Slipknot: Jim Root’s Track By Track Guide To We Are Not Your Kind
Guitarist Jim Root gives Kerrang! the guided tour of Slipknot’s sixth album We Are Not Your Kind. Diving into each track individually, we discover the stories behind the ’Knot’s most experimental album to date.
Let’s get stuck in.
1. Insert Coin
“This seems very airy and open, and feels like you’re in a giant field and it’s very bright, but maybe the UFOs are getting ready to come over the horizon and overtake you – at least, that’s how it makes me feel! (Laughs) While Mick, Alex, Jay and I were tracking the meat of the heavy, guitar-oriented stuff, Clown was working on a lot of these segues, and he was also working at home, too. Every once in a while, I would pop over. We were bouncing ideas back and forth, and trying to be as creative as we possibly could with the time that we had in the studio.”
“Before we even started writing this record, Clown had been like, ‘I want to get a choir.’ He was thinking in terms of a children’s choir, like a Pink Floyd – The Wall kind of thing, but we ended up getting a regular choir, and they took a version of the melody line from the original guitar line that started the demo song, which is a variation of the chorus riff. The choir did what they did, and to me it turned out to be pretty epic. I heard someone compare it to You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones, and I think that’s a pretty ambitious comparison, but I’ll certainly take it (laughs).”
3. Birth Of The Cruel
“That was a demo that I had worked on in my garage for a while that was called Gene Wilder – it was just this weird melancholy bit that was really guitar-driven throughout. There’s a couple of riffs on there that sound like they could have come off the first record [1999’s Slipknot] – there’s sort of a breakdown without it actually having a breakdown, while still keeping the flow of the song moving along. These songs wouldn’t be what they are without the input of Clown and Corey, and this one ended up evolving into a very good place.”
4. Death Because Of Death
“This is another one from the mind of Clown (laughs). While we were tracking in the other room, he was just diving really deep into this stuff. Death Because Of Death is an example of Clown’s talent; he’s an amazing songwriter, and I don’t think he gets a lot of credit for being such, but there’s a couple of songs here that came from his brain, heart and soul, which are probably some of the best songs on the record.”
5. Nero Forte
“This is also a Clown song, which is amazing. This one is going to be great live. It’s very percussive, and reminiscent of Psychosocial [from 2008’s All Hope Is Gone] – but maybe an evolution of Psychosocial. Obviously Clown is a drummer and percussionist, but he’s also a songwriter – and he always has been. Now we’re able to collaborate as songwriters, and this is what we end up with. When Corey came in and started diving into the vocals, he came up with this extra melody in the chorus line, very late into the process. That really drew me into this song.”
6. Critical Darling
“There are some bits in there that we robbed from an arrangement that I had called The Hundreds from the previous record [2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter], but then it didn’t end up making that record. It was like, ‘Well, what if we throw this little interlude in the middle, and get a little peek of it at the beginning?’ This has a really cool turnaround from the choruses, and the chorus has a really great vocal hook melody – it’s undeniable.”
7. A Liar’s Funeral
“This is the one song that I was like, ‘That has to be on the record.’ It was a demo that I worked on at home, and I got really fond of it – but then put it on the back-burner while we were working on other songs. Corey put lyrics to it and then I just loved how heavy it was. It doesn’t have any thrashy, fast speed-metal kind of stuff, but it’s so melodic and has these grindy bits in it. Parts of this are, like, real horror (laughs).”
8. Red Flag
“This one needed a bit of help. When we were in-between stuff, [producer Greg] Fidelman took this one home and chopped a big chunk out of it and realised that the riff that was underneath it worked. He helped me approach it from a way that I wouldn’t have thought of, and that brought it up to a level where it was like, ‘Okay, now this is a contender.’ I don’t think there are any guitar solos on this record, except for maybe Spiders. It was one of the furthest things from my mind, which is weird, because normally I’ll be like, ‘We’ve got to have a spot for Mick and I to have solos!’ It just didn’t even occur to me this time.”
9. What’s Next
“I don’t know how I’d describe this! That’s another of the segues that was from the mind of Clown. And, actually, some of these arrangements had working titles, which then changed, and we’ve been working on them for so long that, unless I hear it, I don’t really know which is which (laughs). You get used to something being called a certain name for two years, and then it changes and you’re like, ‘What song is that now?!’”
“I love Spiders. It shows a little bit more of what this band is capable of, in the sense that we’ve always done moody songs, or heavy soundscapes. Even back to the demo [1996’s Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat.], there’s a song called Do Nothing/Bitchslap, which is almost funk. There’s a fine line of this evolution – you don’t want to lose sight of what you are – but Spiders shows that you don’t always have to paint with the same colour. Plus, I got to play a wacky guitar solo, which was fun (laughs).”
“This is, again, a demo that came from my garage. It’s a metal banger. When we first started talking about this record, there was a point where I was pretty insecure about all these arrangements, and I didn’t think we had much to work with. You get those blocks, but that’s the beauty of collaborating with people. I watched the Freddie Mercury movie [2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody], and there’s the section where he’s separated from the band, and then he went back and was like, ‘The problem with the band is they did everything I wanted.’ I can relate to that! I need people to bounce ideas off of; that helps me take things to other places.”
12. My Pain
“Years ago, when we were working on All Hope Is Gone, there was another record that Clown and I were working on up in the farmhouse, away from the studio. My Pain was something that was born at that time, and it was always something that Clown was working on – it’s like that one painting that you keep going back to. I don’t think he wanted to use it for whatever it is we’re going to end up calling that other music – and for all I know, we may never end up releasing it. But this was one of those things that he wanted to revisit and see where it could go. Corey pulled out all the stops, and made it something special.”
13. Not Long For This World
“This is one of my favourites. The guitar riff behind the vocals has this vibe to it where it’s very melodic, and airy, and open – and then it breaks down into a typical Slipknot thing. I just love the way the vocals and the riff work together.”
14. Solway Firth
“I love this song, because it has all these different elements. It’s got the ambient, airy guitars, and it’s got moody drums, but it also has a thrash metal riff. I feel really lucky because I’m able to bring these other influences through that aren’t really metal at all. It’s important to me to write things that are obscure enough that you’d never heard anything like it before, but which have a familiarity to them. If I compose something, and then I hear people whistling it an hour later, that’s a step in that direction.”
We Are Not Your Kind is out now on Roadrunner Records.
Read this next:
Here’s a definitive list of the 50 best first tracks in heavy metal history…
We hate to admit it, but this Deftones/Britney combination has its cool moments.