Who Do Slipknot Wear Masks?


Photograph of Slipknot wearing their creepy masks.

Slipknot – Author Anne Erickson, promo photo via Roadrunner Records, M. Shawn Crahan – LO

Have you ever wondered why Slipknot wear masks? For people who are unfamiliar with the band, seeing those creepy masks can be a bit daunting. But, Slipknot’s masks are part of what helped them stand apart early on. Slipknot aren’t just about the music, they’re about the entire package. So, why do Slipknot members wear masks? Let’s delve in.

Slipknot entered the music world in the late 1990s, with the release of their self-titled debut album on Roadrunner Records. The band took off immediately and secured a massive fanbase. Live, the guys wore matching jumpsuits and horrifying masks, and it’s always been that way. While many bands go with the masked look these days, at the time, Slipknot were very novel. Corey Taylor always donned a mask that looked like a Raggedy Ann doll, and Shawn “Clown” Crahan wore, obviously, a clown mask.

As it turns out, Crahan was an integral part of Slipknot’s mask wearing. During an interview on BBC2’s Artsnight, he discussed seeing a mask when he was 14 and what it meant to him. In the interview, he said (via Rolling Stone), “I had gotten a version of this mask when I was 14. I just never knew why it was in my world but it was always around me. Then one day, it just so happened, it was that moment of clarity to decide what I want to project. This thing has no f***in’ limits.”

Why do Slipknot wear masks?

So, Crahan was always fascinated by masks. But, why did the entire band decide to go that route? It all started with a Halloween show back in 1995, right when the band was forming. In an interview with Metal Hammer, Crahan said he decided to wear a mask for that gig. “We were all going around the room asking, ‘What are you going to wear?’ I pulled up the clown mask I had and said, ‘I’m wearing this.'”

At first, Crahan actually had blowback. “A few of them were like, ‘No f***ing way. You can’t be the only guy wearing some stupid mask,'” he said. “So I said, ‘I really don’t care what you think. This is who I am and this is what I’m going to do.’ So here we are all these years later…”

Of course, the members of Slipknot eventually liked the idea of wearing masks, and pretty soon, wearing grotesque masks became a crucial part of their brand.

Taylor, in an interview with Q’s Tom Power, was also asked, “Why does Slipknot wear masks? He described the purpose behind those masks and said it was actually “never really about being scary.”

“We were all kind of nuts,” Taylor said. “We were all just kind of these balls of psychosis that were just trying to work out this kind of frenetic energy, this hyperactive intensity, basically. The masks just helped us kind of tap into it a little more. We just wanted to go out and we just wanted it to be, you know, the wildest thing anybody’s ever seen…”

He added, “It was about being intimidating, obviously, but it was also much more of a creative thing. This was a way for us to kind of wear the music on us physically and create something that was striking.”

Taylor also gave credit to Crahan for the initial idea to do the masks in an interview with Planetradio.co.uk.

“I give a lot of credit to Clown,” Taylor said. “His imagination, his vision in a lot of ways has helped shaped this for so many years. Obviously, we contribute and do our part but his unifying vision in a lot of ways has helped us maintain that risk, that look, that attention to detail. So even when we do big things like a reveal on the internet for new outfits, new masks and stuff, it’s still a big deal.”

In the Planet Radio interview, Taylor also talked about how Slipknot’s masks have evolved.

“With every album, my mask has evolved, so this one, specifically, is supposed to represent the person behind the mask, but then the person behind that person, which is one of the reasons why it’s two pieces, and you can peel the one off, and it’s still a representation,” he said. “So it’s almost like having two different faces, but it’s the same person.”

Why do Slipknot members have numbers?

Here’s another questions that gets asked a lot: Why do Slipknot members have numbers? Crahan recently spoke with CityBeat.com about those numbers. In the chat, he said the numbers really “just fell into place.”

He added, “Back when we started we were going to wear a mask and I started wearing coveralls so we all started wearing coveralls, then there were so many of us, we put our bar code on the back. Then we wanted numbers- I wanted numbers. It was kind of ironic, because everyone fell into a number. I wasn’t going to tolerate any other number than six. Like if someone was going to fight me for it, I was going to fight to the death for it, but nobody wanted it.”

He added, “Joey wanted to be number one. Paul wanted to be number two. The original guitar player, and the other drummer, three. Mick, he is like ‘I have to have seven. F*** everyone. It’s my lucky number.’ Corey was like, ‘I want eight, infinity.’ When Sid joined the band, ‘I am not a number. I am zero. I am filth.'”

Crahan also described the numbers and how the band picked them as being “kind of magical, honestly.” He continued, “The masks were more of a representation of what you wanted to present as yourself. It was one’s finding oneself, but the numbers were almost assigned to us subconsciously.”

For more on Slipknot, visit the band’s official website. Also, check out Audio Ink Radio’s list of bands that always dress like it’s Halloween, including Slipknot, here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music, Rock

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