Just 100 fans, and nine band members.
Slipknot have been our Editor's favourite band for over 15 years. Here's why.
There are few things that annoy me more in life than the words, "They're my favourite band".
It's a term used far too frequently, quite often by people of so-called authority who are keen to convince anyone willing to listen that they 'understand' the matter at hand. It's become a term of supreme hyperbole, and one which on a bad day can annoy me to no end.
But despite what I've just said, please believe me when I say this: Slipknot are my favourite band.
They have been since 1999, when at the age of 12 my older brother temporarily moved back into my parents' house, bringing with him a CD belonging to his former housemate. It was scratched, beaten and had no case. All it had in terms of identity was an unusual 'S' logo and the numbers 0 - 8, printed on the reflective silver top of the disc. It was, obviously, 'Slipknot', the band's eponymous debut, and to say that it changed my life would be an understatement.
Slipknot at Knotfest 2014
At the time, I was experiencing extreme bullying, not at the hands of people my age but at the hands of a teacher. Psychologically, the situation had left me a mess, and despite my young age I can honestly say that I felt life was a pointless, hopeless exercise. I won't reel out the cliche and say that the record saved my life, but it most certainly changed it for the better. It was raw, visceral and as it remains to this day, completely unique. It picked me up and held me in a way that I never thought music could. It reduced me to tears, releasing every drop of pain and distress I'd endured in the process. After a while I even started to feel as though, maybe, life could be something positive.
Throughout my youth and well into my adult life, Slipknot was more than just a band - it was my therapy. I remember catching the bus into Oxford city centre and waiting outside HMV at 6am so that I could get 'Iowa' the second it became available. I remember picking up 'Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses' from Tesco Metro near the old London Astoria at 11pm, minutes after seeing the band play a one-off show there on the day of the album's release. A year later, in what remains one of the most surreal moments of my life, I remember standing in the band's dressing room in Philadelphia while the sorely-missed Paul Gray led a room full of people in singing 'Happy Birthday' to me.
By now you're probably wondering what the point of this blog is, other than for me to ramble on like a self-indulgent idiot who happens to have access to a website. In one sense you're right, that's exactly what I'm doing, but in another I suppose I'm simply trying to point out that despite the bullshit that surrounds the topic these days, some bands really can change lives. For all the liars and the frauds shovelling shit down the throats of desperate children while simultaneously shovelling money into their bank accounts, there are still a rare few who can touch people's souls. They can give hope, they can inspire, and in a very real way they can change the world.
Slipknot are one of those bands, and not only am I delighted on a personal level that they're back in business, I'm also thrilled for each and every person out there who may be about to connect with them in the way I once did. As extreme as it may sound, the world needs bands like Slipknot. More importantly, people need bands like Slipknot. In terms of overcoming adversity and turning overtly negative situations into something overwhelmingly positive, there isn't another band in the world with the power to affect lives in quite the same way, and that makes the fact that they're still with us something worth celebrating. That makes them important. That makes them invaluable.
And, ultimately, that's what makes them my favourite band.
To read Ryan's eye-opening cover feature on Slipknot's return, grab yourself the new issue of Rock Sound today:
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