“I used it as a doorstop, then I had it on the back of my toilet”: Inside the night Slipknot won their first Grammy Award

Slipknot holding their Grammy in 2006
(Image credit: Kevin Winter (Getty))

The common narrative around Slipknot is that, on their first album cycle alone, they did everything any band could ever want to do. Off the back of their riotous debut, The Nine became figureheads of the nu metal takeover, instantly graduated to headliner status because no one wanted them as a support act, and went platinum in the US within a year. However, there was one honour that long eluded the eighteen-legged wrecking machine, even after Iowa reached number one in the UK: they couldn’t win a Grammy.

This wasn’t from lack of trying on the powers-that-be’s part. Slipknot were nominated for the Recording Academy’s small shiny gramophones almost from the off. Megahit Wait And Bleed was shortlisted for one in 2001, but got pipped to the post by DeftonesElite. Similar fates befell Iowa singles Left Behind and My Plague in 2002 and ’03, respectively. The industry body then tried even harder to give Iowa’s greatest some gold in 2005, nominating Duality and Vermilion in two different categories simultaneously, and that fell short too!

Finally, the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance went to Before I Forget in 2006. It was a long-awaited, hard-fought victory that ended half a decade of behind-the-scenes toil. Then it turned out most of the band didn’t give a shit anyway.

“I guess I never expected we were gonna win anything, so who gives a damn?” guitarist Mick Thomson said in a 2014 Google Play interview. “I was young and angry, so I was like, ‘Yeah, fuck you! Fuck your Grammy! Whatever!’”

“I think I used it as a doorstop for a while,” added co-guitar player Jim Root. “Then I had it on the back of my toilet.”

The apathy among The Nine’s ranks was pretty apparent on the night, too. With much of the band disenchanted by becoming what Jim’s since called “the Leonardo DiCaprio of the Grammys”, only four members rocked up to the ceremony in February 2006: drummer Joey Jordison, percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan, bassist Paul Gray and turntablist Sid Wilson. The quartet clearly put effort into their attire, though. Clown donned a striking pink boiler suit, Joey stylishly wore sunglasses over his kabuki mask, Paul brought a fancy silver tie along and Sid… we’re still not sure what the fuck kind of look he was going for.

Slipknot at the Grammys in 2006

(Image credit: Stephen Shugerman (Getty))

Before entering Los Angeles’ Staples Center to claim their prize, the band had to endure those awkward red carpet interviews. One of them, with The Tonight Show, continues to live in infamy. The reporter asking Clown “Who’d win in a fight: you or Ronald McDonald?” instantly got the conversation started on shaky footing, and it only dive-bombed further with the question, “If there were a heavy metal song about me, what’d it be called?”

“Jackass,” Clown flatly replied, before offering up some potential lyrics: “You’re. A. Jackass.”

With the press smoothly won over, Slipknot headed inside and soon swept up their award, beating Mudvayne, Ministry, Rammstein and Shadows Fall in the process. They picked it up so quickly, in fact, that it was before the ceremony even started airing on TV, as has now sadly become tradition for the Best Metal Performance category. It didn’t dampen Paul’s joy at winning, however. Taking the mic first after the band walked on-stage, he sounded endearingly honoured and nervous behind that jet-black mask: “We’re a band from Des Moines, Iowa, and here we are in Los Angeles! I wanna just thank my dad!”

Clown also became surprisingly sincere during a post-win press conference. Holding his new trophy and flanked by his bandmates in front of journalists from around the world, he talked about his dad’s passing just weeks beforehand.

“As morbid as it may sound, I always knew I was gonna lose my father while I was out on the road with my family,” he said. “I always knew it was gonna happen. It was hard to have that realisation and have that sink in, because there’s so much sacrifice you do to live your dream. It never ends.”

When Hammer interviewed Clown later in 2006, he revealed that he’d developed a mixed relationship with his Grammy. It held pride of place atop a piano in the percussionist’s living room, yet he told writer Jon Wiederhorn: “On the one hand, it doesn’t mean shit, and on the other, it means we’re in the club now. We can now vote against all these fucking shit bands that are out there. Anyway, it seems like it should go up there, and it hides a pretty good stain.” 

Although the band seem largely nonplussed about the win, Slipknot’s overdue Grammy Award further legitimised them as the heavy music force of the 21st century. The Nine were at long last recognised by the industry for the sonic chaos they’d spread, and sects of their global following certainly rejoiced that night. Jim Root’s doors didn’t slam shut for a while either, which is also nice.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.