by MIKE CHAIKEN
It’s something the members of Slipknot are still dealing with.
And, the band’s percussionist, Clown, said it’s something the fans are still dealing with.
That something was the great tragedy of the Slipknot family.
And this summer is about healing.
In 2010, while the group was on a hiatus, Slipknot’s original bassist Paul Grey unexpectedly passed away.
Clown explained in a recent phone interview that the band’s decisions to join this year’s installment of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, to launch Knotfest, to tour Canada, and to release a new compilation record, “Antennas to Hell,” are all part of Slipknot’s efforts to get over the loss of Grey (who also was known as No. 2, a reference to the original nine members of Slipknot).
Slipknot arrives with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at the Comcast Center in Hartford on Sunday, Aug. 5.
“Antennas to Hell,” which includes 19 previously released tracks and a live DVD of the band playing at the 2009 Download Festival, is a compilation, said Clown. But, don’t dare call it a greatest hits album or a best of. Clown, No. 6 in the band, made it clear, he hates those words.
For him, Clown said, a best of album reeks of a couple of things. First of all, a “best of” means a band is in creative trouble and has nothing else to offer fans. Secondly, a greatest hits album probably means a band is breaking up. Either one of those situations also probably means the band is getting old, and has become essentially an infomercial reduced to slogging old hits rather than going out to play live.
“That has nothing to do with us,” said Clown of Slipknot, who is joined in the band by vocalist Corey Taylor (8), guitarist Mick Thomson (7), DJ Sid Wilson (0), drummer Joey Jordison (1), percussionist Chris Fehn (3, ) guitarist Jim Root (4), and sampler Craig Jones – 133 (5).
Clown said “Antennas to Hell” essentially was released to give fans something to hold when they come out to the shows this summer.
Additionally, Clown explained “Antennas to Hell” isn’t any ordinary compilation, said Clown. “It’s very special,” said Clown. “The songs were hand-picked by us… and placed in an order chosen by us.” There was a definite thought process involved in pulling together “Antennas to Hell,” said Clown. “It’s not a new record, but it’s a new experience.”
To add to the special quality of the new record, Clown also said he created new art—a cover and a booklet—for fans to ponder. He spent two months getting it right.
The album also offers fans some other attractions. First of all, there is the DVD showing the 2009 performance of the band at Download festival. The package also includes a montage of 10 videos—one from each of the nine members as individuals plus one from the group. The videos don’t match up with the music, explained Clown. It’s all familiar but dysfunctional, and in the process, he said, the result becomes an original work of art.
“Antennas to Hell” also includes a disc of remixes of songs on the album. When it came to the remixes, Clown said he didn’t simply re-create the songs on the remixes. “I deconstructed and made them dysfunctional.”
Yes, a couple of years have passed since the band had released a new studio album—2008’s “All Hope Is Gone.” But Slipknot continued to be a vital concern. Clown said the band has never been too far away from hitting the road to play live. And since 2008, Clown explained Slipknot has been playing all around the world.
This summer, Clown said the band is out on the road for an extended period, returning to the package tour that the band helped launch when it co-headlined. Besides Mayhem, Slipknot is taking Canada by storm.
Then, of course, there is Knotfest.
Knotfest is a way for the band to bring a metal show to their home state fans, said Clown. When he and the band were growing up in Iowa, Clown said he would watch as most major acts passed their state by. If the members of Slipknot wanted to see a show with one of their favorite bands, Clown said they would have to travel to places like Chicago or Kansas City
Given their own personal experiences trying to see their favorite bands growing up, Clown said the band decided to bring the bands to Iowa and Wisconsin. The bill at Slipknot is a “Who’s who” of metal acts. Besides Slipknot, Knotfest features the Deftones, Serj Tankian, Cannibal Corpse, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Urge, Prong, and Gojira.
Clown said the touring this summer and Knotfest are the band’s way of sharing their continuing grief with their fans over the death of their friend and band mate, Grey. Clown said Slipknot felt it was unfair for the fans to face their grief alone.
After the touring this year, Clown said the band will head off to write, record, and release a new album. Slipknot felt the time was perfect for new material. But, said Clown, this isn’t the end of one era—with the loss of Grey— and beginning of another one… as some have suggested.
When a new bassist comes into the fold, Clown said he/ she will not be one of the original nine. The band will have a new bass player, said Clown. But no matter what, he or she will never be one of the 9. There is only one true bass player for Slipknot, said Clown.
“Paul is always at the round table,” said Clown. There is always a setting place for him in the Slipknot universe. And even when the new album is recorded, said Clown, Grey is expected to have new songs on the release.
The band will be heading out onto Mayhem fest in the headlining slot. The bill also includes Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax, and more.
Clown said he likes Mayhem because all the bands become a family as they travel away from their families. “Everyone is our friend,” said Clown of Slipknot’s tour mates on Mayhem. “It’s a great time. It’s going to be a blast.”
And when Slipknot hits the stage this year, Clown promised that the band will play as if every show is going to be their last. Slipknot, he said, will be giving Mayhem fans 199 percent each and every night.
For more information, go to rockstar mayhemfest.com or Slipknot1.com.