Slipknot's self-titled Roadrunner album is nearing platinum status. Their home video, "Welcome to Our Neighborhood," has dominated Billboard's Top Ten since its release, and is already platinum. But that's just America. Australians have made the album gold and the video platinum, and the band continues to sell out gigs there - and throughout Europe and Japan too. Even grumpy old England -- notoriously intolerant of heavy American rock -- has chimed in with a Silver record and New Musical Express' declaration of Slipknot as "brilliant." Similar accolades can be found within recent cover stories in Alternative Press, Circus, Guitar World, Hit Parader and Metal Hammer, and the band has also been featured in Kerrang!, Metal Maniacs, Rolling Stone, and Spin, among others. To top it off, the tune "Wait and Bleed" (which the band performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien) has lately been rotating on MTV, KROCK NY, KROQ LA, LIVE 105 in San Francisco, WHFS Washington, DC, KNDD Seattle and so on.
Surprised? Don't be. From the skull-pummeling "Sic" and unforgiving bludgeon force of "Surfacing," to the sublime melodicism of "Wait and Bleed," to the entrancing percussive drive of "Prosthetics," Slipknot's Ross Robinson-produced Roadrunner CD swarms with such dense instrumentation that you'd swear it was a whole symphony of sickos in command. And you'd be right: Slipknot is made up of nine native Iowans: DJ Sid (#0), drummer Joey (#1), bassist Paul (#2), percussionist Chris (#3), guitarist Jim (#4), sampler Craig (#5), percussionist Shawn (#6), guitarist Mick (#7), and vocalist Corey (#8). Nine guys, each with his own gruesome visual persona AND dehumanizing number. Sounds like a lot? Percussionist Shawn wouldn't have it any other way. "Our music is so reliant on each other that if one guy is gone, it just wouldn't be our songs. Without one person, something is really, really missing. Everybody has to be present. Even the littlest things make our songs magical."
And it is about the songs, after all. While some visually oriented bands forget about that, the beast that is Slipknot, with its virally infectious sense of melody and explosive, percussion-driven backbone, knows its priorities well. "We never put on the sh*t we wear to try to get people into us," says Joey. "We did because, after being degraded constantly for trying to play music or do something in Des Moines, it just came out to be like we were an anonymous entity. No one gave a f*ck. No one cared, so we were never about our names or our faces we're just about music.
Shawn concurs, but refuses to downplay the importance of the band's freakish, startling visuals, or their pathological appeal. "The masks are an extension of our personalities," he says. "Everybody's got a sort of tweaked, demented way about themselves, and we just alter the masks over time. It feels really, really good when we wear our masks for an hour and then take them off. The first thing we do is go, 'God, what a relief.' But we always seem to put them back on after a show."