“It’s not great but those fucking drums, man.”
In 1999, after watching WWE’s September PPV, ‘Unforgiven’, I came away with two thoughts. The first being “Wow, they are really trying to push Triple H.” and the second was relating to the fantastic promo video to that event’s Six-Pack Challenge main event. Featured during the promo were three songs that would change my life forever, two by Industrial Metallers Fear Factory and one by Alt-Metal maniacs System of a Down I was so taken by these songs, I purchased ‘Obsolete’ by Fear Factory, which featured the two songs on the promo, namely ‘Edgecrusher’ and ‘Timelessness’. I listened to this album religiously for months and one day, in the school corridor outside my English class, a schoolmate asked who was I listening to. My first introduction to the Masked Maniacs Slipknot and their Drummer. Joey Jordison;
- “Fear Factory”, I replied smugly.
- “Can I hear them?” my classmate asked. “…Ohhh …they sound like Slipknot.”
- “Who the fuck are Slipknot?” I asked incongruously.
- “They’re a bunch of mad bastards with masks that make shit like this.”
A little perturbed that my new favourite band were just referred to as “shit”, I was also more intrigued by the ‘Fear Factory with masks’ I had just been made aware of. A few days later, another guy in my year was wearing a t-shirt with the word ‘Slipknot’ emblazoned on it in a large red splatter font. I approached Christopher (for that is his name) and asked him about Slipknot.
- “Just listen” is all he said.
He played me Slipknot’s breakthrough debut single ‘Wait & Bleed’ on his CD Walkman and I would love to tell you all that this is where everything changed. But it didn’t. I remember feeling quite underwhelmed. I didn’t like how the guitars sounded, the vocals didn’t sound up to much and I couldn’t understand how there were NINE blokes involved in this. The drums, however. Ridiculous. Ferocious. Visceral. Inhuman.
- “Well, what you think?” asked Chris
- “It’s not great but those fucking drums, man”
Despite not being totally enamoured with my introduction to Slipknot, it became almost impossible to ignore them as they become global megastars and despite not exactly being welcomed or accepted by the mainstream, they did manage the almost impossible feat for a heavy metal band outside of Metallica, Slipknot was being acknowledged.
One morning at 5 am, I got up to get ready for my early morning six-day-a-week newspaper round. As I was adjusting to being awake at an ungodly hour (22 years later, it’s still hasn’t got any easier), I was having a caffeine fix and switched MTV2 on. Just starting was the music video for Slipknot’s second single from their self-titled debut album, “Spit It Out”.
The iconic video where the members of the band re-enact scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece “The Shining”. Now, here was where my love affair with Slipknot began! Everything was on display here. You could hear the input from the nine members. The machine-gun delivery of ear-splitting lyrics from frontman Corey Taylor. The catchy yet brutal hooks from the two six-and-a-half footer guitar playing behemoths Mick Thomson and Jim Root, Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan & Chris ‘Dicknose’ Fehn crashing steel bars on steel kegs in a maniacal yet disciplined manner and, of course, the constant… those fucking drums, man. The ferocity that Nathan ‘Joey’ Jordison unleashes on his drumkit is to an extent of if he was a wrestler, he’d be Mick Foley, a hard-hitting, punishing, hardcore dude but with the talent and charisma to make it to the very top.
In 2001, Slipknot released their long-awaited (or so it felt) follow-up ‘Iowa’, named after the American state they emerged from. Without a doubt, the heaviest album to top the UK album charts (keeping the much-lauded debut album from New York megastars The Strokes off the top spot), ‘Iowa’ is a vicious piece of work. From the 60-second intro track which features DJ Sid Wilson screaming ‘DEATH’ repeatedly straight into the crushing misanthropic anthem ‘People = Shit’, the disgusting ‘Disasterpiece’, the lead single ‘Left Behind’, it weaves from brain-melting in the forms ‘Everything Ends’ and ‘Metabolic’ to haunting and unsettling with ‘Gently’ and ‘Iowa’, the album is absolutely breathless. There is NO let-up whatsoever.
The musicianship is also stepped up a couple of notches with Jim and Mick producing some insanely brutal riffs and the demented genius of band founder and artistic director Clown bludgeoned all over the production but its vocalist Corey Taylor and drummer Joey Jordison who are the stand out stars of this record. Taylor announcing the return of the band and their intentions on ‘People = Shit’ with the blood curdling “Here we go again, Motherfucker” to the revolting opening salvo on ‘Disasterpiece’ (Google it) and the horrific “I can’t stand to see your thalidomide robot face” in Left Behind. Jordison is just insane though. For a guy of 5’3 to boss a drumkit like this and drive a band with the force of a Bradshaw Clothesline from Hell on Billy Gunn should be impossible. The double kicking displays quicker feet than a Cristiano Ronaldo dribble yet with infinitely more finesse.
At Download 2004, headliners Metallica found themselves in a predicament. Drummer Lars Ulrich was unexpectedly unable to travel with his bandmates. Metallica had two options, find replacements for their founding member or cancel their appearance. They held auditions and rehearsals all day backstage. An hour after their allotted start time, Metallica appeared onstage and explained the situation. They said they had numerous drummers who offered their services and were ready to go.
They opened with Slayer stickman Dave Lombardo for three songs and then appeared a small guy with poker straight dark hair and a white Japanese Kabuki mask. We have no idea if anyone was supposed to come after Joey for a shot behind the drumkit of the world’s biggest metal band but we do know is that no one got that opportunity (with the exception of Lars’ long-time drum technician, Flemming Larsen for a rendition of ‘Nothing Else Matters’), Metallica had found their guy and he was staying put. After this, Joey became one of metal’s most sought after drummers. When he wasn’t on schedule with Slipknot or his side project, Horror-punk supergroup Murderdolls, he was answering S.O.S calls for the likes of nu-metal brethren Korn, Hellbilly Rob Zombie and Norwegian Black Metal pioneers Mayhem.
Joey continued with Slipknot through 2004’s “Vol.3: The Subliminal Verses” and 2008’s “All Hope Is Gone”, the band’s legendary Download Festival 2009 headline performance and their comeback in 2011 after the heartbreaking death of founder member and bassist Paul Gray. In 2013, Joey Jordison departed Slipknot. Details surrounding the departure were sparse and not forthcoming from either party but Joey later explained at the 2016 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards show that he left due to being left unable to play after developing a form of Multiple Sclerosis but still harboured hope of being able to play music again. He would have stints in bands such as Vimic and Scar the Martyr in the surrounding years.
On the 27th July 2021, it was announced that Joey Jordison had died in his sleep, aged 45. At the time of writing, the cause of death has not been determined. People die, it’s one of life’s very few inevitabilities. It’s never nice when someone dies who has brought so much joy and happiness to someone’s life, famous or otherwise but it is even harder when it’s someone who brought joy and happiness to yours. At this moment in time, I feel odd. Just a sort of uneasy strangeness. I know something is wrong but just can’t place why. The only other time I’ve had this feeling was when David Bowie died. Someone who felt immortal. Someone who still feels immortal. Someone who still feels that they are still alive. Joey Jordison to me and to millions of others around the world is worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as David Bowie. A musical maelstrom. He was my (and probably everyone else’s) favourite member of Slipknot. For a band that had a screaming dreadlocked zombie, two maniacs who battered beer kegs and oil drums with baseball bats and steel bars, two six-and-a-half footers on guitars and a DJ who liked to jump off something high into the crowd, Joey always felt like a largest larger-than-life character.
Iconic. Influential. Idol.