SLIPKNOT drummer Jay Weinberg spoke to Music Radar about his audition for the band and the process of making the group’s latest album, “.5: The Gray Chapter”.
Weinberg, 25, discovered SLIPKNOT when he was ten years old, through his father Max, of Bruce Springsteen‘s E STREET BAND, and leader of the house band on Conan O’Brien‘s talk show. He “was hooked immediately” and was a huge fan of SLIPKNOT by the time he was invited to Los Angeles to try out as replacement for Joey Jordison in 2013.
Weinberg told Music Radar: “It was a somber occasion; there was a definite mood in the room of what the band was going through, moving forward without a brother that has been with them for twenty-odd years. I wanted to treat the situation with a delicate, careful respect.
“I wanted to kick the door in with the SLIPKNOT attitude, but I wanted to be respectful of what they were going through because it was a really heavy thing. I was one of the first people to know that the band was moving forward without Joey Jordison.”
Weinberg and “the majority of SLIPKNOT” played around twenty of the band’s songs that first day in December 2013, including “Before I Forget”, “Duality” and “Disasterpiece”. “A that time it was clear that this was heading for a ‘holy shit, this is lightning in a bottle, we’re really onto something’ kind of moment, and it just built and built,” he recalled. “Then we got to talking about, ‘Hey, let’s work on some new songs. We have riffs that we’re working out. Do you want to jam on those?’
“Literally the day after we had my audition, we began working on the new SLIPKNOT record. From the first song, I think we all knew that it was going to work out.”
Asked how respectful he felt he had to be to Joey‘s legacy, and how much he felt he was free to make it his own, Weinberg said: “Having a massive respect for the band’s music, having a massive respect for Joey Jordison as a person and as a player, I understood my role in needing to deliver what this band needs, and understanding what Joey brought to the table, and having this band’s legacy continue in the way that the Maggots, the fans of the band, respect, and the nine of us feeling proud of the music we’re creating.
“Of course, the history of the band feeds into what I think of the band, but when it came time to come up with new material, new songs, I didn’t think about Joey Jordison one bit,” he continued. “And I feel it would be disrespectful to do that, and the band wanted me to be completely myself. Because why would I want to be Joey Jordison, why would I try to mimic what he’s done?
“Joey‘s one of the greatest drummers we’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. So as a fan of the band and someone who respects the people and the music, I didn’t want to come in and try to be a copycat. That’s not interesting to me, that’s not interesting to the band and it would be insulting to everyone involved, including the fans.”
Speaking about the writing and recording sessions for what would become “.5: The Gray Chapter”, Weinberg said: “I cannot overstate how intense making the record was. I believe for the first month and a half or two months it was just Jim Root [guitar], Clown [percussion] and myself with our co-producer Greg Fidelman at a studio called Sound Factory in Hollywood, and we were there for between twelve or thirteen hours a day, five or six days a week, for like two months, just working on pre-production, working on arrangements.
“Jim had the bulk of the record pretty much written at that point, but we’re working out what riffs go where, how Corey‘s [Taylor] going to approach his vocals. We’re covering twenty different songs all at one time and it feels chaotic. Like, I’d be in there recording drums, ‘Here’s a crazy out-of-the-box idea. What do you guys think of this?’ And they were, like, ‘Go crazy there!’ And we would piece together demos for what would become the songs and it was such a crazy, fun, stressful experience.
“Here are these guys that I have looked up to my whole life, artists and musicians, and here we are coming up with arrangements together, some songs we’re writing from scratch together, and it was really a total mindfuck for a couple of months. I’m pinching myself every day. Is this really happening?
“Then things get more serious, more guys from the band start coming out, and tracking the record was an athletic experience.
“Man, we did just take after take after take, searching for what Clown would call ‘the sex’ in the song. When you’re playing a song ten times in a row, and I can’t even see straight because the song is depleting all my energy, then it’s, go for ten more, go, go and go further and further and that’s when you get the desperation, the absolute craziness that this record needed. And I think that comes across on the record. It was an exhaustive, thorough process, the band pushing me, like Clown and Chris Fehn [percussion] would be in the room with me, tracking. They’d just be going crazy, just because of the vibe, like we’re on a SLIPKNOT stage.
“There was so much emotion because it is such a heavy record for the band, thematically, the first record the band’s ever done without [late bassist] Paul Gray, without Joey Jordison — that’s a huge responsibility for the band and for myself. So it was like we were treading lightly on the weight that is in the room at all times, this ever-present vibe that’s there, but we’ve got to push on, we’ve got to make this record as great as it needs to be. And I think we accomplished that. It was a steep learning curve for me, but I think we came up with something really great.”
SLIPKNOT announced its split with Jordison in December 2013 but did not disclose the reasons for his exit. The drummer subsequently issued a statement saying that he did not quit the group.