Dark clouds barraged nine-piece metal behemoth Slipknot in the wake of their 2008 release All Hope Is Gone. The death of bassist Paul Gray in 2010 from a drug overdose nearly derailed the group permanently. The band regrouped two years later for live shows, but then longtime drummer Joey Jordison left the group under nebulous circumstances at the end of 2013. (Members of the group are not legally allowed to discuss his departure.)
As 2014 heads towards the finish line, the clouds are lifting. The band has returned with a new drummer and bassist for their first album in six years, .5: The Gray Chapter. The group is bringing their powerful and physical live performance to Southern California as headliners of Knotfest, a three-day heavy metal festival, October 24 to 26 in San Bernardino.
We spoke with Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor about the band’s return, who he’s looking forward to seeing at Knotfest, and the proposed “Scent of Slipknot” permeating the air at the festival.
How hard was it to go back into the studio without Paul and Joey?
For me, there was some hesitation. But we all knew that for us to truly move on, we all had to come together. Part of that involved actually sitting down and talking about what we were dealing with. We hadn’t really done that before returning to the studio. It alleviated a lot of the pressure that we might have been putting ourselves through.
How much catharsis was attained by moving forward with the new album?
For me, it was definitely a very cathartic experience. Lyrically, I went to a lot of brutally honest places. It felt good to put that much ferocity and focus back into this. I’m proud that I was able to take the grieving process and show the world what we’ve been going through…peeling back the curtain and saying, "This is what being human means sometimes, and it’s not always good."
Would you consider the new album the most personal you have released?
It’s definitely the most personal lyrically since [2001 release] Iowa. I’m dealing with everything in a more mature way now. Iowa was about a lot of issues that were clinging from when I was younger. But this album is about an adult dealing with one of the biggest losses of his life, and how that relates to himself, his family, his band, and everything around him, and how those repercussions infiltrate everything in your life.
Are there any bands playing Knotfest that you are hoping to see yourself?
Amen is one of my all-time favorite bands. I’ve known [Amen frontman] Casey Chaos for 16 years. They were recording their first album with [producer] Ross Robinson when we were coming in to record the first Slipknot album. I love that they’re coming back. And even though [drummer] Dave Lombardo is not playing this show, Roy Mayorga from [Corey Taylor’s other band] Stone Sour is playing drums with them. Not only will I get to see Amen, but I’ll get to see my Stone Sour brother play with them.
Seriously, what’s up with the Scent of Slipknot?
The only way I can answer that is that [Slipknot percussionist/visual artist] Clown is a very extraordinary individual. When he described what he was thinking, I stared at him for a very long time. But I trust his instinct when it comes to creativity and art. He is so creatively committed to this band. If he says the smell of Slipknot is burning camel poop, I have to back him on that!
(NOTE: at press time, local fire officials have banned the proposed burning of camel dung. There are reports that the band is looking for alternate methods of pulling off “The Scent of Slipknot.”)
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Knotfest takes place at the San Manuel Amphitheater and Campground Friday, Oct. 24 through Saturday, Oct. 26. For complete lineup and tickets, visit www.knotfest.com.