A look back at Mudvayne's brilliant and bonkers appearance at the MTV VMAs in 2001

Photo of Mudvayne at the MTV Music Awards
(Image credit: Getty / Jim Spellman)

In 2001, the mainstream music landscape was a fascinating place. Slipknot and Staind were topping the UK album charts as much as Destiny's Child and Usher were. Limp Bizkit were appearing on late-night TV in the US, and Korn spent weeks battling for No.01 with Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC on TRL. And rock and metal stars were getting the red carpet treatment during awards season.

But there are few bands that made a statement quite like Mudvayne did when they attended the MTV Awards.

Starting on that famous red carpet, the band climbed out of their limo, sporting one of the most shocking and unique collective looks they could think of. Full white tuxedos matched with black ties, with lashings of bright red blood pouring from the gaping bullet holes on each of their heads. To see such a bold and bloody look rubbing shoulders with the likes of Nelly Furtado, Alicia Keys and Mick Jagger during a segment of the show House Of Style with Molly Sims, feels almost like a fever dream. When asked where they would rate their outfits on a scale of 1-10, they reply, vocalist Chad Gray replies, "-1". Then when asked if they were nervous about what a panel of style experts would say about whether what they were sporting was hot or not, he candidly states, "Be honest, that's a start."

Then there is the actual awards ceremony, where the band picked up the first-ever MTV2 Award, which was fan-voted. It was for their classic track Dig, which was selected ahead of Craig David’s Fill Me In, Gorillaz’ Clint Eastwood, India.Arie’s Video, Jurassic 5’s Quality Control and Alicia Keys’ Fallin. The award was presented to them by Moby, Gwen Stefani and Eve as the likes of Bono and The Edge look on and listen intently to what they had to say. Chad starts out by saying, "It’s all about that right there. The fans", after greeting the cheering masses at the front of the stage. Then drummer Matthew McDonough states, "We have a personal philosophy in Mudvayne that art is not a competition. So it’s kind of hard for us to justify this to ourselves. For us, it’s something that comes from the heart. Sweat, tears and sometimes blood. So we would like to give a heads-up to all you winners, all of us. Success is a great feeling." He then finishes with an echo of Grey's sentiment, "This is for the fans. It’s not ours.”

In an interview with the band following the awards, Grey went on to say, "MTV2 helped us tremendously, there’s no doubt about that. But even a week before our record dropped, we were out on our own, headlining stuff, playing to 50,100,150 people in certain select markets. We go to a place and play, then come back, and there’s more people. We’ve been working it as a slow build rather than being a flash in the pan like last week’s news. We want to have longevity, we want to make a career out of it.”

It all equates to something pretty extraordinary. A moment when nu metal, and heavy music in general, truly was side-to-side with popular culture. The state of awards ceremonies may have changed since then, but the records will always show the moment that a blood-drenched Mudvayne was picked over the likes of Alicia Keys and Gorillaz.

And here is the award-winning Dig, as a treat, just because it still hits all these years later.

Mudvayne made a heroic return to the live stage in 2021 and 2022, respectively, playing huge festivals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here's what it looked like when they played Rock Fest in Cadott, WI last year.

Jack Rogers

Jack has yet to hear a breakdown that he hasn't fallen head over heels for. First putting pen to paper for Louder in 2023, he loves nothing more than diving straight into the feels with every band he gets to speak to. On top of bylines in Prog, Rock Sound and Revolver, you’ll also often find him losing his voice at a Lincoln City match or searching for London’s best vegan kebab.