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January 25, 2000
Most metal bands that "break through" commercially start by forming a bond with the "underground" community. Through touring and independent label releases they build a core audience, then later leverage their carefully-crafted street credibility into a more mainstream type of acceptance with subsequent releases. Slipknot is, perhaps, in the opposite position. In the first days of the 21st Century, Slipknot is selling tons of records to mainstream kids. While their debut Roadrunner album has sold over 300,000 copies, it has primarily done so without the support of the underground metal community. Too much media hype, too many fourteen year old Korn fans, too much of a "nu-metal" vibe for the true metalheads to embrace, right? Well spend a minute talking with drummer Joey Jordison, a.k.a. #1, and you might just change your mind. Once you get to know him, you'll realize the fact that Joey's personal metal credibility is undeniable. And once you hear him talk of what's next for Slipknot, I dare you not to become curious about this unique commercial juggernaut of a band who doesn't want to turn its collective back on metal and is willing to fight for the acceptance of our scene.
Metal Update: How important is it to you to go back and establish the core foundation of fans from the metal underground that might have disregarded you thus far due to the band's almost immediate massive mainstream acceptance and early hype?
1: The weird thing about this band was . . . underground people have certain bands that are so special to them - the whole thing really means so much. And then like, some fucking eighth grade kid wearing a Korn shirt has the record and they feel the band has cheapened. A lot of times that's not the band's fault. If you listen to a song like "Eeyore", which is a bonus track on the record, or if you listen to "Get this" from the digipack, or "Surfacing" or "[sic]" or even like fucking "Scissors" the roots are death metal, thrash, speed metal, and I could go on and on about all those bands. I know all the songs, and I know every fucking label.
MU: Well, that's what we hope to do here, Joey. The whole point of us talking to you today is to address the question, "Is Slipknot a metal band?". . .
1: Yes, we're a metal band! With a capital "M"!
MU: (laughs) Cool. But does Slipknot care about the underground metal scene? Basically, what I'm asking is, can you guys hang, and do you want to?
1: I'm right where you are. I'm a fan of music, I still go to shows. The records I buy are sure as hell not top 40. The current success of the band is due to the fact that we speak to a lot of those kids in a way they haven't been spoken to before. And, a lot of that music that they hear - even though, to me, I've heard it and know that bands have been doing this a long time - these kids have never heard it because it is a completely different audience. Kids that listen to Slipknot now have never heard Suffocation, even though that's what is in my CD player.
MU: Well then I guess asking straight up if you yourself are a metalhead at this point is a silly question.
1: I'm wearing a Venom t-shirt now, dude! My t-shirt collection ranges from like Mercyful Fate to Venom to old Kiss, Black Sabbath, etc.
MU: Musically speaking, does Slipknot have more in common with Limp Bizkit or Morbid Angel?
1: Morbid Angel.
MU: Why do you say that?
1: Let me tell you why. If you listen to the riff in "Eyeless", to me that's a complete Morbid Angel ripoff. I admit it. It's got a ghost bend in the guitar which is a complete Immolation and Morbid Angel trademark. Where the string is bent up before it is even hit and then released when it is stricken down. It's a riff in "Eyeless", a break down part - "duh-duh-duh . . . weeeooowwwn . . . duh-duh-duh dudda-duh." That's Morbid Angel. Listen to "Here in After" by Immolation. That's where we get that from.
MU: I think you guys get lumped in with the whole "nu-metal" thing.
1: We do.
MU: And thus, a lot of the underground metalheads never gave you a chance.
1: That's because we happened so quick. That sucks for us because . . . Hey. Everyone who has the Slipknot record is a dedicated fan, and I appreciate it, and I will go above and beyond the realms of anything to do anything for them because they are the reason we are here. But the underground metal kids should also be happy because the current success of Slipknot, on songs like "Surfacing" and "[sic]" that have super-fast sixteenth-note double-bass -- none of those other fuckers in the other bands they lump us with could contend with that. Wait till you hear our fuckin' next record. This is just like the - dude, we've got three songs, and you wanna hear some serious shit. It smokes our first album. The shit's twice as technical, three times as heavy. The first track on the album's gonna be called "People=Shit". It opens up with a grindbeat with sixteenth-note double-bass and four layers of black metal and death metal screams.
MU: You're obviously a killer drummer.
1: Thank you.
MU: What were you doin' prior to Slipknot?
1: Ever hear of the band Anal Blast?
1: Me and Paul, the bass player started that band. That CD that they have out called 'Vaginal Vempire' - We wrote every song on there.
MU: Doesn't somebody from that band have something to do with Milwaukee Metalfest?
1: Don Decker. He helps book a lot of the bands. He runs metalfest shows. Anyway, I used to be in a thrash band and Paul and Mick were in this death metal band called Body Pit. And a lot of their songs that they wrote in Body Pit that are really technical and ultra-heavy are gonna be on the next record. 'Cause we saved 'em. This is our template: we've got a lot of the new-school kids who like our band, we've got a lot of the underground kids who like our band. When the next record comes out, a lot of those new-school kids are gonna be really turned on to the whole underground metal thing. 'Cause we've got mainstream success, but we want to use that mainstream success to throw in our old influences and ultra-heavy shit on the next record. And everyone will hear it.
MU: That's fantastic.
1: You know, bands like Cannibal Corpse, bands like Immolation, and say, Internal Bleeding have a lot in common with what we do. And these bands might have more success because of us.
MU: There is a rumor going around right now that Pantera is considering taking Satyricon on the road with them. A lot of people would be down on Satyricon for taking that tour. Some people would say that's them selling out.
1: They're not selling out, man. There's so many kids that aren't smart enough and don't have the resources to go out and find music like that. Honestly, they're not smart enough, they don't have the magazines, how can you blame someone? They just don't know. But if they hear the music, a lot of people will be like "I never knew this shit existed, but it fuckin' rules! I'll drop $15 on the album."
MU: Whatever else you think of Pantera. at least Phil Anselmo uses his mainstream success to try to prop up underground acts.
1: I know those guys. They're good friends of ours.
MU: Phil's a metalhead.
1: Dude, they're all metalheads. They're white trash, rebel flag wearin', we don't give a shit, we're fuckin' drunk, it's metal time. Yeah, they don't sound like Immortal, but they're metal, dude. There's a bunch of forms of metal. And I hate the mentality but I used to be this way too: anybody who's sold more than 100,000 records can fuck off. Well, I'm in the situation now where we have. And, you know, the greatest thing about all of the naysayers now who don't really think that we are necessarily metal, even though songs like "[sic]" and "Surfacing" and "Eyeless", all those songs are full-on metal songs, sorry, we have a lot of other influences that aren't black or death metal, but this next record's gonna shut a lot of fuckin' people's mouths.
MU: What other kinds of influences are on your current record?
1: There's a lot. We were on the cover of Terrorizer this last month, and I think they got it. They go, when the record first came out, they were very skeptical. Ross Robinson produced it and all that shit. Does that mean it will have more in common with Korn than it should? And I remember they reviewed the album a few issues before and said that the first opening track has more in common with Suffocation than Spineshank. I was like, finally. They understand it. This is a magazine dedicated to a lot of the underground, you know, traditional metal, power metal, black metal, and death metal. None of that trendy new shit.
MU: What other influences are on the record?
1: Well, like I said, I'm wearing a Venom t-shirt, and that has a lot to do with it. If you listen to a song like "Red Light Fever", off 'Welcome to Hell', if it was cleaned up and produced a lot better, I think it would have a lot to do with the tempos that we play on the album. Songs like that. Of course old Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, even though we don't use that kind of vocal, Mickey Dee is a great drummer, and I learned a lot of shit from that guy. Black Sabbath . . . the whole death metal movement had a lot to do with the structures of our songs. Even though we try to write a little bit more traditional song structures, the tempo changes - if you listen to like "Surfacing", there's this break where I stop and the bass goes "budda-da didda-di dadda-da . . . ," I'd like to see anyone who follows Korn try to play that riff.
MU: What do you think of Limp Bizkit?
1: They can fuck right off.
1: They can fuck right off.
MU: Don't you think that Korn has elements . . .
1: You know what? I can't say that about them because they at least did start that whole neo-metal movement, but their last couple records have sucked.
MU: Is there a Roadrunner sound?
1: No. It's trendy, dude. Roadrunner's gettin' too trendy with shit, tryin' to make more records, they're tryin' to become a major label. When we signed to them, all they said was "don't say that you're metal in interviews." I'm like, "dude, you signed Malevolent Creation!" 'Retribution' is one of the best fuckin' death metal albums ever recorded. Don't tell me we're not metal.
MU: You are what you are. But Roadrunner is obviously putting a lot behind you guys as well.
1: Well, the funny thing was . . . it was a big choice. Ross mainly helped get our deal there. And Monty came and saw us, saying that this is cool and exciting and that nothing had gotten him this excited in a while 'cause there are so many elements covered within this band, we need to jump on it now or someone else will. Now we had a bunch of offers from major labels. But the first thing was that we wanted to remain underground. We were like, we're gonna go with Roadrunner, 'cause at the time they weren't breaking anybody. The biggest thing they had was Sepultura. And the 'Roots' album, a lot of people disagree, but I think it is a great record.
MU: What do you think of the new Machine Head?
1: 'Burn My Eyes' is still the favorite. But, 'The Burning Red', which also has "burn" in the title, I don't get that, but it's got some good stuff on it, I do like it. People get in that mood where if it mellows out a little bit, they hate it.
MU: To my ears, the difference between 'Burn My Eyes' and 'The Burning Red' is what you would call the Roadrunner sound.
1: Definitely. That's what sucks about it.
MU: But obviously the relationship is working for you guys, at least from a business perspective.
1: That's 'cause we don't listen to anybody but ourselves.
MU: Let's talk about Ross Robinson. There's rumors . . .
1: Are you talking about the Emperor thing?
MU: Yeah. Does he listen to stuff like that?
1: Dude, he comes from - he came to a practice before he saw one of our shows. He heard the demo, he flew in, and when we played he had a smile on his face from ear to ear. And the reason was - he stopped the song. He's like, "man, I've waiting for a band like you guys, 'cause you got the elements covered of what music has today, but you come from a school . . ." - first bands he names: Morbid Angel and Carcass.
MU: So you're saying that Ross is a smart guy who knows how to sell records, but he is a metal fan too.
1: When he first did Korn, there was not a band remotely like that in the world. So it was new. He wants to do bands like that, he wants to pick up on new bands. He doesn't want to get with a band who imitates what he has done before. Even though he did Limp Bizkit, they were more rap oriented, and it was still a new thing. All he wants to do now - when he picked us up, he picked Amen up, we're like his whole initial project to get away from that sound. Now he's talked to Emperor, told them how he'd like to do it. Now think of how all the Emperor fans would react if they found out Ross Robinson was producing the next Emperor record!
MU: They'd freak.
1: They'd freak.
MU: It's because the fans would expect that the choice of Ross as producer would signal Emperor's desire to change to a more mainstream approach. Like, say, Sepultura did.
1: Yeah, but they were changing on 'Chaos A.D.' They had the drums already going, they had the tempos slowin' down to more kinda crunchy thrash shit. I never considered Sepultura a death metal band, ever. They never had the death metal thing, they were a heavy, heavy thrash/speed metal band.
MU: What do you think Emperor would sound like if Ross Robinson produced it?
1: I think the tone - they have this really . . . you know, the black metal reverb. A really tinny sound, treble out the fuckin' ass. Ross would bring a more immediate, probably a darker tone. The drums would have darker tones, it would be probably more pleasurable to the ear to listen to. Now people that listen to black metal shit, that's what they're down with. All those fuckin' bands that they listen to have that shit fuckin' production. But I think after a while you become accustomed. Just like in the old days when Terry Date was producing Dark Angel and Overkill and all those fuckin' bands, they all had that slick, fuckin' loud cymbals but punchy low-end type of sound, kinda like the Deftones are doin' now. But I think Ross would bring a more pleasurable tone to listen to, but I think the vocals and the performance out of the instruments would be better than anything they'd ever done before. And I think it would be Emperor - just with a different production, a different look on things. I think it would be great. I would love to hear it. Because I know the way Ross is, the dude's a metal guy. He used to play guitar in a band that had a song on like Metal Massacre Volume 3 or Volume 4. It was complete metal, thrashy shit. Then he started doin' production, doin' internships with W.A.S.P. and shit, makin' W.A.S.P. records. When you are a young kid, W.A.S.P. is pretty metal. I mean, it's cheese, but . . .
MU: W.A.S.P. are cool.
1: They played Warlocks! Speaking of which we just got a Warlock endorsement from B.C. Rich. (laughs)
MU: I gotta confess that I am more of a fan now than I was when we began this interview.
1: Well, I gotta tell you. We get so many different groups of kids that come to our shows. We get straight up black metal . . . we went to Europe, and I went out to this club, hoping to meet some fans. Now, Europe is a weird place, dude, 'cause those kids fucking live metal. I mean, all our shows were sold out. But they seem to pay more attention there. And I was talking to this girl who said "I hate Slipknot's commercial success." But what she didn't realize, was that I was there with my Marduk shirt on. And she said, "you're not the drummer of Slipknot, he would never wear a shirt like that." And I had a studded metal belt on, and these boots, but she knew the red stripes in my hair. Then I got to talking to her about all of these bands, and we were talking about black metal. She went home, listened to the record, and then I saw her the next day at the show and she realized where all of those influences come in. It's like, you listen to the record and you think one thing. You come to see the show, and then you realize where a lot of that shit comes in, you actually see the band perform it, then you actually go back and listen to the record and it makes a ton more sense.
MU: I didn't think Slipknot was for me. But I listened, and the shit is intense.
1: It's so cool. This is the only interview I've been excited to do. I did Alternative Press yesterday, I did Spin the other day. And I hate - I don't like doin' 'em. I have to do them though because I have a responsibility to those kids. I haven't had this much fun doin' an interview. You guys are like me. We could be friends. Not even talking about the band, just being fans of metal.
MU: Absolutely. Let's shift gears for a second. What do you think of Marilyn Manson?
1: I have mixed opinions on the guy. It rules that I have mixed opinions because he brings that reaction out. Everyone has a reaction to Marilyn Manson and most people dis him, but I'm not going to dis him. I'll tell you what, to do the things he has done, and get it out to that many people, especially with MTV showing videos of pigeons takin' a shit on him . . .
MU: But is he doing crazy shit which happened to become successful, or is he successful because he's doin' some pretty crazy shit?
1: Hmmm . . . interesting question . . .
MU: Scratch that question. Let's keep it about Slipknot. How do you explain the crazy costumes and the masks to the underground metal scene?
1: That's where most of the problems come in with the underground metal scene. 'Cause to us, that shit ain't funny, that's serious. We never wanted to be about the Marilyn Manson rock star fashion thing. I don't speak over kids. I speak directly to them. Day in, day out, reactions to fuckin' life itself. We keep our lyrics open-ended so that they can get a positive reaction from them, or could be a negative reaction to bring out positivity. Those masks that we wear - we literally feel that way. We wear the scan bar code system and put tribal markings on the outfit and number ourselves 0-8. How many pictures do you see of the band . . . Have you seen the band live?
MU: Well . . . I went to Ozzfest, but I think I was drinkin' a beer waiting for Slayer to come on during your set. (laughs)
1: I don't blame you dude! You didn't come to see us. But when you see pictures of the band, do they look funny to you or cartoony?
MU: No, I mean . . . are you asking me if it looks like you're trying to be silly?
MU: No, not at all.
1: OK. That's what I'm asking. 'Cause our guitarist, Mick, just got asked to join Brutality. And he already knew all the songs, he's ready to go. But this is the unit, and this is where he actually felt more accomplished as an artist to get his creative desires out. Because, where we came from, all the finger pointing and ridiculing for trying to do hard music brought about the masks and the trying to keep the rock star cliches bullshit out of it. 'Cause I'm not gonna cheat any of those fans. And that originally means all my friends in the underground music scene. Those are the original kids, those are the people who are carrying it on! Magazines like Metal Maniacs and people who listen to say, Satyricon - some of those fans think that even being in that magazine is selling out for them. How am I gonna explain myself to them? Even though I listen to the same shit. They just don't want to fuckin' hear it.
MU: You're right about that, for a certain portion of the underground community, their whole game is to be holier than thou, or, if you will, unholier than thou. (laughs) I guess you lose them, and you can't be for everybody I guess. So will you ever give up the costumes or phase them out?
1: No, because our band is so over-compulsive with art, our imagery, and most importantly our music. Down the road . . . it's gonna be a Slipknot album. Everything you like about Slipknot is gonna be on the next record. Except, for the majority of our fans, it's gonna be something that they will not have the nearest clue where it came from. But, to the fans who are a lot of naysayers and skeptics, I think they will embrace the second record a lot more than the first.
MU: What was your favorite band on the Ozzfest tour you did?
1: Slayer, dude. (laughs) Well, I actually gotta say Black Sabbath because they are the forefathers of metal. But after Black Sabbath, definitely Slayer.
MU: Did you hang with those guys?
MU: What is Slayer's place in modern music?
1: I've seen those guys live, like five times. I've never seen them go for it as much as they did on Ozzfest. Jeff Hanneman hasn't banged his head as much as he did on Ozzfest ever before. I'm talkin' even back in the 'Hell Awaits' days. And that dude has done thousands and thousands of shows.
MU: Why do you think he went so crazy?
1: He was giving the middle finger to all the trendy-ass bullshit. We burned a fuckin' picture of Fred Durst on stage the other night. This month's Teen People has a fuckin' spread of that drummer from Korn in a Calvin Klein jeans ad! That's why we wear the masks, and don't let the faces and the clothing endorsements take over. We wear stuff that cannot be the subject of an endorsement to make the band more cheesy, to get more money or to get involved with ego shit. Now I'm not sayin' that we'd would do that anyway, but we're takin' a safety precaution and we're rebelling against all of that. We're like a musical hit squad that will fuckin' kill anything. The most important thing is this. I want your audience to know we give them the four-horn devil salute, and that our music is completely influenced by the same music they listen to, and when they hear the next record, it is for them. We do a cover of Terrorizer's "Fear Napalm"!
MU: Cool! Any last words for the metallic legions out there?
1: Thanks to all our fans who bought our record. I do have to thank them first and foremost. And if there are other people, your readers, who want to venture out and listen to something different than what they are hearing right now, they should know that I listen to the same stuff as they do, and the next record is for them. I promise.
-- LINKS --
-- CREDITS --
Interview: Eric German [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [email@example.com]
Photography: Courtesy of MSO public relations
Webmaster: WAR [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Update Support: Laura German
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