Slipknot: The Futility of Hope
GUITAR WORLD How tough is it to get the nine members of Slipknot together to make an album?
JIM ROOT We’re like three power trios— like Green Day, Rush and the Police all stuck together. And you know how well the Police got along. It’s pretty tough, especially when you’re in the state of mind that I’m in. I haven’t really had much of a break since 1999. Whether it’s insanity, obsession, work ethic or whatever you want to call it, I’m not the type of person to sit on the couch and watch TV. I get anxiety when I’m not doing anything, because I don’t have a regular nine-to-five job. Until I was 27 years old, I worked at jobs where I had to be up a six in the morning and work until five or six at night. I’m used to being on a regular schedule, even after 10 years of touring. Everybody has different mentalities. I can’t stay up until five or six in the morning and sleep until two or three in the afternoon. It’s not just a matter of trying to line everybody up to make this album; it’s also a matter of lining everybody’s schedules up, because there are a few guys who stay up until five or six in the morning and sleep until five at night.
MICK THOMSON This record was more chaotic in that we weren’t all in the same place at the same time. I’d wake up on any given day and not know whether I was going to be needed in the studio within two hours or not. Sometimes I’d leave the day before with the understanding that I’d be needed for a couple of days, but then something would change. That hadn’t happened before. In the past, the recording schedule was more set in stone; once we were done tracking drums, we were into a steady routine: I’d record rhythm tracks for one song and then at the end I might record third tracks.
This time around everything got added in different places. But in the end I still think it turned out well. It was more like painting on a canvas and adding parts as we went along, as opposed to going in the studio with a finished song and recording it. This time we started out with outlines of songs and every member came in and added their own piece to the canvas.
ROOT Joey [Jordison] went in first and recorded the drums without anybody playing along with him. We ran into some roadblocks with that approach. I was the first one to come in and lay down guitar tracks over what he had played. It’s cool in one way, but tempos get weird and you don’t get that push-and-pull that happens when the full band is playing, which is kind of what Slipknot is all about. A lot of that was lost, and I think that was [producer] Dave Fortman’s fault. Good or bad, that’s how this album ended up coming together.
GW Did anyone in the band take on a leadership role with this album?
ROOT We brought Dave in to produce the record, but I’d honestly have to say that he was really just a good engineer. He didn’t do what I’m used to with producers. He didn’t try to get a performance or go for a vibe like we would have done with Ross Robinson or Rick Rubin. With our previous albums, we did a lot of playing and replaying, trying to capture a moment that had something to it. On this album it was up to each individual, if they were into doing it. I felt like I was producing myself. Corey [Taylor, vocalist] was bitching about people not showing up or showing up late, and at one point he said that it was up to everyone to choose their own level of involvement: if you want to be on the record, you show up; if you don’t feel like being on the record, you can stay at home and smoke pot or do whatever the fuck it is that you do. I’d go out and stay at the studio for three or four days in a row, because I wanted to get my shit done so I could do other things.
GW Why did you record this album in Iowa?
ROOT We’re always away from home on tour or recording albums, so we decided to treat ourselves and do the record from home. It’s good to be home, but it’s also bad. People become comfortable and don’t want to leave their houses. In some ways, doing the record here in Iowa was like shooting ourselves in the foot. But it came together really well, and sonically, it sounds really decent. It is what it is—another guitar-oriented metal record.
GW How did you come to choose Sound Farm Studios to record the album?
ROOT It’s owned by good friend of ours, Matt Sepanic. Matt helped us out with demos and has worked in various studios around town. He bought a farmhouse and built a really nice studio on the land.
THOMSON I think it was land that was in Matt’s family and he inherited it. We looked at a few different studios. Fortman likes to work out of a certain studio in Louisiana, but we got the final word. It’s one thing to make a producer and an engineer travel somewhere and live in a hotel while they cut an album; it’s another thing to make nine guys and their crew do it.
ROOT When we made every one of our other albums we packed up all of our stuff and headed to Los Angeles.
THOMSON This time we didn’t want to be in L.A. for different reasons. Once we saw Matt’s studio, we realized it would work. I had no idea that his shit was that good. I just assumed that it would be another half-assed studio, but that was not the case. We still had to truck in a couple hundred thousand dollars’ worth of gear to get what we wanted, but I was impressed. In fact, we spent a hell of a lot more money making the last album [Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)] at the Houdini mansion because it’s not a studio—we had to bring in everything and rent it.
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