By Lori Brookhart
Misfits… maybe. Freaks… definitely. Lucifer’s children… who’s to say? Weirdos… possibly. Sadistic cult… one never knows.
Call them what you will, Slipknot doesn’t really give a shit. They know who they are, they do what they want, they do it for themselves and they get off on it. Encountering this pandemonious seven man accompaniment should be one of Iowa’s must see tourist attractions.
After taking the title in the 1996 KKDM Battle of the Bands, Slipknot has been making headway in 1997. Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat, the band’s first CD release has sold close to 500 copies since the Halloween release party and shows are increasingly climbing in attendance.
Slipknot has been back in the studio and muzi.com Magazine was there to witness the next step for Des Moines’ mob squad. The recording process takes patience, skill, and input. With seven members, positive and at times hasty, opinionated input isn’t hard to come by. The first night of studio time at SR Audio in Urbandale entailed fine tuning and sound checks, lots of sitting around, and an excessive amount of sick and often indescribable demented jokes.
WARNING: This is not all fun and games kids. Recording a Slipknot CD takes a process of laying out the music, then cutting the vocals, and finally adding the eccentric sounds that capture Slipknot , hence the garbage can, the keg, the power saw and the samples, which utilizes hi-tech computerized and dangerously innovative techniques. The process then goes to mixing, mastering, and finally distribution. After the tedious business was taken care of, the musicians were turned loose to do their thing.
Slipknot was very open about their future. I talked with most of band, but received the majority direct quotations from lead drummer, Nathan.
Q:Why are you back in the studio?
We’ve learned how to write songs differently. Through playing live and as time has gone by we’ve experienced a lot of different sounds. Songs we originally recorded we have come up with new things for. When we started out we came up with a lot of kick ass ideas that most bands go their whole career without coming up with; that’s something to be proud of. Slipknot has become more now than ever before.
Q:Are you redoing Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat ?
No, we are coming in [the studio] and focusing on the way things are now in the band. Everything is gelled differently. When we first recorded [Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat] we had a different guitar player at the time, a different lead guitar player, and we didn’t have our sampler.
Q:How do you record a power saw anyway?
Very carefully and with inexpensive microphones. Right here in the studio there are sparks flying everywhere!
Q:Explain the percussion methods in the band.
I play the main set which is all acoustic drums, and I am the main drummer; I sit in the back and I am the glue that holds the band together. The Clown is a total power drummer, he is all aggression. Now, we have acquired using electronic drums to work with the samples for a different element to the music. The third drummer is taking care of a tribal, auxiliary sound while also doing his vocals. We wanted three perspectives for an almost auditory overkill. We are a very percussion heavy band.
Q:How did the funk/ disco component enter into SlipKnot’s genre of music?
Pretty much from different influences. It first appeared in “Do Nothing/Bitch Slap” which is this song that goes through funk, to industrial, to jazz, then to all out heaviness, with disco in the middle. It worked itself out magically. But we are always going to be a heavy band. All our diverse elements are going to be based around heavy riffs because for us there is nothing like playing all out pissed aggressive music, that’s what really gets us off. Throwing in [the funk, the disco, the rap] just adds so much spice. I don’t like going to see bands who just wear flannel and stand up there and play their three chords, there’s more to life than that and more to music.
Q:What runs through your mind when you are playing a show?
I personally really don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m on auto-pilot. I can’t comprehend what is going on because of the adrenaline rush. Plus I’m behind a set of drums, symbols, a mask, and sweat. When we finish playing it takes me about an our or two to talk about the show or anything.
Q:As apart of the audience I see the crowd’s reaction, what is your take on Slipknot’s audience?
First of all we play for ourselves.Everything is about playing live. We started this out of pure boredom and we took a chance. People like it and keep coming back for more. When the crowd is into the show we can definitely feed off that. The crazier they become the more crazed we become. You’ll never once hear this band ever f**king take a stand against all out brutal moshing. Get out your anger if that is what we do to you. Get your angst out about your wife, your boyfriend, your parents, your job, school, your life, being born– get it all out. We condone it, we love it, and we’ll join you.
Q:May 24 was Slipknot’s first all-age show; was it important to reach that audience?
Basically, we haven’t done one yet and there is a lot of people who have wanted to come out and see us. The over 21 crowd has seen us numerous times. Since we’ve been playing out live over a year we’ve been asked constantly to do an all-age show. They [the under 21ers] either try to get in, sneak in or whatever and that really sucks for them because they too buy our CD and want to see the live show.
Q:Was there obvious pressure in competing in the 1996 Battle of the Bands?
We were definitely psyched. I’ve never seen us come together as much as we did at that time. Recording is one thing but when it came to the pressure we were all really competitive. I think that’s the only way a band needs to be. There is competition and we like it that way. That night we went up against Stone Sour they were really on it that night, but we pulled together and ended up winning. It was probably one of the highlights I’ve had in being in a band. Right now with the line up we have and the style of music we play we have the best musicians coming out of Des Moines and I couldn’t be playing with a better bunch of people.
Q:Is dotfest part of the package deal for winning the 1996 Battle of the Bands?
Yes, but we had some other opportunities to open up for other bands, unfortunately they didn’t pan out for business reasons. There was a big rumor that we were going to open up for Marilyn Manson. And we were going to be but unfortunately that didn’t work out. I believe things happen for a reason and the reason we didn’t play with Marilyn Manson is because there are going to be way more people at this show[DotFest].
Q:Any other comment on what 107.5 is doing with local music and the Battle of the Bands competition?
It’s the most kick ass for promotion, especially with what 107.5 is doing and what Sophia [John] has done. She’s the whole reason the scene here is building up to a good solid substance.
Q:So do you still carry around the dead crow in the jar? Where did it come from?
The crow is buried. It was a spiritual crow that came to us, provided wisdom, died and then became a fetish. Some kids broke the jar open and played catch with it for awhile and now it’s disposed.
Q:Was it preserved in formaldehyde or anything?
No, it was kept in the jar with all the bacteria and flesh eating creatures. It started secreting this brown liquid and became a fine sauce. [yum]
Bitterness and anger aren’t only limited to the stage performance. The seven members ridicule and bitch and wait until the next show to vent all the bullshit that surrounds them from day to day. Lately the annoyance of non-originality from other bands is leaving them with a crusty, nasty, phlegmy taste in their mouths.
“Recently, a lot of bands have been starting an image thing. It is a compliment but an insult at the same time. The key to success is perseverance and originality and doing things that have never been done before. Our idea worked and now some bands are taking the easy road because they see what we have done has worked. Whoever can think I’m an egotistical bastard, but I really don’t care,” said Nathan. “Our band has been taking risks, and now we have paved the way and have turned things around.”
Slipknot will be appearing at DotFest ’97 on Saturday, June 7. Further dates will be announced later or check your muzi.com Magazine concert calendar. Their 13 song CD is scheduled for release late this summer and a small regional tour is in the works. If experience and abnormality are what you search for, search no more, Des Moines’ Slipknot will definitely take you there.