Behind the History of the Band Name “Slipknot”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “slipknot” means “a knot that slips along the rope or line around which it is made.

Especiallyone made by tying an overhand knot around the standing part of a rope.”

But what this has to do with the famed heavy metal band out of Des Moines, Iowa is the subject of our inquiry here. Let’s dive in.

Band Origins

Formed in 1995 by percussionist Shawn Crahan, drummer Joey Jordison, and bassist Paul Gray, the Iowa-born band currently has nine members. Fronted by singer Corey Taylor, the group has come to be known for its visceral imagery, aggressive music, and rampaging live shows.

The group rose to popularity after its self-titled LP in 1999. The record, All Hope Is Gone, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. To date, the group has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Recent Machine Gun Kelly Controversy (And Various Name Calling)

Before we get to the origins of the band’s name, let’s remember a recent war of words between Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor and rapper-turned-pop-punk artist Machine Gun Kelly.

Last summer, the two went at it over a failed song feature on one of MGK’s albums.

MGK said, “Corey did a verse for a song on [Tickets]. It was fucking terrible, so I didn’t use it. He got mad about it and talked shit to a magazine about the same album he was almost on. y’alls stories are all off. just admit he’s bitter.”

Later, Taylor posted messages and screenshots between him and drummer Travis Barker, who worked on Tickets with MGK, which showed a different story. MGK had wanted Taylor to re-do a part, Taylor refused saying, “I don’t think I’m the right guy for the track. Nothing personal, I just think if this is what MGK is looking for, someone else is the guy to do it.”

Then it got personal. But as the summer turned to fall and later an entirely new year, some had thought the feud had died. Not anymore. Taylor said MGK is like a “substitute teacher” in the rock world and said MGK could “suck every inch of my dick.” 

Taylor said in full, via Revolver: “For those of you that don’t know, MGK doesn’t like me very much. And let me follow that up by saying I don’t care. I won’t fill you in on the whole fucking story because you can go online and look it all up. However, I will say this: he maintains that I started it. The truth is he started it. Now, I will explain to you why.

“If you don’t know, they asked me to do a tune with him. They sent it to me. I didn’t dig it. And I tried to do something with it because of my respect for Travis [Barker], because he and I worked together before. They sent me these really weird notes and they wanted me to sing his words. And I just said, ‘I’m not gonna do it.’ And I sent an email. I posted that email. And I didn’t hear back from him. And I thought it was done.

“Fast forward about eight months, and Machine Gun Kelly is doing this weird Instagram Live interview with Allie from Spotify. And he goes off on this fucking rant about rock stars and comfortable shoes. It sounds as smart as you think it is… I mean, spit was coming out of his face.

“And I’m watching it and I’m going, ‘You fuck. You’ve been here for five minutes, basically, and you’re gonna fucking run your mouth about bands that have been doing this for 20 fucking years, like in the mud, in the dirt. They’re gonna wear whatever the fuck they want. You’re gonna walk in here with your fucking black tongue and try to talk some shit on some bands that would fucking circle your ass? Fuck you.’ So when I had my opportunity to say something, I did.”

Taylor continued, “But he, to this day, maintains that I started it. It’s, like, the only reason I said what I said is because he said what he said.

“You don’t get to walk into a genre with the history, with the work…The fact that this genre really doesn’t get the fucking respect that it deserves. You don’t get to walk in as some weird substitute teacher and pretend that you can tell us what to wear – boots, shoes, house fucking shoes, slippers. Why don’t you suck every inch of my dick? You don’t get to do that. And these are bands that maybe I don’t even fucking know, but guess what? I fucking respect them because they get on fucking stage and they fucking give every fucking thing they’ve got.”

Read more about the feud HERE.

Early Discarded Names

Okay, enough beef. Let’s get to the band’s name.

In the band’s salad days, as the members were coming together in the Des Moines, Iowa heavy metal scene in the early 1990s, Slipknot was just a twinkle in its founder’s eyes.

By March 1993, Crahan was jamming with Gray and other musicians, writing and playing songs in Gray’s basement, and trying to land on possible names for the group.

Pull My Fingers was one of the names reportedly under consideration, but it didn’t make the final cut (thank goodness!). At the time, one of the songs the musicians recorded was called, “Slipknot.” Another was “Painface,” which later became the name of another metal group.

Crahan had a band called Crahan’s Heads on the Wall band. Gray had a death metal band called Body Pit. Another influential group, Modifidious, was on the scene.

Then in September of 1995, Crahan and Gray started a new group, Pale Ones. That group was comprised of friends who met at the scene. But on December 4, that group made its live debut, playing a benefit show under the name, Meld.

Slipknot, The Name

According to band lore, much of the group’s early development occurred during late-night planning sessions at a Sinclair gas station where one of the members worked nights. It was there that the name Slipknot was suggested, after the song of the same title.

The collection of musicians began recording material under the moniker at SR Audio, a studio in the members’ hometown.

In February 1996, Donnie Steele, who was playing guitar for the group and who identified as Christian, left the band after discussions regarding the band’s lyrics. Said Steele, “I left for a few reasons…I had a lot on my mind spiritually.”

Corey Taylor

Around that time, vocalist Corey Taylor was playing in the band, Stone Sour.

Crahan and other Slipknot members approached him and asked him to join their band, as the group needed more melodic singer. Taylor agreed to go to one of their practices and ended up singing in front of them.

Taylor was then the sixth member to join the band, though he’s known as “Number Eight” in the band’s member numbering system. According to Crahan, Taylor wanted “number eight” because it symbolized infinity.

Taylor then quit Stone Sour, even though he was recording an album with them. His first gig with Slipknot was on August 24, 1997. For that gig, he performed with Facepaint. Later, he began donning the mask that’s on the band’s debut album.

He’s been with the band ever since.

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