If you were of a certain age in the late 90s and early 2000s then the Iowa act will need no introduction but if you haven’t heard of them (seriously, where have you been?) allow us to explain.
Slipknot formed in 1995, are still going to this day and, to date, have released six studio albums, four of which Jordison worked on, as well as forming many offshoot projects. The band were lumped in with the nu-metal scene which was huge at the time but Slipknot’s music also incorporates alternative and groove metal – but what really set them apart was the real sense of brutal theatre they brought to their overall presentation. Slipknot’s international success knew no bounds and saw the band win a Grammy in 2006 but with that came a set of controversies, mostly from horrified parents worried about what listening to songs like ‘People = S**t’ would do to their children.
Coupled with this was the fact that Slipknot didn’t look like your typical band. All eight members wore boiler suits and very intimidating horror-inspired masks, ranging from clowns to even religious imagery. This, combined with their intense music and relentless stage show, made them one of the most notorious and eye-catching bands of the era.
It’s safe to say then that this wasn’t family-friendly music and hardly the type of acts that you would see on Top of the Pops. That being said, from 1996 to 2000, Channel 4’s TFI Friday provided an alternative to the light entertainment that you would see on most TV stations at 6pm on Friday. The show, hosted by Chris Evans, was a mix of celebrity interviews and live music performances but, unlike other entertainment shows, it revelled in the rowdiness of Britpop which was synonymous with British culture at the time. One of the most controversial moments in British TV history involved Shaun Ryder of The Happy Mondays repeatedly saying ‘f**k’ uncensored on live TV.
Apart from that, the show did attract praise and is still remembered today for the impressive bands and artists they were able to attract. Amongst the musical acts that featured on the show were David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, Iggy Pop, Morrissey, Green Day and Prince to name but a few. Metal wasn’t really their scene (apart from when they booked Napalm Death to play three songs in less than three minutes) so when Slipknot made their UK television debut on the show in March 2000, it would have definitely raised a few eyebrows.
Fortunately, neither the band nor the show would live to regret it as Slipknot’s performance of possibly their best-known song ‘Wait and Bleed’ went down as one of the best in the TFI Friday history. Part of what made the performance so memorable was the frantic camerawork which, according to Evans, was made even more manic because they “lost two cameras” after the camera operators decided to try and film the performance from the mosh pit.
To emphasise just how random TFI Friday was, the next guest on the show was Ken Livingstone...
According to the Guardian this performance, which would have gone out at around 6:30 pm on a Friday, when most people are settling down to have their dinner, prompted more complaints than any other performance in the show’s history but we doubt Slipknot cared as they had just cemented themselves as the most must-watch band on the planet. A little over a year later, Slipknot’s second album ‘Iowa’ reached number one on the UK album chart.
As fans and the music world reflect on Slipknot’s and Jordison’s contribution to metal (Jordison was considered to be one of the best drummers of his generation) it’s probably worth remembering that, for many young metalheads of the time, this was probably their first exposure to the band that many consider to having changed their lives.