Korn frontman Jonathan Davis beats darkness, anxiety 

click to enlarge Korn
  • COURTESY STEFANO MICCHIA/FADEWOOD STUDIOS
  • Korn, backing its new album “Paradigm Shift,” plays the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival on Sunday.
Jonathan Davis, the Bakersfield-bred Korn frontman, always has had a soft spot in his heart for the Bay Area, ever since he resided here for two years while attending the San Francisco School of Mortuary Science. “I’d hang out in the Tenderloin with all these pimps and hookers, and at Caffe Trieste in North Beach,” he recalls. But he never became a mortician. Instead, he joined Korn, which headlines the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in Mountain View this weekend, touting its comeback disc “Paradigm Shift.”

So you were actually planning to become a mortician? Yeah. When I was 17, I started working in the Coroner’s Office here in Bakersfield, assisting in autopsies and stuff. But I chose to go to college in San Francisco and get my embalming license. But I had so much fun up there I failed — I got held back!

But this career was not for you, was it? No. It f---ed me up. I got PTSD from it. Not from the mortuary, but from the Coroner’s Office. I was cutting up babies, doing autopsies on kids — horrible stuff that someone that young should not be exposed to. But I went to therapy, so I got over that.

Did you know there’s a Slovenian mortician artist named Tisnikar, whose paintings feature toe-tagged cadavers? Wow! You know what I used to do? Sometimes in the embalming room, we’d have tons of crickets — crickets would come up out of the drain. So I’d grab these little crickets and shoot them full of embalming fluid to preserve them, and I’d make little tableaus and have a whole cricket family in a little house, gathered in a little kitchen or at a table. That was my little hobby. Now I look back and go, “How could such a severely disturbed person be doing that shit?” That’s some straight-up serial-killer stuff there, so I’m glad I got out.

Darkness inspired “Paradigm Shift,” too, right? It came from a horrendous drug detox. I suffered from anxiety and depression for years, and I was on benzos, Xanax and Prozac, and that stuff was starting to mess me up. My doctor told me I had to come off it, so I went into a rehab here in Bakersfield, and I got out. I had this ... this awakening, I call it. I started eating better, no GMOs, and I smoke medical marijuana for my depression and anxiety. I take two hits before I go to bed, and I haven’t had an anxiety attack in over a year. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, being off all those chemicals.

IF YOU GO

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

With Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Body Count Featuring Ice-T, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead and more

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $42 to $113.25

Contact: (650) 967-3000, www.livenation.com

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Tom Lanham

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