What is coming has begun…
They famously promised ‘world domination’ nearly two decades ago and if Slipknot ever had a point to prove, they’ve done it…more than once. With sixth album We Are Not Your Kind hitting #1 in eight countries, including Australia (and top 5 in a further nine) it’s already being hailed as among their best. But it’s not the charts that echo that infamous pledge. It’s the band’s ability to continually innovate and appeal to the imagination, with an otherworldly style that is undeniably theirs alone.
“We had a really tough time picking the songs for this record.” Guitarist Jim Root muses as he chats to Maniacs in between sets of their North American Knotfest shows. “My favorite track on the record personally is ‘Liars Funeral’. There’s just something really dark … and not just lyrically … the music and the way its layered and the way its arranged, the chord conversions. I‘d never written anything like that before. There’s just some really heavy lyrical content that hits home in a lot of ways and its very introspective…’Not Long For This World’ is a good one. I like ‘Solway’ (Firth). And the segues … the stuff that Clown wrote…”
One listen of We Are Not Your Kind and you know this is not just rhetoric in response to an obvious question about ‘personal favorites’. Nothing is held back while dynamics are fastidiously textured throughout with lingering instrumental interludes lingering like a specter between the core tracks. The experimental approach the band took when writing the album has also been credited in part to stand alone precursor single ‘All Out Life’, which although not part of the official tracklisting, lends its key lyric to the album’s title.
“We recorded that like a few months before we did the rest of the record.” he says of ‘All Out Life’. “We’d never really done that before which is why it sounds a little different and why we didn’t end up putting it on (the album). We had actually a long time to work on the record… We were able to dive in really deep on all the demos and able to layer them and re-arrange them, try different things, different tempos but when it came time to track we only had three months which is half the time it usually takes us.”
The end result is an experimentally expansive deep dive which has seen We Are Not Your Kind compared most to either IOWA or Volume 3 : The Subliminal Verses. Not that Jim has a particular inclination to hold more recent work up to past achievements.
“I mean, we definitely had a chance to experiment more and get a little bit deeper and a little bit more creative and I really enjoyed that. It’s a step closer to making the type of music I actually hear in my head, which is almost impossible for me to get out.” He explains “The process of making the record was similar to Volume 3 - I will compare that - everyone was sitting in the room, we were jamming and we hadn’t done that since Volume 3. But everything else seemed wide open. Just the collaboration between us, the amount of time we were able to let these songs develop and re-develop. I could sit and not listen to a song for a month or two and then I could go back with fresh ears and still be able to work on it. Whereas before, it’s too late to work on it, it’s already been mastered and mixed and it’s printed and it’s out there.”
But, The ‘Knot feel the love post release…not just from their hometown in Des Moines where they recently played the Iowa State Fair in a welcome albeit twisted homecoming, but from all over the world as the positive response to the new album unfolds online.
“Now with social media being the kind of thing that it is. It gives us the insight that maybe only our management or record label had before. Now you see it really up close and personal. It’s kind of overwhelming and it kind of makes me step back a little bit – I don’t presume to assume that anyone gives a shit about what our band is and what it is that we do and then you realize that you are making a bigger impact than what you thought you were making and it’s kind of a little bit intimidating sometimes. Maybe that’s something that pushes us to evolve and do better and be better and write better. Just be better” he laughs.
However, the music is one side of an ever-turning coin. While, the masks have evolved as the band shed the skin of their various album cycles, the intriguing visuals explored in videos for ‘Unsainted’ for example, add yet another dimension to their ever-expanding universe.
“I have a hard time thinking about our music as visuals to go along with.” he admits “That’s usually Clown’s neighborhood. But it would be cool to do a throwback 80’s style… like ‘Ashes to Ashes’… a Bowie type video for ‘Spiders’ or something ...”The clip for second track released ahead of the album – ‘Solway Firth’ – on the other hand features clips from Amazon Prime series The Boys along with recent live footage of the band playing to a heaving festival crowd, many wearing masks themselves. “When we were talking about the video for the series, Corey (Taylor) was like ‘oh this is great because it’s about this and its really dark’ so we didn’t really need anyone to fill us in on it because Corey already knew.”
And speaking on live performance, the anticipation and excitement surrounding Slipknot isn’t over just because album is finally out. The band’s celebrated live reputation will be put on full display as Australian audience prepare for what will arguably be a talking point for decades to come; when Slipknot tour with Metallica in October.
“I don’t even know how long our set times going to be when we are down there with Metallica. But we definitely want to play the new tunes because in Europe they went over so well...it was insane how well they were going over.” He enthuses “The crowd was popping off just as much as for songs like ‘Disasterpieces’ or ‘Surfacing’. It was fucking bonkers! When you’re playing Download or Rock am Ring or Rock im Park with 60 – 70 thousand shouting ‘WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND! WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND!’ …you’re like ‘OK, they like this’. Bet we are always going to give 110% no matter what.”
As always, you have been warned…We Are Not Your Kind is out now on Roadrunner Records and is also available in limited Blue and Red coloured vinyl. Slipknot play as special guests of Metallica Oct 17 to Oct 29.