From the Archive: Mick Thomson, Corey Taylor, Paul Grey and Jim Root Discuss the Dark, Brutal World of Slipknot
Here's an interview with Mick Thomson (7), Corey Taylor (8), Paul Grey (2) and Jim Root (4) of Slipknot from the June 2000 issue of Guitar World. To see the cover, and all the GW covers from 2000, click here.
As the lights go down in New York City's Roxy music theater, a sinister, disembodied voice repeats hypnotically, over and over, a digital sample locked into an endless loop: "The whole thing I think is sick/The whole thing I think is sick/The whole thing I think is sick... "
On the main floor, a crowd of teenagers -- most of them young, male and riled up by opening acts Primer 55 and Biohazard -- surges back and forth as mosh pits begin to pockmark the floor. The looped phrase doesn't have a beat, but the crowd is beyond caring about such minor details. They want action. They want blood.
They get it soon enough. Colored lights begin to spin crazily, and smoke billows from the stage, which is strewn with numerous amps, three drum kits, a DJ coffin and a sampler. A roar erupts from the crowd as nine men in masks and coveralls -- each emblazoned with an Orwellian barcode and the letter "S" -- take the stage. With nothing to identify them but their slasher-film masks and numeric identifiers -- the numbers 0 through 8--the men on the stage look like the members of a Roger Corman death squad. They pace back and forth, flipping off the crowd and staring down the hard-asses too tough to give into the moment's unhinged energy.
Finally, a man in a mask sprouting ragged blond dreadlocks steps up to a microphone.
"New York City," bellows 8, "I want to see you go off like a motherfuckin' act of God!"
What follows can only be described as an act of musical violence. For the next hour and a half, guitarists 4 and 7 slam out riff after riff, while polyrhythmic, industrial-tribal beats fire off with the regularity of a military exercise. Out on the floor, the sea of bodies boils over as one kid after another body-slams his neighbor, setting off a domino effect that ripples through the crowd in waves. Things are only slightly calmer onstage.
At one point, 6 -- one of the group's two percussionists and the wearer of the grinning clown mask-climbs on top of his rig. Gyrating wildly, he suddenly slips, slamming his face directly into a drum rim. Blood spurts from an eyehole, a strangely beautiful arc of red that glitters in the stage lights. Recovering quickly, 6 keeps playing. He even sticks around after the show to sign autographs, before being dragged off to the hospital for what will be more than 14 stitches.
"That was nothing," 4 says casually afterward. "Once, our DJ lit himself on fire. One of the percussion kegs was burning in the middle of the stage. He had the can of lighter fluid, and I guess he got some on his coveralls."
His zipper-mouthed jester mask seems to grin at the memory.
"But like I always say, in Slipknot, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."
Few groups in recent memory have seemed so bent on self-annihilation as Slipknot. Since emerging from the corn-infested depths of Des Moines, Iowa, the group has been on a conquer-or-die mission to put the final nail in the coffin of corporate-packaged, radio-friendly rock.
America received its first widespread exposure to Slipknot's anarchy when the group, then virtually unknown, performed on the second stage at OZZfest '99, confounding people with its "wall of noise" approach to music. Today, however, after selling more than 500,000 copies of its current self-titled album and headlining tours all over the world (even playing a date on Late Night with Conan O'Brien), Slipknot has proven that there is a growing contingency for its brand of collaborative, multi-leveled metal. AB the group prepares to enter the studio to record its follow-up album, Slipknot seems to be on the verge of exploding in ways even its members never anticipated.
"It's like this," says 8, the group's vocalist. "Slipknot is a big scary monster, and we're losing control of it. We're reaching the point where we don't know what it's going to do or who it's going to do it to. And that's just how we want it to be. Because we're so sick and tired of these pussy-assed bands that suck the corporate money-cock and spit out so-called music. Now we're going to do it our way."
Ministry's Al Jourgensen once sang that "every day is Halloween," and for Slipknot, that's certainly true. More than a band, Slipknot is an image, a distinction it shares, at least on the surface, with bands like Kiss and Marilyn Manson. But who's to say that Slipknot's masks and coveralls aren't just another ploy to divest gullible 15-year-old malcontents -- looking to rebel against their parents, their schools or their otherwise homogenous lives -- of their hard-earned allowances?