HELL ON EARTH

WHEN DEEP­EST IOWA SPAT OUT THE NINE, NOT EVEN COREY TAY­LOR AND CLOWN COULD HAVE PRE­DICTED HOW THEY’D CHANGE THE WORLD, THEY TELL PAUL TRAVERS…

Kerrang! (UK) - - 50 Greates Metal Albums Ever -

s the last cen­tury drew to a close, metal was spas­ming through the throes of a ma­jor trans­for­ma­tion. Korn had al­ready in­tro­duced the low-strung, genre-blend­ing con­cept of nu-metal and Linkin Park were set to take it to pol­ished new heights. Some­where in Iowa, how­ever, some­thing dif­fer­ent – some­thing ugly – was lurk­ing and gnaw­ing on its knuck­les as it worked out how it could in­fect the world. And when Slip­knot ex­ploded with their self-ti­tled de­but al­bum, the world had seen and heard noth­ing like it. There was the im­age, of course, but there was also the au­ral chaos that had some­how been cap­tured and con­tained on a sin­gle game-chang­ing al­bum. Slip­knot was not an easy al­bum to lis­ten to. It was – as we will hear from Corey Tay­lor and Clown over the page – vi­cious and noisy and beau­ti­fully fucked-up, and it laid the foun­da­tions for the 21st cen­tury’s most iconic metal band to take over the world…

SLIP­KNOT

SLIP­KNOT

(1999)

IT’S 1998 AND YOU’RE ON YOUR WAY TO PRO­DUCER ROSS ROBIN­SON’S STU­DIO IN MAL­IBU, CAL­I­FOR­NIA. WHAT’S THE MOOD WITHIN THE BAND?

CLOWN (PER­CUS­SION):

ÒI think that chas­ing the dream set the mood, so the mood was noth­ing but ad­ven­ture. Stuff was ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing, and that can be quite fas­ci­nat­ing when youõre search­ing and youõre on a trail. There were tears and fi ghts and nor­mal hu­man anx­i­ety and love and hate and all that stuff, but it was all coloured by this ad­ven­ture, which was our dream.ó COREY TAY­LOR (VO­CALS): ÒIT was very pos­i­tive, even though it took us for­ever to get there. We had three of our own ve­hi­cles and we hooked a trailer up to [per­cus­sion­ist] Chris Fehnõs truck. For the long­est time we told him he was only in the band be­cause he had a truck. It took us for­ever to get out there be­cause the truck could only go to 55mph be­fore the trailer would start to fi shtail, be­cause there was so much stuff in it.ó

DID YOU TALK ABOUT WHETHER IT WOULD BE SUC­CESS­FUL IN A COM­MER­CIAL SENSE?

COREY: Òour big­gest goal was to be the type of band that could maybe sell 200,000 al­bums and then we could tour our asses off. We did­nõt think any­body would get us. We were con­vinced we were go­ing to be one of those cult bands that can go out and tour and live off that and be okay. And even that was kind of lofty think­ing for us.ó

IS IT TRUE, THOUGH, THAT WHEN YOU FIRST MET ’KNOT MAN­AGER CORY BREN­NAN WHILE HE WAS STILL AT ROAD­RUN­NER, CLOWN SHOOK HIS HAND AND SAID, ‘HOW DOES IT FEEL TO MEET YOUR FIRST PLAT­INUM ARTIST?’?

CLOWN: Òwell, Iõve al­ways been known for be­ing a lit­tle cocky. I donõt be­lieve in fail­ure. And when you walk into some la­bel dudes, they all think they know Ð they want to de­ter me away from my dream be­cause they have built-in for­mu­las for how itõs go­ing to go. Not us. We had a vi­sion, we had a dream. The world wanted us and we wanted the world, so here we are.ó

WHY DO YOU THINK PEO­PLE DID WANT WHAT SLIP­KNOT WERE OF­FER­ING?

COREY: ÒI think itõs a lot of things. Itõs the fact that we came out of nowhere, that we had some­thing very pri­mal and an­tag­o­nis­tic, mu­si­cally. We had some­thing that was loaded with at­ti­tude, but cre­ative and in­ter­est­ing enough that it crossed a lot of dif­fer­ent bound­aries.ó CLOWN: Òweõve al­ways been re­ally truth­ful, so maybe peo­ple trusted us right from the bat. It was­nõt a show or an act; itõs our art, itõs what we do. We were nine broth­ers from Iowa with this vi­sion and mu­sic and at­ti­tude. When you see us on­stage, itõs not a joke, itõs not all-star wrestling or Hal­loweõen. Itõs fuck­ing Slip­knot and itõs spe­cial.ó

Pro­ducer Ross Robin­son, who had al­ready helped shape sem­i­nal al­bums by the likes of Korn and Sepultura, was the sin­gle big­gest infl uence on Slip­knot Ð the band and the al­bum Ð out­side of the nine mem­bers them­selves. He was their fi rst in­dus­try sup­porter, he was in­stru­men­tal in get­ting them signed, and he was tasked with the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble task of chan­nelling all that en­ergy into a co­he­sive al­bumé

DID YOU NEED AN OUT­SIDER LIKE ROSS TO HAR­NESS THE CHAOS OF SLIP­KNOT?

COREY: ÒI think so. We all had an idea of what we wanted the band to sound like, but none of us could nar­row it down. None of us could con­vey it or say it. And Ross was the fi rst per­son who un­der­stood the over­all view of what we could do and cap­ture in the stu­dio.ó CLOWN: Òbut he would tell you [him­self], we were very aware of our own right to be what we are, and we were very stern on that. He col­lected it up, har­vested it, gave it time­frames for peo­ple. He or­gan­ised it so we could get it to the world. He helped us do that and he be­lieved in us, which al­lowed us to be com­fort­able and se­cretly laugh about how we were go­ing to de­stroy the world.ó

WAS THE RECORD­ING PROCESS PHYS­I­CALLY AND MEN­TALLY DRAIN­ING?

COREY: ÒIT was and it was­nõt. We were young and ex­cited, so we had bound­less en­ergy. We were bounc­ing off the walls. Plus, we were on top of a moun­tain and you could walk to this lit­tle precipice and you could see the bay; you could see the is­lands in the dis­tance. It was gor­geous, and thereõs some­thing about that that re­vi­talises

you. By the time we were done mak­ing it, we were a bit drained, but in the mo­ment we were so thrilled that we were get­ting this op­por­tu­nity that I don’t think any­thing could have knocked the shit out of us.” CLOWN: “I used to en­joy watch­ing Corey sing. He’d be out of body, he’d be gone. Ross would stir him up and they’d have con­ver­sa­tions. There’d be tears. There’d be ar­gu­ments. Corey just dis­ap­peared and that al­ways meant a lot to me, be­cause that’s what went into this. That’s what peo­ple don’t see on the out­side, and I was for­tu­nate enough to wit­ness some of that. I used to sit and watch Pauly [Gray, bass] prac­tice riffs un­til his fi ngers were swollen. He’d go, ‘Man, I’ve got to tighten shit up. This is for real, this record’s for­ever.’”

HOW DID YOU COPE WITH HAV­ING NO MONEY OR FOOD, AND SLEEP­ING WHERE YOU FELL?

COREY: “It’s par for the course. I was home­less for a while, so I was used to it. Paul was the same way. We were all just squat­ters, so it was noth­ing new for us. The cool thing that Ross did, be­cause we went into the stu­dio be­fore Road­run­ner Records had re­ally given us a bud­get, was give us money out of his own pocket so we could eat. Ev­ery Thurs­day we’d get a load of 29-cent ta­cos, which are the worst thing on the planet.” CLOWN: “It could be its own book, bro. We get there and Ross says, ‘You’ve got to be care­ful, there’s a momma skunk go­ing around with her ba­bies, so she’s prob­a­bly gonna be a lit­tle ag­gres­sive.’ Weeks later, she sprays the bath­room, which is right next to the con­trol room. The things that hap­pened to us, it was like magic. It was like a movie. It was like this is all meant to be that we’re here. We don’t know why and we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it for the fi rst time, but it was un­be­liev­able.”

WAS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU RE­ALISED YOU WERE SIT­TING ON SOME­THING SPE­CIAL?

COREY: “We knew we had some­thing that we loved. But we weren’t sure what the rest of the world was gonna think. I re­mem­ber sit­ting in my old apart­ment when we were get­ting the mixes back. We were all there and were los­ing our minds. We were so ex­cited, we were like, ‘Holy shit, this came out so much bet­ter than we thought it would.’ If you’re happy with the record­ing, who cares if the rest of the world likes it?”

As it turned out, of course, the world loved it. Well, a sig­nifi cant pro­por­tion did, any­way. As is of­ten the case when a truly unique, game-chang­ing band emerges, Slip­knot di­vided opin­ions, draw­ing as much hate as love, but that didn’t stop the al­bum from go­ing dou­ble­plat­inum, es­tab­lish­ing the band as a gen­uine force.

HOW MUCH DID THAT AL­BUM CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

COREY: “The funny thing is I didn’t even re­alise how much that al­bum changed my life un­til after we were done tour­ing on it. It wasn’t un­til we got home and we had about three months be­fore go­ing in to record Iowa, where we could ac­tu­ally catch our breaths and go, ‘Okay, what just hap­pened?’ I bought a car. For once I could pay my bills and not worry about it. But other than that, it wasn’t a big deal be­cause we weren’t the kind of band to sit on our lau­rels. For us, that whole al­bum was just set­ting up the sec­ond al­bum.”

DO YOU SEE THE AL­BUM’S IN­FLU­ENCE ON THE METAL SCENE TO­DAY?

CLOWN:

“I don’t have very many friends. It’s my own fault, but I just don’t. No-one points these things out, but once in a while I’ll catch some­thing with one of my friends and I’ll be like, ‘You hear that? That’s very sim­i­lar to what we do’, and they’ll go, ‘Well, duh.’” COREY: “I’ve talked to ev­ery­one from Ed Sheeran to 5 Sec­onds Of Sum­mer. It’s pretty fuck­ing crazy, the ex­tent that this band has reached out there. And then you see the peo­ple wear­ing the T-shirts – ev­ery­one from Lady Gaga to [Avengers ac­tor] Tom Hid­dle­ston. Or you hear Tom Hardy de­scrib­ing the new Mad Max movie as a cross be­tween Cirque Du Soleil and Slip­knot. We’re kind of in the zeit­geist now in a big­ger way than I could have imag­ined. That, to me, is the big­gest head­fuck. I’ve had the guys from Of Mice & Men come up and tell me we were a big infl uence, the guys in Bring Me The Hori­zon, Ask­ing Alexan­dria… It’s al­len­com­pass­ing where our reach has gone. I don’t have words to de­scribe just how grat­i­fy­ing that is.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL LOOK­ING BACK AT YOUR DE­BUT TO­DAY?

COREY: “I think it stands up re­ally well, and it set the tone for ev­ery­thing we wanted to do. And the great thing is, to this day we still play so much from that al­bum. There’s prob­a­bly seven songs that ro­tate through our set list from that al­bum alone, and [when we play them] the fans lose their minds. When you see that re­ac­tion, that’s some le­gacy shit!” CLOWN: “It’s so noisy and in-your-face. It’ll rip your skin off. There is so much fuck­ing hu­man emo­tion be­ing thrown around the in­stru­ments. It’s a war. The en­ergy that went into it was bru­tal and I think it was all meant to be. It’s an ab­so­lute piece of art and it’s there for­ever, for ev­ery­one.”

It is still there and, al­most 17 years on, it sounds as fu­ri­ous, vi­tal and con­fronta­tional as ever. Slip­knot are one of the most im­por­tant metal bands of any gen­er­a­tion, and it all started right here!

“THE AL­BUM WILL RIP YOUR SKIN OFF. IT’S A WAR”

CLOWN

That’s the last time we ever book a birth­day party clown with­out a rec­om­men­da­tion

Dis­ney­land: not how you re­mem­ber it as a kid

“WE HAD SOME­THING PRI­MAL, AN­TAG­O­NIS­TIC AND LOADED WITH AT­TI­TUDE” REO SPEEDEALER Who would’ve thought that soft-rock­ers REO Speed­wagon would is­sue a cease and de­sist or­der, caus­ing the punk-met­allers to drop the ‘REO’ part of their name? They later split

True story: early Slip­knot shows reg­u­larly fea­tured an en­core of the Y.M.C.A.

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