Slipknot is an American heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. The band was founded in September 1995 by percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray. After several lineup changes in its early years, the band settled on nine members for more than a decade: Corey Taylor, Mick Thomson, Jim Root, Paul Gray, Craig Jones, Sid Wilson, Shawn Crahan,Chris Fehn and Joey Jordison. Gray died on May 24, 2010, and was replaced from 2011–14 by former guitarist Donnie Steele. Jordison left the band on December 12, 2013. Steele left during the recording sessions for .5: The Gray Chapter because he wanted to focus on his marriage. The band is now touring with replacement musicians Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg on drums. After the departure of Jordison, as of December 2015 the only founding member in the current lineup is percussionist Shawn Crahan; the other remaining members of Slipknot have been members since the release of the band's 1999 eponymous debut.
Slipknot is well known for its attention-grabbing image, aggressive style of music, and energetic and chaotic live shows. The band rapidly rose to success following the release of their eponymous debut album in 1999. The 2001 follow-up album, Iowa, made the band more popular. After a brief hiatus, Slipknot returned in 2004 with Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), before going on another hiatus and returning in 2008 with its fourth album, All Hope Is Gone, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. After another long hiatus, Slipknot released its fifth studio album, .5: The Gray Chapter, in 2014. The band has released a live album titled 9.0: Live, a compilation album titled Antennas to Hell, and four live DVDs. In 2015, Slipknot headlined the Download Festival in the UK for the third time.
Before Slipknot was formed, a state of shifting band membership existed throughout the metal scene in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1991, Jim Root was a guitarist the biggest metal band in a local band called Atomic Opera, which played at a club called Runway. Drummer Joey Jordison had founded a thrash metal band called Modifidious, which opened for Atomic Opera on December 1, 1991, after which their guitarist left to join Atomic Opera. Jordison replaced him with local guitarist Craig Jones. Drummer Shawn Crahan formed a Des Moines band called Heads on the Wall that played funk metal cover songs at clubs and releasing a demo tape in July 1992. A Des Moines band called Vexx played death metal; its members included Anders Colsefni on drums, Paul Gray on bass, and Josh Brainard on guitar and vocals. Colsefni later became the band's vocalist but Vexx never recorded. During this time, Crahan often visited Runway on Sundays, where he met other young musicians with whom he could jam. By March 1993, Crahan was jamming with vocalist Colsefni, bassist Gray and guitarist Pat Neuwirth, writing and playing songs in Gray's basement; they proposed naming the band Pull My Finger, but never made a final decision. They recorded a song titled "Slipknot"; another was titled "Painface". Colsefni later named his band Painface.
In 1993, a band called Inveigh Catharsis was formed in Des Moines, with Gray on bass, Brainard on guitar and Colsefni on drums. Jordison jammed occasionally with this band. Brainard left to join Jordison and Jones in Modifidious, participating in demo recordings in 1993 and 1994. During 1994, Modifidious sometimes played the same shows as Crahan's band Heads on the Wall. Gray formed a death metal band called Body Pit that become popular on the local scene. Modifidious stopped playing in the wake of death metal's increasing popularity. Gray failed to recruit Jordison for Body Pit; after he recruited local guitar teacher Mick Thomson, the band broke up.
In September 1995, Crahan and Gray started a band named The Pale Ones; friends who met through the local music scene—including vocalist Colsefni and guitarist Donnie Steele—comprised the lineup. Not long after their inception, Gray invited Jordison to a rehearsal because the band was interested in experimenting with additional drum elements. Jordison joined The Pale Ones as the main drummer, moving Crahan to custom percussion. Colsefni also took up custom percussion while remaining the band's vocalist. The band then invited Brainard to join as its second guitarist, bringing their lineup to six members. On December 4, the band made their live debut, playing a benefit show and calling their band Meld.
Much of the band's early development was retrospectively attributed to late-night planning sessions between Gray, Crahan and Jordison at a gas station where Jordison worked nights. There, in late 1995, Jordison suggested changing the band name to Slipknot after the Colsefni/Crahan/Gray/Neuwirth song of the same name. In December, Slipknot began recording material at SR Audio, a studio in the band's hometown. Without a recording budget, the band was forced to self-finance the project, the costs of which came to an estimated $40,000. In February 1996, Steele decided to leave Slipknot because of his Christian beliefs; in 1999, Jordison said, "We were prepared to keep [Steele] on, but he didn't want to stay". During the mixing stages of their project at SR Audio, Craig Jones was recruited as guitarist to replace Steele. During their time in the studio, the band were adding samples to their recordings but could not produce these sounds live. Jones later became the band's sampler and Mick Thomson was brought in as the replacement guitarist. After a complicated mixing and mastering session, the band self-released Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. on October 31, 1996.
Distribution of the demo was initially left to the band and their producer Sean McMahon, before it was handed to the distribution company Ismist in early 1997.The demo lrd to Slipknot receiving some airplay on local radio stations, but not to any interest from record labels, so the band returned to the studio to develop new material. The band sought more melodic vocals for their music. As a result, Corey Taylor was recruited from Des Moines band Stone Sour and moved Colsefni to backing vocals and percussion. While working in the studio, Slipknot continued prforming at local shows,; during one in September 1997, Colsefni announced on stage his departure from the band. Greg Welts—nicknamed "Cuddles"—was the band's new drummer. In early 1998, Slipknot produced a second demo featuring five tracks exclusively for record labels. The band began to receive much attention from record labels, and in February 1998, producer Ross Robinson offered to produce their debut album after attending rehearsals in Des Moines. Soon after, DJ Sid Wilson was recruited as the band's ninth member after showing great interest and impressing band members. In late June, Welts was fired from the band, which Slipknot refuse to comment on. Two days later, Slipknot received a $500,000, seven-album deal from Roadrunner Records; the band signed the deal publicly on July 8, 1998. Welts was replaced by Brandon Darner, who left the band shortly after joining.
Chris Fehn was brought in to replace Darner on percussion before Slipknot traveled to Malibu, California, to work on their debut album in September 1998. Partway through the recording process of the album, Slipknot returned to Des Moines for the Christmas period. During that period, guitarist Brainard decided to leave the band.Brainard said, "some decisions were made that I wasn't particularly happy with".Slipknot later recruited Jim Root to complete their lineup and the band returned to Malibu to continue work on the album. Work on the album concluded in early 1999, allowing the band to go on their first tour as part of the Ozzfest lineup in 1999. Ozzfest greatly increased Slipknot's audience, furthering the band's success with their self-titled album that was released on June 29, 1999. Slipknot released its first home video Welcome to Our Neighborhood, which was directed by Thomas Mignone, and the singles "Wait and Bleed" and "Spit It Out",which were also directed by Mignone. The singles received some airplay, but Slipknot quickly developed a large following, mainly from touring and word of mouth. The band toured several countries throughout 1999 and 2000 in support of the album. In early 2000, Slipknot was certified platinum; a first for an album released by Roadrunner Records.
Anticipation for the next Slipknot's second album was intense. In early 2001, the band began recording their second album at Sound City and Sound Image studios in Los Angeles. Around this time, conflicts between band members arose because of extensive touring and recording schedules. Recording of their second album ended in February 2001 and Slipknot embarked on their Iowa World Tour. Iowa, the band's second album, was released on August 28, 2001; it peaked at number three on the Billboard album charts and at number one on the UK album chart. The album produced three singles; "The Heretic Anthem" (promotional single), "Left Behind", and "My Plague", which appeared on the soundtrack for the film Resident Evil. In 2002, Slipknot appeared in 'Rollerball (2002), performing the song "I Am Hated" in a scene. The release of the album and the promotion in support of it resulted in sold-out shows in large arenas in several countries.
In mid-2002, Slipknot went on hiatus because of internal conflicts; several band members focused on side projects.Vocalist Taylor and guitarist Root revived their band Stone Sour, drummer Jordison created the Murderdolls, percussionist Crahan founded To My Surprise and DJ Wilson went solo as DJ Starscream. The future of Slipknot was unclear and there was speculation about the band splitting and the possibility of a third album. Despite this, on November 22, 2002, Slipknot released their second DVD Disasterpieces.
After several delays, Slipknot moved into The Mansion in Los Angeles, California, in mid-2003 to work on their third album alongside producer Rick Rubin. By early 2004, work on the album had finished and the band beganThe Subliminal Verses World Tour with their appearance on the Jägermeister Music Tour in March 2004. Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) was released on May 24, 2004; it peaked at number two on the Billboard album charts. The album produced six singles; "Duality", "Vermilion", "Vermilion, Pt. 2", "Before I Forget", "The Nameless", and The Blister Exists. Slipknot recorded its first live album, 9.0: Live, while touring in support of the band's third album. Released on November 1, 2005 9.0: Live peaked at number 17 on the Billboard album charts. Touring in support of Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) continued through 2004 and up to the end of 2005 before Slipknot went on hiatus for the second time.
In 2005, several members of Slipknot were involved in Roadrunner United: The All-Star Sessions, an collaborative album recorded by artists signed to Roadrunner Records. 2006 saw Slipknot win their first Grammy Award, picking up the Best Metal Performance award for the single "Before I Forget". On December 5, 2006, Slipknot released its third DVDVoliminal: Inside the Nine. While Slipknot was on hiatus, several band members again focused their attentions on side projects; vocalist Taylor and guitarist Root returned to Stone Sour, drummer Jordison toured with several bands and produced 3 Inches of Blood's third album Fire Up the Blades, Crahan founded Dirty Little Rabbits and Wilson returned as DJ Starscream once again.
Preparation for Slipknot's fourth album began towards the end of 2007; work began at Sound Farm Studio in Jamaica, Iowa, with producer Dave Fortman in February 2008. The album was finished in June, and the band the All Hope Is Gone World Tour on July 9, 2008. Slipknot's fourth album, All Hope Is Gone, was released on August 20, 2008, debuting at number one on the Billboard albums chart. The album produced five singles; "All Hope Is Gone", "Psychosocial", "Dead Memories", "Sulfur" and "Snuff". 2009 marked the 10th anniversary of Slipknot's debut album; to commemorate the event, the band released a special edition version of Slipknot on September 9, 2009. The band toured in support of the album throughout 2008 and continued until October 31, 2009, resulting in Slipknot's third hiatus.
During the hiatus, several band members focused on respective side projects; Taylor founded Junk Beer Kidnap Band and returned to Stone Sour with guitarist Root; Crahan continued working with his band Dirty Little Rabbits; and drummer Jordison returned with his band Murderdolls and became the new permanent drummer of Rob Zombie. Percussionist Fehn is now a full-time bassist with metalcore band Will Haven and Sid Wilson founded the eponymous band Sid.
In 2010, Gray was planning to tour with the supergroup, Hail!, but n May 24, 2010, he was found dead in a hotel room in Urbandale, Iowa. Circumstances surrounding his death at the time were not immediately known; an autopsy suspected his death was not intentional but did not reveal the cause. The day after his death, the remaining eight members of the band held a live, unmasked, press conference alongside Gray's widow and brother. On June 21, the cause of death was confirmed as an accidental overdose of morphine and synthetic morphine substitute fentanyl.
The band was hesitant to comment on the future of Slipknot. The members made conflicting statements in interviews; drummer Jordison told The Pulse of Radio "there is another Slipknot record already kinda in the making". Vocalist Taylor told FMQB Productions' he was "very conflicted about whether or not [he wants] to do anything with Slipknot".The band released their fourth video album (sic)nesses on September 28, 2010; it debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Music Video Charts. The DVD features Slipknot's entire live performance at the 2009 Download Festivaland a 45-minute film documenting their tour in support of All Hope Is Gone, and served as a tribute to Paul Gray.
Regarding the continuation of Slipknot, Taylor told NME Gray would want them to continue and he felt they should but he was ambivalent about returning to the band. Slipknot returned to touring in 2011, performing a small number of shows in Europe. They headlined the Sonisphere Festival and Rock in Rio alongside Iron Maiden and Metallica, and performed at Belgium's Graspop Metal Meeting. Donnie Steele substituted for Gray in the concerts; he was positioned behind Jordison and obscured from the audience's view.
Slipknot also said the band would complete and release the band's fifth studio album, and that there were no plans to replace Gray. Jordison said the writing process for the album had already begun and that he had written 17 songs. Slipknot performed at Mayhem Festival 2012.
On May 29, 2012, Roadrunner Records posted a teaser video titled Antennas to Hell on its website. Later that day, on Twitter, Corey Taylor said Slipknot will release a greatest hits album on June 17, 2012. He also said the band was not yet recording new material but was putting together demos for a new album.
Slipknot's first annual music festival, called Knotfest, was held on August 17, 2012, at Mid-America Motorplex near Pacific Junction, Iowa, and on August 18, 2012, in Somerset, Wisconsin. Deftones, Lamb of God, Serj Tankian also performed at the festival. The festival shows also debuted a Slipknot museum.On 14, June 2013, Slipknot headlined the Download Festival for a second time. The band performed to roughly 90,000 people and was twice forced to stop the set—once in the middle of a song—to allow the front barricade, which had split open under crowd pressure, to be repaired.
Production of the band's fifth album began in late 2013. Taylor described the album as "very dark" and a cross between Iowa and Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses). Guitarist Jim Root did not participate in Stone Sour's January tour so he could write material for Slipknot.
On December 12, 2013, the band announced through its official website that Joey Jordison had left the band after 18 years, citing personal reasons.On his official Facebook page, Jordison later said he "did not quit Slipknot" and that he was "shocked" and "blindsided" by the news. Both Jordison and Slipknot independently promised to release further details about the split. Taylor said Jordison would not be appearing on the new album because he did not participate in any songwriting sessions before his departure.
In July 2014, Slipknot began releasing teasers for the new album on the band's website and social media using cryptic messages and gory imagery. "The Negative One", the band's first song in six years,was released on August 1; it was accompanied by a music video directed by Crahan that was released four days later. The video did not feature any band members. On August 24, Slipknot released an official radio single titled "The Devil In I", and the name of the upcoming album was announced as .5: The Gray Chapter on iTunes, with an expected release date of October 28.The release was later preponed to October 17 for the Netherlands and Australia, October 20 for the UK and October 21 worldwide.
Slipknot began touring North America in support of the album on October 25 at the second iteration of Knotfest. The tour dubbed the "Prepare for Hell" was co-headlined by Korn with King 810 as support. The band also performed at 2015's Soundwave festival in Australia. A bassist and drummer were brought in to replace Gray and Jordison respectively; Crahan designing a mask that would differentiate them from the band. The official video for "The Devil In I", featuring musicians wearing modified versions of the band's old masks—with the exception of Taylor who wore a new mask—was released on September 12. Fans speculated upon the identities of the drummer and bassist shown in the video but the band did not officially name them.
Taylor later said he was upset at the leak of the identity of the bassist, alleged to be Alessandro Venturella because of a unique tattoo on his hand. Root told Guitar World the drummer's identity would not be released, and that the bassist and the drummer were not permanent members of the band. On December 3, a former Slipknot road crew member posted a photograph of a touring band personnel list that confirmed bassist Alessandro Venturella and drummer Jay Weinberg were members of the tour. The new musicians had been viewed unfavorably by some of the band members; Shawn Crahan told Kerrang! magazine, "This is Slipknot, fuck both of those guys ... [t]hey'll never be in the band. Never." Taylor also said the two "got a crack at designing their own masks and they failed miserably", and they were wearing masks given to them by the band.
"The Negative One" was nominated for the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance at the 57th Grammy Awards.
On March 11, 2015, while the band was not touring, guitarist Mick Thomson was hospitalized after a drunken knife fight with his brother at Thomson's home in Iowa. The pair sustained serious, but non life-threatening, injuries. On August 2, 2015, during a concert in Hartford, Connecticut, the band was forced to stop performing after Venturella was suddenly rushed to hospital, after undergoing a medical emergency. After 20 minutes, singer Taylor told the audience the band would continue the concert, performing without Venturella. It was later discovered that Venturella had collapsed because of extreme dehydration. During the band's following three concerts, Venturella played bass from backstage, returning to the stage on August 8.
Slipknot's music is influenced by many styles and bands including hard rock and heavy metal bands Anthrax, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Faith No More, Tool, Slayer, Fear Factory, Skinny Puppy, Neurosis, Judas Priest, Metallica, Led Zeppelin and Beastie Boys. The band is regarded as a pioneer of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal; its output has been compared to that of Pantera, Machine Head, Hatebreed, Life of Agony, and Prong, among others.
Slipknot is considered a nu metal band. The band's members prefer to distance themselves musically from other nu metal bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit. Slipknot describes its sound as "metal metal" and regards the link to nu metal as coincidental and a result of nu metal's emergence being concurrent with that of Slipknot. The band's sound typically features a heavily down-tuned guitar setup, a large percussive section, samples, and turntables. Using a variety of vocal styles, the music typically features growled vocals, screaming, backing vocals, and occasional melodic singing. The band has continually experimented with its sound—most notably developing tracks led by acoustic guitars and melodic singing that first appeared on Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses).
Slipknot's lyrics are generally very aggressive; they sometimes include profanity while exploring themes such as darkness,nihilism, anger, disaffection, love, misanthropy, and psychosis. They often draw upon topics including the music industry, politics, personal strife, and reflection, among others. Rick Anderson of Allmusic said, "those lyrics that are discernible are not generally quotable on a family website". On Vol. 3, Taylor deliberately avoided using profanity in response to claims he relied on it. The album All Hope is Gone saw a change to a standard metal stylethat includes elements of groove metal, death metal, and thrash metal. The band has also been consideredalternative metal.
Slipknot is known for its chaotic, energetic live shows that contributed to the band's success. During performances, most of the band's members headbang, stage dive, and fight. The band's early performances included extreme acts such as stage dives from high balconies and band members setting each other on fire. In recent years[clarification needed], they tended to refrain from acts this extreme. Ex-bassist Gray said this was due to receiving lawsuits and to avoid harming other people, and that it was a "better move" for the longevity of the band. Along with the energetic and unpredictable performances, Slipknot often use elaborate stage setups that use pyrotechnics, elevated stage areas, hydraulic drum risers, and computer screens. Reviewing a Slipknot performance, Alistair Lawrence ofKerrang! said, "the choreographed chaos is too multi-faceted to fully describe". and NME described one Slipknot show as "a scene of chaos".
The band is known for its attention-grabbing image; the members perform wearing unique, individual facemasks and matching uniforms—typically jumpsuits—while each member is typically assigned and referred to by number based on their role in the band (#0 through #8), although the latter practice has diminished following the death of Paul Gray.
The band has said the idea of wearing masks stemmed from a clown mask that Crahan took to rehearsals when the band first started. Crahan later became known for his clown masks, adopting the pseudonym "Shawn the Clown". The concept developed; by late 1997, the band decided every band member would wear a unique mask and matching jumpsuit. Taylor said in 2002, "it's our way of becoming more intimate with the music. It's a way for us to become unconscious of who we are and what we do outside of music. It's a way for us to kind of crawl inside it and be able to use it." The concept of wearing matching jumpsuits has been described as a response to commercialism in the music industry and led to the idea of assigning the band members numerical aliases. According to Taylor, "Originally, we were just going to wear the jumpsuits ... we figured we might as well take that further and number ourselves ... We were basically saying, 'Hey, we're a product!'".
During their careers, the members of Slipknot have developed their images, updating their uniforms and each member's mask upon the release of each album. The appearance and style of the masks do not usually differ significantly between albums; members typically maintain the established theme of their mask while adding new elements. Jordison, in an interview in 2004, said the masks are updated to show growth within each individual.Slipknot's members have worn special masks for specific occasions, most notably for the music video and live performances of "Vermilion" in 2004 and 2005 when they wore life masks made from casts of their own faces. In 2008, the band wore a set of large masks titled "purgatory masks" during photograph shoots before the release of All Hope Is Gone; in the music video for "Psychosocial" they are seen burning them. Shortly after it's inception, Slipknot's masks were homemade, but since 2000 they have been custom-made by special effect artist and musician Screaming Mad George.
The band's image has been the subject of much criticism and controversy, with critics generally accusing it of being a sales gimmick. The band's members object to these claims; according to them the masks are used to divert attention from themselves and put it on the music. Several band members have said wearing the masks helps to maintain privacy in their personal lives. During an interview in 2005, percussionist Fehn said the masks were a "blessing" because they meant the members are not recognized in public. In 2012, Slipknot released an app for iOS and Android called "Slipknot: Wear the Mask", which invites fans to construct their own masks, defining the kind of Slipknot fans they are.
Slipknot's music and image have been the subject of many controversies throughout its career. The lyrical content of some of Slipknot's songs has been linked to several violent and criminal incidents. In 2003, two young killers blamed the lyrics of "Disasterpiece" for their crime. In 2006, the lyrics of "Surfacing" were found at the site of a grave robbery.
In 2008, Corey Taylor commented on a slashing incident at a South African school to which Slipknot was linked; he said:
The band's image has also been the subject of several controversies. Slipknot had a longstanding feud with the band Mushroomhead which—along with their fans—said Slipknot "stole their image". While Slipknot acknowledged their images had similarities, its members were not actively involved in the feud, saying the similarities were coincidental. Taylor said, "we both started at the same time—neither one of us knowing anything about each other". Taylor also said that at a live show in Cleveland, Ohio, several Mushroomhead fans threw objects including a padlock at Slipknot and that when Slipknot's set was finished, Mushroomhead, Machine Head, and Amen went into the crowd and "handled it right there". In 2009, Mushroomhead vocalist Waylon Reavis said his band's members were no longer interested in feuding with Slipknot, saying, "they're not the first masked band, we're not, no one was".
Slipknot's 2005 lawsuit against Burger King said the company created the advertising-based band Coq Roq to capitalize on Slipknot's image. Burger King responded with a countersuit, saying many other bands, such as Mr. Bungle, Mushroomhead, Mudvayne, Kiss, Insane Clown Posse, and Gwar have used masks as part of their images. After negotiations, the advertising campaign and lawsuit were withdrawn.