Slipknot tighten the noose


Springing forth from the cornfields of Iowa (like some sort of reverse pet semetary) Slipknot has managed to channel their violence and speed-metal-thrash into a much needed foray into masochism for their special fans known as "maggots." All nine members look like they stepped out of a sickly twisted carnival that mass murderer John Wayne Gacy would find offensive. From the three-pronged percussion sonic assault, the twisted guitar interplay and the odd samplings from the turntable - Slipknot has laid their claim as one of the most brutal and hypnotic bands to see live. Their masks hide their true identities or are these bizarre manifestations really who and what they are?
Livewire's Phil Bonyata caught up with lead drummer Joey Jordison (Number 1) to see what torment might be lurking in the recesses of his brain.

Livewire: You recorded your latest release Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses) in a reputed haunted mansion once owned by Houdini. Were you scared?

Joey: Not at all man - it was good for the album and the vibe of the place was great! It was really reflective on the way the album came out - it was more of like a commune thing, you know with the band living together especially after our time off and everything. But, as far as the scary thing - no. We just fed off the vibe and the weirdness of the place - it really helped with the record, it was cool.

Livewire: Describe the look of the house.

Joey: Fuck man - it's old. It's like from 1918 when the place was built. very desolate, but very beautiful at the same time. Unless you were there - it's very hard to put into words. You don't want to shortchange it. It's very open ended and it's like a fucking maze! (laughs)

Livewire: Has ace producer Rick Rubin help steer your music in a different direction?

Joey: Well, it was good because you know - we wanted someone with a different opinion and a different perspective. We wanted Rick's take and taste on what we do. He really helped us open up as far as our talent and really build upon everything we're known for and just take it to the next level.

Livewire: Describe your music in one or two words.

Joey: Pain, man. That shit hurts.

Livewire: That's more than two words.

Joey: Are you sure? (laughs)

Livewire: In what order would you rate all the Slipknot albums?

Joey: (serious) That's an original question - I've never heard that one before! Well you know like dealing with the new one a lot of bands will tell you it's their best ever. Here's how I'm going to rate it and I'm not going to give you numbers.

Livewire: Fair enough.

Joey: Let's hope this will be good for you. A lot of bands will tell you that their new record is really special and the best they've ever done.

Livewire: That's what I'm expecting you to say.

Joey: When a band tells you that usually - it's a 100% bullshit! Most of the time they're just trying to feed you shit to sell more records. I'm not going to tell you any fucking bullshit, man. This record is really the best one we've ever done. It is. We are all the way full force back into this band. We're not doing this because of a record contract or money. This is the one, man.

Livewire: What about Iowa or your debut? How would you rate them?

Joey: They're both 10s.

Livewire: C'mon man!!

Joey: (shouts) THEY'RE BOTH FUCKING 10s!!

Livewire: I see... (adjusts his glasses)

Livewire: What bands' helped to inspire you to get into music?

Joey: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Mott the Hoople then roll into Judas Priest and fuckin' KISS and into Venom and Slayer and into Warped Angel. When I was younger my parents wouldn't let me watch TV - so they set me in front of the record player - with records.

Livewire: That sounds like a good thing.

Joey: I know - it was (raises his voice) FUCKING awesome!

Livewire: Slipknot appear on MTX: Mototrax video game. Is this your first appearance on a game and do you feel that this overly commercializes the bands' image?

Joey: Yes, it is our first time. No, it's what it was - you know like there's three songs out and it's just a progression of leading you into the new album. A lot of our fans are fucking video game fanatics. It's that simple. We've never done it before, but it was cool and it worked out fine.

Livewire: If Slipknot were President of the United States - what would you do differently in Iraq?

Joey: That's a weird one! Umm, sighs, fuck man you got me. Why did you pull that one on me? Umm, I would get us the fuck out of there. We've overstayed our fucking presence over there. I'm really not a political person and I don't really agree with what's going on over there. I'm not the President of the United States, but I think we made our fucking mark - now it's time to get out of there.

Livewire: Should we have gone in there in the first place?

Joey: (long pause) I don't think so. I don't think so, man.

Livewire: What do you feel about bands such as Mudvayne and Mushroomhead that have seemed to copy your style?

Joey: Umm, I have no problem with both bands. I like both of those bands. You know, there's a lot of room in music and the arts for bands to wear masks or whatever. It doesn't matter - there could be a million bands with masks and Slipknot will hold it's own with the way we look at the world and the way we hold our band together and the way we communicate with each other and most importantly - the way we communicate with the fans - so, you'll never get another Slipknot. We're a one-of-a-kind band.

Livewire: If I were to pull your mask off in public what would you do?

Joey: I've taken my mask off before. I'd have my security guard punch you in the balls. (laughs loudly)

Livewire: Do you keep your mask on when you're having sex?

Joey: I've done it only with one girl.

Livewire: Was it a girlfriend or someone you didn't care for?

Joey: No, no - it was an ex-girlfriend of mine. That was her thing man?

Livewire: Is Slipknot ever going to discard the masks and let the music do all the talkin'?

Joey: No, I think Slipknot is mainly the music, but the masks are reflective of how we feel and through the music that we create. We won't ever demask as long as the band exists.

Livewire: How long does it take the band to ready themselves for a show?

Joey: There are two answers I can give you. First one is you're never ready for what we have to do. I mean, there's just no way to prepare yourself for going through what we fucking go through live. It just doesn't exist, uh but as far as actually getting dressed - it fucking takes about 10 - 15 minutes. It doesn't take too long.

Livewire: Tell me something REALLY crazy that's happened to you while on tour?

Joey: In Australia we had a group of fans, we had that song "People = Shit" so, there was a group of kids that came with their backs - like one guy had a "P" carved in his back and the next one had an "E" and the next one an "O" and on down the line. It spelled out "People = Shit" just dripping in fucking blood. They were outside the bus showing us their loyalty to the band. It was pretty fucking crazy, man.

Livewire: Is it all groupies and drugs after the show?

Joey: I've done drugs, but I don't condone it. It's definitely not healthy on the road, man. Slipknot is more of a focused band these days - we don't do the groupie thing. Most of the guys are older with serious girlfriends and stuff. Way in their younger years that might've tried stuff, but Slipknot is professional now.

Livewire: What's the average age of the band?

Joey: We're like around 26 - 27.

Livewire: How does such a creepy band spring forth from the cornfields of "middle-of-the-road-average-joe" Iowa?

Joey: I think you just answered your own question. Where we come from it's desolate and there's no music scene. And the result is pretty much what you hear on disc. We were rejected and told that we couldn't do it for fucking years.

Livewire: When did you know you hit it big?

Joey: Have we hit it big yet?

Livewire: Your first two albums went platinum and your current tour is completely sold-out. You tell me.

Joey: We don't worry about that stuff as long as you're true to yourself. As far as talkin' big as far as record sales wise - yeah. It's such a beautiful thing that we have such adoration from our fans and the fact that we were gone a little bit and they stuck with us. We have great fans and I've known that since we had only two people in the audience.

Livewire: Do you consider yourself a sex symbol for the damned?

Joey: I don't think so. (laughs) I don't know...I don't think so at all.

Livewire: What's your tombstone going to say?

Joey: Man, you do have some weird questions. Umm, It will probably say born in '75 and fucking died in the time we're living in right now with my name on it - it will be very basic. Just put me in the fucking ground and kick me down. He had time to and he played his fucking hardest while he could.

Livewire: Are you predicting an early demise for yourself?

Joey: I don't know man - the bands' killing me.

Livewire: If you were sent to Hell would you take the band along or Fiona Apple?

Joey: Oh, I would take Fionna Apple, man. I wouldn't subject my band to any of that shit, you know?

Livewire: Who's your muse right now?

Joey: You know I'm actually enjoying the new Norah Jones - believe it or not. Her records, like Fionna Apple's are really, really colorful. It's pretty fucking cool. Other than that I'm into Nordic/Scandinavian black metal.

Livewire: What's your favorite horror movie?

Joey: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" the original. Other scary ones are "The Exorcist" and "The Omen." Those movies are fucked up, man.

Livewire: You're on death row. What would be your last meal?

Joey: If I knew I was going to die I would have no appetite - I would be like fuck-it I don't need no food - I'm out!

Livewire: Does Slipknot worship Satan or the money that the association brings?

Joey: No we don't worship Satan! It's not a gimmick either - I think it is the relation towards the band. When we say like "555" or "666" it's like like a higher number and it's more on the darkside. We want people to think as we shock. At the same time we we're being fucking lumped in with nu-metal and we're nothing like that shit.

Livewire: If Slipknot fans are, as you call them, "maggots" - then what do you call people that hate your music?

Joey: Man, good question. All I can say is they're outside the nine. They don't understand - that's all I could tell them. We're here to piss off just as many people as we are to please. As long as we have fucking people hate us - I'm a happy guy!


Interview with Paul Grey

January 2000

Hailing from Des Moines, Iowa, where the leading form of entertainment takes place inside the local strip clubs, come nine guys who would like to change the fact that not one singular rock ’n’ roll act from their home town has achieved worldwide fame. Perhaps I should say – ever since their self-titled Roadrunner record-label debut was released last summer – they are in the process of changing that fact. While Slipknot was in Sweden on its current world tour, I spoke with bassist Paul Gray about the band’s recent success.

Tell me about the clown masks and outfits. How did the band's stage persona come about?

It came about as our "anti-image" message. You know, we're not really worried about what cool hairstyle we have or what cool clothes we're wearing. We're about our music first. With the coveralls and the masks it takes the emphasis off of a "cool-guy," "rock-star" image.

Do you think that message is getting across or do think it has taken a whole different turn?

A little bit of both. Our anti-image has turned into our image.

You can only stare at a clown mask so long. After a few minutes it's no big deal anymore. So people start paying attention to the music instead of what the clown is doing, or what he is wearing, or how cool his spikey hair is.

What's it like to perform in the outfits?

Really hot. It's taken years off of our lives.

Do you consider changing the image?

Not any time soon. But we don't want to block ourselves in a corner either. If we feel like changing it, we will.

It must help to identify you from the myriad of other bands out there.

Yes, we definitely stand out. Nine members too.

Yeah, that's another question I had. How did that evolve? Did the band start out as nine members?

We built the band that we wanted to hear. We added members until it sounded right. In the beginning, we had the idea around the three percussionists. We got the two guitar players, bass player, singer. We used sampling, so we got a sampler, and a DJ. We built the band that we wanted to hear and see live. It was all for us. If it was a band that required twenty members, and we thought we needed it... or two members.... We never had any set plan. We just kept doing it until it sounded right.

Do you all have musical backgrounds?

Yeah. We've all been in different bands for years. We've all been friends forever. That's one thing that makes this band so fun to be in. Everybody in the band is our best friend. Our sampler has played guitar. I've played guitar in a band.

What's it like being from Des Moines, Iowa and having this opportunity to see the world?

Well, I'm not really from Des Moines. I'm the only one who is not. I'm from Los Angeles, but I moved to Des Moines nine years ago. I had never really gone anywhere besides LA and Des Moines, so it's amazing. It's the best thing in the world. To get to come to a different country and play your music and actually have people there wanting to see you and hear your music. It's just mind blowing to me. I'm totally thankful to every kid that comes out to see us.

Do you think it makes a difference being from Des Moines, than, say, being a band from New York?

We probably had to struggle a little bit more. We have no clubs where you can really play. Not much of a music scene. No other bands that are bigger in Des Moines that we can look up to or get help from. In that aspect it was really hard. No record companies wanted to come out to Des Moines to see a band.

Tell me about the process of getting signed?

We started sending our stuff out to everybody. We got one somehow to Ross Robinson. He came out and saw us. He was gonna do the album no matter what label we were on. We started getting labels to come out. Once one comes out, they all come out. They have to make sure they're not falling behind.

We had a lot of different offers. Major labels offered us deals. But we went with Roadrunner because it's more of a family kind of thing. It's a matter of having a label with less bands on their roster so they can actually pay more attention to their bands.

What number are you? [Rather than relying on the conventionality of names, the band members assigned numbers to each other to represent their identity. 0 - DJ Sid Wilson, 1 - drummer Joey Jordison, 2 - bassist Paul Gray, 3 - percussionist Chris Fehn, 4 - guitarist James Root, 5 - sampler Craig Jones, 6 - percussionist Shawn Crahan, 7 - guitarist Mic Thompson, 8 - vocalist Corey Taylor]

Number two.

What's it like being number two? How do you identify with it?

Joey is our drummer and he is number one. Bass and drums are the backbone of the music; so that's how I got number two, I guess. For me, it's good. I like being number two. I can't complain, you know. I'm in Sweden.

The inner sleeve of your CD jacket reads, "Fuck it all. Fuck this world. Fuck everything that you stand for. Don't belong. Don't exist. Don't give a shit. Don't ever judge me." Can you elaborate?

That's the lyrics to our song "Surfacing." That's the chorus to the song. Basically, we dedicate it to the kids as their new national anthem. It's our way of saying don't worry about everybody else. Just worry about yourself. Don't worry about the people judging and the people coming down on you and all the fake crap. Stick to what you believe in.

You'd have to get Corey to get his full meaning since he writes all the lyrics.... A lot of the stuff we like to leave it for people to decide anyway.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to everything from Neurosis to Steely Dan. It depends on what kind of mood I'm in. The last CD I got was David Bowie.

Who are your influences?

Black Sabbath, Kiss, Black Flag, the punk rock stuff, the Dead Kennedys…. But all of music has shaped the way I think about it.

Your music is often referred to as new metal. How would you say that differs from metal?

The only thing I could see about it being new metal is because we're a new band. But our stuff is actually what they consider old-school metal. I think new metal is like the Limp Bizkit sound. Personally, we have more of a death-metal thing going than a Limp Bizkit thing. They always have to put some kind of categorization on it that a lot of people don't get. So, whatever. They can call it new jazz for all I care.

What's coming up in the year 2000?

Tour, tour, tour. We're going to play our asses off.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I would personally like to thank every single kid who has supported this band. Without them there would be no band. We wouldn't be able to do any of this. They've made our dreams come true and we won't let them down. We work 200 percent every time we play. We pride ourselves on working hard to make it worth it for the fans. So nothing but love and respect to everybody who comes to the shows, buys the CDs, and gives the band a chance.

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