Our in-depth interview with Mick Thomson and Jim Root
by Stephen Daultrey (Total Guitar)
Was there ever a time when you questioned if there would be a new Slipknot album?
Mick: “When you part ways with a drummer, you don’t know anything for a while. My desire was always there, but there’s a lot of people in the band and a lot of different shit that goes on in everyone’s lives.
"But when we got back together it was like we’d never been apart. The love was still there. It’s like hitting pause on your life and resuming it and nothing’s changed.”
Jim: “It was always in the back of our minds to do another album. There were roadblocks, the main one being that we lost Paul. When we started touring soon after Paul passed away it was to see if we could carry on.
“We found out that we could, so the next step was to make a new record. But we had to wait for Stone Sour’s record cycle to finish first, and that kept getting prolonged to the point where I decided not to wait any more. We couldn’t keep putting the Slipknot guys off for another band.”
Jim, you quit Stone Sour to write the new Slipknot record. Have you quit for good?
Jim: “I don’t have any plans to return... I haven’t even spoken to anyone from that band except Corey. I don’t really have any interest in it anymore.”
.5: The Gray Chapter flits from metallic brutality to pervasive melancholy. How vital is it that every new Slipknot release now embraces multiple facets?
Mick: “There are many personalities in the band, and we like different things. We’ve musically evolved to do more than simple bludgeoning.
"When some bands break away from that, people are like ‘what the fuck?’ But we’ve put ourselves in a position where we can change gears, and I’m glad because shit gets boring playing the same thing over and over.”
Jim: “We have many different approaches to writing. I don’t consciously think of any certain direction when I’m writing. I only try not to be repetitive or redundant. It’s important to evolve without ever straying too far from your roots and what established you.
"Some bands can [stray], like Green Day who went from being punk rock to a radio pop band. But I think it’s important to remember where you came from.”
Mick: “We’re also amazingly lucky to have a singer like Corey. Some people don’t like the softer shit, some people do... whatever. Corey’s aggressive shit is perfect in my opinion, but he can also sing like a motherfucker. It would be a travesty to stunt any of that. He’s got the range, so why not use it?”
All Hope Is Gone was the first record to feature songwriting contributions from (then) all nine members of Slipknot, but the new record has predominantly been written by Jim and Corey. What was the process like?
Jim: “I’m constantly writing, maybe a little more than other guys in the band. I find it a very therapeutic thing to do on the road, where you’re estranged from your hobbies. But there are many cooks in the kitchen, so I never really had much opportunity to put my stuff forward before.
"When you had Paul and Joey writing, you had to find your place. They didn’t write a lot of material for All Hope Is Gone, so more of my songwriting came out. With .5 it seems like I basically did the whole record. That’s why last November, I really put my nose to the grindstone and put together enough arrangements so that we could finally get going.”
Mick: “This record had a weird songwriting process. We ended up in the studio sooner than we had intended. Jim and Corey had a bunch of stuff demo’d, and other stuff came together in the studio.
"But we didn’t have an ‘all-in-the-same-room’ jamming thing that we hoped for. But we didn’t need it. The first two records, we wrote shit together in a basement. Now everyone has identical Pro Tools setups on their laptops, so we can work on stuff while we’re touring.
"It enables us to have songs in the can already before we go in a studio to work on a new album. We hope to do our next record sooner after touring .5. We don’t want to spend the same amount of time between albums as we’ve done with the last two.”