The foetal stages of the band Slipknot began way back in 1992 in the basement of Paul Gray under the name Painface (A band name Anders Colsefni later re-used). Although the band did not assemble under the title Slipknot, the group had the agressive feel you’d expect from Anders Colsefni, Shawn Crahan, Paul Gray and Patrick Neuwirth. During this early period the songs “Slipknot”, “Gently”, “Idiot”, “Whats wrong” and “Wise up” were recorded, later to be known as “The basement sessions”. Unfortunately Shawn got to busy with work and the project did not last.
In September 1995 Anders and Shawn decided to put a band together again. The two hung-out all the time and would play Werewolf: The Apocalypse (RPG). Most of the lyrics for MFKR were based on that game. Anders was helping Shawn with some welding in his garage one winter, and they got talking about putting together a brand new band. At the time they were both drummers (Anders had been singing for awhile), and wanted to put together a band with extra stand-up percussion. Anders called Paul Gray, who was in L.A. at the time, and persuaded him to return to Des Moines and give it a try.
With the three core members: Andy, Shawn and Paul they enlisted the help of guitarists Donnie Steele (ex- Body Pit) and Kun Nong (ex- Heads on the Wall). The band retreated to Anders basement to figure out their sound and how to improve musically .They began practicing under the name of Meld, following the first six practices Kun Nong left due to his following of a more Alternative/Punk style. Feeling something was missing, Paul was determined to get Joey involved with his new project, despite failing to receive his interest in earlier projects such as Body Pit. Paul met up with Joey at Sinclair’s where Joey worked nights, there he tempted Joey to watch rehearsals within Anders’ basement. Joey reluctantly agreed and despite missing two rehearsals due to work priorities, eventually made it down to the basement to view a practice session. This basement, was “largely, open spaced”, not only was the area so small and cramped but for soundproofing the members used carpet samples and scraps from a nearby pet grooming center, this made the whole basement smell of Cat piss. The first song that Joey heard them play was a song known as “Slipknot”, followed by “Gently” and “Fur”. Joey soon realized that he had to be in this band and soon began to play the drums; pushing Shawn onto percussion. A band had formed.
For further information on the ‘Basement Sessions’ click here.
Within the cramped basement new songs were being turned out by the minute, including titles such as “Killers Are Quiet”, “Do Nothing Bitchslap”, “Confessions”, “Some Feel”, “Part of Me” and “Tattered and Torn”. Paul, Shawn and Joey also began to meet up at Sinclair’s to discuss ideas and plans for the future. Shawn and Joey also decided that the band would require three drummers to provide a hardcore audio assault. Shawn wanted a drummer to the left and right with one at the back controlling it all, creating a wall of power, a first layer… Joey plays the main set and as a result is the main drummer who holds the band together. Shawn is the “Total Power Drummer” and is all aggression, finally the third element of percussion was performed by Anders adding a tribal feel. Within Sinclair’s Shawn and Joey also realized that the band would need another guitarist due to the vacant position left by Kun. Josh Brainard, formerly of Modifidious and Inveigh Catharsis, was called and he soon added himself to the band. Now there were six. Josh was seen as the “icing on the cake” so to speak adding a touch of melody to the batch of songs already written.
The people of Des Moines knew that a new band was forming and they knew who was in it. However no one had heard or seen them. Soon a small performance was given, Slipknot’s first show was actually under a different name, Meld. It was at a club that was called the Crowbar at that time. They did it without masks however Anders wore his fur skin loincloth and Paul wore wire through all his piercing. This show happened about a month or two after Josh got into the band ( mid to late Nov. 95′). That was the only show they’d ever done with Donnie.
The band went through the names Pyg system and Meld, before agreeing on the simpler name of “Slipknot”, the title of their first song. Slipknot began to take notice of their stage show and thus eventually the idea of “Slipknot” spawned. The idea of what slipknot was about evolved and following discussions Shawn turned up to a practice wearing his legendary Clown mask, the sextet decided almost unanimously, with the exception of Donnie, that masks should be worn. Joey came fully equipped with his molded and expressionless Kabuki Mask and despite difficulty within practices the idea took off; the whole anti-image appearance which fitted so well with their rule of ignoring trends had a great appeal.
Photo by Stefan Seskis
Soon Shawn contacted Mike Lawyer, due to an interest in recording some studio work. Mike got an engineer/producer of his named Sean McMahon to meet up with them during a practice session. Sean McMahon: “I was contacted by former members of a band called Body Pit to check out their new band at their rehearsal space”. Sean McMahon: ” The band floored me the first time that I heard them play in Anders’ basement. This was way before the masks and coveralls evolved. The band was solid and incredibly tight. The music had some melodic parts at that time. They played Slipknot, Gently, Do Nothing/Bitchslap, Killers Are Quiet, Vizqueen, and Fur for me. Anders himself was wearing a wolf fur loincloth – and nothing else. I did not pretend to fully understand what the band was about, as we were just getting to know each other, but it was very plain to me that Slipknot (Meld or Pale Ones at that time) was extremely good at what they did, and had the requisite drive to take it all the way.”
The band soon started work on their first project, “Mate Feed Kill Repeat”. The band grabbed every available moment to practice, perform and record within the SR Audio Studios. SR Audio was customized for the MFKR sessions by the band itself. They filled it with pornographic posters, films, toys, lights and many other objects all to make the band feel right at home. The recording phase for MFKR was one odd occurrence after another, Sean explains “We cut basic tracks live – all of them, including all 3 drummers, all playing together in the same room! The band advocates the use of extreme violence as a conflict resolution tool, and recording was no exception. The wall next to Clown’s percussion rig acquired a few holes from his fist and drum sticks. Then there were the anatomically correct chalk line body outlines in the parking lot. Also, Joey played drums naked on one track, which he nailed”.
During February of 1996 (the post production stage of MFKR) a great change occurred within Donnie Steele; he found God. He realized that he could not be within such a band as Slipknot with the beliefs he held and as a result withdrew himself from the group. At this crucial point in the bands short history a new member was called up; a former member of Joey’s band Modifidious, his name was Craig Jones, he had come highly recommended by Jordison. During his arrival, the MFKR album was already in its mixing stages. The mixing of MFKR was anything but smooth, each song being remixed many times. Strain was added by different view that each member held and things often got intense. Not only were their problems with the mixing but the band was also unhappy with the mastering that was done on the CD, hence they insisted that Sean should do it.
Slipknot’s first major show in which they would unveil themselves to the people of Des Moines was booked for the 4th of April 1996 at the music venue “The Safari Club”. On the day’s arrival the room was packed with 200 people. The band arrived in Joey’s car and each member sported their individual garments. Paul with wire weaved in and out of his piercing, Andy covered with electrical tape and tribal paint, Josh showing off an executioners hood while Craig had placed pantyhose on his head. Joey and Shawn each used the masks they had always worn, the Clown and Kabuki masks. Before the band began to play Joey began to incessantly shout, “I need a little Christmas in my drink” repeatedly with each new phrase increasing in volume, energy and power. The band then slammed into their debut song, “Slipknot”. By Slipknot’s second performance at the club Paul had found a new “Pig” mask. They played a total of seven shows at the club in one month alone.
Slipknot continued on playing their shows which were much more “insane” than we see these days (taming of the media etc…), rather than the same uniform jumpsuits and regular masks the band played in different things, for example Shawn rented out a large purple “Barney” suit and others wore Nun dresses and even ballroom dresses or a Little Bo Peep outfit. The shows were really dark, underground and scary however they still carried an element of humor. The shows would start with strobe lights flashing and a sample from Craig, usually of a mad laugh and “ice cream” man chimes, Shawn would drop a power saw to create a series of sparks to fly over the crowd.
Despite local success, Joey still felt that the band was incomplete. He wanted more; a different sound and a greater variety. Craig was promptly shifted onto samples, leaving an empty vacancy. The band recruited Mick Thomson (ex- Bodypit) to fill the spot.
MFKR was released on Halloween, 1996. The party had begun and 400 people turned up in masks to celebrate the occasion. The album was sent out to many people and a person named Sophia John at a local station KKDM managed to hear it and liked it. This lead to the arrangement of Slipknot’s appearance in the local KKDM battle of the band’s contest.
The tournament was held every Wednesday at the Safari club in Des Moines, and spanned across several weeks beginning with the individual heats. Slipknot faced the band; Stone Sour – and won. Slipknot also defeated “Maelstrom” and “Black Caesar” who came second. Slipknot conquered all. This was one of the band’s highlights that fuelled them to their current stardom. The money from the win helped fund the heavily in debt band’s new projects and demos. Sophia John became their first manager due to her contacts and love for this new band.
The band continued the onslaught of supporting their debut Mate Feed Kill Repeat. According to ISMIST records, the album’s distributor, there were only 1000 copies of this made and distributed by the band as a promotional tool. Several record companies had received copies of the album from the band, one of these being Roadrunner, who felt that they should not pick up Slipknot due to their thought that the vocalist required more melody. This rejection continued from the other labels.
Things behind the scenes continued to spiral downward; Shawn bought the Safari, which despite being a good investment, took time away from the band. This added to the already tenuous relationship Joey and Shawn had with eachother, Slipknot could no longer play in Anders’ basement and things were falling apart.
Even will all of the problems, the band managed to make it onto the bill for the local “Dotfest” in June of 1997. There they played to the largest crowd in their history up to that point, a crowd of 12,000, containing many industry people. Not only was the sound dodgy and kept going out but the crowd began to throw chicken bones on stage. At the show Slipknot came out throwing Tampons into the crowd and had several “gimps”. This was the first and last time for the “gimps”. The gimps were Frank with a gas mask, Lanny with tribal markings in liquid latex, Greg covered with liquid latex and a ball gag in his mouth and Greg’s friend Slick Rick in a latex hood. Slipknot had the original idea of having a professional stunt man, Rick, come out dressed as Shawn and then Shawn would come out and set him on fire. They had all the things to do it, which for a long time had been stored in the cooler at The Safari Club, but the city would not issue the permits to perform it so the event had to be abandoned. The set ended with them being cut off and an almost riot breaking out as Andy cut open his arms and tossed CDs over the fence to the fans. Joey quit. But he reconsidered and came back.
Their performance left a mark, they made new fans and most importantly they discovered Sid Wilson (even though they did not speak to him). Slipknot looked for the success they were not getting and decided to enlist Corey Taylor of rival band Stone Sour, to join the line up. Joey, Shawn and Mick confronted him with the an ultimatum at his work place, “The Adult Emporium”. According to Joey they said, “Join the band or we will kick your ass!”. Corey claims that to be bullshit and that they wandered around the store until timidly asking him to join. Slipknot provided an opportunity not present in Stone Sour and the music over image concept appealed to him.
Corey began practicing with the band and the first lyrics he wrote were to be used in the song, “Me Inside”. This was a very experimental move and everyone was wondering how it would turn out. This change resulted in Anders being pushed back to percussion and back up vocals. Soon this new breed of the Knot performed a show; it turned out it was a charity event for a local hospital. The Safari was packed to the brim. Corey came out wearing a large amount of makeup that gave a dark appearance, this was added to by two latex crosses marked over his eyes. Despite this excitement the show was riddled with technical problems and was the show that resulted in Joey’s nickname, “Superball”.
Their next show was on the 17th of September, again at the Safari. This show was a great improvement, however an announcement was to be made that show. Just before Slipknot were about to storm into their final song, “Heartache and a pair of Scissors”, Anders made an announcement, “This will be my last show” he stated. This stunned both band members and the audience.
Following this sudden change the band returned to the studio to re-record the songs on their second cd titled “Crowz” – minus Anders’ vocals. Of these songs included, “Gently”, “Do Nothing”, “Slipknot”, “Tattered and Torn”, “Me Inside”, “Carve”, “Coleslaw”, “Scissors”, “Windows” and “May 17th” a song written by Shawn. Crowz was to be released October 31st 1997.
THE REST IS HISTORY…
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