By the time they were ready to hit the studio to record Issues, Korn were already three albums into their career and had become a dominant force in the rock and metal world. But, certain dynamics within the band needed to change.
The ’90s were quite an interesting time for music, but rock was especially starting to become overshadowed by pop and hip-hop toward the end of the decade. Out went grunge and in came the boy bands. Korn were a type of “boy band,” but they had a bit of a different message.
Issues came out on Nov. 16, 1999, offering the singles “Falling Away From Me,” “Make Me Bad” and “Somebody Someone.” It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, beating Dr. Dre and Celine Dion’s new major releases that same week. It put metal back on top just as Slipknot were starting to gain momentum — thus the reign of nu-metal had begun.
Here are 8 facts you may not have known about Korn’s fourth studio album, Issues.
1. Jonathan Davis got sober.
Compared to the craziness that went on in the studio for Follow the Leader, Jonathan Davis got sober in 1998 when he had a son. In order to keep a more work-oriented, straight-edge atmosphere in the studio, the band hired Brendan O’Brien to produce the album, because he was known for restricting partying while working.
2. There was an album cover contest.
The album’s intriguing cover was designed by Alfredo Carlos as part of MTV’s cover art contest. Korn were looking for “abstract” designs or images of the band. View the top four selections below.
3. The historic Apollo Theater performance.
The night before its release, on Nov. 15, 1999, Korn played Issues in its entirety at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y. According to the New York Post, at the time the theater had primarily been known for performances from African American musicians, so Korn made history as the first white rock artist to play there since Buddy Holly.
4. South Park to the rescue.
The first single, “Falling Away From Me” first debuted in an episode of South Park on Oct. 27, 1999. The episode was appropriately titled “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery,” and imitated the style of Scooby-Doo.
5. Korn chain mail.
Shortly before the album was released, MTV announced that Korn had uploaded the first single “Falling Away From Me” as a free MP3 file on their website, against the wishes of the “attorneys and the corporate establishment.” Then they started a chain email of people who shared the song.
“We’re so psyched about it that we wanted to give all you guys, the TRUE Korn fans — a gift from us,” the band wrote. “Please listen to the single. If you like it, send this email it to at least 10 friends and music fans and ask each of them to do the same. It’s a fuckin’ musical chain letter! People turning people on to great music.”
Fans were encouraged to sign the virtual guestbook on their site, because a donation was given to two separate child organizations for each signature. It ended up raising over $250,000.
6. It went platinum very quickly.
On Dec. 22, 1999, the album was certified 3x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America — just over a month after its release.
Issues was the first of Korn’s albums that didn’t feature a hidden track at the end. Instead, the final track “Dirty” has over four minutes of static at the end, which eventually fades out.
8. Falling away from a freak on a leash.
The music video for “Falling Away From Me” enjoyed similar to success to “Freak on a Leash,” but the interesting part is the way the music videos tie together. The former opens with the same closing animation the latter had.
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