Korn’s Ray Luzier
Over the past ten years, Korn’s drummer has become an increasingly integral component of the band’s uniquely heavy sound. The latest raging slab of proof coming out of Bakersfield, California: The Serenity of Suffering.
Now that original Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch is back in the lineup, Ray Luzier says that the band’s unrelenting sound is musically deeper and lyrically darker than ever. “As a session guy for years, I’ve played with a lot of schooled musicians,” Luzier tells MD. “But these four original members have been playing together for twenty-two years, and they’ve taken my playing to a whole different level—not in a technical way, but by making me feel like a part of something bigger than me. Korn has a magical approach to the simplicity of what we do, which sets us apart and appeals to the masses.”
After touring nonstop for the past four years, the group was primed for the studio. “We were totally locked in and ready to unleash the new Korn music,” Luzier says. “Having Nick Raskulinecz [Foo Fighters, Rush, Mastodon] producing really helped capture the revitalized Korn sound. We recorded between Nashville and Bakersfield, in the original Buck Owens studio, which Korn now owns. The goal was to create a heavy, old-school Korn vibe without being too nostalgic, and Nick really helped make that happen.
“Nick made us play together in the studio,” Luzier explains, “which we hadn’t previously done. And he asked to tune my drums, which a producer has never done before. He also helped me break a habit that I’ve incorporated in my playing since I was ten. It’s a percussive upbeat on the hi-hat that I’ve played on every recording for thirty years. No producer has ever told me what to play. It forced me to really focus on my playing and made the songs feel so much better.”
Before you get the idea that Luzier’s hands were somehow tied, though, consider the album’s first single and video, “Rotting in Vain.” “I played some wacky over-the-bar fill that Nick finally approved,” Ray says with a chuckle. “Now when we play that song live, I see guys air drumming to that fill. That really makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something special.”
Luzier is also excited about the impending second album by his “other” band, KXM, which features bassist/vocalist Dug Pinnick of King’s X and guitarist George Lynch of Lynch Mob. “We went into the studio in early 2016 and created thirteen songs in twelve days straight,” Luzier says. “It’s a darker record than the first. It’s really heavy and very soulful, with Dug’s amazing vocals leading the way.”
While the ever-active Luzier, who’s forty-six years old, acknowledges a need to slow down with the passing of time, fans aren’t likely to notice any change in his performance level—a notion that he places firmly at the doorstep of Korn. “I used to think that by the time I was forty, I’d be teaching in a music school,” Luzier admits. “And I do hit a little lighter now and try to pace myself. But when I hit the stage, I get into a zone, the music takes over, and the passion drives me. Being in Korn has really been a dream come true.” Mike Haid
Ray Luzier plays Pearl drums, Sabian cymbals, and LP percussion, and he uses Vic Firth sticks, DW hardware, Humes & Berg cases, and Remo heads.