You just know you’ll never get what’s expected from the masked men of Iowa known as Slipknot. After their debut record turned heads everywhere, they went brutal with the follow-up, Iowa. When some naysayers dismissed them as a one-hit wonder, the Knot stood the world on its ear with their masterpiece Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. It was even more impressive considering the band was battling back from the brink of disaster as internal hostilities threatened to snuff out the fire and brotherhood that fuelled them, sidelining them for almost two years.
Now comfortable that extended hiatuses do not extinguish the spark that is Slipknot, they once again find themselves on sabbatical. Vocalist Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root are presently busy with Stone Sour and drummer Joey Jordison handled drum duties for Ministry last summer.
Co-founder M. Shawn Crahan (Clown) had a more intense project to deal with. Since the beginning of the band, Crahan had been videotaping them in all sorts of situations from live shows to backstage antics. At some point, he decided to put together a DVD representing the period from the Vol. 3 sessions including the first few sessions and also life on the following tour.
The result is a two DVD set entitled Voliminal: Inside The Nine. The first disc is made up of an 80 minute film, created and directed by Crahan. The second disc contains some very revealing interview segments with each member of the band, along with both live videos and official videos of a host of songs.
The film is a jarring shock to the senses with random sequences all taken from handheld digital cameras. Combining backstage footage of people getting drunk while wearing costume shark heads and shots of the band on stage from each member’s perspective, the pace is fast and furious.
Crahan explains how the project came to be. “I’ve had a lot of revelations in probably the last five years of my life starting with being a part of a really evil way of living with real corrupt biz, managers and this type of deal,” he says. “Ending a cycle in the world in America with 9/11; the Iowa record cycle being cut short and where the world was and where the people in the world’s frustrations was. And then to not see a lot of people…these are my brothers …for two years and then going to the mansion and healing completely more or less. Taking chemo more or less to get rid of the cancer and get it in remission. And that’s where we went and we worked so hard spiritually. I think we all knew in our hearts deep down that we were going to get it together. And that’s why we all showed up. We didn’t have any mgmt…anybody helping us get to the mansion. We just all got there on our own because we believe in hope and we really wanted to believe we were the band against the world. So we made this record called Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses and everything opened up again like the way it did in ’98. But at a different level. We can’t re-create anything we did. It’s impossible. We ourselves are all insurgent. But there was a feeling, kind of like ’98 where we’re talking again and there’s kind of a little hunger. Things are going on. People are getting on. And all of a sudden, boom, it just all happened again.”
“So during this process, following the release of Disasterpieces which definitely was a DVD that was made to capture the idea I had which was that time of us right there and the only way to do was not behind the scenes but the whole show. The idea of THIS one was about three weeks before I go to the mansion, I told the label I was going to be filming and what the idea was and what some of the scenes were going to be. And I needed a little help buying some video tape and maybe some camera cleaning type stuff. There would be a time that I would have to shift from the guy who was going to be filming to the guy who would have to be playing with his band. So I would have to hire someone and someone would have to pay for this guy. I had made a promise to myself in the very beginning that I was going to spend as many years as possible collecting as many different scenarios of Slipknot as possible. Then when someone who had the authority to come up to us and say “I think we should release a DVD” which I had all on film, then I would start importing, editing and getting it out. Well, during those three years, I made little tests along the way putting it together and showing the band. Letting them in on where I was going. So they were in on it from the beginning, seeing all these little ideas. They didn’t know I was listening to them. If they would comment or laugh together, I’d know there was something good. But if they’d answer a phone or walk out of the room, I’d know that this whole section bored the crap out of them. So I was constantly testing them in a way, just making sure they were interested because this is their band. I’m only one ninth of the enigma. So it’s all about representing what we are really.”
Crahan says that the editing process was quite involved, requiring him to sift through 400 or so videotapes. It took him 60 minutes to import a 60 minute tape. Another 30 to 42 minutes to save a QuickTime movie of that entire tape and then anywhere between one second and 60 minutes to find the content in there, he says. “I have tapes that I would import and it would take me a month to get my head around it. Like for instance, there’s a shot of…we were in Australia and there’s giant vampire bats or fruit bats. I don’t remember what they are. But they’re gigantic. We filmed that whole thing. They would be like 8 feet over our head sometimes. And I would have to go through that footage just to find that one and a half second bat edit that’s in there. The reason why it took me a month to figure it out was the bat footage had to compete with something like 400 other video tapes. And the thing I wanted to convey was “Hey kiddies, you might be in another country where a big bat will fly over your freaking heads while you’re playing.” Did you ever think that was going to happen from Des Moines, Iowa? So I go down to Australia and I go ‘Jesus, there’s bats in the air.’ I’m going to film it and share it with you because it’s part of our lives together. But most bands and people don’t want to share that side of it and I think that’s wrong. And I’ve been holding all that backstage stuff forever, waiting for the right way to do it. And here’s the beautiful thing. We’re going in reverse. So you’ll get Iowa next. And you’ll probably get live songs and behind the scenes…you’ll probably get the best of both worlds. So we’re going back in time and eventually you’ll get that ’98 footage when you’re ready and you’re good. And you’ll get the real stuff. And personally as one of the guys who’s been there from the beginning, I haven’t felt the world come to ’98 yet so you ain’t getting that feeling yet. So we’re starting in reverse. We’re going backwards.”
“It wasn’t hard for me to go through them because I’m a magician, man.,” he says. “I’m looking for the concoction. The remedy. The antidote. I’m looking for the potion. It’s not work. It’s love. I cried so many times in this process. And when I say cried, I mean just like, I would just put something together and get an epiphany about how wonderful the people are who are in my band. And maybe I haven’t seen it in a while. But I’m so attached to it and it’s right in front of me. I just want to start crying because man, this guy is so talented. And I’m in a band with him. What am I bitching about? I need to praise a little more. So it was very easy for me to go through with because I had something to do. Right now, I have nothing to do. I’m not doing a god-damned thing.”
Crahan says that finding a balance between the live shots and the artsy stuff was a bit of a tightwalk. He started out with a four hour movie but slowly began to edit down. “Well, I have many voices in my head that conflict with each other. They get me into trouble because I try to do too much at once. I love film because I’m dealing with a lot voices at once. I’m dealing with visual stimulation. I’m dealing with audio stimulation. I’m dealing with the sensation of both of them mixed together at once. Cuz I’m able to separate. Sometimes I make edits with my eyes closed. Cuz it’s live and there’s a rhythm to it. Sometimes I don’t want to watch what I’m seeing. The real trick was to try and figure it out,” he says. “So I did have to balance it out, you know? I think what I finally learned to do was get people on this ride…this journey we’re on. Now I’ve opened your mind. Now I think that people are going to be ready a little bit if I decide to go a little farther in one area….if I decide to get a little more arty. A little more crazy. I think people will like it. But I’m a photographer so I like to go down to the single frame. And I just paint one single frame red, you know what I mean. That’s how precise we get. I wanted it to be absolutely random and chaotic and it’s very hard to do. So I want to invite you on some of the things that we have to go through. The things we have to see. The anxieties. The humor. The up. The down. The fear.”
“There’s a guy in there at the end of the movie in a tight hallway you see a guy Sid giving a hug to. That guy had terminal cancer. When I go back out on the road, he’s not going to be there. His dad at the end there set all that up. His dad could barely keep from crying every second he was there. He could barely even look at his son because these are the last days. Now I could go there and find out that he is one in a small percentage that beat it and he’s in remission. And I pray for that. However we were told it was terminal and it was kind of like a Make A Wish Foundation. And we met him and put him on stage. And I put it in reverse because we as a band would like to reverse time. We’d like another chance to say goodbye.”
“But I’ll tell you, I searched and searched and searched for what I thought the kids want. What they ask for. And what they can tolerate. It’s all about the kids…the maggots. We do it for us, to make ourselves happy. But I find 10 out of 10 times that we Slipknot and the maggots are one in the same thing. So we’re just doing it together. So I’m doing for myself, the band. The band’s doing it for themselves, for you, for me. You’re doing it for us. We’re doing for you. That’s what life should be because life IS we.”
This interview was taken from the Jan/Feb issue of Caustic Truths!, a Canadian metal mag. Check out the link below to find out how to get this and other issues. Caustic Truths! gets all the killer interviews from the bands you want to hear about.