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
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.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.