Clown: “It’s Just A Wonderful Time To Be In Slipknot Right Now”
“I’m looking forward to the world shitting on it.”
Those were the surprising (and only half-joking) parting words from Corey Taylor’s Great Big Mouth last month when Kerrang! caught up with the Slipknot frontman to discuss the band’s new album We Are Not Your Kind, just days ahead of its release on August 9 via Roadrunner Records. And boy oh boy, could he not have been more wrong.
Now capping off the brilliantly successful launch of album number six, not only did the Iowa titans hit Number One in UK charts for the first time in a whopping 18 years with We Are Not Your Kind, they also promptly announced a huge UK and European arena tour with fellow heavyweights Behemoth to celebrate the news last week.
After all, it’s a hell of an achievement: the band join esteemed company Iron Maiden, Avenged Sevenfold and Black Sabbath as the only other metal act to have an album hit the top spot in the last decade (those other releases being Maiden’s The Book Of Souls in 2015; A7X’s Hail To The King and Sabbath’s 13 in 2013; and Maiden’s The Final Frontier in 2010). Numbers-wise, the ’Knot reached 31,800 chart sales (25,500 physical sales, 5,000 downloads and 4,300 streaming equivalent album sales) in its first week, showing UK Maggots’ commitment and appreciation for the physical format. And now they get to celebrate at the shows…
“It feels good to be coming back for an extensive tour of Europe and the UK,” Corey enthuses of the band’s return to their second home. “No matter how many times we come there, it always feels like we can never get enough, nor play all the cities we want to. But one thing’s for certain: the audiences are always some of the best in the world.”
Kicking off in Dublin on January 14, 2020, Slipknot will be taking on Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Sheffield, Nottingham, Cardiff, Birmingham and London for the nine-date stint next year, marking their first UK appearances since their 5K-rated headlining performance at June’s Download Festival. And while currently still on their huge Knotfest Roadshow North America stint (also with Behemoth, plus Volbeat and Gojira), they’ve slowly started to ease new material into the set list; first came lead single Unsainted, and then We Are Not Your Kind’s epic album closer Solway Firth during their show at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois on August 11. But there’s plenty more to come, too. When asked during a fan Facebook live Q&A if they’d be unleashing more new material – including album highlight Nero Forte – at any point, Corey responded: “Absolutely – probably not soon enough for a lot of fans (laughs). But definitely once we knock the rust off of it, then we’ll definitely be able to get that out there.”
Given the painstaking approach that Slipknot took with the making of We Are Not Your Kind, it’s understandable that they’re not quite ready to drop the entire record into their live performance just yet. Producer Greg Fidelman had them working hard in the studio, building layers and expanding on the demos with multiple takes per song.
“A good day is finishing a song completely, with back-ups, and doubling everything up,” Corey recalls to Kerrang!. “But with Slipknot, and especially working with Greg, we tried so many different things before we would settle on the best idea. Sometimes I would sing songs two or three times, trying different choruses or verses here and there to make it better. Sometimes I would finish a song and be like, ‘Okay, this one’s fucking done,’ and then I’d get a call where it’s like, ‘We wanna try something on this now…’ and I’m like, ‘You fucker! Why didn’t we do that in the moment?!’ Sometimes it would be a case of coming back and trying something two or three times. You’re emotionally spent and physically drained, but then you listen back and you’re like, ‘Fuck! It was so worth it.’”
“This album was such a thought process from a long time ago, towards the end of the cycle for the last album [2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter], when I had begun thinking about this album,” continues founding percussionist – and one of the core minds behind all things We Are Not Your Kind – Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan, of the journey here. “Time was important for this album: as much time to be working on it. Fortunately and unfortunately, to work on what we work on these days, we don’t push art – we don’t come into the studio and make drum beats to write songs on, or Jim [Root, guitar] doing a solo and go, ‘Okay, that’s good.’ You need time. It might not be today – it may be a month from now. Time was the most important thing to give ourselves on this album, and we did it. We got as much as we needed and wanted, and everyone was there to support it. And here at the end of it, with my life being different, I have this art piece, We Are Not Your Kind, that is just mind-blowing – the time that went into it, the writing, the effort, everyone’s thoughts and concepts, and the ability to be able to go in and work. I think time was the biggest thing for this album, and we got it. There was months and months of just setting our eye on the prize – beginning at zero, and trying to work to 11, and get something that makes sense in order for it to start moving in another direction.”
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“We would pop over to LA and work for a few weeks, and then pop back,” explains Jim. “And while I was at home I would listen to the latest versions of demo stuff that we’d worked on, and that was the time we were afforded to let these things evolve, where I was able to listen to it and go, ‘Yeah, that’s cool, but maybe if I tried this it would work better.’ And that’s when it gets to the next level. I think it was a progression and an evolution. At the beginning, I kind of felt like, ‘I don’t know if any of this is good.’ When more band members start coming in, and when you listen to it back with new people and you pick it apart more, it’s a really good thing that we were able to do all that, because it just makes you go, ‘Okay.’ You know, usually when we write records or whatever, halfway through the tour cycle I’m like, ‘Oh shit, I could have done this on this song,’ or, ‘This harmony would have been good here,’ or, ‘Maybe this should be half as long.’ But we had the time to work that stuff out a little bit during the process, and with the help of Fidelman, everything came together. And it just kept getting better, the more we worked on it. When we started tracking it, the more band members that came in – Sid [Wilson, DJ], Craig [Jones, samples], Mick [Thomson, guitar] – they would add their touch to everything, or interpret riffs differently than how I had written it on the demo.”
Given the time, resources and freedom afforded, it’s no surprise that Slipknot are now loving being The Nine more than ever.
“This is the greatest time of Slipknot,” Clown nods. “We worked so hard for so long, and it was really hard to stop and enjoy the success, and enjoy what was happening around us. You get those sorts of traits when you’re older, and we’re older now – we’re 20 years in. And all the hard work, and all the blood, and losing people… it all makes you stronger. I refuse not to understand what’s happening around me. It’s just a wonderful time to be in Slipknot, to be around Slipknot, and it’s a wonderful time to watch and experience Slipknot. I feel like everything we are is working at its full potential. Our management, booking agent, lawyers, label, our fans, ourselves… I feel like all of us are just working to the best benefit of Slipknot to get the vision out. That’s really what it is. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, and I’d be bullshitting you but I don’t feel like we’ve grown up, but I just feel like we’ve found a way to understand what we don’t want to deal with, and it’s effortless for everyone.”
The good vibes, then, are going to continue around the world for a long time to come. While their Knotfest Roadshow ends in September, Slipknot then hit the road with a tiny little band called Metallica in Australia and New Zealand in October and November, before possibly even unveiling more new music before their UK return in 2020. They won’t be We Are Not Your Kind offcuts (of which there are several), however, but old material from Clown, Corey, Jim and Sid’s separate sessions on 2008’s All Hope Is Gone LP. “We have 11 songs that we’re gonna release sometime in this album cycle,” Clown told Loudwire recently. “But it’s never been about just getting it out. It needs to be out when it’s right, and by coming out during this album cycle people will understand even more what we’re doing on this album and what first led to it.”
Detailing the record to Kerrang! late last year, Clown explained: “It has nothing to do with Slipknot. We’re gonna release it, and the artwork is done, the mixing is done, and we might do some more mastering. We’re gonna do some special stuff with it, and I just want everybody to know the main reason why it’s coming out: because it’s beautiful.”
While we await more concrete info on that, for now it’s all about bracing ourselves for Slipknot’s highly-anticipated return next year.
“I just want to take a moment to thank all the fans,” Clown finishes. “We’re really proud of this album, and it’s one of a kind. That doesn’t make it better or worse – it’s just different than the other albums, as are all the other albums from each other. It’s very exciting. We hope to see everybody soon…”
We Are Not Your Kind is out now via Roadrunner Records. Slipknot tour the UK and Ireland with Behemoth in 2020 at the dates below – get your tickets now.
Slipknot UK and Ireland tour 2020
14 Dublin, 3Arena
16 Manchester, Arena
17 Newcastle, Utilita Arena
18 Glasgow, The SSE Hydro
20 Sheffield, FlyDSA Arena
21 Nottingham, Motorpoint Arena
22 Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena
24 Birmingham, Arena
25 London, O2 Arena
Relive Slipknot’s Manchester headline show with this colourful gallery
A Japanese Twitter account for the instrument makers issued a public service announcement.