Corey Taylor reveals the stories behind every song on Iowa

A picture of Iowa artwork with Corey Taylor superimposed on top
(Image credit: Roadrunner)

It was the record that confirmed Slipknot as metal’s biggest band in a generation. It also almost ended them for good.

In the new issue of Metal Hammer, we go in-depth on Slipknot's groundbreaking second album, 20 years on from its release – talking to the band and the people around them about its legacy. Here, Corey Taylor spills the stories behind every track on the album. 

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“This is Sid’s part from People = Shit cut up. He recorded that after his grandfather passed. You can hear it. I mean, it’s so guttural and so emotional. It gives me chills thinking about it.” 

People = Shit 

“One of the few songs we wrote on the road on the first album. It was something that we used almost like a mantra. So when we wrote it, it was almost like a built-in anthem.” 


Disasterpiece is my favourite one to play live. It’s so heavy, it’s so dark, and I’m very proud of the fact that the first line was voted [somewhere as] the worst lyric of 2001.” 

My Plague

“I had just come up with the vocal melody for the chorus and I had laryngitis. I was gagging to sing it and had no voice. I held up the paper, just mouthing it, and the guys are like, ‘What’s he doing?’” 

Everything Ends

“For the longest time it was just known as ‘The Misfit Riff’. That chorus was originally very melodic, but Ross thought it would have more impact if I screamed it.” 

The Heretic Anthem

“It was originally called The Heretic Song. There are CD singles that have that out there in the world. Then Joey was like, ‘I think we should call it ‘The Heretic Anthem’.”


Gently was actually going to be incorporated on the first album. The version of Gently that’s on Iowa is much heavier, danker, a little more evil and Clown wrote the lyrics.” 

Left Behind

Left Behind was an older tune that we reconfigured and refashioned. I wrote the lyrics and did my own thing with it and the chorus really came together well.” 

The Shape

“I was struggling to figure out what to do on the chorus. I had the screaming bit, but it just felt empty. Coming up with that melody line filled in the blanks for me.” 

I Am Hated

“Ross was the one that wanted me to break it down
a little more evil and a little cleaner. Then we would punctuate [it] with the heavy shit, until you got to the big chorus.” 

Skin Ticket

“I remember watching Clown play that riff with Mick [Thomson], and then Mick took it and he and Jim [Root] really worked it out. We were trying to do a Tattered & Torn thing [from the debut album], but it became so much more heavier.” 

New Abortion

“I had the name and when they started playing music for me, I knew this going to be New Abortion. The chorus was a kind of a unification – all of us embracing the idea that we’re all dead before we’re even born.” 


“For the longest time, we held Metabolic back from the audience live. Then we played it for them, and the audience was like, [shrugs] ‘OK, cool.’ And we’re like, ‘Fucking assholes!’” 


Iowa was such a tribal experience. I can remember us in that room, we only played it twice. What you’re hearing is live. I recorded the vocals naked, completely fucked up.” 

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Dannii Leivers

Danniii Leivers writes for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, The Guardian, NME, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, The Line Of Best Fit and more. She loves the 90s, and is happy where the sea is bluest.