Slipknot: “No one created us except us — we always drew our own map”

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Almost three decades and seven albums in depth, Slipknot has gone through a thorny path of brilliant ups and crushing downs that would pay off for most bands. But as evidenced by their latest record, “The End, So Far”, and frontman Corey Taylor told NME, metal icons are far from over.

Let’s play,” says Corey Taylor, leaning towards the camera. “Let’s see how much news this story will turn into. How about this? I made one last week and it turned into 10 different fucking shitty news. And it got to the point where I just wash my hands of it and just give up.”

Speaking to us via Zoom from his home in Las Vegas, where the Slipknot vocalist does housework, cleans the house and folds laundry between interviews (“All this metal shit,” he chuckles), he is clearly working off intense energy. Throughout our hour—long interview, the man known as the “Big Mouth of Metal” lives up to his reputation – he is friendly and friendly, makes jokes, but from time to time a belligerent tone appears in his answers. A question about his much-publicized Machine Gun Kelly steak on Twitter last year was dismissed with obvious impatience and rolled eyes. “I haven’t said a damn thing about it for a few fucking months. I said what I said, and I have more important things to talk about.”

By “the best things” he means Slipknot’s excellent new album “The End So Far”, their seventh album and the most experimental and inventive of their career. It contains all the hallmarks of classic Slipknot — the exciting singles from the record, “The Chapeltown Rag” and “The Dying Song (Time To Sing)”, relying on nihilistic, razor-sharp riffs and colossal hooks, and will be like a crack for listeners. fans of the band are lovingly called maggots. But it’s also a reminder that 27 years into their career, you should never try to predict where a metal nihilistic 18-legged war machine will go next.

Deliberately seeking to deceive expectations from the very beginning, the album begins with the haunting opening song “Adderall”, which looks like a perverted version of Radiohead’s “Everything In its Right Place”, and then turns into the contemplative territory of Alice In Chains.

Elsewhere, Slipknot amuse themselves with a monstrous murder ballad (“Yen”), a nightmarish vocoder fantasy (“Medicine For The Dead”) and “Acidic”, which drummer Jay Weinberg called “the heaviest blues song on earth.” Although the album begins where the band’s 2019 album “We Are Not Your Kind” ended — an album playing with new sounds — Taylor confirms that the DNA of “The End, So Far” most resembles a dynamic third band. entry, “Volume 3: (Subconscious poems)”. Released in 2004, it was an album in which the band focused on melody, starting to write songs in new, unexpected directions.

“Musically, we’ve never shied away from challenges,” he says. “It got to the point where you thought, ‘Where are we going?’ [We said] let’s look back for inspiration instead of trying to look forward, and let’s try to accept the shit that made us want to do this. first of all.” On this album, he said, the band was worried “not so much about the coherence of the album as about the strength of the songs.” “Each song has its own personality, but it doesn’t have to be the identity of the album.”

It takes several auditions for a new record to “click” exactly how it should be when you throw crooked balls at your audience — although, according to Taylor, fans should already know that this is a common thing.

“We’ve always been experimentalists,” he notes irritably, commenting that some fans will have a “fucking cystic embolism” when they hear the new album. “Everyone just assumes that we are heavy all the time. We have moments of explosion and brilliance, but at the same time we have songs like [acoustic and string version of “Vol 3”] “Circle”. We also have songs like “Snuff” [thoughtful and clean from the fourth album “All Hope Is Gone”]. When people hear [the new album], they say, “Well, it’s a departure.” It’s like, “What the hell are you new?” We’ve spent more than 20 years confusing people.”

In an interview last year, Taylor noted that just as artists like David Bowie and Marc Bolan take risks, “Slipknot is now doing it for a heavier generation.” “I mean, excuse me for suggesting that we have something in common with someone like Bowie,” he clarifies. “But for me, the great thing about Bowie was that his fearlessness was ahead of its time. It doesn’t matter what he posted; you just couldn’t wait to hear it. You knew it was interesting, and you knew it would be different. That’s always been my hope with Slipknot, and I feel like we’ve done it.”

“The End, So Far” is closer to the acoustic slow recording of “Finale”, in which Taylor sings: “Well, I’m sorry, but I have to stay because I like it here.” This is a decisive refusal of the group to obey the expectations of outsiders.

“One of the problems with recording one of the hardest fucking albums of all time is that people just expect you to do it over and over again,” he says. He is, of course, referring to the band’s second album, “Iowa”, their dense and vicious second album, which many still consider their creative peak. “Well, fuck, it’s so boring. If we had done that, we wouldn’t be where we are now, 100 percent.”

“Everyone just assumes we’re cool all the time—we’ve spent 20-plus years confusing people.”

Released in 2001, “Iowa” took first place in the UK charts, while remaining the darkest, dirtiest and thickest album by some margin — an unlikely massive success that turned Slipknot from alternative weirdos into one of the largest commercial bands in the world. . “You also have to remember that a large part of the population are people who have created petitions against every Batman that has ever been filmed, and they have always been wrong,” Taylor continues. “Who is really here? You fucking idiots, sometimes you just need to shut up and listen to what we’re giving you.”

In a world where social media has given voice to Internet trolls everywhere, he has a message for those fans who have “misled themselves into thinking that if they are bitchy enough, they will get what they want.” He fixes us with another warning look. “It only happens to feeble-minded people.”

When NME last contacted Slipknot during the “We Are Not Your Kind” cycle in 2019, the band was going through a particularly turbulent period after a period of change and instability. Twenty years after their eponymous major label debut presented their masked destruction to the world in a red haze of violence and chaos, Chris “Dicknose” Feng left the band after filing a lawsuit against Slipknot regarding royalties, while, worst of all, percussionist Sean “clown” Crahan’s daughter, Gabrielle, she died at the age of 22.

Taylor was also in a dark place. After years of physically destroying himself on stage, he winced at the effects of double knee surgery and struggled to survive a brutal divorce from his second wife, Stephanie Luby. The breakdown of his marriage loomed because of “We Are Not Your Kind”, a record that Taylor, as the band’s lyricist, later described as a “purge”, not least at the end of the album “Solway Firth”, which hinted at how difficult the relationship was. actually got: “Do you want a real smile? I haven’t smiled in years.”

Taylor has changed since then. He is now happily married to Alicia Dove from Cherry Bombs, who accompanied him to therapy and helped him get rid of his addiction to social networks. In 2020, he launched a solo career, releasing his debut album CMFT. Obviously he’s in a better position, new thinking has influenced his songwriting process for “The End, So Far”. “This album is more about communicating with people, not cleansing for me,” he says. “And maybe that’s one of the reasons why the album seems so diverse and diverse, because it’s not one narrative, but several.”

Given that his personal life has gone awry, is it difficult for him to get into the artistic thinking of Slipknot, a band that clearly thrives on misanthropy? “Oh, it’s not difficult at all. I have as many dark periods as I have light ones.” He says that the emotional hurricane of 2019, combined with years of alcoholism [he has been sober for 12 years] and depression created in him “fire, anger, energy that never disappeared,” a dark place in his mind. can unlock when it needs to connect to Slipknot mode. “To this day, my anger can escape me,” he says carefully. “I’m not doing anything stupid like I did as a child. But I still have outbursts of loud anger, and I know that this can cause people anxiety. I really tried to use therapy and self-restraint to deal with it.”

“One of the problems with recording one of the heaviest albums of all time is that people just expect you to do it over and over again.”

Life in Slipknot has always been difficult. It is known that when the band went into the studio to record “Iowa” in 2000, strained interpersonal relationships were at an all-time low as various band members struggled with addiction and deteriorating mental health, leading to a toxic, often violent environment ripe for ignition. . “When we recorded Iowa, we hated each other,” the Clown confirmed in an interview last year. However, these days Taylor confirms that the water has become calmer.

“We’re kind of getting to the point where we’re kind of embracing each other for who we are,” he says, noting that it’s a far cry from the days when the band “avoided each other like the plague” on tour. “The beautiful thing about Slipknot was also one of the hardest things: we’re not necessarily people who would be friends. We had such different backgrounds, different points of view and different musical views. At certain moments, it is from here that tension arises, and it is from here that genius arises.”

Another shift in the narrative of this album cycle occurred around the new percussionist Michael Pfaff, better known to legions of maggots as Tortilla Man because of the loose appearance of his stage mask. While the band flatly refused to answer questions about his identity during the promotion of “We Are Not Your Kind”, this time Tortilla unmistakably assimilated into the gang. Thus, “The End, So Far” represents the first studio album Slipknot has worked on, and as anyone who has recently seen Slipknot live will confirm, he has breathed new energy into the band.

“He’s such a fucking mystery because he’s probably the most highly skilled dude in the group,” Taylor says, smiling affectionately. “He plays almost all instruments; he is classically trained. He could play piano in any damn symphony orchestra, anywhere. And he’s just such a good dude. I honestly keep telling him, “I do not know what you are doing here; this is not a group for good people. This group mostly eats good people, so you damn well need to watch yourself.”

The fierce dedication with which Taylor speaks about his bandmates proves that, despite all the turmoil, he still considers Slipknot to be the most cohesive fraternity. Having spent years on the road and pushing each other to physical and emotional limits, shedding blood for the art they create, although they did not always agree in their views, now they are connected by something thicker than blood. Is love possible?

“I don’t know about love, but we definitely appreciate each other,” Taylor replies. “We’ve been through incredible highs, the worst of lows, and we knew we could support each other, turn our backs on each other, and we’d all cover for each other. So at some point you have to accept it as love.”

“The beautiful thing about Slipknot was also one of the hardest things: we’re not necessarily people who would be friends.”

Of course, there is no escaping the fact that today Slipknot is very different from the composition that got out of the depths of Des Moines in 1995. Chris Feng’s departure in 2019 further split the original line-up after the death of original bassist Paul Gray in 2010, while original, much-loved drummer Joey Jordison, who was fired from the band in 2016, died last year. Taylor becomes visibly sad when his name is mentioned.

“We’ve all had such a complicated relationship with Joey at one point or another,” he says quietly. “He was a man who was tormented by his splendor and his demons. And sometimes it was hard to live with him. I’m not saying this to humiliate him, because we’ve all been through this. This is what we, drug addicts, artists, we, really mentally ill people, have to deal with.” Taylor says he and Joey have reconciled over the years, texting back and forth, calling the exchanges “strained but polite”: “When we lost Joey, it robbed us of the opportunity to reconcile with him,” he continues. “I know that some of us talked to him on the side. We never talked to him as a group, and I think we all regret that. It’s hard to realize that you missed an opportunity.”

When Slipknot announced “The End So Far” in July, the album’s title sparked wild rumors online that the band was going to cease to exist. “People have said that about every fucking album we’ve released in the last 20 years,” Taylor shrugs. — And I do not know why.

We assume that because of the combustible nature of the group, people probably expect them to… well, burn out.

—That’s damn right,— he shouts. “But we have never had problems that could separate us. With each album, it seems that everyone is so happy for us, because it was a miracle that it was made at all.”

Instead, the album’s title refers to the band’s departure from Roadrunner Records, their home since they released their 1999 self-titled debut album. Did they still feel that the label represented them?

“When we lost Joey [Jordison], it made it impossible for us to make peace with him.”

“Who knows? It’s a completely different label than it was when we first signed with him,” Taylor says gloomily. “When you’re in the hands of people who don’t care, it’s just a fucking business. And so it happened.” At this point in our conversation, Taylor became enraged. “We had to fight for every fucking release we had, because the people who now work at Roadrunner think they know what they’re doing, but they really don’t,” he spits. “They tried to give us fucking advice, and we were like, ‘What are you talking about? What kind of band do you think we’re from?”

The band’s departure from their label marks a new era. “It’s like the second phase of Slipknot,” Taylor says of the period that is now coming to an end. “The first phase was the original nine. The second stage was obviously about the loss, the loss of Paul, the loss of our innocence in a strange way, the loss of Joey and a reconfiguration that will never be like the original.”

Despite all this — fights, line—up changes, grief, injuries, injuries – Slipknot do not intend to stop in the near future. “After all these years, I’m so glad I’m still in a band with guys who are giving their best to this day. None of us tried to dial it back. We have always expanded, but we have never changed. And it’s a sign of the band that a. is very confident in what they’re doing and b. trust each other.”

Looking down the barrel of the band’s seventh album, Taylor declares that this is Slipknot at their “most fearless, most risky, most defenseless.” “Wherever we go in the future, whether it’s just to come and perform the 10 most fucking punk rock tunes of all time, live in a room with Steve Albini, or if we come and just record a double fucking concept album with a movie, it doesn’t matter because it will always come from us, and it’s always going to come from where we wanted to go,” he says, challenging anyone stupid enough to believe that Slipknot might be running out of gas. “Not [a place] we were told to go to, but we damn well wanted to go. No one created us except ourselves. The fans came with us, but we always drew our own map.”

“The End, So Far” by Slipknot is already on sale

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