This article was originally published in December 2011.
When Slipknot reunited after a long hiatus, everyone seemed eager to work together. But soon after they entered the studio with producer Dave Fortman, it became clear that All Hope Is Gone would definitely not be the band's first conflict-free album. Frustrated by the relative lack of experimentation in the music, Clown, Jim Root, and Sid Wilson withdrew and began working on their own ethereal and psychedelic material in a second studio. They hoped their creative excursions would be included on the record, but all but one song was shelved, leaving Root and Clown angry and feeling somewhat apathetic—which doesn't mean the LP doesn't rip. Indeed, one listen to the anti-government "Gematria (The Killing Name)," the blast beat– and gang vocal–saturated title track, and the lumbering "Gehenna," as well as more commercial songs like "Psychosocial" and the largely acoustic ballad "Snuff," proves the contrary.
COREY TAYLOR I was on Family Values [Tour 2006] with Stone Sour and I was miserable. I was watching all these bands make $20 and having the time of their fucking lives. They're going on in the middle of the day and there's no one there, and they're just going for it. And here I am, third from the top of the bill, and I'm fucking miserable. I went, There's something fucking wrong here. I used to live to do this. I used to kill to do this. That's when I really started to focus again. This whole time I thought my biggest problem was with the shit around me. But there's something inside me that's not right and that's affecting me, and all roads led back to my marriage. Walking away from my wife was the best thing I could have done. I realized I needed to stand on my own and figure out who I am and I did. It was the toughest step I've ever taken, and I went through a year and a half of hell and came out on the other side reborn bigger and stronger. I started writing lyrics for All Hope is Gone in the middle of the Stone Sour tour cycle. I sat down and filled notebooks. I started to feel hungry again and I wanted to make another Slipknot album. I hadn't felt that way in years.
JOEY JORDISON After I demoed the record with Paul, I found out a bunch of stuff [about my ex-girlfriend]. It was a really bad relationship and made me almost want to kill myself. All I could do is fuck myself up. I shut the lights off, didn't answer the phone, put powder up my nose, and got drunk for three weeks. I didn't eat. I was almost fuckin' dead. People were like, "What the fuck is going on with him?" Then my dad broke down my fuckin' door and I'm scared shitless of my dad. Period. He's the hardest motherfucker, ever.
PAUL GRAY Recording the album in Iowa [at Sound Farm Studio] was good because we were away from L.A. and all the hangers-on. We were on a farm in the middle of nowhere and there was nobody in our face. We wrote and recorded the record faster than any we've ever done. Me and Joey demoed songs in October. And we started preproduction in January. We were in the studio March 1st and we were out by the end of April.
JORDISON I tracked all the drums myself by myself because I wrote the basic skeletons of the songs and we only practiced for a week and a half. Some people were still trying to figure out the songs, so I said, "Fuck it, I'm gonna do it myself. Roll tape, now." That caused a lot of problems in retrospect, but I knew exactly where the songs were gonna go. So I said, "Lemme just do it and concentrate on the parts myself." I tracked everything in three days.
JIM ROOT When we first started the record, things were a little spread out. We didn't do as much preproduction, we didn't do as much rehearsing and writing together. Joey and Paul didn't have quite as many songs demoed out as they did before. When we did Subliminal Verses, Paul and Joey had written 16 or 18 songs. This time, they only demoed five or six songs. So there was a clock ticking above our head. We had already agreed to do the [2008 inaugral Rockstar Energy Drink] Mayhem Fest, so we knew we absolutely had to be done before the tour. It felt like we had to throw a lot of things together for this record, plus we recorded way different than we recorded Iowa or The Subliminal Verses. It wasn't nine guys in a room hashing things out and letting them evolve. We didn't have time for that. Joey tracked the entire album without playing along with the band, and I was extremely worried that wasn't going to give this album the push and pull that a Slipknot record needs. Because Joey's tempos are usually moving around and pushing us to push the guitars this way and the bass that way. And then Sid [Wilson] might come up with something that could spark a whole new song idea. We didn't get the chance to do any of that. Hearing it after it was mixed, I felt like, OK, this is a particular chapter in our book, but it doesn't mean the next one will be this way.
SID WILSON We never got together as a full band, which was very odd. The album really happened in segments and pieces and separate from each other. I'm always down to create with all my brothers and I always put the invitation out there, but everybody had their own reasons for separating themselves from everyone and, in turn, it created All Hope Is Gone.
GRAY Everything seemed bigger and better and less dysfunctional. Before, if someone was pissed off about something, he held it in and just stew in it. Now it's like, "Hey, let's fucking go! I'm fucking pissed, man! Why did you do that?" And we get the problems hashed out right away. I love everybody in this band. They're my fucking family. But families fight. And when you hold in shit and start resenting people, it can turn really ugly... We all speak our minds now more than we used to.
TAYLOR My whole goal for doing this album was to say everything that I've always wanted to fucking say and to use at least 15 types of voices. I wanted to push every boundary and I think I did. To me, All Hope Is Gone is a very positive thing to fuckin' say because hope means expectations, and when you give up expectation, you embrace what's going to happen. You're never going to be let down. I think hope is the death of dreams, honestly. Because what if your dreams come true and they don't live up to your hopes? All of a sudden your heart's broken for no reason. Also, the title is a reference to the listener. Any hope you had of trying to figure out where we were gonna go is completely gone because you'll never figure us out. If you just stop trying to figure us out and just embrace the fact that we are always going to try to twist the boundaries and surprise you every time, you'll enjoy it even more.
GRAY Some of the songs are the heaviest we've ever written. Some are the most melodic. Some are the most emotional and musical. It's really cool. You can only do so much with writing blazing fast heavy songs your whole career but you just wind up painting yourself into a fucking corner. We can do a song with piano and Corey singing and we can put it out as Slipknot and people will hear it as Slipknot. And that's what I'm actually really stoked about. The future is wide open now, whereas during the Iowa cycle, it seemed like we were painting ourselves into a corner.
TAYLOR The highlight for me was when I heard "Snuff" for the first time all together. It was a very personal song for me, and it was one of the two songs I actually wrote myself and brought in. And when I heard what everybody had put on it, I just started bawling. It was so gratifying. Right when I finished that song, I was in a fucked-up headspace and all of a sudden Clown comes up behind me with his fuckin' camera. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Jim is behind me with a gigantic wheel of firecrackers. Clown goes, "No one is safe," and suddenly Armageddon goes off behind me. I get up afterwards and I'm pissed, fucking livid. And in retrospect, it's fucking hilarious, but at the time I was furious.
ROOT On the days Mick and Paul weren't there, Clown and I would go over to the other house and write all this other music. One of the songs, "We Die," made it on the record, but most of them didn't. They're a little bit more experimental, a little bit more cerebral. It was fun and Clown and I were able to do things like record frogs and then write a song around the way the frogs sound. We put Corey down in a well and had him sing and it sounds like he's in a cavern. I was able to approach guitar not with straightforward power chords or modal riffs, but as a different instrument entirely and I really liked that. Will it ever come out? I don't know. Will it end up being Slipknot? I don't know. Some of it could.
WILSON I had a really good time writing with Clown and Jim and Corey old-school style. The thing is, Jim, Clown, and Corey wanted to push our boundaries a little further, and other guys weren't ready to do that. I thought [producer Dave] Fortman would have been a lot more involved. And I called Joey repeatedly and asked him to come write music with me at my house but it didn't happen.
JORDISON Sid, Shawn, and Jim did that stuff. It has nothing to do with the band as far as I'm concerned. I haven't even heard it so how can it be Slipknot? But while they were working over there, it got pretty heated. Like, "What the fuck are you guys doing over there? The shit's over here." But you can't tell a painter not to paint.
SHAWN "CLOWN" CRAHAN Fortman was bad for Clown. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. I sat in the car with him and played nine songs I wrote for this band. He said four of them are worth a shit. I don't care. I'm a writer, man. I'm serious and I wasn't before. I don't want anyone thinking I'm mad at Fortman—I'm mad at this record. The record's phenomenal. Much respect to Dave Fortman. It sounds fantastic. But it doesn't do shit for me because the art's been lost. The other shit we did should have gotten the time of day and it didn't. One of those songs is out there, but it's all beautiful and the rest of it is not there right now.
MICK THOMPSON It just didn't make sense as Slipknot. But every musician has so much more shit in them. You can't put it all on the same record. It just doesn't work. It would be too eclectic. We all do all sorts of different things. But it doesn't necessarily fit within the context of us on a given record. How do you go from "All Hope Is Gone" to that shit? It's way too radical a departure. It wouldn't work.
ROOT Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun recording and playing guitar. And I had a lot of fun writing music with Clown. I broke down some barriers and got closer to some of the guys that I wasn't that close with before. And right now, we're all getting along better than we ever have. So aside from the actual way the album was put together, I think everything was great.
TAYLOR We still have our shit. Sometimes we're so mad we can't even speak to each other. But at the end of the day, we have done something so incredible together. We have accomplished the impossible. The fact that we're still here and we're bigger than ever is a fuckin' miracle.