Not many people were around to witness the creation of seminal heavy music overlords Slipknot. Just a few people outside of its nine members were privy to the genesis of a band who had to break down in order to even be born.
Perhaps only the band’s true maggots will understand the gravity of what Slipknot has offered its fans, an alternative view on success that has little to do with luck and everything to do with courage and resilience.
After more than two decades of complex sonic endeavours and blistering international tours, the Grammy winners shouldn’t just be looked to for their music.
In fact – and we promise this is not satire despite the header image we’ve chosen – Slipknot could teach our future business leaders a thing or two.
We dug deep into Slipknot’s storied career and took away so much more than whiplash. Check out our nine tips for business that we learned from Slipknot below.
1. Dress the part
As we’re sure Richard Branson would have said at one point in his career: In a professional environment you must always know the room you’re walking into, and make sure you’re dressed for the occasion.
Forget the phrase ‘dress for the job you want’. Embody the job you already have. From their trademark masks, which have evolved with their career trajectory, to their footwear, which is specifically designed to allow for the wild anarchy of their stageshow, Slipknot have dressed the part head-to-toe from day one.
In a 2011 interview about the creation of the band, Slipknot co-founder Clown (Shawn Crahan) said: “[I said I was] going to tighten up every loose end, from the way we tie our shoes, to the way we play, to the way we look, to the way we act, to the way we talk, to the way we walk into a venue. I’m going to tighten it all up and it’s going to be noticed. And if it’s not noticed I’m going to kick the door in.”
Check out Clown discuss the early vision of Slipknot:
2. Take the time to perfect the outcome
Never rush to the finish line, you may miss some important steps. Take your time.
“We had spent months and months and months going into everything that lead to up top the creation of one of the greatest bands ever,” said Clown in 2010.
Clown had a welding job before his career in Slipknot and one awful day he came home to the news that his uncle had been murdered as part of a gang initiation. The incident made him realise how short and, in his words, “random” life is.
“I remember walking up to [her] and saying that I was going to get back into music because I had felt that I could reach the most amount of people at once with the message that I felt I was in this world to give.”
3. Have a vision
In business it is crucial to have a vision, and your goals should match that vision.
Slipknot are arguably one of the most resilient bands in music. Corey Taylor toured not long after he broke his neck and underwent spinal surgery in 2016. The band tours and records despite the untimely death of Paul Gray in 2010; and its lineup has gone through more changes than most bands could withstand.
More than this, throughout Slipknot’s more than two decade-long career, their personal brand hasn’t changed. Since the release of their self-titled LP in ’99, their brand has remained rather satanic, with severed goat’s heads and the number 666 a regular motif in all that they do.
And yet their fans, also known as ‘maggots’, are some of the most dedicated zealots in the world and come from all walks of life and creed.
24 years into their career of unfiltered angst, new members, rebirths and many dark days later, Slipknot is a pop culture phenomenon – and it wasn’t all just a happy accident.
“You’ve got to think outside of your town,” said Corey Taylor. “You’ve got to think worldwide if you want to do anything […] We were the kind of guys who understood what it took not just to be a famous band in America but a worldwide band.”
4. Your work ethic is everything
In business, your attitude and your work ethic will be what sets you apart from the rest.
Groundbreaking musical talent and onstage delivery aside, Slipknot are nothing if not dedicated. Not only do their global tour schedules leave little room for sleep or post-tour recovery, this is a band who in their formative years were literally forced to sleep on top of one another.
In a 2018 interview with Revolver, Mick Thompson (#7) said it was a “nightmarish hell” to record the debut album.
“You have all these people scattered in the same fucking place, and we didn’t have enough beds so we were all stacked on top of each other. We had no money, no real food. A frozen pizza and whatever grocery store macaroni and cheese was about the extent of our dining back then.”
Despite all this, the band released one of heavy music’s most seminal game-changers. Featuring tracks ‘(Sic)’, ‘Eyeless’, ‘Spit It Out’, and ‘Wait and Bleed’, the self-titled release in June of 1999 kicked off what can only be described as a counterculture movement.
5. Dig deep to produce great results
Rejection is part of the professional world, you must dig deep to push forward and achieve your goals.
Despite Slipknot’s debut self-titled release achieving Platinum status in Australia, 2x Platinum in the US and hitting #51 on the US Billboard chart, that album almost broke the band.
The tour schedule was gruelling to say the least, with nine mouths and nine egos to feed on a shoestring budget care of Roadrunner. Promotion of the record practically left the band bankrupt and their future was utterly uncertain.
But they wouldn’t have become the global juggernaut they are today without digging deep and doing what had to be done. Slipknot’s second LP Iowa could have fallen prey to ‘sophomore record syndrome’, where an artist struggles to live up to the buzz that still remains around their first opus; but it didn’t.
The band dug deep, and in 2001 Iowa defined Slipknot. It was heavier, faster and more aggressive than their previous record – a once-and-for-all ‘fuck you’ to the music industry and to anyone who expected a mainstream dalliance.
The album hit #2 in Australia, #1 in the UK and Canada, and Top 5 in seven other countries.
“The fact is no one fucking kills themselves like Slipknot. No one. Not even fucking close.” (Joey Jordison to Revolver in 2011).
6. Every step of the process is just as important as the next
Surround yourself with people that complement your weaknesses and know that each team member is as important as the next. Ensure you have a common goal and vision that everyone is working towards collectively.
With nine members in the band, Slipknot’s recording process has become a perfected art. Granted, each member has his role, but some tracks might see certain members receive as little as 10 seconds of airtime on one track.
To be a member of Slipknot is to understand that your 10 second slot is just as crucial to the overall result than the continuous bass line or Corey Taylor’s vocals.
“Music is not a fucking soda. It is not a fucking insurance rate. It is not a fucking T-shirt. It is the only real religion that is worth devoting your soul to,” Corey Taylor said in his book Seven Deadly Sins.
“It is the last remnant of the primal scream, the funeral dirge, and the wedding march. It is the light that keeps me out of the shadows, and it is the reason my immortal soul is not in dire straits.”
7. Game Day is everything
Tim Ferris didn’t just wake up one day and have multiple international best-sellers and a friends list that included Arnold Schwarzenegger. Everything you do will lead you to the most important day of the process in business, also known as Game Day. Be prepared, dress the part, check your energy levels and be well equipped to handle any situation.
For Slipknot, Game Day arrives is every time they walk out on stage and deliver one of the most high-energy sets you’ll ever be privy to in your lifetime.
A Slipknot show is carefully curated, interactive, pyrotechnic, and visually complex. NME writer James McMahon said of the band’s recent set at Germany’s Rock am Ring:
“It seems this is a group that still has gas in the tank left to burn. That still has much to offer. That still matters.”
The band is headed to Australia this October with Metallica for what promises to be the tour to end all tours: six dates, all stadium shows.
Corey Taylor had this to say of their current live show:
“Honestly, it’s everything that we’ve wanted to do for years, and we just never had the budget, and we had also had a lot of people around us telling us we couldn’t do it.”
8. Everything is subject to change
Nothing ever stays the same in business, be a leader that’s open to change (we’re positive Barack Obama would have said something to this effect in his memoir).
With more than two decades of experience and success under their belt, Slipknot could be one of the best living examples of the importance of change. Never one to ride on the coattails of past successes and accolades, despite their clear cut visual brand, the band are no strangers to thematic growth.
Those playing at home will remember that Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) was Slipknot’s first LP to feature traditional song structures and acoustic guitars.
Recently, the band also went through a lineup change with percussionist Chris Fehn exiting Slipknot. When addressing Fehn’s departure the band said: “Chris knows why he is no longer a part of Slipknot.”
Perhaps Corey Taylor put it best when he said: “I don’t know whether we will find ourselves in the cross hairs, pulled by the short hairs, or just trying to find the next inane hairstyle. But change is coming; it is inevitable. It is as steady and reliable as a ticking clock.”
Check out Slipknot perform Big Day Out (2005):
9. Personal sacrifice is part of the road to success
Long hours, long days and personal sacrifice is part of business success. Just like your dad says, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.
Prior to forming Slipknot, Clown sold his business and sacrificed time with his wife and children in order to turn his dream into a reality. In fact, each member faced bankruptcy despite their hugely successful debut album. It only takes a cursory listen of Iowa to understand the toll that first record took on Slipknot.
And yet, Slipknot continues to show up, reinvent the wheel, and continuously represent the masses of misfits who had all but given up on themselves. Maggots have dealt with homelessness, violence, addiction, depression, illness and more, but in Slipknot they have found a reprieve from the weight of their own worlds.
“Life owes you nothing. You owe yourself everything.” – Corey Taylor