The UK has been waiting over six years for a full blown Slipknot tour. Now, in January 2015, it has finally begun. As the Prepare For Hell tour, featuring Slipknot, their long time brothers in metal KoRn and newcomers King 810 rolled into Glasgow on Sunday, Rock Sins was granted the biggest interview in our five and a half year history.
Our very own Lisa Fox sat down with Slipknot percussionist Chris Fehn (aka #3) for an in-depth chat about everything from censorship to golf. Yes, that’s right, golf. Take it away Lisa and Chris….
Rock Sins: Hi how are you?
Chris Fehn: Good how are you?
I’m very well. Thank you.
First off, I know you’re an enthusiastic golfer. Have you managed to get a game in while you’re in Scotland?
Noo, its too snowy. I wanna play St Andrew’s so bad.
St Andrew’s has a wonderful golf course .
One day I’ll get there. Yeah. I wanna play the old course though.
I’m sure they’d let you.
Well, that would be great.
How have the first couple of European shows gone?
Amazing. Amazing. There’s so many metal heads up here. It’s just… it’s unbelievable. You know, they just come out in droves. We know they’re in to it and it just makes the shows much better.
When Slipknot were starting out, Korn were the big boys in the metal world.
What’s it like being on the road with them now?
Well, they were a huge part of life before I was even in Slipknot. I mean, I love that band. I’d never traveled to see bands, and I traveled to Minneapolis to see Korn, and I was blown away. The great thing is, they’re amazing people, other than musicians. And that to me is the full package, because you never know. You meet a lot of people that are your idols and they turn out to be fucking assholes and these guys are nothing but gracious and good friends.
Is it like you’re just hanging out with your buddies?
Yeah it’s great because we all go through the same thing. We all know that things don’t always go smoothly. Any band basically has all these things in common, and to have somebody that can empathise and you can talk to and they understand is huge out here.
I’ve heard that you guys are a lot calmer now than you used to be back in the day. Not just Slipknot, but Slipknot and Korn together. Is that true?
Yeah. I mean you can only burn so long you know? Then, age and responsibilities catches up a little bit. Slipknot is something that a lot of people enjoy so it’s our job to make sure that we can deliver. Without having other things happen to you, that don’t need to happen.
Lets talk about the new album. The Gray Chapter has been described as dark, like the new Iowa. Was that something intentional or was it a natural progression?
Yeah it was just organic. We never go in with a plan, its never like “okay this record’s gonna be like this because we want this to be seen this way or heard this way”. That’s one good thing about this band; we don’t try to please. It’s just what we like when it’s recorded, and we like it, then that’s just the way it is, you know? We don’t answer to anybody or any thing about it.
Custer has been getting a lot of radio play recently, but when it’s they remove the swear words, do you think that impacts on the songs?
I do. I do. I hate that you know. There’s so many songs out there that they’ll all go [sound effects] or blip, the worst is when they re-do it with a different word. Yeah. I’m just like, “come on man”. But I guess that’s the world we live in. Even with the internet and how exposed kids are to things in this world. To me it is the least of the problems that we have. It’s the least of the problems that are going on. But that’s just…its just control,and people want control.
Plus surely you’re not gonna be listening to this station unless you’re listening for heavy music?
Right. Yeah it’s beyond me yeah. I know. I don’t get it.
A lot of your music is very poetic. There’s a lot of amazing lyrics in Slipknot songs. Even Custer, “The son of a bitch is on his knees, the last man standing gets no pity” I love that line.
How do you as a band come up with those sort of concepts?
Well that’s Corey Taylor. He’s amazing man. I mean he’s smart, he’s a great lyricist. I mean, I’ve tried to write lyrics and songs, not for Slipknot but just on my own, just on a piece of paper. I’m just like wow, I appreciate him so much for his talent… And also it helps me play the songs live over and over and over and over. I’ve played these songs a thousand times but yet, it’s those words that hit me as a person also. So I’m into it and it keeps me enjoying what I do.
So what keeps it fresh?
Well obviously a new record. Playing new songs live and seeing the reaction. That’s always great because it’s fresh and it’s new which in turn makes the older songs important and more cool too. And you get to go back mentally, like I can go back to those early memories when I was playing Sic or People = Shit and I still get that same rush from those songs. So I mean it’s just all good, all the way around.
Each time Slipknot finish an album cycle, it feels like we’re counting down to hiatus. What inspires you to come back stronger each time?
I think it’s the fans. They never left us. If we were irrelevant and found that nobody took interest anymore I assume that would have an effect on it. But more and more people are coming now, younger kids and the kids that were 20 years old, they’re 35 now, or the 30 year olds are 45. We have this big range of fans that have stayed loyal. We’re very blessed in that respect.
You’ve got to be nearing the point where you’ve got the kids who first came to your shows bringing their kids to your shows.
Yeah. Yeah it’s totally cool. Yeah I love it.
With the two new members, has the dynamic changed within the band?
Not really. Not really I mean it’s still…it’s still full throttle whatever we do. So they’re basically doing their job and hopefully they get out of it what they need to get out of it. And the seven of us are still close, we are actually closer than we have been in a long time and it’s a good thing.
Do you think the two new guys will become full members and write with you?
I don’t know. I don’t know. We haven’t gotten that far yet.
You’re just playing it by the day?
Slipknot grew very much through word of mouth and touring when you guys started off. How do you think you’d fare as a new band now because the world is so different?
Yeah I think it’s incredibly difficult because of the way that record sales and everything have dropped off that to get a good contract, being a new band is nearly impossible. The way that the new deals are structured, you know they own everything. So it’s like…it’s really sad that record labels are struggling because they can’t…they’re just…it’s all the internet. People don’t really care anymore about sound quality. It’s just eaten up so fast and it’s so easy. You know, I’m guilty of it too. I’ll buy records off iTunes just because I’m in my car and I want it right now and I do it. I do also have a huge CD collection. I still do buy CDs but I think… Man that’s a good question. I think that we would still be different than what’s out today, and we would still make an impact. So yeah, I don’t know…I think if it started today as versus ‘99 we would still wanna be seen, I guess.
Would Slipknot ever go down the road of putting an album out yourselves or are you always gonna be a label band?
Obviously we have a contract. I’m not sure when that’s up or what…you know when that’s gonna be but we’ll address it at that time.
Have you ever thought with all the hard times you’ve been through, fuck it I’ve had enough?
Yeah of course. I do that with video games even [laugh]. I mean that’s just part of life but this is my life and sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s the greatest thing ever. It’s an interesting profession to be in but music is my life. It always has been since I was a little kid. It’s gotten me through everything. It’s never lied to me. It’s the realest thing on this planet to me is music and I have a very wide range of what I listen to so it doesn’t matter who it is it’s just…it’s always the best thing. So I love being part of it in my own way.
Do you as a band and also as you as a person, get influenced by newer bands that are out there?
I don’t personally. There’s not too many things out that are new that I like. I’m still an old metal head I guess. So I continue to listen to that stuff. Once in a while I’ll hear something new that catches my eye but it’s usually something obscure. But other than that everything’s just kind of stale.
That’s an interesting comment, “everything’s stale”. Do you think that’s something in your head or do you think that’s something in the world in general with music?
It’s just in my head. I can’t speak for you. Because I appreciate any band that puts out a record and goes on tour and does what we do for a living. Its amazingly hard you know and it’s difficult to continue to have passion for it on a night to night basis depending on what’s going on in your personal life and within the band, within everything. But as far as being a music fan there hasn’t been that next Pantera to me, there hasn’t been that type of band… there hasn’t been another Korn. There hasn’t been another Slipknot to where I was like, “Wow man. I’m totally into it, I would go see the show”. It just hasn’t affected me yet like that.
It might, you never know.
It might. I don’t look too hard though either, I really don’t. I’m pretty into what I’m in to and it’s probably my loss…I’m probably missing out on some things but… it’s just I got a lot of other things to do too.
To what extent do you think that you bring the bands that you grew up with, with you and how does that then influence your musical style?
It’s different for me because I play percussion. So it’s like there’s never been a band that I’ve listened to back in the metal days that had that. So I really don’t…but I bring that love for metal and that attitude and that comes through on tape.
When Slipknot first started off there were nine of you and that’s a lot of people in a band. There were a lot of suggestions that other bands would follow suit and they haven’t really. Do you think there’s a reason for that?
Maybe because we did it.
They don’t want to be accused of ripping off Slipknot?
Yeah, yeah. But you know yeah. I’ve seen other bands, I can’t remember specific names, but I have seen other bands or other musicians play percussion or do some things live that we do… a DJ, you know stuff like that. But I mean that’s just, it’s part of music these days I guess.
The way that you and Clown interact on stage, and with the audience while playing really adds theatre to your performance. Not just theatre but the embodiment of what people love about Slipknot – the excitement, the energy, the uniqueness. Is that something that you feel on stage?
I don’t know. I’m so close to it that I guess it’s just…It’s normal to me yeah.
So what’s next for Slipknot?
The next show [Laughing]. It means its touring, and it is tough. Its tough, and so focusing on tonight is the main thing and then once the show’s over, we figure out what time we have to leave and what’s the next city because we have three in a row now. if we think too far ahead it demeans what’s happening today.
Slipknot have always come across as being a very organised and thought out band, even before you were playing arenas. Maybe it’s around you rather than necessarily something you do yourselves?
Yeah, obviously there is, there’s a lot of planning that goes into to making this happen. So many people. The crew is amazing and getting everything set up and ready to go every night is very, very organised. There’s still freedom, there’s still chaos just everything normal that any band goes through.
So to close off the interview, the site that I write for is called Rock Sins. What is your biggest rock sin?
Yeah like the seven deadly sins. So it can be something about you, something about the band, a story, something about you personally.
Like a religious sin? I mean obviously I’m not…I’m human there’s been a lot. It just depends on what I want to reveal I suppose. I’ll just say there’s been many.
Probably still to come.
Thank you very much indeed.
Interview by Lisa Fox.
Chris and the rest of Slipknot continue their Prepare For Hell tour with KoRn and King 810 across the rest of the UK for the next week. The following shows remain:
Slipknot w/ KoRn & King 810 Prepare For Hell UK Tour Remaining Dates
Tuesday 20th – Manchester – Arena
Thursday 22nd – Liverpool – Echo Arena
Friday 23rd – London – Wembley SSE Arena
Saturday 24th – Cardiff – Motorpoint Arena
Monday 26th – Nottingham – Capital FM Arena
Tuesday 27th – Birmingham – Barclaycard Arena
Remaining tickets (including recently released production tickets) can be acquired at Live Nation via the following link – https://www.livenation.co.uk/artist/slipknot-tickets. Stay tuned for a review of the Glasgow show on the Prepare For Hell Tour as well as further Slipknot coverage right here at Rock Sins.
Update – check out the review of the show at the Glasgow Hydro Arena right here!