The first stages of the band Slipknot began way back in 1992 in Paul Gray’s basement, under the name Painface (a name Anders Colsefni would later use again). Anders Colsefni, Shawn Crahan, Paul Gray and Patrick Neuwirth brought the aggressive feel to the band, which would also be the defining feature of the future band Slipknot. During this early period, the songs “Slipknot”, “Gently”, “Idiot”, “Whats wrong” and “Wise up” were recorded, later to be known as “The basement sessions”. Shawn unfortunately was too busy with work and the project ended up not lasting.
In September 1995 Shawn and Anders decided to put together a new band again. They were always hanging out together and would play Werewolf: The Apocalypse (role-playing game). Most of the lyrics for MFKR would be based on the game. Anders was helping Shawn with some welding in his garage one winter, and they started talking about putting together a new band. At the time they were both drummers (Anders had been singing for a while though) and wanted to put together a band with extra stand-up percussion. Anders called Paul Gray, who was in Los Angeles at the time, and convinced him to return to Des Moines and give the band a try.
They needed guitarists so they reached out to Donnie Steele and Kun Nong who agreed to join the band. They retreated to Anders’ basement to figure out their sound and how to improve musically. They began practicing under a new name: Meld.
After six practices Kun Nong left due to him liking more Alternative/Punk style. Paul was feeling like something was missing, so he was determined to get Joey involved with the new project, despite not receiving his interest in earlier projects such as Body Pit. Paul met with Joey at Sinclair’s gas station where Joey was working at the time. There he tempted Joey to come watch band rehearsals in Anders’ basement. Joey reluctantly agreed and despite missing two rehearsals due to work obligations, he eventually made it down to the basement to check out a practice session.
The first song Joey heard them play was a song known as “Slipknot”, followed by “Gently” and “Fur”. Joey realized very soon he had to be in this band and began to play the drums, while Shawn moved onto percussion. A band was formed.
Within the cramped basement, they were soon pushing out new songs constantly, such as “Killers Are Quiet”, “Do Nothing Bitchslap”, “Confessions”, “Some Feel”, “Part of Me” and “Tattered and Torn”.
Paul, Shawn and Joey also began meeting up at Sinclair’s gas station to discuss ideas and plans for the future. Shawn and Joey decided the band needed to have three drummers to provide a “hardcore audio assault”. Shawn wanted a drummer to the left and right of the stage, with one at the back controlling it all, creating a wall of power.
Joey is the main drummer who holds the band together. Shawn is the “Total Power Drummer” and is all aggression. Finally the 3rd element of percussion was done by Anders, adding a tribal feel to it. They also realized the band would need another guitarist due to Kun leaving. Josh Brainard was contacted and soon added to the band. Josh was seen as the “icing on the cake”, adding a touch of melody to the batch of songs already written.
The people in Des Moines knew that a new band was being formed and they knew who was in it. But no one had heard or seen them. Soon a small show was performed. This first show was not under the name Slipknot, they were still called Meld. The show was at a club that was called the Crowbar at that time. The band didn’t wear masks at this point. This show happened about 1-2 months after Josh had joined the band (mid to late November 1995). It was the only show they’d done with Donnie.
The band went through the names Pyg System and Meld, before agreeing on the simpler name: Slipknot, the title of their first song. Slipknot began to concentrate on their stage show and eventually the idea of what Slipknot was about, evolved. Following some discussions, Shawn turned up to a practice wearing his Clown mask. The band decided almost unanimously, with the exception of Donnie, that masks should be worn. Joey came with his Kabuki mask, known also as ’83 Cesar, and despite difficulties within practices the idea took off. The whole anti-image appearance which fit so well with their rule of ignoring trends had a big appeal.
Slipknot’s very first demo was made in 1995. It was only given to band members and close friends of the band. The demo included the following tracks: “Some feel”, “Fur Covered in Blood”, “Tattered & Torn”, “Part of Me”. The word is that every member drew their own artwork on the demos.
Soon Shawn contacted Mike Lawyer due to their interest in recording some studio work. Mike got an engineer/producer Sean McMahon to meet up with them during a practice session.
Sean McMahon: “I was contacted by former members of a band called Body Pit to check out their new band at their rehearsal space.
The band floored me the first time I heard them play in Anders’ basement. This was way before the masks and coveralls evolved. The band was solid and incredibly tight. The music had some melodic parts at that time. They played Slipknot, Gently, Do Nothing/Bitchslap, Killers Are Quiet, Vizqueen and Fur for me. Anders himself was wearing a wolf fur loincloth – and nothing else. I did not pretend to fully understand what the band was about, as we were just getting to know each other. But it was very plain to me that Slipknot was extremely good at what they did, and had the requisite drive to take it all the way.”
The band soon started working on their first big project, “Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat.“. They used every available moment to practice, perform and record at the SR Audio Studios. The recording phase for MFKR was one odd occurrence after another, Sean explains “We cut basic tracks live – all of them, including 3 drummers, all playing together in the same room. The band advocates the use of extreme violence as a conflict resolution tool, and recording was no exception. The wall next to Clown’s percussion rig acquired a few holes from his fist and drum sticks. Then there were the anatomically correct chalk line body outlines in the parking lot. Also Joey played drums naked on one track, which he nailed”.
During February of 1996 (the post production stages of MFKR) a big change happened within Donnie Steele, he found God. He realized that he couldn’t be in a band like Slipknot with the beliefs he had. As a result he decided to leave the band. At this crucial point in the new bands short history, a new member was called up. An ex-member of Joey’s band Modifidious, Craig Jones. He was highly recommended by Joey. During his arrival, the MFKR album was already in its mixing stages.
The mixing of MFKR was anything but smooth, each song being remixed multiple times. Some strain was also added by different view that each member had and things often got intense. Not only were there problems with the mixing but the band was also unhappy with the mastering that was done on the CD, which is why they insisted that Sean McMahon should do it.
Slipknot’s first major show in which they would reveal themselves to the public, was booked for the 4th of April 1996 at the music venue “The Safari Club”. On that day the room was packed with 200 people. The band arrived in Joey’s car and each member wore their individual costumes.
Paul with wire weaved in and out of his piercing, Anders covered with electrical tape and tribal paint, Josh wearing an executioners hood while Craig wore pantyhose on his head. Joey and Shawn each used the masks they had always worn, the Clown and ’83 Cesar masks. Before the band began to play, Joey started to incessantly shout “I need a little Christmas in my drink” repeatedly with each new phrase increasing in volume, energy and power. The band then slammed into their debut song “Slipknot”. By Slipknot’s second performance at The Safari Club, Paul had found a new mask, the pig. Within one month, they played a total of seven shows at the club.
Slipknot continued playing their shows. Rather than using the same uniform jumpsuits and regular masks we’re used to, the band played in different outfits, for example Shawn rented out a large purple “Barney” suit and the others wore nun dresses and even ballroom dresses or a Little Bo Peep outfit. The shows were really dark, underground, but they still had an element of humor. They would start with flashing strobe lights and a sample from Craig, usually a crazy laugh and “ice cream man” chimes. Shawn would use a power saw to create sparks to fly over the crowd.
Despite their local success, Joey still felt that the band was incomplete. He wanted more. A different sound and a greater variety. Craig was promptly moved onto samples, leaving an empty spot to fill. The band recruited Mick Thomson (ex- Body Pit) to fill that spot. Mick would start wearing a Battered Hockey mask.
MFKR was released on Halloween, 1996. The release party had 400 people turn up in masks to celebrate the occasion. They sent out the album to many people and a person named Sophia John at a local station KKDM heard it and liked it. This lead to the arrangement of Slipknot’s appearance in the local KKDM battle of the bands contest.
The contest was held every Wednesday at The Safari Club in Des Moines, and spanned across several weeks. Slipknot faced the band Stone Sour – and won. Slipknot also defeated “Maelstrom” and “Black Caesar” who came second. Slipknot conquered all. This was one of the band’s highlights that would fuel them to their current stardom. The prize money helped to fund the heavily in debt band’s new projects and demos. Sophia John became their first manager due to her contacts and love for this new band, Slipknot.
The band continued supporting their debut Mate Feed Kill Repeat. According to ISMIST records, the album’s distributor, there were only 1000 copies of this made and distributed by the band as a promotional tool. It was only released on CD, never on vinyl. Many record companies had received copies of the album from the band, one of these being Roadrunner Records. But Roadrunner felt that they shouldn’t pick up Slipknot because they thought that the vocalist required more melody. This rejection continued from other labels too.
Slipknot’s Winter of 96 Demo Sessions (Part 1) (November 1996 – December 1996) contained the following tracks: 1. “Carve” 2. “Coleslaw” 3. “Windows” 4. “May 17th“
Winter of 97 Demo Sessions (Part 2) (January 1997 – March 1997) with the tracks: 5. “Me Inside” 6. “Lust Disease” 7. “Nature“
Things behind the scenes continued on a downward spiral. Shawn bought The Safari Club in February 1st, 1997, which was a good investment but it took time away from working on the band. This fueled the already weak relationship Joey and Shawn had. The band could no longer play in Anders’ basement and things were falling apart.
Another demo was made, which we now know as the Anders Gold Disc (April 1997 – May 1997), with the following track list: 1. “Slipknot/Gently” 2. “Me Inside” 3. “Do Nothing/Bitchslap” 4. “Coleslaw” 5. “Only One” 6. “Prosthetics” 7. “Carve” 8. “Tattered & Torn” 9. “Windows” 10. “Interloper” 11. “Scissors“
Even with all of their problems, Slipknot managed to make it onto the bill for the local “Dotfest” in June of 1997. There they played to the largest crowd so far, a crowd of 12,000, containing many people from the music industry. Not only was there problems with the sound but the crowd began to throw chicken bones on stage. At the show Slipknot came out throwing tampons into the crowd and had several gimps with them. This was the first and the last time they had the gimps on stage. The gimps were Frank with a gas mask, Lanny with tribal markings in liquid latex, Greg covered with liquid latex and a ball gag in his mouth and Greg’s friend Slick Rick in a latex hood.
Slipknot had originally had the idea of having a professional stunt man, Rick, come out dressed as Shawn and then Shawn himself would come out and set the stunt man on fire. They had all the things required to do it, which for a long time had been stored in a cooler at The Safari Club. But the city would not give the permits needed to perform it so the event had to be abandoned. Their set ended with them being cut off and an riot almost breaking out as Anders cut his arms open and tossed CDs over the fence to the fans. Joey quit, but he reconsidered and came back.
Their performance left a mark, they made new fans and most importantly, they discovered Sid Wilson (even though they didn’t speak to him at this point). Slipknot searched for the success they weren’t getting and decided to enlist Corey Taylor of rival band Stone Sour, to join Slipknot. Joey, Shawn and Mick are said to have confronted him with an ultimatum at his work place “The Adult Emporium”. According to Joey they said, “Join the band or we will kick your ass!”. Corey claims that to be bullshit and that they wandered around the store until timidly asking him to join. Slipknot provided Corey an opportunity not present in Stone Sour and the “music over image” concept was appealing to him.
Corey started practicing with Slipknot and the first lyrics he wrote were to be used in the song “Me Inside”. This was a very experimental move and everyone was wondering how it would turn out. This change of a new singer resulted in Anders being pushed back to percussion and backup vocals.
Time for a new Demo: Corey Gold Disc (June 1997 – July 1997) with the following tracks: 1. “Slipknot/Gently” 2. “Me Inside” 3. “Do Nothing/Bitchslap” 4. “Coleslaw” 5. “Only One” 6. “Prosthetics” 7. “Carve” 8. “Tattered & Torn” 9. “Windows” 10. “Interloper” 11. “Scissors”
Soon this new type of Slipknot performed a live show. It turned out to be a charity event for a local hospital. The Safari Club was full of people. Corey came out with his red dreadlocks and wearing facepaint. The show was full of technical problems and this was the show that resulted in Joey’s nickname: “Superball”.
Slipknot’s next show was on the 17th of September, again at The Safari Club. At this show Corey Taylor started using his Crash Test Dummy mask.
Just before they were about to start playing their final song, “Heartache and a pair of Scissors”, Anders made an announcement. “This will be my last show” he stated. This announcement stunned both the band members and the audience.
Following this sudden change, the band returned to the studio to re-record the songs on their second CD, titled “Crowz” – minus Anders’ vocals. Of these songs included, “Gently”, “Do Nothing”, “Slipknot”, “Tattered and Torn”, “Me Inside”, “Carve”, “Coleslaw”, “Scissors”, “Windows” and “May 17th” a song written by Shawn. Crowz was to be released October 31st 1997.
Greg Welts joined Slipknot in September of 1997. He chose to wear a babyface mask on stage which resulted in the nickname Cuddles. His presence was immediately felt, a driven, almost insane character, he made a point of destroying as much of the set as possible during shows and would even dismantle his drum kit and throw it into the crowd. Cuddles’ first live show was at the Ismist Festival in October 1997, located in Lincoln, Nebraska. This was also the first show where the band wore unified jumpsuits.
Two demos were made in November, 1997. First one was known as the Silver Disc with Corey, was made. Live show November 8th, 1997. Features possibly the earliest recording of Spit it Out that exists. Track list: 1. “Slipknot/Gently” 2. “Me Inside” 3. “Coleslaw” 4. “Windows” 5. “Spit It Out” 6. “Carve” 7. “Only One” 8. “Scissors“
Second demo in November, 1997 was the SR Audio Demo with the following track list (2 unknown songs): 1. “Spit It Out” 2. “Liberate” 3. “Wait & Bleed” 4. – 5. –
In early 1998, the band began to receive a lot of attention from record labels. And in February 1998, producer Ross Robinson offered to produce their debut album after attending rehearsals in Des Moines. Soon after the band recruited Sid Wilson in the band.
Otho Sessions demo in March, 1998 with the following track list: 1. “Wait & Bleed” 2. “Snap” 3. “Interloper” 4. “Despise“
In late June, Slipknot received a seven-album deal from Roadrunner Records.
On July 6th 1998, just days before the signing to Roadrunner Records was due to take place, Cuddles was asked to leave the band. It’s rumored to be because of his lack of dedication to the position and the lack of contributing beyond the parts Anders had written. But the reason has never been confirmed officially. Cuddles played his last show during the summer of 1998 shortly before the signing to Roadrunner Records.
During 1998 the roadies wore identical jumpsuits as the band with letters on their sleeves instead of numbers. Brandon Darner, a roadie for Slipknot, had a letter B on his sleeve. He’s also known to wear a hobo mask during a show as a roadie.
Brandon was also a temporary percussionist in Slipknot between July and August of 1998. The band had fired Greg “Cuddles” Welts a few days prior to the Roadrunner Records signing, which took place on July 8th of 1998. While they were looking for a full replacement, Brandon stepped in temporarily. He never intended to stay long and he only did one show with the band as a band member which was the Ranch Bowl show in Omaha, Nebraska on August 15th 1998. This was also Josh’s last live show with the band.
While filling in as a percussionist Brandon Darner wore a converted white Liar mask with Greg Welts’ old #3 red jumpsuit. The mask would later be adopted by Chris Fehn.
Aaron, just like Brandon, was a roadie and wore a matching jumpsuit but with an upside down letter A on the sleeve. Aaron’s red jumpsuit can later be seen worn by both Jim and Chris for a little while.
The band traveled to Malibu, California to record “modern Slipknot’s” debut self-titled album in September 1998. Chris Fehn joined the band late 1998 (or very early 1999) as Brandon was just temporarily filling in. However Chris did not record anything on the album. In December they took a Christmas break from recording and during that break Josh Brainard decided to leave Slipknot. There was once again an open spot in the band that needed to be filled. Slipknot would recruit Jim Root as their new guitarist. The band returned to Malibu to finish recording the album.
This concludes the history of MFKR era. More about Slipknot at our S/T History section.
More information about Slipknot’s MFKR masks here.
Much of this info was originally on MFKR1.com, the site does not exist anymore.