Richard Gibbs Talks Unplugged

Jonathan Davis & Richard Gibbs
KoRn.Simpol.Net and grab a few words with music composer Richard Gibbs regarding KoRn's recent MTV Unplugged show.

In the interview, Gibbs disusses the intruments used in the show, which songs he likes and dislikes, censorship and KoRn's appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

From previous interviews we know how you got involved with MTV Unplugged. What did you think about this idea from the beginning?
"I thought it was a good idea - I'm always one to advocate change. I love that some people are pissed off that KoRn did this. That proves they are doing something right. When Dylan went electric his fans were scandalized, right?"

Were you surprised when Jonathan asked you to help them in creating this show?
"No - actually I would have been bothered if he hadn't! I've become the "go-to" guy for KoRn when they want to try something new, especially if it involves other musicians. I served in this capacity for the Issues premiere concert at the Apollo, and when they wanted to expand the band for the live show to support 'See You on the Other Side'."

Did you think then it was possible to transfer KoRn songs into unplugged versions?
"I had no doubt - I've spent my career creating the musically impossible. This was a walk in the park, relatively speaking. Many of their songs have very strong melodies and underlying countermelodies.

"At one point we were going to do a Metallica song, but that seemed much more problematic to me as their music is much more riff-driven than KoRn's."

Were you the only one who did all the arrangements and orchestration, or did the band incorporate some of their ideas?
"All of the arrangements and orchestrations for the added musicians [celli, basses, cimbassos, bass trombones, saw, armonica, taiko] were done by yours truly. Some of the band only concepts were arrived at by the band - specifically the flamenco spin on 'Blind' comes to mind. That was more the guys than me. I'll take credit -- or blame, as it were -- for the piano voicings for the intro and verse of 'Freak on a Leash'. We all hashed through everything together."

Richard Gibbs & Jonathan Davis
I hate the censorship - I am definitely one for freedom of speech and expression. Some of the words pulled out seem so completely random.
Richard Gibbs
KoRn said you were practicing for about a month 12 hours a day, that's a really hard work, do you think the results are worth all these efforts?
"First, I love those guys to pieces, but they exaggerate. I'm sure it felt like twelve hours a day for a month to them, but it was not that extreme.
"They were clearly not used to rehearsing that hard and long. I chided Jon a few times when his energy started to flag - I told him Boingo used to do eight hour rehearsals as a norm and to quit complaining. He would just laugh and say, 'But this is KoRn!'

"To answer your question though, I would have to say yes. Listen to the AOL Music Sessions they did with very little forethought or rehearsal, then listen to Unplugged. Fairly dramatic what a little elbow grease can accomplish, yes?"

Who did choose the final set list and which of the tracks turned out to be the best, in your opinion?
"Jonathan and I got together at my house first and talked through the concept. I pitched to him that their more melodic songs would play best acoustically, and he agreed. We selected a long songlist based on melody and popularity with their fans.

"In rehearsal with the band we all winnowed down the list to what was recorded. 'Throw Me Away' is my personal favorite."

And what do you think about all this censoring? Some of the songs like "Dirty" and "Thoughtless" have a lot of original lyrics cut out.
"I hate the censorship - I am definitely one for freedom of speech and expression. Some of the words pulled out seem so completely random to me. We were handed a thick sheaf of paper during rehearsal in New York containing all of the song lyrics with the objectionable words struck out.

"Jonathan was flabbergasted, and I can't say I blame him. I mean, who the fuck are these lawyers to tell Jonathan what to sing? But in this day of freaked out soccer moms and a fucked up right-wing conservative government, this bullshit happens.

"But repeated ridiculous examples of obscene conspicuous consumption are okay, as is consistent depiction of women as nothing other than sex objects. Give me a fucking break - or give me a fucking break."

Jonathan has said that "Dirty" sucked, do you share his opinion?
"He has a gift for the succinct, that Jon. There was a major screw-up within the strings and brass during the taping. With the miracles of digital editing I was able to salvage the performance somewhat after the fact. We could have done a retake, but honestly the song was always a sacrificial lamb, as we knew the censors would slice it to pieces."

KoRn on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno The performance marked KoRn first-ever appearance on the show.
You added a lot of weird instruments to the show but not that much of classical ones, why was it so?
"What's so weird about playing a saw?! As I listed above, there were plenty of 'classical' instruments. Although when you think about it, it is pretty weird to draw the hairs from a tail of a horse, stretch them tight across a piece of wood, rub tree rosin on them, then scrape said hairs across a series of taut metal strings spread across a wooden box shaped like a woman's body. But since people at large are used to such musical perversions we thought it would be nice to show something more sane, like beating big Japanese drums.

"I would have added more of those perverts playing string instruments, but we simply didn't have the room."

Now that we now Unplugged show is successful, do you consider KoRn with a symphony orchestra as a next brave step for this band? Do you think you can make it even better than Unplugged?
"I think they are relieved to be going back to blistering amplified attack for a while. Me, I'd like to put together a show with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing 'Dirty'. And things can always be better, but sometimes best left alone."

Will you be traveling with the band to conduct other additional musicians?
"Doubt you'll be seeing me on the road, but never say never. Sounds like fun to me!"

You guys played "Throw Me Away" on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Which version do you like better? This one or the one from Unplugged?
"I like them both. We had to shorten the song for Leno due to airtime restriction, so I miss the excised bars. And the Unplugged performance was more rehearsed and controlled - plus we had time to attend to a proper mix.

"That said, there was a certain swagger in the more uptempo Leno version. I think the guys were more comfortable with the acoustic treatment by then too."

Were you nervous about the performance -- and the results -- about what people could think about it? Many fans were dubious about KoRn going unplugged.
"I wasn't nervous. I would have been disappointed if there wasn't a bit of backlash - that would mean no one really cared!"

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