KORN's MUNKY On TAYLOR HAWKINS's Death: 'I Feel So Bad For His Family'
May 19, 2022
KORN guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer spoke to a TMZ photographer about the recent revelation that FOO FIGHTERS drummer Taylor Hawkins was struggling with his band's grueling touring schedule in the months leading up to his tragic death.
"It's so sad," Munky said. "I feel so bad for his family, man, and his friends and [FOO FIGHTERS leader] Dave [Grohl]. I wanna send my love to Dave, if he's watching at all. They're such great guys."
Munky said that musicians in general "are so sensitive… You've gotta be, to create art," he explained.
Touching upon his own battles with substance abuse, Munky said: "I've struggled with my own addictions and mental health. It's fucking hard. You get out there and you get a lot of enablers — people that just give you stuff. 'You wanna party? Let's hang out and party.' It's hard, especially if you deal with addiction — you have that tendency to wanna go and do that. Like me, I've been sober 12 years. It's hard to say no still. Even like [when people say], 'Let's go. We're gonna go to the hotel. We're having a party.' 'Man, I'm gonna go to bed.'"
He added that there's temptation all around "of all kinds. It depends on what your vice is," he said.
As for how touring musicians can better handle these issues going forward, Munky said: "Balance. Exercise. Support. I feel like there should be some sort of thing for tours and touring musicians that we can create a community and talk about this stuff and make each feel better."
Earlier this year, Munky told Metal Hammer magazine that he "had severely slipped into bad drug use and alcoholism" around the time of his father's death. "I had lost both my parents now... and I didn't want to face it," he said. "I had a beautiful house by the beach, and I basically barricaded myself in, with all the windows blacked out, and turned the music up really loud in every room. It was a very quiet neighborhood until I moved in, so my neighbors must have been like, 'This motherfucker, we can't take this anymore…'"
Munky continued: "One day this policeman knocked on my door... as the sun was rising. He asked if I had any guns in the house, and I responded, 'If I do have any guns, you will be the first to know,' and slammed the door in his face. About 15 minutes later, I had a SWAT team outside my house. They got me out and arrested me, and they knew I was not okay; they could obviously see, like, 'Okay, not only is he high, and drunk, but he's mentally unstable.' I woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed in a psychiatric ward, on hold for 72 hours. And that was the moment where I was like, 'I can't go on like this…'"
Munky went on to say that "in the '90s, our attitude was, 'Fuck tomorrow, we're living today.' Sometimes I can't believe we’re alive. If my neighbors hadn't called the cops on me that day, or maybe if I'd been living out on my own in acres of land instead of by the beach, I'd probably be dead."
Back in 2007, Shaffer spoke openly about his battles with substance abuse, telling Bakersfield.com: "We've all had our battles with alcohol and other drugs and those sorts of demons, not just people in bands … but you know, living this lifestyle will lead to drug addiction, alcoholism. It's a tough battle for anybody, but when you're in this industry, it really is, because it's everywhere you turn. It's a party every night."
At the time, Shaffer referred to himself as "an alcoholic." He explained: "I deal with it — I try to deal with it every day. I've done 12 steps, I've been on the wagon, off the wagon for many years. It's difficult. It's just a hard, hard thing to kick."
Hawkins was found dead on March 25 at the Four Seasons Casa Medina hotel in Bogota, Colombia while FOO FIGHTERS were on tour. An official cause of death for Hawkins hasn't yet been released, but on March 26, Colombia's attorney general's office issued a preliminary toxicology report, saying that medical examiners found evidence of 10 types of substances in Hawkins's body, including opioids, benzodiazepines, marijuana and antidepressants.
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