|Rarely since the fiery crash of Buddy Holly's plane in 1959 have
the words "Iowa" and "rock and roll" been used in the same sentence. As we've come to know it, Iowa means corn, livestock, conservatism,
and precious little else. And like a thousand other landlocked heartland nowheres, it brims with kids dying from boredom,
and with small-minded politicians trying to keep their little slice of Americana quaint, quiet, and soul-crushingly sterile.
But the kids aren't all right - they're getting angry.
And in Des Moines, their rage has a name: Slipknot. Draped
in Ed Gein-style coveralls and nightmarishly surreal masks, touting a sound patched from the best parts of metal, hip hop,
violent L.A.-style "new metal," and armed with a multidimensional percussive onslaught the weight of a hundred Neubautens,
you could call Slipknot equal parts style and substance. You could also call it payback time for Middle America.
a recent Alternative Press cover story, drummer Joey explained the band's vitriolic attack this way: "All of us were so used
to having the middle finger thrown at us, that when we finally threw it back, we did so with ten times the venom."
they hit a nerve in the process. Slipknot's self-titled Roadrunner album is nearing platinum status. Their home video, "Welcome
to Our Neighborhood," has dominated Billboard's Top Ten since its release, and is already platinum. But that's just America.
Australians have made the album gold and the video platinum, and the band continues to sell out gigs there - and throughout
Europe and Japan too. Even grumpy old England -- notoriously intolerant of heavy American rock -- has chimed in with a Silver
record and New Musical Express' declaration of Slipknot as "brilliant." Similar accolades can be found within recent cover stories
in Alternative Press, Circus, Guitar World, Hit Parader and Metal Hammer, and the band has also been featured in Kerrang!, Metal Maniacs,
Rolling Stone, and Spin, among others. To top it off, the tune "Wait and Bleed" (which the band performed on Late Night with
Conan O'Brien) has lately been rotating on MTV, KROCK NY, KROQ LA, LIVE 105 in San Francisco, WHFS Washington, DC, KNDD Seattle
and so on. The video for the single has been officially added to MTV as well.
Surprised? Don't be. From the skull-pummeling
"Sic" and unforgiving bludgeon force of "Surfacing," to the sublime melodicism of "Wait and Bleed," to the entrancing percussive
drive of "Prosthetics," Slipknot's Ross Robinson-produced Roadrunner CD swarms with such dense instrumentation that you'd
swear it was a whole symphony of sickos in command. And you'd be right: Slipknot is made up of nine native Iowans: DJ Sid
(#0), drummer Joey (#1), bassist Paul (#2), percussionist Chris (#3), guitarist Jim (#4), sampler Craig (#5), percussionist
Shawn (#6), guitarist Mick (#7), and vocalist Corey (#8). Nine guys, each with his own gruesome visual persona AND dehumanizing
number. Sounds like a lot? Percussionist Shawn wouldn't have it any other way.
"Our music is so reliant on each other that if one guy is gone, it just wouldn't be our songs. Without one person,
something is really, really missing. Everybody has to be present. Even the littlest things make our songs magical."
it is about the songs, after all. While some visually oriented bands forget about that, the beast that is Slipknot, with its
virally infectious sense of melody and explosive, percussion-driven backbone, knows its priorities well.
put on the crap we wear to try to get people into us," says Joey. "We did because, after being degraded constantly for
trying to play music or do something in Des Moines, it just came out to be like we were an anonymous entity. No one gave a
f**k. No one cared, so we were never about our names or our faces; we're just about music."
Shawn concurs, but refuses
to downplay the importance of the band's freakish, startling visuals. Or their pathological appeal.
"The masks are
an extension of our personalities," he says. "Everybody's got a sort of 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 take them off. The first
thing we do is go, 'God, what a relief.' But we always seem to put them back on after a show."
Forming in mid-1995,
Slipknot endured the necessary growing pains and lineup changes before arriving at what they now call "a family unit." Within
a year, they'd recorded, self-released and self-distributed their debut, "Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat," which helped catch the
fancy of more than a few big label suits. Eventually signing with Roadrunner via Ross Robinson's I AM RECORDS imprint, they
recorded the explosive self-titled album and exported the horror to the outside world through a series of live shows that
Shawn understates as simply "like nothing else out there." This included an exposure-grabbing stint on Ozzfest 1999 and a
slew of sold-out shows with label-mates Coal Chamber.
Which brings us full-circle in a way. Because, in actuality,
there was one other strange incident besides Buddy Holly's death in which "Iowa" and "rock and roll" could be uttered in the
same breath before Slipknot: January 20, 1982, when Ozzy Osbourne bit the had off a bat during a gig in Des Moines. "We got
the whole thing about the bat right in us," recalls Joey. "When we were little, we kept hearing about this guy named Ozzy
biting the head off a bat. That was here in this town, and we've had a little bit of the bat in us ever since."
heaviest band around could have no better teacher. And indeed, as Slipknot moves from a slot on last year's Ozzfest to the
headline act at this summer's Tattoo the Earth and MTV Return of the Rock tours, one thing is clear as crystal meth: Corn
ain't the only thing growing in America's heartland. Consider yourself warned, planet earth!
|Slipknot started in September 1995 with Anders (Colsefni) and Shawn (Crahan). Anders and
Shawn hung-out all the time, they would play Werewolf: The Apocalypse (RPG) all the time (where much of the lyrics came from
for MFKR). |
Anders was helping Shawn with some welding in his garage one winter, and they got talking about putting
together a brand new band. At the time they were both drummers (Anders had been singing for awhile), and wanted to put together
a band with extra stand-up percussion. Anders called Paul Grey (who was in L.A. at the time), and persuaded him to return
to Des Moines and give it a try. They'd attempted to do so before as early as 92 and even wrote songs: "Slipknot" and "Gently",
but Shawn got too busy and it fell apart. With the three core members: Andy, Shawn and Paul they enlisted the help of guitarists
Donnie Steele (ex- Body Pit guitarist) and Quan Nong (ex heads on the Wall). The band retreated to Anders basement to figure
out their sound and how to improve musically.
The band began practicing under the name of Meld, following the first
six practices Quan Nong left due to his following of a more Alternative/Punk style. Feeling something was missing, Paul was
determined to get Joey involved with his new project, despite failing to receive his interest in earlier projects such as
Body Pit. Paul met up with Joey at Sinclair's where Joey worked nights, there he tempted Joey to watch rehearsals within Anders'
basement. Joey reluctantly agreed and despite missing two rehearsals due to work priorities, eventually made it down to the
basement to view a practice session.
This basement, was "largely, open spaced", not only was the area so small and
cramped but for soundproofing the members used carpet samples and scraps from a nearby pet grooming centre, this made the
whole basement smell of Cat piss. The first song that Joey heard them play was a song known as "Slipknot", followed by "Gently"
Joey soon realized that he had to be in this band and soon began to play the drums; pushing Shawn onto
percussion. A band had formed. Within the cramped basement new songs were being turned out by the minute, including titles
such as "Killers Are Quiet", "Do Nothing Bitchslap", "Confessions", "Some Feel", "Part of Me" and "Tattered and Torn".
Shawn and Joey also began to meet up at Sinclair's to discuss ideas and plans for the future. Shawn and Joey also decided
that the band would require three drummers to provide a hardcore audio assault. Shawn wanted a drummer to the left and right
with one at the back controlling it all, creating a wall of power, a first layer... Joey plays the main set and as a result
is the main drummer who holds the band together. Shawn is the "Total Power Drummer" and is all aggression, finally the third
element of percussion was performed by Anders adding a tribal feel.
Within Sinclair's Shawn and Joey also realized
that the band would need another guitarist due to the vacant position left by Quan. Josh formerly of Modifidious and Inveigh
Catharsis was called and he soon added himself to the band. Now there were six. Josh was seen as the "icing on the cake" so
to speak adding a touch of melody to the batch of songs already written The people of Des Moines knew that a new band was
forming and they knew who was in it. However no one had heard or seen them. Soon a small performance was given, Slipknot's
first show was actually under a different name, Meld (Josh's idea). It was at a club that (Josh) believes was called the Crowbar
at that time. They did it without masks however Anders wore his fur skin loincloth and Paul wore wire through all his piercing.
This show happened about a month or two after Josh got into the band (I'm thinking it was mid to late Nov. 95'). That
was the only show they'd ever done with Donnie. The band went through the names Pyg system and Meld, before agreeing on the
simpler name of "Slipknot", the title of their first song. Slipknot began to take notice of their stage show and thus eventually
the idea of "Slipknot" spawned. The idea of what slipknot was about evolved and following discussions Shawn turned up to a
practice wearing his legendary Clown mask, the sextet decided almost unanimously, with the exception of Donnie, that masks
should be worn.
Joey came fully equipped with his molded and expressionless Kabuki Mask and despite difficulty within
practices the idea took off; the whole anti-image appearance which fitted so well with their rule of ignoring trends had a
great appeal. Soon Shawn contacted Mike Lawyer, due to an interest in recording some studio work. Mike got an engineer/producer
of his named Sean McMahon to meet up with them during a practice session. Sean McMahon: "I was contacted by former members
of a band called Body Pit to check out their new band at their rehearsal space". Sean McMahon: " The band floored me the first
time that I heard them play in Anders' basement. This was way before the masks and coveralls evolved. The band was solid and
incredibly tight. The music had some melodic parts at that time. They played Slipknot, Gently, Do Nothing/Bitchslap, Killers
Are Quiet, Vizqueen, and Fur for me.
Anders himself was wearing a wolf fur loincloth - and nothing else. I did not
pretend to fully understand what the band was about, as we were just getting to know each other, but it was very plain to
me that Slipknot (Meld or Pale Ones at that time) was extremely good at what they did, and had the requisite drive to take
it all the way". " The band soon started work on their first project, dubbed, MFKR. "Mate Feed Kill Repeat". The band grabbed
every available moment to practice, perform and record within the SR Audio Studios. SR audio was customized for the MFKR sessions
by the band itself. SR audio was filled with pornographic posters, films, toys, lights and many other objects all to make
the band feel right at home.
The recording phase for MFKR was one odd occurrence after another, Sean explains "We
cut basic tracks live - all of them, including all 3 drummers, all playing together in the same room! The band advocates the
use of extreme violence as a conflict resolution tool, and recording was no exception. The wall next to Clown's percussion
rig acquired a few holes from his fist and drum sticks. Then there were the anatomically correct chalk line body outlines
in the parking lot.
Also, Joey played drums naked on one track, which he nailed". During February of 1996 (the post
production stage of mfkr) a great change occurred within Donnie Steele; he found God. He realized that he could not be within
such a band as Slipknot with the beliefs he held and as a result withdrew himself from the group. At this crucial point in
the bands short history a new member was called up; a former member of Joey's band Modifidious, his name was Craig Jones,
he had come highly recommended by Jordison.
During his arrival, the MFKR album was already in its mixing stages. The
mixing of MFKR was anything but smooth, each song being remixed many times. Strain was added by different view that each member
held and things often got intense. Not only were their problems with the mixing but the band was also unhappy with the mastering
that was done on the CD, hence they insisted that Sean should do it. Slipknot's first major show in which they would unveil
themselves to the people of Des Moines became booked for the 4th April 1996 at the locally known meeting place pronounced,
On the day's arrival the room was packed with 200 people. The band arrived in Joey's car and each member
sported their individual garments. Paul with wire weaved in and out of his piercing, Andy covered with electrical tape and
tribal paint, Josh showing off an executioners hood while Craig had placed pantyhose on his head. Joey and Shawn each used
the masks they had always worn, the Clown and Kabuki masks. Before the band began to play Joey began to incessantly shout,
"I need a little Christmas in my drink" repeatedly with each new phrase increasing in volume, energy and power.
band then slammed into their debut song, "Slipknot". By Slipknot's second performance at the club Paul had found a new "Pig"
mask. The band played a total of seven shows at the club in one month alone. The band carried on playing their shows which
were much more "insane" than we see these days (taming of the media etc...), rather than the same uniform jumpsuits and regular
masks the band played in different things, for example Shawn rented out a large purple "Barney" suit and others wore Nun dresses
and even ballroom dresses or a Little Bo Peep outfit. The shows were really dark, underground and scary however they still
carried an element of humor. The shows would start with strobe lights flashing and a sample from Craig, usually of a mad laugh
and "ice cream" man chimes, Shawn would drop a power saw to create a series of sparks to fly over the crowd.
felt that the band was incomplete. He wanted more; a different sound and a greater variety. Craig was promptly shifted onto
samples, leaving an empty vacancy. Hence Mick formerly of Bodypit arrived. MFKR was eventually finished on Halloween, 1996.
The party had begun and 400 people turned up in masks to celebrate the occasion. The album was sent out to many people and
a person named Sophia at a local station KKDM managed to hear it and liked it. This lead to the arrangement of Slipknot's
appearance in the local KKDM battle of the band's contest. The on air tournament was held every Wednesday at the Safari club
in Des Moines, and spanned across several weeks beginning with the individual heats. Slipknot faced the band; Stone Sour -
they won. Slipknot also defeated "Maelstrom" and "Black Caesar" who came second. Slipknot conquered all. This was one of the
band's highlights that fuelled them to their current stardom. The money from the win helped fund the heavily in debt band's
new projects and demos. The band continued the onslaught of supporting their debut Mate Feed Kill Repeat.
to ISMIST records the distributor, there were only 1000 copies of this made and distributed by the band as a promotional tool.
By this time several record companies had investigated the band, one of these being Roadrunner who felt that they should not
pick up Slipknot due to their thought that the vocalist required more melody. This rejection continued and nowhere could they
be signed. Sophia became their first manager due to her contacts and love for this new band. Things then seemed to get worse;
Shawn bought the Safari, which took time away from the band despite being a good investment. The band could no longer play
in Anders' basement and things were falling apart. There were often tensions between Joey and Shawn and "Slipknot" had nowhere
However they still managed to make it onto the bill for the local "Dotfest" in June. There they played to
the largest crowd in their history, a crowd of 12 000, containing many industry people. Not only was the sound dodgy and kept
going out but the crowd began to throw chicken bones on stage. At the show Slipknot came out throwing Tampons into the crowd
and had several "gimps". This was the first and last time for the "gimps". The gimps were Frank with a gas mask, Lanny with
tribal markings in liquid latex, Greg covered with liquid latex and a ball gag in his mouth and Greg's friend Slick Rick in
a latex hood. Slipknot had the original idea of having a professional stunt man, Rick, come out dressed as Shawn and then
Shawn would come out and set him on fire. They had all the things to do it (for a long time it set in the cooler at Safari)
but the city would not issue the permits to perform it so the event had to be abandoned.
The set ended with them being
cut off and an almost riot breaking out as Andy cut open his arms and tossed CDs over the fence to the fans. Joey quit. But
he reconsidered and came back. Some good things did come out of this though, their performance left a mark, they made new
fans and most importantly they discovered Sid Wilson (even though they did not speak to him).
Slipknot looked for
the success they were not getting and decided to enlist Corey Taylor of rival band Stone Sour, to join the line up. Joey,
Shawn and Mick confronted him with the an ultimatum at his work place, "The Adult Emporium". They said, "Join the band or
we will kick your ass!" Slipknot provided an opportunity not present in Stone Sour; the band could go places. The music over
image policy also appealed. Corey began practicing with the band and the first lyrics he wrote were to be used in the song,
"Me Inside". This was a very experimental move and everyone was wondering how it would turn out. This change resulted in Anders
being pushed back to percussion and back up vocals. Soon this new breed of the Knot performed a show; it turned out it was
a charity event for a local hospital. The Safari was packed to the brim. Corey came out wearing a large amount of makeup that
gave a dark appearance, this was added to by two latex crosses marked over his eyes.
Despite this excitement the show
was riddled with technical problems and was the show that resulted in Joey's nickname, "Superball". Their next show was on
17th September, again at the Safari. This show was a great improvement however nearly a year on from the MFKR release an announcement
was to be made. Just before Slipknot were about to storm into their final song, "Heart ache and a pair of Scissors", Anders
made an announcement, "This will be my last show" he stated. This stunned both band members and the audience. Following this
sudden change the band returned to the studio to re-record the songs on their second cd titled "Crowz" - minus Anders' vocals.
Of these songs included, "Gently", "Do Nothing", "Slipknot", "Tattered and Torn", "Me Inside", "Carve", "Coleslaw", "Scissors",
"Windows" and "May 17th" a song written by Shawn. Crowz was to be released October 31st 1997. THE REST IS ALL HISTORY.
|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 '50s, Iowa has had no singular voice to put on the musical map. Naming a significant musical entity 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
Have you ever thought about what a messed-up hard-core metal band from "the middle of nowhere" would sound
like? "Ultra-violence" only begins to describe 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 Jim Root, sampler Craig Jones, percussionist
Shawn Crahan, guitarist Mick Thomson, and vocalist Corey Taylor, respectively.) Each comes equipped with not only a frightening
visual personal 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. Formed during the later half of 1995, the band went through necessary lineup changes to arrive at what they now describe
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.
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 Malibu with Robinson to record their self-titled debut. 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 sonic love/hate letter to the outside world.
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's just wouldn't be our songs without
him. Without even 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
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 ourmasks for an hour, and then afterwards we take
them 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 memberswere left with little
more 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...