At once candid, compelling, inspirational, Fieldy's Got The Life is a rock and roll journey unlike any other. NRT's Senior Editor Angel speaks with Fieldy about the book, his miraculous transformation, and what the future holds for both him and the band Korn.
As one of rock's most popular bands, Korn pioneered the alternative heavy metal phenomenon. After two Grammy Awards, six Grammy nominations, and more than 30 million albums sold worldwide, Korn's reputation is solidified as one of the biggest and most decadent metal bands of all time.
And at the beginning, like most musicians eager to revel in their celebrity, members of Korn took to their new debauched rock lifestyle easily--especially Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu, bassist and founding band member, who soon earned one of the worst reputations in music. But the drugs and alcohol eventually caught up with the hard-partying, womanizing bad boy, nearly destroying him and the band in the process.
Now, in the revealing and courageous memoir Got The Life: My Journey of Addiction, Faith, Recovery, and Korn, Fieldy takes readers backstage and on tour with Korn, giving them their first complete look inside the band. Fieldy tells the true story of life in Korn and how his out-of-control behavior, drug addictions, and violent outbursts alienated all those who loved him. But his journey didn't end there: He also describes how he was instantaneously delivered from years of substance abuse after a very personal and spiritual encounter with Christ.
In Got The Life, Fieldy offers his own story of redemption after his father, a fellow musician and born-again Christian, died from a mysterious illness. In the process, he learned that music and heart--not sex and drugs--make great rock 'n' roll. At once candid, compelling, inspirational, Fieldy's Got The Life is a rock and roll journey unlike any other.
Following up from her interview with former Korn band member, Brian "Head" Welch, NRT's senior editor, Angel, speaks with Fieldy about the book, his miraculous transformation, and what the future holds for both him and the band Korn.
Hi, Fieldy. Welcome to NewReleaseTuesday.com. It's an honor and a pleasure to be interviewing you. Why donít you give us a little insight into your childhood, and tell us how your dadís musical career influenced you to follow in his footsteps?
When I was growing up in Bakersfield, California, I really got into motocross racing and music. My dad was in a band, so there was always band practice going on in our house. I would spend a lot of time in our garage watching them play, while I dreamed of becoming a rock star. The atmosphere in our house was similar to a nightclub. There were always people in our house partying and playing music. It was pretty much one big party all the time!
At what age were you first exposed to this party atmosphere?
As long as I can remember. Even in my book, thereís a picture of me as an infant onstage. Itís always been that way; itís all Iíve ever known! When I was growing up it was alwaysólive bands, music, and parties.
How old were you when you started to drink?
I started sneaking beers out of the refrigerator in our garage when I was very youngóI wasnít in my teens yet.
How young? Would you say you were around 11 or 12?
Probably something like thatómaybe even younger! At first I just started sneaking drinks into my room. It really all started when my parents got a divorce. I was 14 years old when they broke up, and thatís when I really started drinking.
Fieldy as an infant onstage. Reginald Arvizu Personal Archives.
Did you have any idea who Jesus was while you were growing up?
I had no idea who Jesus was when I was growing up. I just knew people would use His name when they were mad. Iím amazed when I think about how my life has changed because, back then, I didnít know anything about God!
When did you hook-up with the original band members of Korn?
I met Brian ďHeadĒ Welch when I was in junior high, but I didnít start hanging out with Munky and David until I went to high school. I knew who Jonathan Davis was since he went to school with us, but I never really hung out with him back then. I didnít hook-up with Jonathan until shortly after Munky and Head went to a bar and saw him singing onstage. When they told me, I remembered that my mom babysat Jonathan when we were kids, and my dad, Reggie Arvizu Sr., had played in a band with Jonathanís dad, Rick Davis.
While you were growing up, Rick Davis and your dad often rode dirt bikes and sometimes youíd all ride together. One weekend Jonathan came out with you. Do you remember running Jonathan over with a three-wheeler?
I donít remember running him over, but that type of behavior was my every day deal. If you did something like that randomly you would remember itóbut it was just another day of being me! Of course, Jonathan remembers it and still jokes about it. Iíve done so many things that I just donít remember them all.
In your autobiography, Got The Life, you candidly talk about your adulterous ways as well as the times you were physically violent and verbally abusive to all those who loved you. Did you ever reach a point, as many of us have, where you thought God couldnít forgive you?
You know, I didnít have that problem. Now that I believe in God, itís obvious Heís almighty. He created the universe. Because He created something so big, my biggest problems are so small to Him!
Once you realize that Jesus died on the cross and forgave you of your sins, youíre like, ďWow, somebody did that for me!Ē Itís pretty crazy to know that someone died for usóyet weíre all sinners! Iíve done so many things and asked for His forgiveness. But even today, I know Iím still going to fall short in certain ways. Iím still a work in progress.
Was it difficult to write about how you had mistreated others?
No, it wasnít difficult. Probably the hardest part of writing the book was just trying to remember what happened because I was so intoxicated when I did those things. I guess it wasnít hard for me because I knew I was forgiven, and I wasnít trying to hold on to some situation of ďwhy did I do that?Ē I know why I did what I did. Itís because I just didnít know any better. I didnít have any guidance in my life, and I didnít have Christ in my life. Today, I couldnít do any of those things because I do have Christ in my life. Thereís a huge alarm that would go off inside of me if Iíd attempt to do something wrong: NO, you canít do that anymore! But before I knew Christ, I didnít careóIíd do anything!
Fieldy on stage with Jon - Photo Credit: Sebastien Paquet
As your drug and alcohol use escalated, what were the results?
When I got into drugs and alcohol, I partied pretty hard. It reached the point where I was totally out of control. In my book, I wrote about the times I went to jail. Looking back now, I realized I should have been in jail most of my life. I just never got caught. Every time I was out getting drunk, I was either stealing or getting into violent fights. There were so many times when I thought this whole book should have been about how I spent my time in jail as a result of just how hard I partied.
You were beginning to live the life of a rock star, when your father remarried and became a born-again Christian. In Got The Life, you acknowledged that you never gave your actions a second thought until you found out that your father was dying. Can you tell us about his illness?
His illness was a big mystery. The whole time my dad was in the hospital the doctors kept trying to tell us that my father had cancer. They sent all kinds of tests away, but every single one of them came back negative. No cancer. I took him to the top specialists in the world. They suggested removing a lymph node from his neck to do another test, but even those test results came back without a trace of cancer. I just remember my dad saying, ďThey keep trying to tell me that I have canceróbut I donít have it!Ē So we moved him to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, which is one of the top hospitals in the world. Even though I hired the best doctors I could find, his health continued to deteriorate until he died.
Right after your father passed away, your stepmother, Mindi, who was married to your father for 18 years, led you in a prayer to receive Christ. Please describe what you experienced.
It was pretty chaotic in the hospital when Mindi first asked me to pray a prayer to accept Christ. Everybody was screaming and crying. I just did it because she asked me to do it. Even though I prayed the prayer of salvation with her in the hospital, I really didnít mean it in my heart. But when things chilled out, and I actually did the prayeróit was the most amazing thing to do it with all my heart! I experienced chills throughout my whole body, and I felt something come into me, which now I know was the Holy Spirit. I think people can get a little freaked out when they hear somebody has received the Holy Spirit. It seems too weird for some people to comprehend. The only way for them to really understand what Iím talking about is to pray the same prayer I prayed, with all their heart, and watch their lives miraculously change!
After you got back from your dadís funeral, your life began to miraculously change. Tell us how God ultimately set you free from a 20-year addiction to drugs and alcohol.
When I got home from the funeral, I stopped drinking alcohol. Then I just remember sitting there, thinking, He can also take away my desire to get high. So the next morning, I was in my bathroom taking a bong rip when I looked in the mirror and said: ďIím going to die of cancer because I love this. Iím not giving this up!Ē I felt like I didnít have a choice because as soon as I said thatóthe desire just went away!
I was trying to power trip over Christ when I said, ďIím not giving this up; Iíll die of cancer over it!Ē Itís almost like He said: ďOh, yeah! Well, let me take away your desire to get high,Ē and then it was gone!
The last drug I was holding onto was Xanax because I needed it to sleep. I finally went to God in prayer and said: ďLook, if you donít want me to sleep, Iím not going to sleep. Iím giving this drug to youĒ óand I just gave it up. That was the last of it right there.
Jesus is so amazing! You spent twenty years, seven days a week, abusing drugs and alcohol, but by His power you were instantly delivered from substance abuse with no symptoms of withdrawal. That happened in 2005, and you've been alcohol-and drug-free ever since. Now you've really got the life! So what's life like out on the road with Korn, now that you're clean and sober?
When Iím out on the road I have to rethink and reschedule everything I do. I started planning my schedule during the day because Iíve realized thereís nothing out there at night. Thereís nothing that comes out of it, except a bunch of people partying. The conversations are such a waste of time that Iíve decided to do positive things during the day. Now, Iíll go out and see the city weíre in while on tour, or Iíll get up and go work out, or make music during the day. Iíve just replaced my old lifestyle by doing all kinds of things that are rewarding.
In your autobiography, you wrote about the time you started talking to a homeless man while you were on tour with Korn. Would you have talked to him before you found Christ, or is showing kindness to a stranger something only the new Fieldy would do?
No, I never would have done that before. Now, on our days off, I walk around each city that weíre in and sit down and talk to some of the homeless people who live on the streets.
I canít imagine the look on their faces once they realize who theyíre speaking withóI doubt most celebrities would take the time to do that! Iím sure you surprised many more people when you wrote letters of apology, which you published in your autobiography, to each of the past and present band members of Korn. I understand they havenít seen or read them prior to your book going to print. Please tell us their reactions.
I wrote personal letters to the band in there. Even though each letter is not that long, it took me a long time to write them because what I had to say was very deep. So far, Jonathan is the only one Iíve heard back from. He said: ďI read your book, and itís really good. I also read the letter you wrote to me, and it made me cry!Ē I told him: ďThatís cool, man. I love you!Ē He said, ďI love you, too!Ē So thatís the reaction I got from him.
In Got The Life, you stated that you would love to hang out with Brian ďHeadĒ Welch now that both of you are sober. Have you ever had the opportunity to hook-up with him?
I havenít had the chance to hang out with him yet. Iíd love to, but I donít know where heís at or whatís going on? Maybe one day weíll hang out together.
Do you think there will ever be a Korn reunion?
You never know. Everybody seems to be cool with each other. We havenít replaced or gotten another guitar player yet, but if an opportunity comes up and the right guy comes along, Iím sure weíre going to do it. I hope Head decides to come around, but who knows what will happen?
Tell us about your solo project, Stillwell.
Stillwell is a new band featuring lead vocalist, ďQ,Ē and Wuv, of P.O.D., is playing the drums. Weíve created a new genre of music that ďQĒ calls Street Metal, and our album, Surrounded by Liars, should be out soon. If anybody wants more information, they can go to www.myspace.com/stillwellstreetmetal.
Can fans look forward to a book tour celebrating the release of your autobiography?
Korn will be heading out the end of April 2009 to tour throughout the United States and Europe. During this tour, I will be doing a book signing at every show. You can find out more [by clicking here].
What does the artwork on the front cover of your book represent? Are there any Scriptures in the bible that inspired this imagery?
There is a Scripture in the bible thatís actually mentioned throughout the Gospels. Luke 9:23 says: ďIf any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.Ē This imagery represents how Iíve crucified myself to my old life and just how dark the world is. On the cover, you see a dark world behind meó-and the world is really dark. Looking at where I am today and how the world is now makes me think, Man, can you come already, Jesus?
I came up with the idea to use my bass guitars as a cross behind me. It symbolizes me as I take up my cross. The concept to use the skulls underneath me came to me as I read about a place where they took Jesus and many others to be crucified. The place is called Golgotha, which means, ďThe Place of the Skull.Ē I pictured there would be a bunch of skulls underneath me from all the people who had died there.
Since May 2006, youíve been happily married to your wife, Dena, and youíre a father of three. How do you approach fatherhood now as opposed to before?
A family picture of Fieldy, Dena and his 3 children. Reginald Arvizu Personal Archives.
Fatherhood now is so much different than it was before. I actually enjoy hanging out with my kids and spending time with them, instead of just feeling obligated to take care of them. Before, my attitude toward fatherhood was, ďOK, Iím going to take care of my kids. Iíll make sure I feed them and see to it that they have clothes on their backs.Ē Now, I enjoy being able to take them places, and itís a lot of fun for me, too!
After all, kids are active and you have to be physically active with them and not all messed up. Just the other day I asked my kids if they wanted to go down to the park. My kids said, ďWe want to ride our Razors.Ē I told them, ďAll right, you guys ride your Razors, and Iíll jog down to the park with you.Ē So I jogged all the way down to the park with them. Before, there would have been no way I could have done that! I would have told them to put their Razors in the back of the car. Then, Iíd drive them to the park and just lie down on a blanket because I was too hung over to do anything else. Nowadays, when we go to the park, Iíll jog right next to them and once we get there, weíll throw a Frisbee around and have a lot of fun doing it.
What message do you want people to come away with when they read, Got The Life?
I want people to see that they can turn their lives around and not be scared to do it. Iím trying to show them the way I did itóand I think I was as bad as it gets! People should check it out because it can inspire them to change their lives.