Have internet sleuths figured out the new Slipknot keyboardist's identity?

Slipknot new keys player 2023
(Image credit: Slipknot/Knotfest)

Slipknot's 2023 European tour certainly got off to a weird start. An announcement that long-time keyboardist Craig Jones had left the group was posted on social media and then promptly deleted, while founding member Shaun 'Clown' Crahan announced he would be sitting out the tour, only to turn up for the band's triumphant Download Festival headline spot before once again returning to the US. Yet, the masked metal machine rolls on and the band's tour dates have gone ahead with a new mysterious masked member stepping up to replace Jones.

But while the mystery of Tortilla Man - the replacement for percussionist Chris Fehn, who departed in 2019 - endured for almost three years before his identity was revealed to be Michael Pfaff, it looks like canny Slipknot sleuths might have already figured out who is currently behind the mask on keys for the band's European tour perhaps thanks to Pfaff himself. 

In a story on Instagram, Pfaff shared a shot of himself hanging out backstage. So far, so innocent. But it didn't take long for fans on the official Slipknot subreddit to spot that the band's stage costumes were all hanging on a rack at the back of the shot, with names helpfully tagged to each costume. 

Amidst the expected names - Corey,  Sid, Mick, Pfaff himself - was one simply labeled "Za" because the rest of the name is out of frame. That was plenty for curious fans to work with, however and some fans are speculating that it confirms theories that the band's new keyboardist is Zac Baird, who has plenty of experience working beneath the cover of masks and anonymity as a former Nameless Ghoul in Ghost.  

Unfortunately (and perhaps expectedly), Pfaff's shot has now been removed from Instagram, so here's a video of him throwing Smarties to fans at recent shows. 

Of course, it's all still speculation and theorising at the moment - and there's no guarantee that Slipknot's new touring keyboardist will be an official member going forwards, but Corey Taylor has already offered his ringing endorsement of the new member. 

In a recent interview with Chaoszine, Taylor suggested that the new member had been in the wings a while. "Obviously, any time you have a change like that, it makes you have to kind of lean into adversity a little bit," he explains. "We took a little more time to kind of figure things out. Obviously, [him being a] new guy. He's a total musician. But it took him a second to kind of find his way. But now he's killing it."

That said, the band also shared an portrait of the new member, which certainly does suggest they are now officially part of the band.

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.