When nine masked men combined forces near the turn of the millennium, few could’ve guessed that Slipknot’s 1999 debut album would change the course of modern metal. More than two decades later, Slipknot have branched out beyond the down-tuned riffs and guttural darkness of their early work, embracing melodic, acoustic and more eclectic fare without entirely shedding their former skin.
Slipknot’s new album, The End, So Far, features production from Joe Barresi, who has worked with Kyuss, Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age and Parkway Drive. The End, So Far was initially pieced together during lockdowns and global unrest, seemingly perfect fodder for a band enamoured with turning a mirror on the darker side of life. But The End, So Far is more than just a reflection of isolation and uncertainty.
Slipknot – ‘Yen’
Music Feeds catches up with Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg to speak about The End, So Far, his third album with the band and Slipknot’s seventh overall.
Music Feeds: So much has happened in the lead up to The End, So Far, not only in the world but for the band as well. How does it feel to finally be at this point on this album journey?
Jay Weinberg: We’re really excited and it’s been an absolute joy to get back to playing live shows. We really, really missed that for a couple years, especially because we were right in the heart of it all. We had just released an album that we were really excited about and excited to play shows armed with We Are Not Your Kind, and then all of a sudden we had the door slammed in our face.
MF: Coming into The End, So Far, was there an overarching plan from the nine of you about what you wanted the end result to be?
Jay: There’s not necessarily a strict idea of, “This is the kind of album we wanna go for.” If there ever was, we seem to always go in a different direction by the time we’re making it. Or by the time we’ve finished it you realise, “Oh, that’s totally different to how I thought we were gonna make it.”
I always wanna up my game, so to speak, when it comes to my contribution to the band. So, wanting to put in rhythmic ideas that change songs or send arrangements in different directions, those things were always at the forefront of my mind. As a drummer, I can suggest movements or things like that, and I like having more free rein to do those things. We also worked with a new producer this time and when you change up the team that you’re working with, that lends itself to making something new.
We like to go in with no expectations of ourselves other than that we really don’t want to repeat ourselves. And we also do understand that there are things that we’re just never going to get away from – there’s gonna be some heaviness, there’s gonna be some melody, and there’s gonna be a juxtaposition of all of those things.
MF: In the lead up to the release of The End, So Far, Shawn [Crahan] described the new material as “god music” and Corey [Taylor] mentioned that it was a heavier version of Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses. How do you view this album in the Slipknot legacy?
Jay: To me, it’s just a natural progression forward. One thing that was emphasised to me when I joined the band was that we’re not in the business of looking back at our previous work and benchmarking it against ourselves. We just want to move forward. I don’t really necessarily think it’s fair to our current work to say, “Oh yeah, it’s like this record or it’s kind of like this album in between these two records”. It’s its own thing.
We have conversations when we’re making, say, an experimental song that might remind us of the kind of mood we were in on a previous record. We’ll be like, “Oh, this kind of has that element that made ‘Solway Firth’ what it is”. Or like, “Oh, this, this is kind of coming from the ‘Skin Ticket’ area of things”. And we’ll talk about it in terms like that. But we’ll never pit one album against another, because I’m not going to make our albums fight.
MF: There are 12 new songs on the album, including ‘The Chapeltown Rag’ and ‘The Dying Song’. Are there any songs on The End, So Far that you have a particular soft spot for?
Jay: There actually are. I usually like everything equally, but a song like ‘Acidic’ is really special to me. I think that’s one of my favourite Slipknot songs of all time. Personally, I think we all did a really great job on that one. It’s very different for us, but it’s so cool. I also really like ‘Hivemind’. That one is more in the vein of being a traditional Slipknot, all out energy song. I like all of them, but I’m pretty partial to those two.
MF: You’ve gone from being a Slipknot fan to being a full-time band member and you recently recreated the photo of you as a kid with your dad meeting Slipknot backstage. Can you take me back to the first official Slipknot show that you played?
Jay: It was crazy. I have the image of what it felt like starting our first song live together, I have it burned into my mind. And it’s funny because I often go back to it thinking of how pure that moment was. It was such a long time coming, you know – we were working on The Gray Chapter for about a year before we even played a show, which to me now is incredibly backwards because our live show informs so much of what we do in the studio.
But it was a real turnkey moment for me in that I really understood all in that moment what it really means to be in Slipknot. I had made educated guesses before and obviously we had made that record and I’m proud of it, but it really took stepping on that stage and counting off that first song to really, all of a sudden, in one moment understand what this is all about.
To be in that moment and also feel supported and encouraged by my new band mates, guys that I’ve known since I was 10 years old, it was very meaningful. And to me, I feel like we’ve only improved since then. We’ve become a better band and become better band mates.
Slipknot – ‘The Chapeltown Rag’
- Slipknot’s The End, So Far is out now.