"People think we're egotistical. I don't give a shit," then-Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison told Revolver in 2011. "The fact is no one fucking kills themselves like Slipknot. No one. Not even fucking close." We were interviewing him and his bandmates about the history of the Iowan metal outfit, including, of course, their breakthrough 1999 self-titled album, which sent shock waves reverberating through the rock universe. Slipknot were poor, hungry, driven and self-destructive during the making of that record and the relentless touring in support it, and they did kill themselves like no other active band at the time, or maybe at any time ever. Below, are 12 standout stories from the era that speak to their grit, determination, vision and utterly unhinged insanity.
1. Clown predicts Slipknot's future success before the band is even signed
Before he managed Slipknot, Cory Brennan worked at Roadrunner Records. At the label's first meeting with the band, which took place at the Roadrunner offices, co-founding percussionist/conceptualist Shawn "Clown" Crahan approached him. "Clown shook my hand and said, 'How does it feel to meet your first platinum artist?'" Brennan recalled. "And he did that to everybody, including the president and owner of the company. Then the three of them sat there and told us how they were gonna, one day, have hydraulic drums that they would weld themselves, which would go 15 feet in the air and turn upside-down, and how they were gonna be the biggest band in the world. Everything he said they'd do came true."
2. Corey Taylor claims the number eight because of a childhood obsession with the number
When the members of Slipknot first picked their numbers for their coveralls, Corey Taylor immediately insisted that he get the number eight. "Eight has always been my lucky number," he explained to us years later. "I was born on the eighth of December. I used to count everything by eights. I had OCD when I was a kid and when I walked, I was obsessed with even numbers but eight most of all. Because I was right-handed, all of my even steps would have to fall on my right foot and all of my odd steps would have to fall on my left foot. And I would count them in my head, and if I fucked up and shuffled my feet, I would freeze until I reset my mind. Even now, if I'm ever sitting somewhere and just hanging out, you can always see me tapping my thumb from one finger to another, counting the segments on my fingers, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. I do that constantly."
3. Sid Wilson claims his spot in the band through a spontaneous act of violence
Slipknot were originally on the fence about enlisting a DJ into their ranks. Wilson knew he had to pull out all the stops to seal the deal. He went to the band's next show as a fan, and when the group kicked into the song "Tattered and Torn," during which Clown was known to enter the pit and wrap kids up with his microphone cord, Wilson went on the offensive. "I was on his ass like a fucking Jedi Knight," he said. "I grabbed him by the head while he was still on the stage. I counted to five and headbutted him on six, which is his number. He fell down on his fucking ass. It almost knocked him out. He went back to Joey [Jordison, Slipknot's original drummer] and said, 'I don't care what anybody in the fucking band says, that dude's in.'"
4. Slipknot's gruesome live video projections lose Corey Taylor a friend
For their Halloween shows, Slipknot cut together an hour of crazy animation, porn scenes and clips of real-life death. It all climaxed with footage of the suicide of Bud Dwyer [the disgraced Pennsylvanian state treasurer who shot himself in the head during a 1987 televised press conference], which the band looped and slowed down. "We lost half of our fans after that show," Taylor said. "I had a friend who, still to this day, will not talk to me. She looked at me straight in the face and said, 'This is disgusting, this is not gonna go anywhere. You are wasting your fucking life. And quite frankly, because you backed that decision, you are not the person I thought you were.'"
5. Ross Robinson torments the band in the studio
Producer Ross Robinson (Korn, Sepultura, Limp Bizkit) is infamous for his terroristic in-studio techniques, and he brought them out in full force when faced with putting the Nine's insanity down on tape. He threw potted plants at Jordison so he would have to duck them while he was playing drums. He made Chris Fehn drink two gallons of water 'til he was on the verge of throwing up to get a mic'd mallet sound out of his stomach. He would try to knock instruments out of band members' hands while they were playing, shouting at them, "You can play that shit harder!" The nonstop assault eventually broke Taylor. "By the end, I was literally broken completely in half and wide open and bawling and I couldn't stop crying," the singer recalled. "I was throwing up all over the fucking place. At one point, the vocal booth smelled so bad."
6. Joey Jordison sets the studio on fire
One night during the mixing of the record, Jordison slept at the studio and, in his sleep, knocked a pillow onto a nearby space heater. "Next thing I know, I'm smelling something and I jumped up," the drummer said. "I almost burned [the recording studio] Indigo Ranch completely down. The whole thing was filled with smoke and flames. We had to literally take fire extinguishers all over the place and open all the windows. It took about a week to get the smell out."
7. Sid Wilson busts his head open before Ozzfest. Clown makes it worse.
"We did a warm-up show for Ozzfest, and right before 'Eeyore,' I did two good head-butts into Clown's beer keg, then the lights went out, my knees buckled, and I hit the floor," Wilson recalled. "When the lights went back on, I couldn't get up and blood was gushing down my face and pouring out of the mask. Our security guy got me backstage to our dressing room and I looked in the mirror. The wound was wide open and I could see my skull, but there was a song coming up that I had parts for, so I put a towel on my head and strapped the mask on tight to try to stop the bleeding. Then, when I go back out there, Clown's giving me this look that says, 'You look like a fucking idiot.' So, he punches me in the head right in the gaping wound. I pushed him away and crawled over to Corey because he had never beat on me. But he grabbed my head and banged it on the floor to the beat of the music. I went to the hospital after the show and got 16 stitches."
8. Corey Taylor eats vomit and swallows blood
Playing in a mask sucks — a lot. Take it from Taylor: "There were a lot of times when it was so hot and I'd been raging so hard that I'd throw up in my mask and have to eat the puke because there was nowhere to spit it," he told us, looking back on Slipknot's first Ozzfest run. "Also, I broke my mouth so many times coming up too hard on the mic. I went from having to swallow blood to puking and having to swallow that."
9. Joey Jordison sets himself on fire
While on the road with Coal Chamber, Jordison would pour lighter fluid over his drums and set them on fire on a regular basis. One night he caught fire, too, and suffered third-degree burns. With that sort of madness going on, perhaps it's no surprise that Coal Chamber tried to kick Slipknot off the tour. Their manager Sharon Osbourne wasn't having it, though. "Slipknot are the only reason the fucking tour's selling any tickets," Paul Gray recalled her saying. "You can't kick them off."
10. Slipknot get into it with Mushroomhead fans
The longstanding beef between the 'Knot and rival masked metal outfit Mushroomhead is well-documented; when the former swung through the latter's hometown, Cleveland, in support of their debut album, tensions flared into violence. "There were about 20 kids in the crowd that were Mushroomhead fans that were whipping batteries at us," Gray told us of the show. "Me and Jim [Root, Slipknot guitarist] jumped offstage and took our masks off and started swinging at people at the end of one song. When we were done with that set, everything came off and we went straight through the crowd to try to find those people and we ended up finding those dudes and we threw down. One of the guys in our crew got maced by the cops and arrested."
11. Sid Wilson plays shows with broken ribs
At a concert in Germany, Wilson leaped off a balcony, and the crowd, unfortunately, failed to catch him. He hit the floor hard and broke two ribs, but he didn't know it at the time and, in denial, kept playing gigs afterwards. Eventually, it hurts so bad that he was forced to go to a hospital. "They said, 'Oh, your ribs are broken. You have to lay down in bed for weeks and heal.'" he remembered. "And I said, 'I can't. I've got shows to play. So give me a rib brace.'" Wearing a brace and back support, and using inhalers to breath better, he went on his way.
12. Chris Fehn pees on Sid Wilson
One night, while on tour in Cincinnati, Slipknot percussionist Chris Fehn got really drunk, and as Paul Gray told us, he woke up in the middle of the night needing to piss. Mistaking his bunk for the bathroom, he lifted his mattress like a toilet seat and proceeded to urinate on the bunk below him, where Wilson happened to be sleeping. "I had no idea what was happening," Fehn recalled. "I woke up with Sid yelling, You pissed in my bunk!' And I said, 'I did not. Shut the fuck up.' But I totally did. Before I die, I have to let Sid piss on me."