"We’ve always been those guys who are trying to find where we fit in. Maybe we never will..." - Slipknot talk new album We Are Not Your Kind
Every new Slipknot album is an event. Especially when we’ve had to wait a full five years for it. But it’s always, always worth the wait.
Their new effort We Are Not Your Kind is no exception. It’s muscular, it’s aggressive and laced with menace. Produced again by longtime collaborator Greg Fidelman, its 14 tracks of pure power.
For the second campaign in succession, the metallers are back with a new line-up as long-time percussionist Chris Fehn has departed after a dispute with the band over payments.
With We Are Not Your Kind now on shelves, we spoke to the band’s guitarist Jim Root about making the album and how they are finding life without Fehn...
The process for making this album was a different one to what you’ve done in the past, can you talk us through it?
“The main difference is that we started writing on tour for The Gray Chapter. In some ways, I felt like the things that were happening with that record weren’t resolved and we didn’t have the time to finish them. That album was quite rushed. That put me into work mode. I knew we needed a place to start for the next record, we needed new arrangements."
"I got my nose to the grindstone and I worked and worked. Either I’d be in my garage or I’d go to Los Angeles and jam with Jay (Weinberg, drummer) and we’d get arrangements together. The time was a massive help and every demo got to live and breathe. I wish we’d had that time to actually record the album.”
Was it a shortened recording process?
“We spent all the time on the demos. We built them and let them evolve. When it came time to track them, we had half the time to do it. That was a big challenge for us.”
You’re not a part of Stone Sour any more, that must have helped with the writing of the album?
“It’s why I’m not in that band anymore. I was spreading myself too thin. That was making me unhappy and that, in turn, was making the rest of Stone Sour unhappy. You can’t evaluate your situation when you’re in a band, not really. But it’s been such a blessing, I can focus my energy on one band and I don’t have to juggle anymore. It didn’t work for me. Corey’s (Taylor, frontman) different. He needs things to be go, go, go all the time. I need time to decompress and to figure things out. I can’t be on tour constantly if I really want to be creative.”
With that extra freedom, did you end up writing a lot of songs?
“Absolutely. Clown (Percussionist Shawn Crahan) wrote a lot too. He was in the studio doing a lot of synth parts and percussion and his songwriting was so productive. He wrote ‘Neo Forte’, ‘Death Because Of Death’ and ‘My Pain’. We were able to collaborate, really collaborate, like a real band. Rather than just working on a demo that one or two of us had built.”
You’ve stuck with Greg Fidelman again as producer, why was that?
“We love working with Fidelman. We first worked with him on Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses and we built a great relationship. Even on the records, he didn’t work on, he’s listened to them backwards and forwards. It’s hard to find a producer that you gel with and who wants you make to be better. He’s a peer, he’s someone we can bounce ideas off and he’s got good input.”
You said the last record was rushed, was that just time pressure?
“We had to do everything so quickly. I had a month to put all the demos together and then we in the studio. We didn’t have a chance to let them breathe, for Corey to have time with them and then revisit them. We tracked them live as a band. We haven’t worked in another way since Volume 3.”
When there are so many of you with the capacity to do so much, the role of the producer must be key in making sure you don’t over saturate songs…
“It’s big. Everything we do is a huge endeavour. Greg’s got a great team and they did a great job. We like to go back to things we did months earlier, we keep our engineers on their toes. We don’t drop in samples. We’re an organic rock band. We want you to hear us.”
What kind of record is this lyrically?
“Corey isn’t just a good lyricist and a super-talented singer, he can conjure things. He makes metaphors in such a way that anybody can relate to anything. Lots of killer double entendres. His personal life has been tough over the last couple of years and he had a lot to get out of his system. As a band, we’re all the type of who don’t fit in anywhere. That creates an ingrained chip on your shoulder and I don’t think there’s a way to get rid of that.”
Is that where the album title comes from?
“In one way or another, we’ve always been those guys who are trying to find where we fit in. Maybe we never will. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”
How easy was it to find a title for the record?
“Much like the songs themselves, once we start coming together, they tell you where they fit in. It comes from ‘All Out Life’, which we recorded before the rest of the record and that phrase stuck in our minds. That song isn’t on the record and it’s a little tip of the hat to some of the 70s records we love. Led Zeppelin did a track called ‘Houses Of The Holy and then named the album, but without including the song on the record. It’s a little inside joke for musicians.”
It’s a slightly different line-up this time with no Chris Fehn, what effect has that had on the album?
“It hasn’t, really. When we were writing the record, Clown is very involved and he covered it all. It’s hard to answer that. I don’t want to say that Chris didn’t contribute anything. He was a big part of the band, visually. He had a great stage presence and he had some great ideas for percussion. But I can’t say it changed how I worked.”
You’ve got six records now, how will you decide what makes it in the live set?
“It’s tough. People want to hear the new stuff and we’re lucky in that way. We can sneak new songs in, probably not as many as the last album cycle. People still want to hear ‘Wait and Bleed’, ‘Surfacing’, ‘Eyeless’, ‘The Heretic Anthem’ and the other staples. It’s impossible to get it all in 90 minutes. I think we’ll have to come around more often. Maybe we’ll do one setlist for one time around the planet and another for the next time.”
How are your live plans looking?
“Our schedule is pretty hectic. I’ve prepared for a two-year-album cycle, which we’re a month and a half into. I’d like to be longer than that if we can, but I also want to find time to write and work on another record. You can write on tour, it’s just not ideal.”
Finally, there’s been talk for a while that you might bring your travelling festival Knotfest to Europe, is that any closer?
“We’d like to. We’d like to take it anywhere. Europe is a bit trickier. European festivals are destination festivals and we have to tour it around. We’re trying to make it feasible in the States to do a Knotfest roadshow. We want to take the Slipknot museum with us and all our gear. It’s a logistical nightmare, but we’d love to do it.”
Slipknot’s new album We Are Not Your Kind is out now in hmv stores. It is available to purchase here from hmv’s online store.