The year was 1995; the place, Des Moines, Iowa. Shawn Crahan (percussions) and Paul Gray (bass) founded a heavy metal group. The first name was The Pale Ones. They eventually brought in Anders Colsefni (vocals) and Donnie Steele (guitar). They also welcomed Joey Jordison to the fold, moving Crahan from main drums to custom percussion. They then recruited Josh Brainard to add a second guitarist, bringing their total line up to six members. On December 4, the band made their live debut; playing a benefit show using the name Meld.
Crahan, Gray and Jordison would collaborate during Joridson’s late night shifts at a local Sinclair gas station. In late 1995, during one of these late night sessions, Jordison suggested changing the name of the band to Slipknot. In December of 1995, Slpiknot began recording in a local studio, financing the project themselves for around $40,000.00. in early 1996, Steele decided to leave the band due to conflicts of material and image versus his Christian beliefs. Craig Jones was brought in as Steele’s replacement, but eventually switched full time to samples, in order for the band to be able to reproduce those sounds live. Mick Thomson was recruited as the new replacement guitarist.
After the release of their self produced Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., Slipknot gained some small notoriety on the local radio scene, but the release failed to garner the band any notice from major record labels. In an effort to improve their sound, the band recruited Corey Taylor of fellow local Iowa band Stone Sour; this addition prompted the move of Colsefni from lead vocals to backup vocals and percussion. The new sound they were able with Taylor fronting the band was more melodic and versatile than what Colsefni offered. While working in the studio, Slipknot continued to do local shows, during one of which in September 1997, Colsefni announced on stage that he was leaving the band. Greg Welts was brought in to fill the void at percussion.
In early 1998, Slipknot produced and five song demo, exclusively for record companies. After attending a rehearsal, famed producer Ross Robinson offered to produce the bands debut album. After bringing in DJ Sid Wilson to bring the total count of members to nine, Slipknot received a $500,000 seven-album deal from Roadrunner Records; the band signed the deal publicly on July 8, 1998.Two days prior to this, Welts was fired from the band, something which Slipknot refuse to comment on.
Chris Fehn was brought in to replace Welts on percussion before Slipknot traveled to Malibu, California to work on their debut album in September 1998. When the Christmas holiday arrived, the band headed back to Des Moines, Iowa, during which time Josh Brainard decided to leave the band. Speaking about his decision, Brainard explained: “some decisions were made that I wasn’t particularly happy with.”
Slipknot recruited Jim Root to complete their lineup and returned to Malibu to continue work on their debut album. The band used numbers as a secondary identification method, often keeping their real identities a mystery masked by their one stage personas. Their numbers are as follows: (#0) Sid Wilson, (#1) Joey Jordison, (#2) Paul Gray (#3) Chris Fehn, (#4) Jim Root, (#5) Craig “133” Jones, (#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan, (#7) Mick Thomson, (#8) Corey Taylor.
Work on the album concluded in early 1999, allowing the band to go on their first tour as part of the Ozzfest in 1999. The tour proved to expand their audience greatly and their self-titled album was released on June 29, 1999. Slipknot went on to release their first home video Welcome to Our Neighborhood and the two singles; “Wait and Bleed” and “Spit It Out”.
Through their energetic and often chaotic live performances and a dedicated word of mouth, fueled by a growing, loyal fan base, Slipknot’s following exploded and the band’s major label debut, Slipknot, went certified platinum. The band’s sophomore effort, Iowa, was highly anticipated and peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts after its August 28, 2001 release. The album produced three singles; “The Heretic Anthem”, “Left Behind” and then “My Plague” which appeared on the soundtrack for the film Resident Evil. “Left Behind” is one of the bands biggest hits to this day. After the Iowa tour cycle ended, the members of the band took a hiatus, many of the members pursuing side projects; most notably, Taylor and Roots revival Stone Sour.
Slipknot fans did not have to wait to long, as the band returned in 2003 with their third release, Vol. 3(The Subliminal Versed). The album featured six singles; “Duality”, “Vermilion”, “Vermilion, Pt. 2″, “Before I Forget”, “The Nameless”, and “The Blister Exists”. Preparation for Slipknot’s fourth album began towards the end of 2007; however, work began when the band entered the Sound Farm Studio in Jamaica, Iowa with producer Dave Fortman in February 2008. Work came to a close on the album in June, prior to the beginning of the All Hope Is Gone World Tour on July 9, 2008. The bad released its fourth effort, All Hope Is Gone, on August 20, 2008, debuting at number 1 on the Billboard albums chart. The album produced five singles; “All Hope Is Gone”, “Psychosocial”, “Dead Memories”, “Sulfur” and “Snuff”. All Hope Is Gone was the band’s fourth straight platinum effort.
After All Hope Is Gone, the band went back to pursuing side projects. In 2010, Paul Gray was planning to tour with the super group Hail! But on May 24, 2010, he was found dead in a hotel room in Urbandale, Iowa. Circumstances surrounding his death at the time were not immediately known; an autopsy suspected that his death was not caused by intention of anyone, but still did not reveal the cause of it. The day after his death, the remaining eight members of the band held a live press conference alongside Gray’s widow and brother, expressing their feelings about the incident. On June 21, the cause of death was confirmed as an accidental overdose on morphine and fentanyl, the latter being a synthetic morphine substitute.
The band members, families and fans, affectionately known as Maggots, were all shaken and hurt his Gray’s death. The day after, the band members held a press conference, along side Gray’s widow and brother, to express their love for their fallen brother and the hurt of their loss. The band took another hiatus in order to grieve, thiough this time around, there was a lot of speculation as to whether Slipknot would continue as a band at all.
To the relief of metal fans and Maggots worldwide, Slipknot returned to the stage for a small run of shows in Europe in 2011, with original member Donnie Steele filling in for Gray. The band has since released their compilation album Antennas to Hell on May 29, 2012. The compilation peaked at #22 on the Billboard. The band has also hosted their first annual music festival, called Knotfest, which was held on August 17, 2012, at Mid-America Motorplex near Pacific Junction, Iowa (in the Omaha – Council Bluffs metropolitan area) and August 18, 2012, in Somerset, Wisconsin.
Metal heads and Maggots everywhere are hoping in anticipation that Slipknot will release a fifth studio album and continue to kick ass and take names during future live shows!