Back in 1999, no one knew what the member of Slipknot looked like. Slipknot had kept the masses amount of Maggots in suspense of to what the men behind the masks look like. Every maggot must think at some point... what do the guys behind them masks even look like?
The original idea of wearing masks while performing is often attributed to a clown mask that percussionist Shawn Crahan would bring to rehearsals when the band first started. The concept developed, and by late 1997, the band decided that every member of the band would wear unique masks and matching jumpsuits. Corey Taylor had this to say when questioned about the masks in 2002: "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."
The concept behind wearing matching jumpsuits has been described as a response to commercialism in the music business and led to the idea of assigning the band members numerical aliases. "Originally, we were just going to wear the jumpsuits [...] we figured we might as well take that further and number ourselves. [...] We were basically saying, 'Hey, we're a product!'" explained Taylor.
Their image has been the subject of much criticism, generally thought of as a gimmick to try sell more albums. The band strongly objects to these claims, proclaiming that the masks are used to draw the attention away from themselves as individuals and put it on the music. Several band members have noted that wearing the masks also helps keep their personal lives private. During an interview in 2005, percussionist Chris Fehn went as far as saying it was a "blessing" that they do not get recognized.
However, in mid-2002, Slipknot went on hiatus for the first time due to internal conflicts, seeing several band members focus on side projects. Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root revived their band Stone Sour, drummer Joey Jordison created the Murderdolls, percussionist Shawn Crahan founded To My Surprise and DJ Sid Wilson went solo as DJ Starscream. At this time, the future of Slipknot was unclear and there was speculation over whether the band had split and the possibility of a third album. Despite this, on November 22, 2002 Slipknot released their second DVD Disasterpieces.
Shortly followed the side projects, Mick, Paul, and Chris unmasked photos began to appear. Craig is still the only member of Slipknot to be relatively unknown to Slipknot fans. There have only been a few pictures of him unmasked and is very quiet and or pixelated during Slipknot interviews. Craig does not like the fame side of being in Slipknot.
When Paul Gray passed away, the band formed a press conference with widow Brenna Gray on Tuesday May 25, 2010 at Wells Fargo Arena. During this conference, the entire band came unmasked to give their respects to Paul.