Slipknot feeds its `maggots'

Music: That's what this angry band calls its fans, and the fans don't seem to mind at all.

September 10, 2001|By Isaac Guzman | Isaac Guzman,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Most Americans can thank Anthony Soprano Jr. for introducing them to the masked troubadours known as Slipknot. The mini-Mafioso of The Sopranos, played by Robert Iler, was frequently seen wearing his favorite T-shirt, adorned with the Slipknot logo.

Given Tony Jr.'s hormone-driven mood swings and adolescent disaffection, it's no wonder he's a "maggot," the preferred term of endearment for hard-core Slipknot fans. The group's brutal imagery, jackhammer guitars and ghoulish howls seem to have been designed to thrill teen-age boys while simultaneously ticking off their parents.

The group has just released its second album, Iowa, a record so misanthropic, violent and noisy that the band hopes fans will listen to it and then slump over in a fit of psychological and spiritual exhaustion. After that, says percussionist No. 6 (born Shawn Crahan, a.k.a. the Clown), they may be ready to change the world.

"I hope, because of Slipknot, everybody opens up and just cuts into it, cuts it out," No. 6 says. "Let's destroy the formula. Let's not even let the ink come out of the pen to remind ourselves that we're doing what they taught."

When speaking to No. 6, it is frequently hard to follow his thoughts, which tend to be riddled with mixed metaphors and generalizations about "it." "It" appears to be a reference to the state of our society, which, if you believe Slipknot's lyrics, is at one of the bleakest, most depressing points in history.

"I haven't slept since I woke up and found out my whole life was a lie," sings No. 8 (born Corey Taylor, a.k.a. the Sickness). "This is the end of EVERYTHING."

Formed in Des Moines in 1995, Slipknot has never been shy about expressing the rage its members feel at having grown up in a supposedly repressed Midwestern state.

The band titled its self-released first album Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. That album quickly spawned a frenzy among labels hungry for the harsh, "nu-metal" sound of metallic guitars, scratching turntables and half-rapped vocals.

Also appealing was the band's ready-made image. The group's nine members refuse to perform or be photographed when not wearing their custom-made masks and matching jumpsuits. They've also each adopted a number (0 through 8) and a pseudonym.

In addition to Nos. 6 and 8, the band includes: DJ No. 0 (Sid Wilson, a.k.a. Monkeyboy), drummer No. 1 (Joey Jordison, a.k.a. Superball), bassist No. 2 (Paul Gray, a.k.a. Balls), percussionist No. 3 (Chris Fehn, a.k.a. ... well, it's unprintable), guitarist No. 4 (Jim Root, a.k.a. the Peach), sampler No. 5 (Craig Jones, a.k.a. 133MHz) and guitarist No. 7 (Mick Thomson, a.k.a. Log).

It's hard to overstate the importance of these alter-egos in the band's success. Slipknot's live show looks like a Wes Craven film come to life, with the various numbers catapulting around the stage, slamming out their earthquake-emulating riffs. No. 6 calls it "a circus on crack."

The Pledge of Allegiance Tour, also featuring System of a Down, Rammstein, Mudvayne and American Head Charge, stops at the Baltimore Arena Oct. 16 and ends, appropriately, on Halloween night in New Jersey.

The group's constant touring, outrageous antics and the support of A.J. Soprano helped turn Slipknot's self-titled 1999 debut on Roadrunner Records into a multi-platinum hit.

The new Iowa should get a boost from the coming remake of Rollerball, in which the band gets bloodthirsty fans in the mood for gruesome action.

If parents are worried about how listening to Slipknot might affect their kids, No. 6 has some advice. After all, the 31-year-old has three small children of his own.

"I always run Slipknot stuff through them, because a child looks at everything with eyes that are brand new," he says. "If I get a new mask, I'll show it to them, and I vibe off what they say. But I keep a lot from them because they're young."

On the eve of the album's release, No. 6 already had plans to celebrate. After a two-year wait, he was excited that his fans would have something new to contemplate while society continues to corrode.

"At midnight, I am playing the album in its entirety from beginning to end," he says. "And I'll be psyched to know that hungry maggots all over the world are being fed."

Pledge of Allegiance Tour

What: Heavy metal and mayhem featuring Slipknot, System of a Down, Mudvayne, Rammstein and American Head Charge

When: Oct. 16

Where: Baltimore Arena

Tickets: $35

Call: 410-481-SEAT (tickets go on sale Friday)

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