Paul Gray hated amusement park rides.
That’s a fact. He was not a fan of roller coasters, or Ferris wheels or, anything that would make you vomit uncontrollably. Whenever Slipknot had a chance to go to these theme parks, like Disney or Knot’s Berry Farm or Six Flags, he’d roll his eyes and sigh, knowing full well what he was in for.
Because of that, and because I am a huge fan of said rides, I always made sure I was sitting next to him.
We were nearly finished making our self-titled debut album in 1999 when Ross Robinson, our producer, told us that he was going to take us all to Disneyland. I was stoked – I’d never been, and I was so ready for a break from the studio that I was already pulling my shoes on to wait for the band in the van. Paul was not too enthused, but he knew that it would be a great time for the band. And so with coats and smokes, we headed for ‘The Happiest Place On Earth’.
Disneyland in February is a ghost town. There were maybe 100 people there that day, so we were able to run right on to every ride we wanted. Of course, I kept Paul right beside me… which was easy, since Paul was not a big runner. You could always find Paul on the way to stage, because he was always last. He didn’t need to rush; he was on his own time.
With Paul next to me, we jumped onto Space Mountain. That’s where the fun began.
We both sat down in the car and pulled the metal safety bar down to lock us in. I immediately started fucking with it, a look of concern on my face.
“Does this seem broken to you?” I asked him.
He gave me a look of pure panic. “Wh-what are you talking about?”
I started messing with the bar, as if it were too loose. “It just… It just doesn’t feel like it’s locked in good enough! Look! See how I’m moving it?”
Paul was starting to sweat, scanning the area for the ride’s attendant. “Where’s the guy? Where the fuck’s the guy? We gotta get off this thing!”
Unfortunately, the guy was back at the controls, getting ready to hit the ‘GO’ button. Paul was losing his mind, casting around to get the guy’s attention. Meanwhile, suppressing the shittiest grin, I settled back for what would be the loudest screaming known to man.
The ride started and we plunged into darkness. Paul’s screaming started low before slowly creeping up into ‘Horror Movie Female Victim’ range, piercing my ears and scaring everyone on board. Thank god, because he would have heard me laughing my balls off the entire ride. With every corner, he got louder and louder. When we finally reached the end, Paul was nearly hoarse from his terror siren.
With a laugh and after helping him out of the car, we wandered out, a little dizzy, into the cool air.
We ran right for the Matterhorn – and it started all over again!
We’d sit in the car. I’d pull on the bar. “Is this thing broken?” “Somebody get the fucking guy!” Screaming. Laughing. Dizzy. And next ride.
That has to be one of the happiest days of my life. And even though he ‘hated’ me for a second, Paul and I always talked about that day and how much fun we had.