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Jim Root discusses Slipknot's Future
Jim Root: The next Slipknot album, future projects and more
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Shades of Gray: Between the death and departure of various band members, Slipknot have had a rough few years. With .5: The Gray Chapter, they channel the energy of deceased bassist Paul Gray and return with a brutal but multifaceted album.

“The future of Slipknot is always in doubt,” guitarist Jim Root says. “I always prepare for each album as if it’s gonna be the last.”

It’s a minor miracle that Slipknot have lasted as long as they have. Yet, they have endured since the group formed in Des Moines, Iowa, 19 years ago, becoming one of the heaviest and scariest bands in a genre crowded with heavy, scary acts. Some 13 years have elapsed since the band’s self-titled debut album placed them at the forefront of the then-burgeoning nu-metal scene.

With all the different guys in the band and all the different ideas of what’s what, it’s hard to get everybody on the same page sometimes,” Root says. “We are a very tight brotherhood, but we never know what we’re going to do.

However, nothing in Slipknot’s turbulent history has been as daunting as the death of their longtime bass player, Paul Gray, from a morphine overdose in 2010. The tragedy was compounded by the recent departure - somewhat acrimonious, apparently - of longtime drummer Joey Jordison. Because both Gray and Jordison were key songwriters for the band, Slipknot’s future has hung in the balance these past few years.

But Mick Thomson, Gray’s coguitarist, says he never really considered packing it in.

“Any devastating moment throws you into shock,” he says. “I was just hoping that no one in the band was going to get caught up in the raw emotion of the moment and make any kind of grand statement, like, ‘I will not go on without Paul.’ You say something in the heat of emotion, and sometimes later when you settle down, you think, Maybe I should take that back. Once you can think straight again, what do you do? Obviously, you gotta get on with your life. We all grieve differently. I mean, we still are grieving, every time we think about it. It’s not something you get over. You just find a way to deal with it.”

With Gray and Jordison out of the picture, the bulk of songwriting duties fell to Jim Root on Slipknot’s new album .5: The Gray Chapter. The title pays homage to the deceased bassist, and the music remains true to Slipknot’s disturbing legacy.

Somber, sound-collage intros - generally assembled by Slipknot’s turntablist Sid Wilson, sampling maven Craig Jones and provocateur-in-chief Shawn “Clown” Crahan = lull the listener into a false sense of security. Then all hell breaks loose in a cacophony of car-bomb percussion as Root and Thomson’s down-tuned guitars chug and grind like some diabolic machine and lead singer Corey Taylor does his level best to projectile-vomit his tonsils out over his front teeth.

“Once we get in the studio, it sounds like us,Thomson says of The Gray Chapter. “Some of it is very classic us. Some of it is slightly more experimental us.”

“We’re still evolving as a band,” Root adds. “I think that’s really important for a band to do, especially after being around for so many years. Paul, before he passed away, really wanted the band to experiment a lot more, musically, with the direction of where we’re going. We’d done Slipknot. We’d done Iowa. I think the closest thing we’ve done to a record that Paul was very excited about was probably The Subliminal Verses. It’s very diverse. It had a little bit of everything in it. And we’re still trying to find our way. For me, and for Paul’s legacy, it’s important that we continue to evolve.”

In Gray’s absence, Root and Thomson handled the majority of bass duties on the new album, although the band did some early work with Slipknot’s touring bassist Donnie Steele. “Donnie’s a great guy,” Root says. “We brought him in to help us out in the studio for a while. But it wasn’t really jivin’. He wanted to go home and get married and do all that stuff. It’s just better off for us to kinda move on from Donnie.”

The identity of the drummer on The Gray Chapter, as well as that of the bassist who will take Gray’s place once Slipknot hit the road, was still a closely guarded secret at press time.

“We’re not saying who the new drummer is,” Root confirms. “Even if people find out beyond a shadow of a doubt who the new drummer is, I think we’re always going to deny who it is. He might not last. He might tour with us a year and figure out we’re all insane and he can’t handle being around us. Or we might shut him out. Who knows? For Slipknot, I’d say drumming is only 50 or 60 percent of the job. The rest of it is who you are and what your personality is. Will you clash with guys like me, Mick, Clown, Corey, Craig and Chris? We all have these strong alpha-male personalities.”

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While the identities of Slipknot‘s new drummer and bassist are widely believed to be Jay Weinberg & Alessandro ‘Vman’ Venturella respectively - the band themselves may never fully confirm it. Guitarist Jim Root told Guitar World:

“We’re not saying who the new drummer is. Even if people find out beyond a shadow of a doubt who the new drummer is, I think we’re always going to deny who it is. He might not last. He might tour with us a year and figure out we’re all insane and he can’t handle being around us. Or we might shut him out. Who knows? For Slipknot, I’d say drumming is only 50 or 60 percent of the job. The rest of it is who you are and what your personality is. Will you clash with guys like me, Mick, Clown, Corey, Craig and Chris? We all have these strong alpha-male personalities.”

On the bassist front, Jim Root stated that both he and fellow guitarist Mick Thomson handled the bulk of the playing in the studio. At one point touring bassist (and former guitarist) Donnie Steele was involved with the studio sessions for the bands new album “.5: The Gray Chapter“. However, things didn’t pan out, as Root explains:

Donnie’s a great guy. We brought him in to help us out in the studio for a while. But it wasn’t really jivin’. He wanted to go home and get married and do all that stuff. It’s just better off for us to kinda move on from Donnie.”

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Late Slipknot bassist Paul Gray plays a large role on the groups forthcoming new album “.5: The Gray Chapter“. Band guitarist Jim Root relayed one possibly otherworldly experience in the studio to Revolver as part of an upcoming cover story:

“It’s weird, man. I’m not a very spiritual person, and the whole religion thing, I’m kind of on the fence about a lot of that stuff. So when somebody loses someone who’s close to them and says that they’re still with them, I’ve always thought that was bullshit or whatever.

But I was out in the garage and working on an arrangement for a song that turned into either ‘The Devil In I’ or ‘Sarcastrophe.’ Normally when I write, I throw down the first thing I come up with, then I double it, then I throw a bass on it, and then I put the drums around it. But on this arrangement, I noticed that I wasn’t just throwing the riff down—I was trying different variations on it, trying different positions on the neck, and thinking about melodies while coming up with what the chord progression was going to be…

I suddenly realized, Fuck, man! That’s what Paul used to do! Paul was so meticulous. He would overthink everything, even if it was just how to get from one chord to the next chord. He would explore every possibility on the fretboard, especially if he was writing it on the guitar. And it made me go, He’s here, man—he’s helping me write this shit! And it blew my fucking mind. I had to put my guitar down, and I put my head in my hands. I was like, You fucker!”

Band frontman Corey Taylor also added of the effort:

“There’s a lot of pain on here, there’s a lot of honesty, there’s a lot of insight as far as what we’ve been through. There’s some anger, too. I mean, when you lose someone, there’s naturally part of you that gets really angry that you lost them. At the same time, you kind of have to concede that you have to be happy for the time you got with that person. A lot of stuff is pointed inwardly, as well, because naturally there’s a lot of survivor’s guilt going on, like, ‘What could I have done?’ That’s the burden of people left behind. You never get a good answer. All you can kind of do is make peace with it. And that’s what a lot of this album is about—making peace with the loss that we’ve suffered.”

.5: The Gray Chapter” is due in stores October 21st on Roadrunner. Pre-Order the brand new album now from iTunes / Amazon.com

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Guitarist Jim Root has now added a Jazzmaster to his signature models with Fender. See what he had to say about this latest collaboration in the video clip below.

Stark, dark and menacing, the Jim Root Jazzmaster guitar has got to be the most distinctively minimalist version of the instrument ever devised in the model’s entire half-century history. At the behest of the towering SLIPKNOT guitarist, gone are the dual tone circuits and barrage of controls. Gone are the fret position markers and enormous chrome bridge. Gone, in fact, is pretty much everything typical of a Jazzmaster guitar, replaced only by fearsome EMG 60 (neck) and 81 (bridge) humbucking pickups with brushed nickel covers, a single three-way switch, a single volume knob and a hard-tail Stratocaster bridge.

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Singer Corey Taylor #8 is turning his full attention to his other band, SLIPKNOT. With Jim Root, guitarist for both groups, back in Los Angeles writing and demoing material, Corey told The Pulse Of Radio where things stand for the long-awaited record. "Me and Jim have been writing a lot of stuff, and it's really starting to kind of shape up really… I mean, we've got a nice chunk, and now we just kind of need to, you know, shape everything to that SLIPKNOT point of view, that SLIPKNOT way, that SLIPKNOT sound."

He added: "There's an excitement that we haven't felt in a while."

The new SLIPKNOT album will be its first since 2008's "All Hope Is Gone" and the first since the 2010 death of bassist Paul Gray and the recent dismissal of drummer Joey Jordison.

Jim Root told The Pulse Of Radio late last year - before the news about Joey Jordison broke - that he was feeling the urgency to make a new SLIPKNOT album. "You know, we haven't done a record since Paul's been gone and it's been pushing six years. And there's a lot of people in SLIPKNOT and a lot of fans and me myself kind of feel like it's time for that hurdle to be overcome. And for me, that's really like my number one priority and the most important thing for me right now."

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