Slipknot


Biography

Formed during the latter half of 1995, the band went through necessary lineup changes to arrive at what they now descibe as "a family unit." All native Iowans, their rather unassuming, un-happening locale gave the members plenty of space and time to perfect their unusual take on heaviosity. Iowa is probably best known as "the middle of nowhere." Most non-residents consider the corn-and-pig-state a geographical black hole. Since rock'n'roll's dawning in the early '50's, Iowa has had no singular voice to put on the musical map. Naming a significant musical identity from the state is inarguably a fruitless task; it simply can't be done. However, nine freaks from Des Moines--draped in industrial coveralls, surrealistic self-made masks, and an attack that combines violently regurgitated "L.A. neo-metal," death metal, hip-hop, and downtuned screeching horror--are about to leap upon the unsuspecting world like a musical of Clockwork Orange. Have you ever thought about what a messed-up hardcore metal band from "the middle of nowhere" would sound like? "Ultra-violence" only begins to descibe it...

Meet 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. (In human terms that's DJ Sid Wilson, drummer Joey Jordison, bassist Paul Gray, percussionist Chris Fehn, guitarist James Root, sampler Craig Jones, percussionist Shawn Crahan, guitarist Mic Thompson, and vocalist Corey Taylor, respectively.) Each comes equipped with not only a frightening visual persona and number assignment, but a talent on his particular instrument that combines and collides to form the nine-headed savior/destructor of modern heavy music dubbed Slipknot. Now, with the tools and talents (not to mention complex-yet-infectiously-catchy songs) that this band holds in its grasp, the world has no choice: Slipknot has arrived, and you must now decide how to deal with it.

The band recorded and distributed the self-released debut Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. in 1996, and the ball hasn't stopped rolling since. Attracting the attention of a number of labels, Slipknot finally signed to Roadrunner through noted producer Ross Robinson's I AM RECORDS imprint in 1997 and entered Indigo Ranch Studios in L.A. with Robinson to record Slipknot. From the pummeling Sic and the unforgiving bludgeon of Surfacing to the sublime melodies within Wait And Bleed and the hypnotizing rhythmic drive of Prosthetics, Slipknot's vast array of influences comes seamlessly wrapped up in a 13-song love/hate letter to the outside world. The touring that will follow is promised to be "unlike anything else that's going on out there. Seeing is believing." So says Shawn Crahan. And it's a gross understatement of what actually transpires when it all comes together on stage.

Until you hear the sound they create, having nine members in the band might seem ludicrous. Shawn claims it couldn't work any other way: "We've maintained an excellent practice schedule for the last three years. Everybody's on time, everybody's always there, and we always practice as a unit. Our music is so reliant on each other that if one guy, even the DJ, is gone, it just wouldn't be our songs without him. Without one person, something is really, really missing. Everybody has to be present. Even the littlest things make the songs magical."

Just as striking visually as they are musically, Slipknot stresses that the visuals do not take precedence over the music. "We never put on the shit we wear to try and get people into us," says Joey Jordison. "We did it because, after being degraded constantly for trying to play music or do something in Des Moines, it just came to be like we were an anonymous entity. No one gave a fuck, no one cared, so we were never about our names or our faces; we're just about music. So we just put it on and it started gettin' people, and it just started to turn into this big thing. The music's the most important, though. The coveralls and masks happened, and for some reason it worked, therefore we had to kind of continue with it. We got stuck with it."

Now that they're stuck with it, they hardly feel like themselves without it. Shawn feels that "...the masks are extensions of our personalities. Everybody's got sort of a tweaked, demented way about themselves, and we just alter the masks over time. It feels really, really good when we wear our masks for an hour, and then afterwards we take it off, and the first thing we do is go, 'God, what a relief!', but we always seem to put 'em back on after a show and walk around the place." And the visual presentation will change over time, just as the music certainly will. "I think things will always be changing with Slipknot. Everybody grows older every year, and with that you change, and that's somethin' Slipknot is always going to do."

As for the number assignments they wear on their coverall sleeves, they're lucky numbers, significant and vitally important to each member. When choosing them, "Everybody fell into a number," says Shawn. "There was not one person in the band arguing over a number. It was really weird."

Thanks to a hefty Ross Robinson production job on Slipknot, Slipknot's vision, part one, has been successfully realized. Shawn feels that Robinson was as highly motivated to work on the record as the band were to work with him. "We're a highly, highly aggressive band, and very seldom do we meet people who are in the realm of our aggressiveness when we play as a unit, and Ross took us into the recording room and was throwing punches at us. He was into it. Ross got up every day and went and worked out so he could be in shape to do our album."

When label reps and Robinson himself came to Des Moines to check out Slipknot at their best (on stage), the members were left with little to do for after-show entertainment than go to local strip clubs. After hosting guest after guest, the band were completely burnt out. Now, nobody in Slipknot ever wants to step inside a strip club again (it's Des Moines's leading form of entertainment, incidentally). Shawn grunts in disgust: "Fuck the strip bars. Fuck taking anybody to strip joints. We got shit to do."

The "shit" is wrapped up in a pretty little package called Slipknot. It's the discordant sound of the middle of nowhere, a terrain where Slipknot is jester and king.

They gradually built an audience through near-constant touring, working their way up to the summer Ozzfest package tour, which really expanded their audience. Their live shows were a much-discussed hit with metal fans, and the band performed with such energy that Crahan gashed his head open on his own drum kit twice that summer, requiring stitches both times. The tracks "Wait and Bleed" and "Spit It Out" got the band some airplay, but most of the buzz came from touring and word of mouth. Finally, in the spring of 2000, Slipknot was certified platinum; the first such album in Roadrunner's history.

The anticipation for Slipknot's follow-up was intense, and many industry observers predicted that it would debut at number one; however, faced with some stiff competition that week, the band's sophomore effort, Iowa, bowed at number three upon its release in 2001. More heavy touring followed, including another, more prominent slot on that summer's Ozzfest. After a long spell on the road, Slipknot took a break while the members worked on side projects. The band set up its own label, Maggot Recordings, and signed a band called Downthesun, whose lead singer had served as Crahan's drum technician. Wilson, meanwhile, began DJing solo under the name DJ Starscream, and Root and Thompson both worked on solo material.

Drummer Jordison worked with a side group called the Rejects, where he'd actually served for quite some time as guitarist. Taylor, meanwhile, started a side band called Superego, and also contributed a solo song, "Bother," to the soundtrack of the 2002 blockbuster Spider-Man. That May, the band got some amusing press when some of its fans discovered the website of a British crocheting group also called "Slipknot," and flooded the members' in-boxes with excessively rude e-mails. Guitarist Joey Jordison and Static-X guitarist Tripp Eisen teamed that summer for the Murderdolls project, while Taylor reformed his old band Stone Sour and released an album. By the winter, Slipknot had still not reunited and Taylor wrote a commentary on the band's website stating that they had not spoken in months, and that they'd rather break up than become "the next Gwar".

The statement sparked a quickly resolved minifeud between Taylor and Gwar frontman Oderus Urungus. but it also sent many of the Maggots into a tailspin. By early 2003, Taylor had retracted his comments, and announced plans for a new Slipknot album. By August, the entire squad had decamped Iowa for LA, where they began work on the new record with famously bearded producer Rick Rubin. "Pulse of the Maggots" appeared in early 2004 as an exclusive download; it was followed by a full track listing for Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, which was slated for a May release. Slipknot then embarked on a brief tour as a warm-up for their dates headlining Ozzfest that summer. (The group also debuted a fully redesigned third generation of their famous masks.) On May 25th, The Subliminal Verses was finally released.



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