Idea behind the masks
The original idea of wearing masks was because they wanted to show who they really are, and how the music affects them. The masks represent their battle with the world and themselves, their pain, hate and love.
Slipknot never really was about the masks or jumpsuits. It's all about the music, and showing people that music is the only thing that counts. Slipknot's music would be as good as it is now even if the band members didn't wear masks. Slipknot doesn't want people to see their faces, to see themselves when they're playing music. It's all about listening and hearing the music, it's all about concentrating on art, on the message the band wants us to see. When you buy a CD and play it, you don't see their masks, you just hear them, you have to feel the music. The masks are an important part of the band. Slipknot has never performed live without the masks. And that will never change.
The masks... it all started with Shawn, when one day he brought a Clown mask and wore it during practice.
Paul Gray: "One day we were reharsing, and Shawn put on this Clown mask and would not take it off. At first it pissed us off, but then we went 'Man, that's kind of creepy.' So we decided to all wear masks so no one would know who we were. After shows we;d leave with our masks on, go home and change, and then come back dressed normal to find out if people liked us."
: "The whole reason we did this was because of going back to music as product thing. Music was basically a template for a bunch of fucking hot guys to get up and sell a bunch of that don't mean anything a week from now, you know what I'm sayin'? So we're like "all right, here, we put this mask on, you don't know what the hell we are, deal with that. We're not about our fucking faces. then we put on the coveralls, we're not about fashion or trends or last name or whatever. Here's my number, here's my barcode, here's my fucking tribal S, this is Slipknot, and that's what it's always gonna be about. It's always gonna be about the music first, and us later. And that's always what it's been about. Of course we're gonna, you know, push that as far as we can, you know. I mean, we don't give a fuck if anybody follows this, we just want peopel to love our music."
Here's what Corey said when asked if the masks reflect a certain angry aspect of each member's personality.
: "Yeah, it's a little more. It's our way of becoming more intimate with the music. It's a way for us to become unconscious of who we are and what we do outside of music. It's a way for us to kind of crawl inside it and be able to use it. There's a little aspect of, I guess, our personality in them, but in a way, it's almost like wearing the music. That's the way it is for us. The music for us is so tangible that you can wrap it around yourself and feel safe. You can get inside it and explore it. You know what I mean?"
: "As for the mask, once it's on your body and the music starts, you don't notice. It becomes a part of your body, since you've been doing it so long. U look back to our first shows in a club and wonder what in the hell were we thinking! Today, we don't even notice. It can be tedious if it's an all day photo shoot, but when we're at a show, and we are locked into the music and interacting with the crowd, I don't notice my mask at all."
Corey Taylor about performing without masks
: "You'll never see us, unless you come to a sound check, and even then most of us wear a mask while doing that. It's just the spirit of it, you know. I meant, this isn't any kind of gimmick, you know, for us it's always had much more integral tendencies, basically it's always ment more to us then just the mask, there's a whole concept there that people really miss out on, and I don't really fault them, you know. I mean, a lot of people will never understand what this band is about, but the people who do undertand it will realize it that, yeah, there's no way we would ever go out on stage without our masks. If it ever got to the point where we were considering it, I wouldn't do it, I would walk away. There's a point to all of this really, and the point is not summed up by the masks, it's not summed up by the music, it's not summed up by the art, it's not summed up by anything, it all revolves arounf each other, and you take one thing out of that equasion, and the math doesn't make sense."
The first Slipknot masks
were made by the band members. Nowadays the masks are created by other people, but all masks
are designed by Slipknot
Clown: "The masks come out of our minds, and we get people that we feel have a mind-set like us, and they have the ability to sketch, and we approve the designs," he said. "The guy who helped make my mask [the All Hope Is Gone Clown mask] is here with me, because, after a week on the road, he's got to check on usage. If you wear a mask for a week, it will start showing its weaknesses, so he's here to fix it. Basically, the process is, I have an idea for my mask, and I start talking to him. He sketches, we manipulate, he sketches, we manipulate, and you get to a point where you're happy with it. My particular mask is made out of real leather, with shoe thread — real stuff. I don't want any of it to [appear] human — there are no human elements to it. The mask is actually made of steel [covered with leather], so I can rip it off my head and use it as a weapon. It's not some plastic bullshit. We keep manipulating it and manipulating it until we get what we want."
According to percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan
, the band's members hardly ever clean their masks, no matter how much they sweat, spit, vomit or bleed in them. It's not that they never wash them, it's just that they've got this rule.
Clown: "The rule is: Sit in it. The philosophy was always to just sit in it."
"I remember, in the early days, when we had no money, we were in Europe on the first record cycle, and we were in Spain. I was in the bathroom with Shawn Economaki, the bass player from Stone Sour, and I was washing my mask for the very first time - it hadn't been washed since I was 14 years old. I put the mask in the sink, and let hot water go over it, and the water turned brown. I dared him to drink a Dixie cup full of it - and he did. I can't tell you how much piss and other things, dirt from rolling around on floors ... I mean, I can't even tell you what was in that water, bro. Now we're big rock stars and we have big dressing rooms and we have people who will come out and work on our masks and clean our clothes. We've come a long way, my friend."
Joey Jordison: "It's very difficult to play with masks ... We have trouble breathing and sometimes we feel locked in hell."