Slipknot is an American heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. Formed in 1995, the group was founded by percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray. After several lineup changes in their early days, the band consisted of nine members for the greater part of their tenure: Sid Wilson, Paul Gray, Joey Jordison, Chris Fehn, Jim Root, Craig Jones, Shawn Crahan, Mick Thomson, and Corey Taylor. However, the death of Paul Gray on May 24, 2010, left the band with only eight remaining members. Former guitarist Donnie Steele was the band's touring bassist in 2011.
Slipknot is well known for its attention-grabbing image, aggressive music style, and energetic and chaotic live shows. The band enjoyed a somewhat meteoric rise to success following the release of their self-titled debut album in 1999. The 2001 follow-up album Iowa further increased the band's popularity. After breaking for their first hiatus, Slipknot returned in 2004 with Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) and once again in 2008 with their fourth album All Hope Is Gone, which debuted at the top spot on the Billboard 200. Additionally, the band has released one live album, 9.0: Live, one compilation album, Antennas to Hell, as well as four live DVDs.
Early days (1995–1998)
Slipknot was formed in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 1995 when drummer Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray started a band named The Pale Ones. The lineup was made up of friends who met through the local music scene, including vocalist Anders Colsefni and guitarist Donnie Steele. Not long after their inception, Gray invited Joey Jordison to a rehearsal because the band were interested in experimenting with additional drum elements. Jordison subsequently joined the band as their main drummer, moving Crahan to custom percussion. Furthermore, Colsefni also took up custom percussion while remaining the band's vocalist. The band then decided to invite Josh Brainard as their second guitarist, bringing their lineup to six members. On December 4, the band made their live debut; playing a benefit show using the name Meld.
Much of the band's early development was retrospectively attributed to late-night planning sessions between Gray, Crahan and Jordison at a Sinclair gas station where Jordison worked nights. It was there, in late 1995, that Jordison suggested changing the band name to Slipknot after their song of the same name. In December, Slipknot began recording material at SR Audio, a studio in the band's hometown. Without a recording budget, the band were forced to self-finance the project, the costs of which came to an estimated $40,000. In February 1996, guitarist Donnie Steele decided to leave Slipknot due to his Christian beliefs. When questioned in 1999 about Steele's departure, Jordison explained: "we were prepared to keep him on, but he didn't want to stay." During the mixing stages of their project at SR Audio, Craig Jones was recruited as Steele's replacement on guitar. However, throughout their time in the studio, the band were adding samples to their recordings but could not produce these sounds live. Subsequently, Jones became the band's sampler and Mick Thomson was brought in as the replacement guitarist. After a complicated time with mixing and mastering, the band self-released Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. on Halloween, October 31, 1996.
Distribution for the demo was initially left to the band and their producer Sean McMahon, before it was handed over to the distribution company Ismist in early 1997. Slipknot received a small amount of airplay on local radio stations off the back of the demo. However, it did not lead to any kind of interest from record labels, so the band returned to the studio to develop new material. It was at this time that the band sought more melodic vocals for their music. As a result, Corey Taylor was recruited from fellow Des Moines band Stone Sour; this moved Colsefni to backing vocals and percussion. While working in the studio, Slipknot continued to do local shows, during one of which in September 1997, Colsefni announced on stage that he was leaving the band. The gap on percussion was filled by Greg Welts, who was affectionately known as "Cuddles." In early 1998, Slipknot produced a second demo featuring five tracks exclusively for record labels. The band began to receive a lot of attention from record labels, and in February 1998, producer Ross Robinson offered to produce their debut album after attending rehearsals in Des Moines. Soon after, DJ Sid Wilson was recruited as the band's ninth member after showing great interest and impressing band members. In late June, Slipknot received a $500,000 seven-album deal from Roadrunner Records; the band signed the deal publicly on July 8, 1998. Two days prior to this, Welts was fired from the band, something which Slipknot refuse to comment on.
Slipknot and emergence (1998–2000)
Chris Fehn was brought in to replace Welts on percussion before Slipknot traveled to Malibu, California to work on their debut album in September 1998. Partway through the recording process of the album, Slipknot returned to Des Moines, Iowa for the Christmas period, during which guitarist Brainard decided to leave the band. Speaking about his decision, Brainard explained: "some decisions were made that I wasn't particularly happy with." Slipknot recruited Jim Root to complete their lineup and returned to Malibu to continue work on their debut album. Work on the album concluded in early 1999, allowing the band to go on their first tour as part of the Ozzfest in 1999. The tour proved to expand their audience greatly and their self-titled album was released on June 29, 1999. Slipknot went on to release their first home video Welcome to Our Neighborhood and the two singles; "Wait and Bleed" and "Spit It Out". The singles received some airplay, but Slipknot developed a large following very quickly mainly from touring and word of mouth. The band toured several countries throughout 1999 and 2000 in support of the album. In early 2000, Slipknot was certified platinum, a first for an album released by Roadrunner Records.
Iowa and hiatus (2001–2003)
Anticipation for Slipknot's sophomore effort was intense and in early 2001, the band began recording their second album at Sound City and Sound Image studios in Los Angeles. It was about this time that conflicts began to arise between band members due to their extensive touring and recording schedules. Despite this, recording on their second album came to a close in February 2001 and Slipknot embarked on their Iowa World Tour. Iowa, the band's second album was released on August 28, 2001, peaking at number three on the Billboard album charts and at number one on the UK album chart. The album produced three singles; "The Heretic Anthem" (promotional single) "Left Behind" and then "My Plague" which appeared on the soundtrack for the film Resident Evil. In 2002, Slipknot made their first (and to-date only) appearance in a movie, performing the song "I Am Hated" in a scene in the remake of Rollerball. The release of the album and the promotion in support of it resulted in out shows in large arenas in several countries. However, in mid-2002, Slipknot went on hiatus for the first time due to internal conflicts, seeing several band members focus on side projects. Vocalist Taylor and guitarist Root revived their band Stone Sour, drummer Jordison created the Murderdolls, percussionist Crahan founded To My Surprise and DJ Wilson went solo as DJ Starscream. At this time, the future of Slipknot was unclear and there was speculation over whether the band had split and the possibility of a third album. Despite this, on November 22, 2002 Slipknot released their second DVD Disasterpieces.
Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) and second hiatus (2003–2007)
After several delays, Slipknot moved into The Mansion in Los Angeles, California in mid-2003 to work on their third album alongside producer Rick Rubin. By early 2004, work had finished on the album and they began The Subliminal Verses World Tour with their appearance on the Jägermeister Music Tour in March 2004. Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) was released on May 24, 2004, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard album charts. The album produced six singles; "Duality", "Vermilion", "Vermilion, Pt. 2", "Before I Forget", "The Nameless", and The Blister Exists. Slipknot recorded their first live album, 9.0: Live while touring in support of their third album. Released on November 1, 2005 9.0: Live peaked at number 17 on the Billboard album charts. Touring in support of Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) continued through 2004 and up to the end of 2005 before Slipknot went on hiatus for the second time. In 2005, several members of Slipknot were involved in Roadrunner United: The All-Star Sessions, a collaboration album of artists signed to Roadrunner Records. 2006 saw Slipknot win their first (and to date only) Grammy Award, picking up the Best Metal Performance award with the single "Before I Forget". On December 5, 2006, Slipknot released their third DVD Voliminal: Inside the Nine. While Slipknot were on hiatus, several band members once again focused their attentions on side projects; vocalist Taylor and guitarist Root returned to Stone Sour, drummer Jordison toured with several bands and produced 3 Inches of Blood's third album Fire Up the Blades, Crahan founded Dirty Little Rabbits and Wilson returned as DJ Starscream once again.
All Hope Is Gone, Gray's death and third hiatus (2008–2010)
Preparation for Slipknot's fourth album began towards the end of 2007; however, work began when the band entered the Sound Farm Studio in Jamaica, Iowa with producer Dave Fortman in February 2008. Work came to a close on the album in June, prior to the beginning of the All Hope Is Gone World Tour on July 9, 2008. Slipknot's fourth album; All Hope Is Gone was released on August 20, 2008, debuting at number 1 on the Billboard albums chart. The album produced five singles; "All Hope Is Gone", "Psychosocial", "Dead Memories", "Sulfur" and "Snuff". 2009 marked the 10-year anniversary of Slipknot's debut album; to commemorate the event, the band released a special edition version of Slipknot on September 9, 2009. Touring in support of the album continued throughout 2008 and 2009, before coming to a close on October 31, 2009, resulting in Slipknot's third hiatus.
During the hiatus, several band members focused on respective side projects; vocalist Taylor founded Junk Beer Kidnap Band and returned to Stone Sour with guitarist Root, Crahan continued working with his band Dirty Little Rabbits, drummer Jordison returned with his band Murderdolls and became the new permanent drummer of Rob Zombie. Percussionist Fehn is now a full-time bassist with metalcore band Will Haven and Sid Wilson founded the eponymous band Sid.
In 2010, bassist Gray was planning to tour with the supergroup, Hail!. However, on May 24, 2010, he was found dead in a hotel room in Urbandale, Iowa. Circumstances surrounding his death at the time were not immediately known; an autopsy suspected that his death was not caused by intention of anyone, but still did not reveal the cause of it. The day after his death, the remaining eight members of the band held a live press conference alongside Gray's widow and brother, expressing their feelings about the incident. On June 21, the cause of death was confirmed as an accidental overdose on morphine and fentanyl, the latter being a synthetic morphine substitute.
The band was hesitant to comment on the future of Slipknot. The members made conflicting statements in interviews regarding the situation; drummer Jordison told The Pulse of Radio "there is another Slipknot record already kinda in the making". Vocalist Taylor revealed to FMQB Productions' that he is "very conflicted about whether or not [he wants] to do anything with Slipknot". The band released their fourth video album (sic)nesses on September 28, where it debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Top Music Video Charts. The DVD features Slipknot's complete live performance at the 2009 Download Festival and a 45 minute film documenting their tour in support of All Hope Is Gone, and served as a tribute to Paul Gray.
Return to the stage, Antennas to Hell and Knotfest (2010–2012)
Regarding the continuation of Slipknot, Taylor later told NME that Paul Gray would want them to continue and in that spirit he feels that they should, although he feels "on the fence" about returning to the band. Slipknot returned to touring in 2011 for a small run of shows in Europe. They headlined the Sonisphere Festival and Rock in Rio among the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica and performed at Belgium's Graspop Metal Meeting. Taylor stated that the shows served as a "celebration and tribute" to the late bassist. Slipknot founding guitarist, Donnie Steele substituted for Gray in the concert shows, however was obscured from the audience's view, behind Joey Jordison. Percussionist, Shawn Crahan has stated that the band will tour the United States by June, 2012.
Slipknot has also confirmed that they will complete and release their fifth studio album with no plans of replacing Gray, however Taylor stated that he was unsure whether he would like to record again with the album and did not see it happening very soon. He elaborated by saying that he might be open to recording with the band in "a couple of years". Drummer Jordison responded to these comments by stating that the writing process for the band's fifth studio album had already begun and that he had written 17 songs. In response to Taylor's comments about his uncertainty of his future with the band, Jordison stated that 'Slipknot will continue with or without [Corey Taylor]' [sic]. A contrasting statement was made by Crahan on his Facebook page, where he stated that no songs were written yet. He supported Taylor's notion of it being too early to record another Slipknot album.
Slipknot performed at Mayhem Festival 2012.
On May 29, 2012, Roadrunner Records posted a teaser video on their website titled Antennas to Hell. Later that day, Corey Taylor revealed on Twitter that Slipknot will release a greatest hits album on June 17, 2012. He also tweeted saying the band are not recording new material yet but are putting together demos for a new album.
Slipknot hosted their first annual music festival, called Knotfest, which was held on August 17, 2012, at Mid-America Motorplex near Pacific Junction, Iowa (in the Omaha – Council Bluffs metropolitan area) and August 18, 2012, in Somerset, Wisconsin. Other bands that played at the festival were Deftones, Lamb of God, Serj Tankian and more. Among the activities the festival offered as part of its "dark carnival experience" were circus big-top tents, pillars of fire, amusement park rides, burlesque performers, firebreathers, stilt walkers, drum circles made of junkyard cars and graffiti walls. The two shows also debuted a Slipknot museum. On Friday 14, June 2013 Slipknot headlined the Download Festival for a second time. Performing to roughly 90,000 people, the band were twice forced to stop their set, once in the middle of a song, in order to allow repairs to be made to the front barricade, which had split open under crowd pressure.
Upcoming fifth studio album (2013-present)
The band has confirmed that they are currently writing a new record that is expected to be released in 2014. Taylor has described the forthcoming album as "very dark" and a cross between Iowa and Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Series). Guitarist Jim Root sat out Stone Sour's January tour in order to write new music, and it has been hinted that the next record may be a double album.
Style and lyrical themes
Slipknot draw influence from an array of styles and bands, most notably including hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Kiss, Black Sabbath, Helmet, Slayer, Fear Factory, Godflesh, Skinny Puppy, Neurosis, Judas Priest, Metallica, White Zombie, Led Zeppelin and Beastie Boys. Slipknot are seen as pioneers of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal and have been compared to groups such as Pantera, Machine Head, Hatebreed, Life of Agony, and Prong. They are also considered a nu metal band. However, band members prefer to distance themselves musically from bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit. Slipknot describe their sound as simply "metal metal" and equate their link to nu metal solely as a coincidence in their time of emergence. The band's sound typically features a heavily down-tuned guitar setup, a distinctly large percussive section, samples and turntables. Utilizing a variety of vocal styles, their music typically features growled vocals, screaming, rapping, backing vocals and occasional melodic singing. However, the band have continually experimented with their sound – most notably developing tracks led by acoustic guitars and melodic singing first introduced on Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses). Slipknot's lyrics generally follow a very aggressive tone, occasionally featuring profanity while exploring themes such as darkness, nihilism, anger, disaffection, love, misanthropy and psychosis. Often drawing upon topics like the music industry, politics, personal strife and reflection, among others. Rick Anderson of Allmusic described their lyrics as "discernible [and] not generally quotable on a family website". However, on Vol. 3, Taylor has made a point of using no profanity in response to claims that he relied on the use of it. However, their All Hope is Gone album moved to a more groove metal and standard metal sound, as well as having some traits influenced by thrash metal and death metal. The band has also been considered alternative metal.
Slipknot are known for their chaotic and energetic live shows, which contributed to their success. These typically feature most band members headbanging, several members stage diving and even fighting. Their early performances featured extreme acts such as stage dives from high balconies and band members setting each other on fire. However, in recent years, they tend to refrain from acts this extreme. Ex-bassist Gray explained that this was due to receiving lawsuits and to prevent harming other people, adding that it was a "better move" for the longevity of the band. Along with the band's energetic and unpredictable performance, Slipknot often incorporate elaborate stage setups, which have featured pyrotechnics, elevated stage areas, hydraulic drum risers and computer screens among other things. While reviewing a Slipknot performance, Alistair Lawrence of Kerrang! enthused, "the choreographed chaos is too multi-faceted to fully describe," on a similar note, NME described one of their shows as "a scene of chaos".
Image and identities
The band is known for its attention-grabbing image; the members wear matching uniforms, have unique masks respectively and have aliases which are simply numbers. The original idea of wearing masks while performing is often attributed to a clown mask that percussionist Crahan would bring to rehearsals when the band first started. The concept developed, and by late 1997, the band decided that every member of the band would wear unique masks and matching jumpsuits. Vocalist Taylor had this to say when questioned about the masks in 2002: "it's our way of becoming more intimate with the music. It's a way for us to become unconscious of who we are and what we do outside of music. It's a way for us to kind of crawl inside it and be able to use it." The concept behind wearing matching jumpsuits has been described as a response to commercialism in the music business and led to the idea of assigning the band members numerical aliases. "Originally, we were just going to wear the jumpsuits [...] we figured we might as well take that further and number ourselves. [...] We were basically saying, 'Hey, we're a product!'" explained Taylor. Their image has been the subject of much criticism, generally thought of as a gimmick to try sell more albums. The band strongly objects to these claims, proclaiming that the masks are used to draw the attention away from themselves as individuals and put it on the music. Several band members have noted that wearing the masks also helps keep their personal lives private. During an interview in 2005, percussionist Fehn went as far as saying it was a "blessing" that they do not get recognized.
Throughout their career, Slipknot have developed their image; changing their uniforms and each member's mask accordingly with the release of each album. The masks do not differ drastically in appearance between albums and follow a similar style but with new elements. Drummer Jordison addressed the issue in an interview in 2004, stating that it is to show growth and difference within age in each individual. Alongside their usual masks, Slipknot have incorporated special masks for specific reasons throughout their tenure. Most notably, for the music video and live performances of the song "Vermilion" in 2004 and 2005, the band members wore death masks made from casts of their own faces. Then in 2008, the band wore a set of large masks entitled "purgatory masks" during photo-shoots prior to the release of All Hope Is Gone and are seen burning them in the music video for "Psychosocial". In the early days, Slipknot's masks were homemade; however, since 2001, they have been custom made by the special effect artist and musician Screaming Mad George.
In 2012, Slipknot released an app for iOS and Android called "Slipknot: Wear the Mask." The app invites fans to construct their own masks, in the process defining what kind of Slipknot fans they are.
Slipknot has been the subject of many controversies throughout their career, both for their image and their music. The lyrical content of some of Slipknot's songs has been linked to several violent and criminal incidents. One such case from 2003 involved a pair of young killers who blamed the lyrics from the song "Disasterpiece" for their vicious crime. Another from 2006 involved the lyrics from the song "Surfacing" being found at the site of a grave robbing. Slipknot deny any responsibility in cases like this and to date have not been proven to be liable in any cases of this nature.
In 2008, vocalist Taylor commented on a slashing incident at a South African school to which Slipknot was linked, saying that "obviously, I'm disturbed by the fact that people were hurt and someone died, as far as my responsibility for that goes, it stops there, because I know our message is actually very positive." He continued to say that "there are always going to be mental disorders and people who cause violence for no other reason than the fact that they're fucked up and lost."
The band's image has also been subjected to several controversies. A longstanding feud came from the band Mushroomhead, who - along with their fans - claimed that Slipknot "stole their image." While Slipknot acknowledged that their images had similarities, they never actively got involved in the feud, stating it was just a coincidence. Taylor explains: "we both started at the same time — neither one of us knowing anything about each other." Taylor also claims that at a live show in Cleveland, Ohio several Mushroomhead fans threw objects including a padlock at the band and when Slipknot was finished they along with Machine Head, and Amen went into the crowd and "handled it right there". In 2009, Mushroomhead vocalist Waylon Reavis stated that they were no longer interested in feuding with Slipknot, saying: "they're not the first masked band, we're not, no one was." The band's 2005 lawsuit against Burger King claimed that the company created the advertising based band Coq Roq to capitalize on Slipknot's image. Burger King responded to the suit with a countersuit, pointing out that many other bands, such as Mr. Bungle, Mushroomhead, Mudvayne, Kiss, Insane Clown Posse and Gwar have used masks as part of their image. However, after negotiations, the advertising campaign and lawsuit were both dropped.
These statistics were compiled from the RIAA certification online database.
Grammy Awards and nominations
Slipknot has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards, resulting in one win.
- "Wait and Bleed" – Best Metal Performance, 2001 (nomination)
- "Left Behind" – Best Metal Performance, 2002 (nomination)
- "My Plague" – Best Metal Performance, 2003 (nomination)
- "Duality" – Best Hard Rock Performance, 2005 (nomination)
- "Vermilion" – Best Metal Performance, 2005 (nomination)
- "Before I Forget" – Best Metal Performance, 2006 (winner)
- "Psychosocial" – Best Metal Performance, 2009 (nomination)
- Studio albums
- Slipknot (1999)
- Iowa (2001)
- Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) (2004)
- All Hope Is Gone (2008)
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Image from Discogs