From godfathers of shock like Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath to Marilyn Manson and Slipknot decades later, metal has made terrorising the mainstream a hallmark of its identity. But in an era where it feels like pop stars are creating more controversy than anyone from our realm, we ask: is metal’s shock factor dead and buried? Joey Jordison, who was on the frontlines for Slipknot’s chaotic, headline-making rise to infamy, breaks it down for us.
Do you think metal Has lost its ability to shock people?
“That’s a weird one. No, I don’t think so, because with the musicianship that goes into metal, especially these days, you really have to prove yourself and get out there. Even if it’s melodies, grooves, what your time signatures are, how extreme you wanna play, how dark you wanna be, what your feeling is, there’s always gonna be that element, because metal always feels the human soul and the fire. So that’s never gonna die, and that’s the best thing about it.”
Are we still scary, though? Pop stars cause more controversy than metal bands now
“Yeah, it’s almost reversed. You know what? In a weird way, I do agree with you on that. There is that element of recklessness and danger that is gone.”
Can metal really be that scary if reality TV stars are walking around in death metal shirts?
“Yeah, I mean, you want to ask those people to go down the tracklisting of Blessed Are The Sick, ha ha ha! Sometimes people get mad at me for saying this, but I think a lot of all this is to do with the internet, and how it’s easy to be a metal fan all of a sudden. When I was a kid, I knew when the next Metallica album was coming out because I collected all the fanzines. Plus there was tape- trading and stuff like that, you know? Now we have the internet – and that’s killer! But you had to put a real effort into following it in those days.”
Would Slipknot have ever got anywhere near as big without the image and everything that went with it?
“No. Absolutely not. But even though our music didn’t necessarily represent, say, the thrash movement, or the early heavy metal movement, we all grew up on that kinda stuff. But it’s about what grabs you. I mean, Van Halen, to this day, are still one of the undisputed greatest bands for that, in terms of songwriting, production, it’s just insane. It just explodes out of your speakers.”
But if they’d all looked like plumbers it wouldn’t have got as far, either
“Ha ha, no! I think there’s a plumber in The Village People, though…”
- TeamRock Radio app back on Apple’s app store
- The A-Z Guide To Joey Jordison
- Joey Jordison: How metal's prodigal son made his return
- Read Classic Rock, Metal Hammer & Prog for free with TeamRock+
Murderdolls also had an image that helped to bring the music to life – even if it was being done in a much more…schlocky way.
“Absolutely, that was on purpose and there’s no problem with you saying that. It was cheesy! We always said in the Murderdolls, I remember talking to Wednesday one day, and we were saying, ‘Man, we’re just serious about not being serious.’ We actually ended up writing a song about that that never got released. I mean, it was fun, you know? It was killer.”
Why do you think that relationship between metal and the more horror-slanted aesthetic has stayed so strong?
“It’s intertwined forever. I mean, you see what Rob Zombie’s doing with his movies, and they are absolutely amazing. His vision, how he does his shows, everything else. It was awesome to play in his band and see how he does everything.”
You were already a seasoned, big-time metal drummer when you toured with Zombie. Did you learn anything from him?
“Yeah! I’ve never seen an artist that I’ve worked with – including my own bands – that when I went up to soundcheck, I’d be sitting in my drum throne for like an hour and a half while Rob goes and designs the whole thing. He is so particular, and that’s what’s really cool about when I was playing with him: just watching that level of dedication to how the show looks, and not taking anything for granted. He is full-on from when he wakes up to when the show happens, and that is inspiring. And heavy metal, rock’n’roll, it doesn’t matter what it is; there always has to be some kind of aesthetic to it. It helps define it.”
Do you think enough bands are coming through that have that whole package? The sound, the look, the showmanship.
“I do, because no matter what, if metal is continuing, there is always gonna be someone that is coming up and is gonna kick you in your ass. Those are the kids that are hungry and want to create this. You’ve got your seasoned veterans, and we’re gonna do it forever, but there will be ones that are gonna come up and create something completely out of the ordinary that will latch onto people. It’s cool to look out for, not the next big thing, because I hate saying that, but the next group of people that really connect together. Those are the bands that take off.”
What would it take for a metal band to truly stun people in the way that Slipknot did?
“That’s a really tough question. I think right now, it’s just creating an album that’s a new form of metal that’s gonna take off into the future. I don’t think it’s about a shock thing, it’s about evolution. Bands have been doing that since way back. Look at The Stooges, how crazy they were for back then. In the 90s, you had Marilyn Manson. You just have to keep pushing the envelope, and there’s always gonna be someone out there that figures that out.”
Vimic’s debut album will be released later this year