Slipknot: The Futility of Hope
GW It seems like, with each album, you two are getting more and more opportunities for guitar solos.
ROOT That’s true, though I’m not sure why that’s happened. For this album, there are so many solos because everything was demoed that way. There were guitar solos on the first Slipknot record too, except Ross Robinson edited them out.
But this album was not thought through very well. Corey and I have been busy with our band Stone Sour, and I didn’t have anything written. We just had to throw everything together and write these songs in a hurry. In that respect, All Hope Is Gone is a bit different from our previous records.
GW Many of the solos showcase some very impressive, technical guitar playing.
THOMSON Right out of the fucking gates, my lead on “All Hope Is Gone” is six-string swept arpeggios played real fast. I’ve been doing that shit forever, and finally I get to play it. The band has been together for 13 years and it’s been almost 10 years since our first album came out, so I’ve been waiting a long time to do that. I lost all kinds of crazy guitar parts on our first two albums because, back then, technical guitar was “bad.” Too many guys with poofy hair, stretch pants and pink guitars who could play like motherfuckers gave it a bad name, especially to people who weren’t guitar players. Try convincing your drummer that you still have balls and are a man, even though you spent years in your bedroom playing super technical guitar.
GW You share most of the solo work. Is there any way for listeners to determine who is playing what?
THOMSON Typically I play the first half of the solos.
ROOT But it’s kind of hard to say. When we were rehearsing the songs before going in the studio I was playing leads over everything. We came to the conclusion that Mick and I would go 50/50 on everything. In my head I was thinking that Mick would start the solos and I’d end them, but that were seven minutes long got chopped to four or five minutes, and some of the solos got edited out. But I still think things are split pretty evenly throughout the record.
I didn’t do anything spectacular with my leads, like experimenting with different guitar sounds or bringing in a bunch of different amps. I used the same amps that I used to record the rhythm tracks. I had a Maxon TS808 pedal that I threw in front of the amp and used that tone for all of my guitar solos. That’s what I’m going to use live. I’m an organic realist—I like the records to sound as close to what they’ll sound like live. The setup that I’m using live now is the setup I used in the studio. This is the first time that I’ve done that. Usually in the studio I’m playing some type of Gibson guitar and a combination of different amps. On this album it was an Orange Rockerverb 100, and I blended that with a Diezel Herbert using a Little Labs PCP Instrument Distro box. I used an Orange Rockerverb combo for some clean tones here and there. It was a basic, simple setup. Of the 140 guitars that I own, I brought about 20 guitars with me to Iowa. Once we got the amps set up, I went through every guitar I own to figure out which were the best. I ended up using my white and black Fender Jim Root Telecaster prototypes on the whole album.
GW What’s the story behind your signature guitar?
ROOT The design is based on the Fender Custom Shop Flathead Tele. Normally I’m not a Tele guy, but Alex [Perez] at the Custom Shop insisted on sending me a Flathead Tele to see what I thought of it. I played that guitar on tour with Stone Sour in 2002 and got really comfortable with it. The Flathead has an alder body and a neck with a 12-degree fretboard radius and medium jumbo
frets. At the time it had only one EMG-81 at the bridge. I sent it back to Alex and told him that I needed a neck pickup for clean tones and leads. The neck also had a rather extreme V profile, so I asked him to shave it down to make it more of a C shape. I’m a big fan of Eighties Charvel guitars with wide fretboards and jumbo frets. This is basically a crossbreed of a Flathead Tele and a USA Charvel. The body is mahogany, which is heavier but it’s more of a tonewood. Tele purists will probably cringe because it doesn’t have that planky twang. I didn’t put a tone knob on there for the sake of not routing out the body excessively. It has an EMG-81 in the bridge and EMG-60 in the neck, which has a wonderful, bubbly clean tone. To me the 85 sounds a little more abrasive. I mainly use neck pickup when I’m playing a solo, and the 60 sounds almost like a single-coil pickup.
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