KORN drummer Ray Luzier was recently interviewed for the “Working Drummer” podcast. You can now listen to the chat at this location.
Speaking about how he landed the gig as the drummer for David Lee Roth‘s (VAN HALEN) solo band in 1997, Ray said: “It’s one of those things: one thing leads to another in this business. And if you are cool and you’re easy to work with, people wanna call you back.
“Playing around, I did a bunch of sessions around that time and happened to play on this kid’s demo that was writing with David Lee Roth. And the kid called me up and said, ‘Hey, these two songs that you played on, David Lee Roth heard ’em,’ and he was young at the time, and I was, like, ‘Man, there’s no way Dave Roth‘s heard these.’ And he’s, like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to his house in Pasadena.’ And I’m, like, ‘Yeah, he does live in Pasadena.’ Next thing you know, he calls me and says, ‘Hey, I’ve got great news. Dave wants you to re-cut these songs.’ ‘Cause we cut ’em for instrumentals. ‘And he wants you to cut ’em for vocals.’ So next thing you know, I was at the studio, and I thought it was just a session. And I did the two songs for Dave, and I was pretty comfortable and not too nervous. He was one of my heroes from way back, but I just wanted to play on his stuff. Those two songs would have been enough. And then he was asking me all these weird questions: ‘What if I said, ‘Shuffle this’?’ I was, like, ‘Man, he asked a lot of questions for being a studio session.’ The next day, the manager called me and said, ‘Hey, kid, you passed with flying colors.’ I’m, like, ‘Passed what?’ He goes, ‘That was your audition.’ And I was, like, ‘Woah!’ ‘Cause I was just at the end of my 26, I was almost turning 27, I was, like, ‘That was nuts.’ So, next thing you know, boom — doing a record with John 5, who’s Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie‘s guitar player. John, unfortunately, fell out early, but we ended up touring a few months after that. And that led to eight years of craziness.”
Asked if Dave asked him to stick to the original drum parts on VAN HALEN‘s classic material and Roth‘s solo stuff as closely as possible or if he gave him free rein to do his own thing, Ray said: “I hate, a lot of times, when I see drummers or guitar players, I call it ‘wank’ over the song — give it too much to try to be impressive, and they kind of ruin the song. You don’t wanna blow everything. You wanna kind of honor what’s going on in the song, because there’s people in the audience air-jamming that — they’re air-jamming the guitar part, they’re air-jamming the drum part. In ‘Jump’, if you don’t play [mouths the drum part], you’re gonna be shot up there — it’s just not cool to play some crazy fill. ‘Cause you’ve heard so many times and it’s so repetitive. So I asked Dave straight up, ‘Do you want me to play it like the record or do you want me to…?’ And Dave was really cool. He says, ‘Hey, man, of course honor the record and the parts, but I want Ray Luzier in the band.’ And that’s a really flattering thing, because I have some friends out there who are playing arenas right now that have to play exactly note for note like the record. And that’s the gig they got and that’s what they want. And if you’re getting paid, the artist is paying you like that and you want the gig, you pretty much have to do that. So that was pretty cool of Dave, letting me do what I want. And I’m a huge Alex [Van Halen] fan and Gregg Bissonette fan, so it was a pleasure playing that stuff. I grew up to it.”
Even though it’s been more than a decade since he last played with Roth, Luzier has fond memories of his time with the VAN HALEN frontman. “I love the guy to death, and he taught me so much about the entertainment business — not just being a drummer, but being a performer in a band,” he said. “He was, like, ‘Luzier, people pay good money to see you. Don’t just sit back there like you’re waiting for the bus. Give ’em a show.’ He would say stuff like that. He would always give me little pointers here and there. He’s the one that kind of got me more into the visual aspect of playing. And people do watch the drummer. I mean, if the gig requires you just to lay back and groove and don’t be a showy thing, that’s great. But I’ve been fortunate to be in some bands where I can ham it up a little bit and be a little bit more visual.”
Luzier has been a member of KORN since 2007.
KORN is continuing to tour in support of its latest album, “The Serenity Of Suffering”, which came in October 2016.