmed the album with producer Richard Gibbs. It features five co-writes between them — the tunes are variously fronted by an array of 2000s nu-metal names such as Disturbed's David Draiman, the late Chester Bennington and more — among cuts by Deftones, Papa Roach and others.
That's because the Korn frontman and his writing-producing partner convinced Queen of the Damned director Michael Rymer to let them score the picture, not just curate the soundtrack.
"I think the moment when I feel like we really got the job," Davis recalled, "was in the books and the movie, the vampire Lestat plays violin, and in the script, it even mentioned 'Paganini-style violin' – a classical violinist."
He continued, "And I looked at Michael and I said, 'That's kind of been done to death, and we can certainly do that, but I have a different pitch for you.' And Michael said, 'What's that?' And I said, 'Well, I know this guy Shankar [Indian violinist Lakshminarayana Shankar (L. Shankar)].' … I started explaining who Shankar was, and I just saw Michael's face light up. He was a huge fan."
Davis' idea came to fruition — Shankar also contributes to the selections composed by him and Gibbs.
But there was one thing Davis couldn't do. He was supposed to sing his contributions to the soundtrack, but contractual reasons prevented it, hence the guest lineup of nu-metal vocalist on his songs.
Still, he looks back fondly. "It gave me the confidence to reach out and start doing more," he said. "My solo record, [2018's] Black Labyrinth, is in that slot, too. That's just what I write; I write dark, vampiric music."
Korn's 14th album Requiem arrived last month, armed with the singles "Start the Healing," "Lost in the Grandeur" and "Forgotten." The band is now on tour in North America with Chevelle and Code Orange.