This cringey 2002 Slipknot interview makes us want to die inside

Slipknot 2002 interview
(Image credit: YouTube/PesBob)

Released on August 28, 2001, Iowa, confirmed all that the world both loved and feared about Slipknot. Named after the band’s native state, their sophomore effort unleashed an unrelenting siege of brutality, rooted in a blinding new level of technicality and crushing waves of heaviness, both sonically and thematically. 

Marauding tracks such as The Heretic Anthem, People = Shit, My Plague and Disasterpiece would ultimately propel Iowa to platinum certification, a pair of Grammy nominations (for My Plague and Left Behind) and straight into the hearts of thousands of new fans across the globe.

The recording of Iowa famously captured Slipknot at their darkest, as the band turned to drugs and myriad other forms of hedonism and self-abuse to cope with the onset of superstardom, struggles in their personal lives and the ever-tenuous relations between the members.

The supporting world tour was delayed one week due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and then a 20-date US tour in November was canceled so that percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan could be with his wife after she was admitted to the Mayo Clinic for treatment for Crohn’s Disease.

Their European tour, scheduled to begin on January 20, 2002 in Helsinki, would be their first show in nearly three months and by the time the lads arrived in Finland, they were spoiling for a bit of mayhem. 

It’s here where we find the band in the below video, arriving for an album signing at a record store in Helsinki.

“What the fuck are you fucking looking at?” bellows Corey Taylor at 1:33 as the band, in full masks and boiler suits, sign albums at a table. In support of his rhetorical question, he throws a middle finger at the camera and returns to his signing duties. As far as menace goes, this display pales in comparison to what happens next.

An interviewer stands against a wall in the shop, speaking to the camera as Clown leans in closely, his face barely a foot away from hers. Gamely, she introduces the clip in Finnish to the camera and then asks, “Shawn, how are you doing?”

“Hello,” he replies, not backing up an inch.

“How are you doing?” she repeats.

“Pretty well.”

“Why only ‘pretty well?’”

“Well, I’m still alive, so it’s good.”

Notice has officially been served that this interview will not go down easily. For music journalists or any television presenter, for that matter, this is the stuff of nightmares.

She presses forth, even as the band do their concerted best to interfere. At 2:00, Mick Thomson walks over and slaps Clown in the face.

“Ow!” exclaims the interviewer with real sympathy.

“That’s how that works,” says Clown.

Then Corey Taylor walks in front of the camera, muttering, “Clown sucks, Clown sucks...” 

The boys are on one. As the interviewer persists with her questions, Clown’s dogged commitment to throwing her off-kilter grows with each passing minute. There will be no penetrating insights nor any moments of unguarded honesty here — just pure menace.

“This is your new CD, called Iowa,” she says, “which is actually your hometown. Why did you name this CD after it?”

“Why not?” he answers.

“Is it like, revenge for the town?”

“That’s where I’m from,” he replies.

“That’s the only reason?”

“It’s where I’m from.”

It’s worth noting here that Finns are notoriously solitary people and they view the notion of personal space with intense reverence. Regardless of the weather, pass by a random Finnish bus stop and you’ll see everybody standing a good 2-3 metres apart. 

Yet, even as Clown sets up shop in her personal space, she bravely continues. Finally, at 3:33, he points out, “You keep backing up from me.” 

One gets the feeling that the interviewer has entered the last stage of a video game and she now faces the Final Boss. After an awkward pause, she replies, “You scare me. I don’t know what to say...” 

Triumphantly, however, she hangs in there, running through the remainder of her questions with undaunted professionalism, even as Jim Root leans his face in next to Clown’s, even as Clown grows progressively more surly and even as Clown invites her to hit him. In the end, she finishes the interview and triumphs over the Final Boss.

“Thank you very much,” she offers at the end of the interview, with palpable relief. “Thank you,” replies Clown, perhaps impressed by her resilience. 

But then... “I’m still scared,” she says.

“That’s good.”

Honestly, it's the stuff journalist's nightmares are made of. 

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.