Early years (1995 – 1998)
Early formations of a band were beginning to coalesce as early as 1992, when the core band members, drummer Shawn Crahan, vocalist Anders Colsefini, and bassist Paul Gray enlisted the help of guitarists Donnie Steele and Quan Nong, and created “Painface”.
In September 1995, the band The Pale Ones was created comprising Crahan on drums, Gray on bass, Colsefini on vocals and guitarist Steele. Joey Jordison joined the band shortly after, taking up the role of drummer and, subsequently, Crahan moved to percussion. The band continued to develop their vision of what the band would be, deciding to add a second guitarist, recruiting Josh Brainard and moving Colsefini to percussion along with lead vocals. The band played their first live performance under the name of Meld on December 4, 1995 at a club called Crowbar in Des Moines. Soon after, Jordison suggested renaming the band “Slipknot” after their song that eventually appeared on the band’s demo Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. The band also began experimenting with their image, wearing grotesque make-up and eventually the anti-image concept developed towards the members wearing masks. Up until this point, the band had remained mainly obscured due to their desire to wait until their music was fully developed.
With plenty of material ready, the band began recording in a local studio, SR Audio with Sean McMahon. In February 1996, guitarist Donnie Steele left the band due to his Christian beliefs; though the other band members were prepared to allow him to stay, Steele decided to leave. His replacement, Craig Jones, arrived during the mixing stages of this new project. On April 4, Slipknot played their first public performance at Des Moines reggae club the Safari, where they played most of their early gigs. Their second gig at the Safari was alongside Stone Sour. The band began to realize again that there was need for a change, as they were adding samples to their recordings but could not produce these sounds live. Subsequently, Jones moved to full-time sampler and Mick Thomson was brought in to fill the space on guitar. After conflict over the mixing and mastering, the band self released their first album Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. on Halloween, October 31, 1996.
With the production of this album, Sean McMahon began distributing it between record and management companies, which resulted in airplay on local radio and, in turn, won a spot at Dotfest. Slipknot had returned to the studio having developed new material, which demanded more vocal melody. As a result, Corey Taylor was recruited from fellow Des Moines band Stone Sour; this moved Colsefini to backing vocals and percussion. While experimenting with their new vocalist, the band continued to do shows at the Safari club, during one of which Colsefini surprised his band and fans alike announcing on stage that he was leaving the band. The gap on percussion was filled by Greg Welts, who was affectionately known as “Cuddles”. Towards the end of 1997, the band was assigned individual numbers respectively and began wearing uniform coveralls at their shows.
In early 1998, the band created another small demo, which included “Spit It Out”. The Slipknot Demo was sent to many record labels and, along with a growing popularity on the Internet and help from their then manager Sophia John, interest grew from record labels and eventually producer Ross Robinson was contacted. The band, which had a strong interest in working with Robinson, met with him and it was then decided they would work together. Soon after, DJ Sid Wilson was brought in to the band after showing great interest and impressing band members. With the acquisition of Ross Robinson, interest grew and the band began getting offers from record labels. On July 6, 1998 Welts was asked to leave the band becoming the first (and only) band member to be ultimately fired from the band. Chris Fehn replaced Welts on percussion and on July 8 they signed to Roadrunner Records.
Debut album and commercial success (1998–2001)
In late 1998, Slipknot entered the recording studio to work on their debut album. In the early new year, guitarist Brainard decided to leave the band due to personal reasons. His replacement was Jim Root leaving the band with the line-up they retain. Recording finished in early 1999, with “Me Inside” and “Purity”, and the band attended the Ozzfest which began in March. On June 29, 1999, the band released their eponymous album Slipknot. Regarding the album, Rick Anderson of Allmusic wrote “You thought Limp Bizkit was heavy? They’re The Osmonds. Slipknot is something else entirely.” The band performed in the Livin La Vida Loco tour in support of Slipknot.
Slipknot included variations of previously released songs, including “(sic)”; a version of the previous song “Slipknot”. These versions were faster than their previous recordings and this shift in intensity was welcomed by old fans. In the same year, Slipknot released their first home video Welcome to Our Neighborhood (which was later released on DVD in 2003). In early 2000, Slipknot was certified platinum, a first for an album released by Roadrunner Records. In July 2001, Q named Slipknot as one of the “50 Heaviest Albums of All Time”.
Iowa and side projects (2001–2003)
After the success of their debut, Slipknot decided to enter the studio again for a second album. By then, the band had created a huge fan base, and the expectations for their follow up album were great. They went back into the studio in early 2001 to work on a new album. Iowa, the band’s second album with Roadrunner Records, was released on August 28, 2001. Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic said “It’s really all you could ask for in a Slipknot album, and then some”, and David Fricke of Rolling Stone called the album “the first great record of the nu metal era.” It was also a commercial success, peaking at number three on the Billboard album charts, and at number one on the UK album chart. In mid-2001, the band once again toured with Ozzfest, and performed in the Kill The Industry tour in support of Iowa. The band also appeared in the concert scene of the 2002 movie Rollerball. In the same year, while touring Europe on their European Iowa Tour, the BBC said that Slipknot stole the show and proved entertaining after the band performed at Reading Festival in England. After touring Europe, the band performed at venues in Japan for the Japan Iowa Tour. In the same year, Slipknot released their second visual output with the release of their DVD Disasterpieces
2002 also saw the first serious musical projects for Slipknot members outside of the band. Lead vocalist Taylor and guitarist Root revived their band Stone Sour with the release of their eponymous debut album Stone Sour. Drummer Jordison also had his own project in which he took up the role of guitarist in the Murderdolls. Slipknot planned to work on a third album towards the end of 2002 but the band was experiencing problems. At this time there was rumours concerning whether the band had split and the possibility of a third album. By mid-2003 Crahan also had a new side project, To My Surprise, in which he worked with producer Rick Rubin.
Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), 9.0 Live, and side projects (2003–2007)
In late 2003, Slipknot began writing and recording with producer Rick Rubin, who had previously worked with artists such as Johnny Cash, System of a Down, and Slayer. Roadrunner Records also announced they would no longer be distributing Slipknot’s albums in Scandinavia, due to financial terms. However Slipknot managed to pen a deal with Nuclear Blast Records in early 2003 for the releases in Scandinavia. The band released their third album, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) on May 24, 2004, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200. Johnny Loftus of Allmusic called the album “a satisfying, carefully crafted representation of [the band’s] career to date”, while Robert Cherry of Rolling Stone said the album “experiments with even newer extremes, which in Slipknot’s case means tunefulness and traditional song structures.” The title of the album denotes that this is their third album, band members later mentioned that they do not consider Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. as an album which reflects the band. In 2004, the band toured on the Ozzfest for a third time, the same year they made their first appearance at Download Festival where Jordison replaced Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich after he was rushed to hospital. In 2005, Slipknot made live appearances without percussionist Crahan—who was supporting his wife during an illness—including their return to Download Festival.
Slipknot released their first live album, 9.0: Live which included recordings from shows in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Osaka, Singapore, and Tokyo. The album was released on November 1, 2005 and peaked at #17 on the Billboard 200. In 2006, the band won their first and only Grammy for Best Metal Performance with “Before I Forget”. Later that year, Slipknot released their third DVD Voliminal: Inside the Nine.
Several members of the band collaborated with other artists on the Roadrunner United: The All-Star Sessions CD released in October 2005. On the record, Jordison was named a “team captain”. Root, Taylor, and Gray also contributed to the album. In 2006, Root and Taylor once again returned with Stone Sour releasing their second album Come What(ever) May. Jordison drummed for several bands while on tour including; Ministry (2006) and Korn (2007). He also produced 3 Inches of Blood’s third album Fire Up the Blades which was released in early 2007. Later in the year Crahan revealed a new side project, Dirty Little Rabbits.
All Hope Is Gone (2008–2009)
Slipknot released their fourth studio album All Hope Is Gone on August 20, 2008. It is the first Slipknot album to ever peak at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The Album has gone on to sell 825,000 copies in the U.S., been awarded a Gold certification, and has spawned 5 singles with the third single Dead Memories charting at #1 on the Hot 100 Mainstream Rock tracks. Preparation for the album started in October 2007 with recording pushed back to February 2008. For this release the band expressed an interest in making it their heaviest album to date with an expansion of the thrash metal riffing introduced on Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). However, they also wanted to make it their most experimental record, and wished to include more acoustic guitars and melodic vocals, as well as introducing hi-hats and cymbals to the additional percussion. The album was the band’s first work with Dave Fortman as producer. Along with the album, the band debuted “evolved” masks and uniforms, which matched the style of the album. Slipknot headlined the first ever Mayhem Festival festival in July and August 2008. The band was scheduled to play in the Reading and Leeds Festivals in August 2008, but was forced to cancel after drummer Joey Jordison broke his ankle.
Slipknot also toured Australia, Japan, Europe and the United Kingdom in the latter months of 2008, with the bands Machine Head and Children of Bodom opening at their concerts. The UK dates were announced on August 20, for an early December tour. Slipknot were also forced to cancel their show in Israel, due to 2 of the members having family problems, it was stated by Corey that the show would be rescheduled to the tour. For The Download Festival 2009, which is held from June 12-14 at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England, Slipknot was announced to headline the main stage on Saturday. Slipknot have recently finished the All Hope Is Gone World Tour which went on for a whole year, going through numerous countries. Although the tour is finished, Slipknot have announced many more dates for shows they will be playing including CEZ Arena -Ostrava, Czech Republic, Rockwave Festival – Athens, Greece, Eurockeennes Festival – Belfort, France and many more.
New albums, current events (2009 onward)
During an interview ahead of the band’s debut at Sonisphere in the Netherlands, percussionist Chris Fehn stated that the follow up to All Hope Is Gone is likely to be released in 2010. The band also confirmed a 10th Anniversary Edition re-release of their self-titled debut album which will include all tracks from the original release, as well as several demos, remixes and the track Purity. A new DVD, entitled “Of the (Sic): Your Nightmares, Our Dreams”, comprising of footage from 1999-2000 will also be included in the release.
In August 2009, Slipknot won two Kerrang! awards, including best live act. They were also voted best international band. It has been confirmed by Corey that the band will be going on another short break after the All Hope Is Gone World Tour, so he can get back in the studio with Stone Sour also to work on his solo album. On September 17 Clown revealed that he is writing and releasing a book titled The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey; telling the journey of being in Slipknot, there is no known date when the book will be released. He has also started his own art gallery showings, selling his photographs, paintings, and canvas prints.
Slipknot have a confirmed performance at the first anual Trinity of Terrors halloween celebration which will take place at the Palms Resort and Casino october 31-November 1.
Influences and style
The band have stated that their primary influences include Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Judas Priest, Korn, AC/DC, Kiss and Beastie Boys. Death metal, black metal and heavy metal have been mentioned as a key influence on the band’s musical direction alongside nu metal, the category the band is generally listed as. They have also stated that they are influenced by industrial bands like Head of David, Godflesh and Skinny Puppy as well as Neurosis and jungle music like Roni Size.
Slipknot are seen as pioneers of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal developing a lean and aggressive brand of metal formed from thrash, metalcore and death metal. In this they can be compared with groups such as Pantera, Machine Head, Biohazard, Life of Agony, and Prong and are known for often chaotic and energetic live shows. The extreme performance style provided by their large line-up featuring a typical heavily down-tuned guitar set-up (lead, rhythm, and bass guitars), two percussionists in addition to the primary drummer, and electronics (samplers and turntables). Robert Cherry of Rolling Stone compared the band’s sound to “a threshing machine devouring a military drum corps”.
Their early work hosted a diverse range of vocal styles, ranging from rapping to occasional singing to growled vocals. In more recent work, this vocal style remains present, but now includes more melodic singing. The lyrics generally follow a very aggressive tone and feature themes such as darkness, nihilism, anger, disaffection, love, misanthropy and psychosis. Rick Anderson of Allmusic regards the group’s lyrics as “not generally quotable on a family website”. There has been controversy surrounding Slipknot’s lyrics, including a case in which a pair of young killers blamed the lyrics from the song “Disasterpiece” for their vicious crime and a case in 2006 in which lyrics from the song “Surfacing” were found at the site of a grave robbing.