Davis: 'Bagpipes Are the Shit'

Bagpipes Are the Shit
The sight of a kilt-wearing Jonathan Davis squeezing wheezing notes from a small tartan bag tucked under his left arm is instantly familiar to KoRn fans worldwide.

Introduced to the bagpipes by his Scottish grandmother, Davis began playing the instrument in his high school band in Bakersfield and subsequently picked up several "ribbons" for his playing ability at Scottish games in California. This much has been well-documented. But here are 20 things you may not know about bagpipes;

01. Jonathan Davis began playing the bagpipes after hearing a pipe-driven version of "Amazing Grace" played at Mr. Spock's funeral in Star Trek II - The Wrath of Kahn.

02. Bagpipes are believed to have originated in around 5000 BC in Mesopotamia, Iraq.

03. In ancient Celtic times, it was believed that the Devil himself played the bagpipes on the feast of Samhain (Hallowe'en) for the hilltop celebration with goblins and imps.

04. Late film director Alfred Hitchcock once claimed the invention of the bagpipes was inspired by the sight of "a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm".

05. Roman Emperor Nero was an accomplished piper. He played an instrument called Tibia Utricularis, a single pipe with a mouthpiece reed made from a human tibia.

06. When the bagpipes were first introduced to Scotland in the 12th Century by the Romans, the bag was made of a pig's bladder.

07. The classic Scottish (Great Highland) bagpipe has a tonal range of just nine notes. The modern form (with three wooden "drones") has been in use for 300 years.

08. The sound made by bagpipes is officially know as a "skirl".

09. In favorable conditions the "skirl" of the bagpipes can be heard up to 10 miles away.

Jonathan Davis playing the bagpipes
10. During Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion against the English Crown in 1745, carrying bagpipes was seen as an act of high treason punishable by execution.

11. Jonathon Davis actually only plays bagpipes on four KoRn tracks, "Shoots and Ladders" on the album "KoRn," the band's cover of War's "Lowrider" on "Life is Peachy," "My Gift to You" on "Follow the Leader" and "Dead" from "Issues".

12. Other rock songs to feature the bagpipes include AC/DC's "Rock 'N' Roll Singer," The Wildheart's "Give the Girl a Gun" and "Alone" by The Bee Gees.

13. Boston punk rockers The Dropkick Murpheys include a bagpiper name Spicy McHaggis. Spicy hails from the famous Scottish town of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

14. Anyone wishing to hear the bagpipes 24 hours a day, can now do so at Bagpipe World Radio.

15. Bagpipes have appeared on postage stamps in over 30 countries, including Malawi, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union, Malta and the Dominican Republic, which features Disney's Goofy playing the 'pipes.

16. The bagpipes appear in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice: Act IV, Scene 1 when merchant Shylock notes that some men "when the bagpipes sing I' the nose, cannot contain their urine". Jonathan Davis has never mentioned this unfortunate side-effect.

17. Although bagpipes have featured in numerous Hollywood movies, only one movie - the 1999 comedy Johnny Bagpipes - has the legendary instrument featured in its title. The plot of the film concerns a piper who wants to rock. Coincidence? Yes, probably.

18. Although Great Highland bagpipes are seen on screen throughout Braveheart - Mel Gibson's epic tale of Scottish warrior chieftain William Wallace - all the 'pipe music on the soundtrack is in fact played on the Irish Uilleann Pipes.

19. Eastern European bagpipes are adorned with inlaid "goddess eyes," small mirrored discs designed to ward off evil spirits, and to guard against the possibility of the piper's children being snatched by malicious goblins.

20. Jonathan Davis maintains that bagpipes are a "dope-ass instrument".

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