What you are about to read is story about friends. I don't remember dates as well as I used to and the time line maybe a little screwed up. Really what this is a store about my friends, my buddies told kind a in the same way you tell stories about your pals to your girl when you're too drunk to notice that your she doesn't care and is planning just how to get rid of you. Slipknot is, always was and always will be a gang of friends and drinking buddies. What I hope to accomplish here is to express what it's like to see the guy that sat next to you at the bar three or four times a week play in front of thousands of people, show up on National TV and the front pages of national Magazines. It was a strange ride and it just keeps getting stranger but that's to be expected with these guys.
I met Paul Gray briefly back in 91through this crazy punk guy named Jake. Jake lived with a number of other people in that attic of Paul's mother's house in the Beaverdale area of Des Moines. I remember teaching Jake how to break into the house when he locked his keys in. The tenets for the most part were transplants from other states that had been stranded here or were just plain outsiders. Most of them hung at the Runway. Dubbed the Runaway by most of my crowd and filled with sleazy whores, left over Rocky freaks and watered down drinks. We for the most part stayed away. My friend Gil from Lawrence, KS asked me or I asked him I don't remember
to have his band the Wayback Machine do a show in Des Moines with Big Toe. I set it up and put it into the Runway and put Jakes band The Rejected TR for short(yes he named it after the punk Suburbia movie thing) on the bill. I'm not sure who all was in the band but I do remember leaving after they pulled out the double bass drums and started screaming and playing bad metal riffs. Sorry I'm a punk snob to the end. I do remember the tape he gave me seemed better then what I heard that day. Anyway, that was the last time I saw Jake and I began to hang out at a new club that had just opened called Hairy Mary's.
Mary's was really the first club to really make live orginal music happen in Des Moines. Featuring everything from L7 and Mud Honey to X and a host of bands about to break on the Grunge wave that was putting the music scene on it's ear. It's owners Jeff and John made it hip to be alternative and dig live music. The old Hiary Mary's was in a warehouse in the north side of downtown. It had feel that's hard to describe, there was art all over the walls, Motorcycles hanging from the ceiling, and broken instruments all over the place. It drew back many of the orginal punk scene and put them all in the same room for the first time in years. There was a open party level there that you could do what you wanted and most of all this was your play house. It was a rough bar at times and had a steady crowd of people slumming which always gave the place this hype.
It was not uncommon to see many of the Runway crowd at Mary's and they did do a few Death Metal shows as did Z toward the end. Their was a mix to a degree but we all know our sides of the fence so to speak and kept to them. Like all music scenes and clubs both began to loose their crowd by early 94. The fact that the city had passed a city law stating that anyone under 21 could not be in the clubs after 9pm helped to limit the crowds. Mary's was sold to Brian and Eddy who changed the name to the 2nd Ave Foundry and carried on until early 95 but the wind was out of the sails. Even though a new club called the Love Shack opened around then it was plain to see that live music in Des Moines was burn out. Everyone was hung over and moving on.
I started piercing in March of 1994 and that's when I met Paul. He came in and got his first lip piercing. We hit it off right at the bat and was a little bummed that he was moving back to California. I didn't see him till the weekend the Foundry closed. by that time I had opened my own studio(the axiom you're at the page) and started hanging out with my good friend Lanny. We spent many a night on bar stools next to each other until finally talking. I'm not sure if it wasn't for Lanny if Paul and I
would have became so close. Anyway the night before the Foundry closed Paul, the band that played that night, many of the regulars and myself jammed until the wee hours of the morning. I remember that night or the next one Paul starting up a bull dozer parked outside the club and driving it around the freshly poured concert. It was a crazy time to say the least but then the funniest night at a club is always the last.
Around this time is when we started hitting this weekend ritual, where Paul and Lanny would show up at the Axiom around 10:30 or so and drink some of the beer of the month and then hit some of the local clubs like GTs(until we were kicked out) and the Love Shack(until it closed). This I guess had started before the Foundry closed but it hit full strive after it closed. The Love Shack was a multi-level club with live music in the basement a low key bar on the first floor and a disco on the top floor. We would usually sit in the bar and harass the shot girls and the other drunks. Paul's favorite trick was when the shot girl would come over, he'd ask what she had(it was usually something cheap like Apple Pucker) and he'd ask if he could try it. Then the girl would feel the shot about half way and he would down it and say that there was no way he would pay of that stuff. It always amazed me how many times, often from the same girl he could pull this stunt in one evening. Often after being kicked out of the bar at 1:45, the run to the only store in town that sold Guinness after 9pm would involve speeds up to 90 miles an hour. After that we'd hit Big Tomato a pizza place owned by Jeff and John of Mary's fame and then hit the studio for after hours drinking. At that time Big Tomato was the place that everyone went to after the bar. It was a place to met and find out where the after party was. Often the after parties would last well into Sunday. They were often strange and filled with people none of us knew. We would sit up and listen to music and talk.
Around this time Paul started talking about his band and the recording they were doing at SR Audio that would go on to become Mate, Kill, Feed, Repeat. I remember asking him what kind of band it was and him saying "metal" and me going, something to the degree of that's too bad.
If I remember correctly they were called Pig System and I don't remember them even playing out until a show right before the Love Shack closed were Paul wore Bailing wire through all his piercing. that would have been November of 1995. I don't think the masks had really became a part of it yet. I can't remember if this was before or after their first guitarist Donny left or not. Donny left when after long talks about God with their producer McMann got the best of him and he found God and quit the
band. What I do know aka remember hearing is that over a roll playing game involving Wherewolfs with Andy, Shawn and others the idea of the band took form. Shawn called Paul and talked him into moving back to Des Moines and they requited Josh and Joey. Planning sessions began at the Sin Clair on Merle Hey that Joey worked the late shift. The orginal line up was Andy on drums and lead Vocals, Shawn on Drums and backups, Joey on Drums, Paul on Bass and Josh and Donny on Guitar. When Donny found God he was replaced with Craig. At this time they spent most of their time working on the record. I think they only played out a few times in 95.
I'm not sure when I met Shawn. We kinda knew each other from being around and being the same age but really never talked. He told me once I was going to beat him up over something stupid back around 88. I don't remember it but he does. I think Paul brought him in to get pierced. Andy I think I met the same way but I'm not sure. The rest of the band I met at Shawn and his wife Shan's New Years party in 95/96. There was a lot of people there that night that would shape my life in the years to come but I didn't know it. 96 would see a lot of changes in the lives of everyone in and around Slipknot and the Des Moines Music Scene.
Two major things happened in late 95 and 96 that would make a big impact on the years to come. Safari Nite Club opened it's doors to other musical styles and 107.5 the Dot started. The Dot was the first radio station in Des Moines to truly take an active interest in Live music and Local bands. The main force behind this was the strong headed, aggressive, warm hearted and driven Sophia John. For once there was someone in a position of power here who gave a fuck and not only wanted to make a difference but was going to make a difference but we'll get into that more later. I don't remember when I first went to Safari, I know it was on the list of under age drinking wholes around Drake U that we hit at times when I was under age. I think it may have been Dogtown then, I'm not sure. Anyway it was a Rasta club that very rarely had non-rasta bands. I think the biggest act that had played there was Ace Fridley. It was a hippy grove college bar for the most part. The last place anyone thought would produce any alternative or rock scene let alone a metal scene but it would.
I think what changed Safari was the owner's increasing problems with thugs that came in because it was a "black" bar and sacred off not only the white customers but the black customers. As his profit continued to shrink, Tony decide that the time had come for a complete change. The first thing he did was to hirer a local Artist and Bartend (he worked at the Foundry and I think maybe Mary's) Barry to take over the management. The first thing Barry did was to hirer Bull to take over the booking and start the moving away from goove and rasta to alternative and rock. He brought in local acts that had been part of the Mary's/Foundry scene like Squid Boy, Smilin' Jack and Radio Caroline and national acts like the Urge and Fastball. It was around this time that Slipknot began playing Safari. I'm not too sure when their first show there was but I remember they opened for DRI and Acid Bath that year. I missed their first couple of shows because I was working but when I did finally see them the first thing that struck me was even though their songs were too fucking long, some lasting up to 8 minutes, there was a vibe that crossed into a level of performance art. It was a show and there was without a doubt a new level of edge to it that I hadn't seen in a long time. They began to get the rep as the band you didn't want to follow. Their show blew anything out of the water.
It was around April of 96 that the Have Nots started with Paul on guitar me on vocals, Brian on Bass and Greg on Drums. Paul wanted to bring Joey in on guitar and at first I was unsure but I had heard his old band the Rejects which had even though the lyrics were stupid impressed me. Joey came to a practice and within a few hours we had 2 or 3 new songs. I would get to know Joey through the band and working with Joey and Paul quickly made me realize what the foundation of Slipknot was. Every once and a while two people get together and something clicks between them. There's a new thing that neither of them could have completely done without the other. Paul and Joey have that. They laid the foundation and the other members build the house. It was a pleasure to watch and be a part of that first hand.
The crowd for early Slipknot shows was a great deal different from what you would think. Mostly it was the Alternative and art scene. It was odd to me that the metal scene many of them came from really didn't even know they were around. It wasn't until the Runway fell, battle of the bands and the all ages shows started that the metal scene really started to support them. In a way it was sad to see the early SK crowd get squeezed out but it had to happen. The shows that stick out in my mind from 96 are the shows at the cowboy bar on the south side, the night they won the battle of the bands and the CD release party. I think the one at the cowboy bar was first, Lanny, Greg, my ex Anna, and Frank(childhood friend of Paul's) spent the day bar hopping and doing Car Bombs. The show happened in this bar on the south side that used to be Toad Holler and was right out of Urban Cowboy. It was a benefit of some kind and SK was going on last. I remember that a lot of the local bands didn't want to follow Slipknot. So by the time we got there and Slipknot started playing the place was empty. They lanced into their first song and by the 3 the owner showed up and asked, "What the fuck is this shit." and she pulled the plug. A few things were broken, a few flags were taken and other drunken acts took place and it was safe to say that would be the last time they would play there. Also it was around this time that Paul's brother Tony became their first Roadie. It did send a clear message to the rest of the scene and that was, "This is a whole new level and you better get the fuck out of the way or get with the program." It's easy to see this as the beginning of the comp to out do the other bands in town. Without this who knows what would have happened to Slipknot. Without the push of others you never get better.
KKDM 107.5 the Dot put on a battle of the bands in 96 at Safari. It was well organized and judge by local music experts. When I first heard about SK being in it I gave them a rash of shit about it. but as the weeks progressed, I began to notice that not only were they winning but that for the first time in years all the sub cultures of Des Moines were hanging out and checking out the other scenes. It did create an increase level of playing. This wasn't just metal bands against metal bands but groove bands vs metal band, jam bands vs alternative bands and etc.... The mix was incredible and hard to judge but in a night when I was sure they would lose, they won hands down. They tried out a lot of different things during the B Of B not only to keep each show different but to make sure they stood out. A lot of things come to mind as I sit here laughing to myself, like they had found a dead crow and kept it's decomposing body in a jar. during interviews and on stage Shawn would take the lid off and smell it and hold it up and say crowz. It became a kind of band caught word for a while. What did it mean who the hell knows. The crow was used until will into the summer of 97. They took it to interviews and would begin with saying nothing but Crow over and over. Another thing was handing out Taxidermy mistakes to the crowd. They were the odd balls but people remember them.
During the B of B they came against a band called Stone Sour. SS would play a big part in the band in the future. It was plain to see the scene was going in a new direction and leading the pack was Slipknot and had won a free LP from SR and an opening slot for a national act.
Slipknot's CD release party was at Safari Nite Club October 31st, 1996. I remember meeting Sophia John there. I had heard about her from Paul but didn't know how to take her at first. I really didn't know what to think at first but she would become a big part of my life and Slipknot over the next few years. I don't remember exactly but it was around this time that Craig moved over to Samples and Mick took over on Guitar. I met Mick earlier that year and disliked him right off the bat. I'm not quite sure why. Mick just is one of those people that you really have to know before the rough exterior gives way. He remembered me from years earlier. He was one of the many young kids that hung at the local Half Pipe. I guess I was an ass whole to him so maybe that's why we didn't really hit it off at first.
1997 was a big year. It started with Shawn, who had been talking about starting a club for sometime, buying Safari. In late 96 I began doing all age Punk shows there and under Shawn I all but took over the booking. In a short 8 months we did Social Distortion, Reel Big Fish, The Urge, The Humpers, US Bombs and etc....... Also on a very late night while I sat there drinking my after hours beer, I over heard them asking Sophia John to manage them. Sophia was not only a DJ at 107.5 the Dot but had a great deal of contacts in the record industry. She had come from the Lincoln, NB music scene and was active there. She had and still has a level of determination and loyalty that is rare not only in the music and radio industry but in normal life. This began a love hate relationship that would last roughly 2 years. The interaction between Shawn and Sophia often was more like the interaction of an old married couple then Manager and Talent. It was not only a consent source of amusement but at times annoying. As Shawn who's often main goal is to push people's buttons but heads with the no bull shit strong headed Sophia. I think this more than anything began the friendship between Sophia and I. After I would spend a day trying to get Shawn to take care of booking business and her spending a day trying to get Shawn to take care of band business we should sit and vent.
In the spring of 97 they began recording the follow up at SR and show casing for labels. The sessions at SR slowly began to follow the pattern of the first record. Often just as everything seemed to be set they would change members or evolve in some new way. As far as I know the only thing to come out of this was the "Spit it Out" Demo which has been remixed a number of times to remove members. Nothing else including "Spit it out" has ever been released by the band. Their first showcase was with Roadrunner and didn't result with anything but began a track of, "Yeah they are great but I'm not sure what to do with them" responses. To be complete canid they need this time to set their sound and style. If they would have gottensigned at this point it's doubtful they would have reached the level they are now. In other words they need the growing time.
One show from that year that sticks out is the Impenitent Sea Snakes show in April of 97. ISS were know for their crazy S&M and sex stage show. When I booked it the first band to come to mind for opening was Slipknot hands down. It didn't take much convincing to get them on the bill. From the moment they knew they were on it, they set out to insure that they blew ISS off the stage. Which they did hands down. They started the set with some local law enforcement coming and acting like they were shutting the show down. I think this was a kind of fuck up to ISS who were know to call the cops on themselves to make the local press. They then wheeled Shawn out on strapped to a two wheel cart. Aaron Keltner, a juvenile PO was the one that helped set this up. He would become the second roadie for the band and would work with up until OZZfest.
Their biggest show and yet another turning point was Dotfest I. Not only was it the biggest crowd they had ever played in front of(roughly 12,000) at that point but there was a number of industry people there to check them out. It was not their best show to say the least. The sound kept going out and the crowd began throwing turkey leg bones on stage. At that show they came out throwing Tampons into the crowd and had "gimps". This was the first and last time for the "gimps". The Gimps were Frank with a gas mask, Lanny with tribal markings in liquid latex, Greg covered with liquid latex and a ball gag in his mouth and Greg's friend Slick Rick in a latex hood. The orginal idea for that show was to have Rick, a professional stunt man, come out dressed as Shawn(the clown) and then Shawn would come out and set him on fire. They got all the stuff to do it(for a long time it set in the cooler at Safari) but the city would not issue the permits. Their set ended with them being cut off and an almost riot breaking out as Andy cut open his arms and tossed CDs over the fence to the fans. Just like a big ass rock band. The biggest thing to come out of that show was they gained a whole new crew of under age fan that couldn't get enough of them.
In the studio they began to try out Corey Taylor from Stone Sour and he just clicked. Not only did he have the vocal range needed but he fit into the direction the band was going. I met Corey the year before when he came in to the studio for a tattoo. Later that same night he was drunk running around the club asking people to an after party to destroy the house either he lived at or his friends lived at. It was a "destruction" party as he put it. I guess the house, a rental, was going to be torn down and people were invited to bring sledge hammers and etc.. We passed and those that went went to jail(including Paul's brother Tony). Corey was this wirery kid with long red hair and then dreads. We all wondered how he would fit. The first order was cutting off the dreads which became a part of his mask and as far as I know are still a part of his mask.
A couple of other things that stick out
during this period is the grinder, the sauce and the Beaver Tail. I think it
was around July or August that Shawn began to use a grinder during show. It
would throw sparks into the audience well over 10 feet. In most cases if you saw hot pieces of metal speeding toward you, you would back away. Not the SK crowd. It got to a point where the kids would push and shove to get right in front of the thing. I think this is where SK's first fan club the Sleepy Clan began which is still active. These kids are devoted wearing full cover alls, mask and all in the club when it was well over 110 degrees in there. I remember them dropping like flies being taken outside to be revived and then returning to the front again. I'm not sure where the whole sauce thing started but it was this really hot red sauce that they sealed into little plastic baggies. Then they would toss them into the crowd. Like the Crowz caught phrase, The word Sauce was repeated over and over. I remember sitting at the club one night when Aaron K brought in this Beaver Tail and gave it to Shawn. I remember Shawn with one of his shit eating grins on his face accepting it. At their next show not only did it come out in the show but Shawn took a bite of it and then threw up. Corey not to be up staged also took a bite and threw up.
You may find this all to be a little odd but you have to understand that from the beginning SK has been a kind of Circus Geek Show and after hearing their resent games of lighting each other on fire, throw shit at each other and etc... it really hasn't changed all that much. Like a group of kids trying to up stage one another and plotting to take over the world, leave them alone with one another long enough and they will come up with all kinds for strange ideas and plans. The biggest thing is that SK gave them the ability to explore all these hidden impulses and urges. That's maybe what set them apart is that they don't have that safety thing that makes the rest of us go, "Hey maybe this isn't such a great idea." The idea that sticks out the most of the ideas that haven't came to past is, Shawn wants to have a trained Baboon on stage that sits on a perch in front of he's drum set. When he first expressed this to me, I envisioned the baboon freaking out ripping Shawn's arm off and then beating him to death with it and then turning on the rest of the band and the crowd. "Nice monkey. Oh shit."
The first show I saw with Corey would be Andy's last(see 97 live reviews for September). They opened for the Mog Stunt team. It was a kinda low turn out and for the most part a normal show. Right before their last song, Andy just said, "This is my last song with Slipknot." No one in the band had any idea he was quitting. Andy had some personal problems with uses of the numbers and the cover alls. I think the best way he explained it to me was by saying, "I just didn't feel comfortable with the direction things were going." The band was shocked, angry and hurt. It was the first to leave and it was one of the orginal forces of the band. It hit hard to say the least but the guys are still good friends with Andy and go out and support his current band Painface when they can.
I can't remember if Sid was in the band before Andy left or not. I had seen Sid around off and on since he came in to get his tongue pierced in 1995. A big part of the local Rave scene and a sweet, big hearted kinda guy. We all gave them shit about having 9 people in the band including slipknot, wind and fire and etc.. but Sid quickly fit in by attacking Shawn at one of his first shows.
X was brought in to take over Andy's spot on the drums against my advice and a number of others. He had been my tattooist until I fired him and played in the Have Nots. My Grandma used to say, "If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything." So I won't go into it. Maybe after the dust has cleared completely I'll say more but until then mums the word.
During this time they started to do a number of showcases including some really big ass labels that may surprise you. They all passed including Roadrunner the first few times. The one thing that happened that changed the course for SK was showcasing for Ross Robinson. When Sophia asked them who they wanted to Produce their record, without hesitation they said Ross Robinson or Terry Date. Sophia got Ross to come out and go to one of their practices in Shawn's cramped basement. Within the first song Ross was on board. He was one of first person outside the Des Moines scene to believe in the band. It made a great deal of people sit up and take notice but the same "I don't know where to put them" continued to come up again and again.
The big joke at this time was the amount of secret information about Slipknot and their business that was going around. In a Hardcore game of telephone you would hear things from sources close to the band that were 10% truth and 90% fiction. It was an on going joke to begin every sentence with, "Don't tell anyone this but....". It amazed me how much people knew before many of the band members even knew. It got to the point that whenever I heard anything about the band I had to act surprised because I didn't know what I was cleared to know. The feeling then was that we were all part of a gang that was taking on the world. With the club we were doing things that everyone said we couldn't and Slipknot was getting attention from people that thought Des Moines was a small farm town. It was one of those points in time.
The only problem was that though they were tighter then any band ever should be. In my opinion, they were starting to look stiff. They began to play out of town more and started to build up a fan base in Omaha and KC. Also they played smaller towns like Clinton, IA and the Iowa Great Lakes. It was funny cause we began to notice the true invasion of SK shirts and fans on a smaller level outside of Des Moines and it was a sign to come.
Around this time, Corey went to England to record one song with Sister Solia. The song was a kinda Jazzy song that I've only heard once. At the time she was considered the new Madonna and a lot of money was thrown into the record. So it gave Corey a chance to go all the way to the UK and record in Peter Gabriel's studio. He got booked on a non-smoking flight(sure hell) and when he got there he got in the wrong car and was taken on an hour+ tour of the UK country side but he was happy to do it. Even though Her record didn't do too well, it was a sign that at least someone in the industry was paying attention. Sk also did a show in Chicago with her band. if you're a die hard fan I'm sure you can still find it.
In the fall Shawn began working for the Dot as the Bug. Part of their morning show they would send him out to do dumb shit like get taped to a pole or walk around downtown in a box. I pierced his Frenum live on the air one morning. He did this until he decided it was time to get out of the bar & radio business and work solely on the band. On Nov 15th he closed Safari(for the full story check out my Nov 1997 review else where on the site).
With the club closed and nothing else going, on the boys hit it hard practicing up to 5 times a week and getting shows out of town whenever they could. In February of 1998 they went to the EATeM Fest(see my account of the trip) in Los Vegas(for a complete story check out my report pages else where on the site). The thing at that show at Game Works was everything, the stage, the sound system and etc... was screwed up. Right before they went on Ross said something to the degree of "It's fucked up, fuck it fuck shit up." It was like he had given them the right to let out the demons and they put on the best show I had seen to date. Not only was it new crowd with no idea what they were going to see but they lost the stiffness that I had noticed and began to really destroy. I think they broke a mic and a table or something and were asked never to come back but it in my mind made their presence know. They said you may not know where to put us but we are not fucking going away and by god we are going to make our own place. In Vegas a bidding war began. The bidding continue for the next 5 month until at last the went with Roadrunner and signed their contract in front of the old Axiom in July of 1998.
In June they returned to the 2nd and the last Dotfest(see my complete run down of the day). Sophia had by this time gotten wind of a format change at Dot and really didn't see the whole thing lasting(she would leave the station later that year). On that day, I realized that their were all these bands that she had helped in your own way through her influence over the past few years. Like Slipknot, Sister Solia, The Urge & Atomic Fireballs. As I sat there and watched Corey and Atomic Fireballs sit in on Sister Solia's set, I knew it was a celebration and an end of something special. She had came out of no where and made such a large impact in our lives and our scene and now she would be leaving.
Right before signing something happened that we all saw coming and needed to be done. X was kicked out. There are a number of reasons why but it's not my place to air the dirt. Let's just say it didn't work out. So for the next 6 months or so, they played a few shows with short lived replacements. When Stone Sour broke up after Corey left the remaining members formed Deadfront. Chris I believe was in Deadfront(I'm not sure) at any rate after a number of turn-outs he was picked to take over the drumming.
After a number of delays, the band left to record in Malibou. They did their pre-production down the hall from Kiss which I felt was fitting. The recording went well but after returning home Josh left the band. He just didn't want to tour. Back to Deadfront again and enter Jim on guitar. The first show I saw the new line-up at was 1st Ave in Minneapolis. The show went well and at one point Chris went down into the crowd and knocked over a $5000.00 expresso machine. I was called upon as a witness gave a fake name and address and they were asked to never come back.
They did their last show at Safari a couple of days before leaving for Ozzfest. The club had changed hands for the 4 time in 3 years and was and still is called Hairy Mary's. With over 500 kids packed in and going nuts, I know it would be the last time they would play the club that had been there home. The next time I would see them would be on Ozzfest. The Slipknot take over had already began. As I set there and watched as MTV interviewed them, I noticed that these were the same guys that I had hung with for so long. They really hadn't changed and still haven't a year and a half as I sit here and write this. The picture maybe larger along with the crowds but the feeling is still there, a gang against the world with a battle cry "fuck it fuck shit up"