Joey Jordison Talks Scar The Martyr, New Slipknot, and Remixing Puscifer
Mon, 04 Nov 2013 06:26:01
The best way to get to know Joey Jordison is to listen to Scar The Martyr's self-titled debut.
It's the perfect representation of both his uncanny songwriting ability and his penchant for an expansive and entrancing soundscape. The Slipknot drummer's perception of a different kind of heavy becomes clear over the course of this personal, passionate, and powerful record. Sit back, close your eyes, and let Scar The Martyr take control.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Joey Jordison discusses Scar The Martyr in-depth, talks touring with Korn and Rob Zombie, and what to expect from Slipknot's full-length on the horizon.
Do you feel like the four bonus tracks—"Flatline & Fracture", "Digging For Truth", "Coat of Arms", and "Complications"—crystallize the entire vision of Scar the Martyr?
Yeah, it's strange. In this day and age when you're making an album, it's not like the old days where you'd put out a live record with thirty songs on it and people would actually sit and down and listen to all thirty songs. I would like to put all of the songs on the record, but it's weird the way you have to play the game with iTunes and things like that. There's that business thing. Without the four bonus songs, you definitely get a record. However, those other four kind of conclude it. You're right.
Where do those four go for?
The thing that makes those songs so special, as a whole, is they kind of have a throwback feel to latter eighties thrash metal. Those songs didn't really fit in where the record was going overall. When I would throw them in, it would adjust the mood a little bit too much. When you put all of those songs together, it's almost like it becomes its own special EP or separate record, you know what I mean?
Absolutely, there's a thread from "Flatline & Fracture" to "Complications".
Yeah, it's cool. The way we recorded the "Complications" cover from Killing Joke was very tight, very thrash-y, and very upbeat. So, it still fits in with the feel of those previous songs. If we would've done it like the original, it would've been a lot looser and not as distorted. It wouldn't have been as tight. It would've been more new wave-sounding. We didn't want that. I like playing that song because it's eighth notes all the way through, but it's got a punk rock feeling. Here's another thing. Those songs are in the same key. They're in a thrashier key. They're up in C where a lot of the songs are down in lower keys on the album. That also brings a lot of energy up in those types of songs. That's why they sound great altogether. That was the initial plan to have those songs be their own thing.
Where did "Flatline & Fracture" come from?
It didn't really come from anywhere. I can't pinpoint the exact the time, but it was from one of the first demo sessions I did when I went in to demo things for this. Some of those songs were demoed at the same time. It was a separate session from the time I did the rest of the record in though. I was in a more upbeat, higher tuning, thrashier, and headbanging mode when I went in to do those. It just all came out at the same time. They were all written together. That's why they all fit. It's not like I just had this B-Side or that B-Side that you hear bands put out a lot of the time and each song sounds completely different. These four sound like they fit within the same type of ideal or feeling. That's why I specifically kept them together.
What's the story behind "White Nights in a Day Room"?
It's weird. Sometimes, the scariest track you don't know how people are going to react to will be a standout. However, you don't know if it's going to be a good thing or a bad thing. Usually, those are the songs that end up being the shining stars on the record when they have that initial feeling from the artist. You're like, "I don't know if anyone is going to like this because it's so different". What you don't know as an artist is you're actually putting out a part of your soul you haven't let anybody else hear yet. When you reveal it, people just freak out and they realize, "Man, this guy's got something else to say". That's where that song came from.
Do you feel like your showing different parts of your soul throughout the album? This is a Joey Jordison the world hasn't seen or heard before…
It is. That was the whole point. If I was going to do another record, I had to go into different realms and territories I hadn't experimented on before. There's no reason going in and just doing a black metal project, a death metal project, a straight post-punk project—or whatever you want to call any of the genres. I wanted to encompass so many different styles. If I was going to put out something else at this point in my career, it had to be something that was very unique and stood apart. Take or leave it, I had to be one-hundred percent happy with it, and I think the record turned out absolutely amazing.
What was the most rewarding aspect of this trip? There must've been some scary moments starting with a blank slate…
There was. That's part of the excitement of the journey though. When I first started the whole thing, I thought, "Man, is it really going to be worth it? Is it going to turn out the way I want it to? Are people going to understand my vision? Are any of the fans going to like it?" Then I realized, "I've got to throw all that shit out!" I just stopped worrying about anyone's opinions or what anybody thought. That really resulted in the sound of the record. I just sunk myself into the project. This music and me are all that matters right now. I'm not worried about any results or anything like that. Once I had that freedom within my soul to just say, "Fuck it", that's when the songs started to take shape. Once I'm loose with my writing, I'm not worried about it, and I'm not trying to impress anybody, that's when the song goes wham all the way forward! Once I'm not stifled by anybody and I'm not trying to fit anywhere or live up to anything, I wasn't doing anything that. I just had fun writing the record.
It feels liberated.
On the first listen, you sort of get it. You know you're either going to like it, or you're going to hate it. The thing is, even if you kind of like it, the more you listen to it, you'll realize. From a lot of my experiences and mine, I get more and more into it the more I listen to it. There's so much shit on that record musically and subliminally. There are so many paths and moods. It's not easily digestible on the first couple of listens. There's always something that pulls you back to listen again. That's when you start listening to other parts. My best example is this. One song will be your favorite one day. All of a sudden, another one will be your favorite. It's not like there are only three songs that stand out. You can tell when stuff is filler. That's what's really good about the record. There's so much in it to keep surprising you when you listen to it.
You're speaking through the music as much as Henry is through the lyrics.
Yeah, it's a definite marriage there. That also goes back to when I was auditioning singers to find the right guy. You can put heavy vocals on heavy guitar riffs. However, a lot of these riffs, as heavy as they might sound, they're almost poppy in a sense. There are massive hooks even with as heavy as they are. The vocals had to be something special to make the riffs shine out. It was difficult to find a singer who was matching what these songs called for. I tried a lot of vocalists and no one was working until I found Henry. He was the perfect vocalist for this band.
How did you come up with the visual presentation?
A lot of it had to do with me trying to figure out what I wanted to do visually with this band. Especially with the album cover and the images within it, I wanted to encapsulate the visuals I was seeing while listening to this. That's what I love about art and music together. When I listen to songs, I see a color. Some songs might make me think of the color red. Or some songs, I might think of the color purple. This song might make me feel gray or totally black. I see colors. That's the way I approach the art as well. Travis Smith, who did the art, totally got my vision and helped me bring it to life.
So, you see music in visual terms?
It's always in colors and visuals. That always helps me with the guitar riffs. It can go vice versa. It can be a visual or a feeling that inspires a guitar riff. Or, I might just have something I need to get out and that will make me something for the art later on.
What Scar the Martyr songs have benefited from the crowd reaction live?
It's different. One song that I knew was great, but I didn't know how it would translate live was "Cruel Ocean". Live, man, people sing along to it. It seems like one of the more bright points of the set whereas some songs are more charged. "Blood Host" or "Dark Ages" have more of a violent mood. Then, there are super syrup-y, dark, and low moments we have to end our show with after the aural attack like "Last Night on Earth". That's why we ended the record with that. It goes hand-in-hand with the record. When I was constructing everything with the record, it was almost like I was going through the moods I wanted to go through live.
Now, you're about to tour with two bands you've played drums for.
It's really ironic [Laughs]. Going on this tour, I've played for both bands, and now this band is opening. It's really weird how it all came together. I'm super psyched to be a part of it. It should be a great time.
Did you see the Rock is Dead tour when Korn and Rob Zombie first hit the road together?
I was actually working at the time and couldn't go!
They've also both influenced you.
They both have been an influence. I'm a fan of both bands. It's weird how things come full circle. With the success of Slipknot and us establishing ourselves as a force to be reckoned with and one of the main staples out in metal now, having these guys become my peers, they're bands I've listened to since before Slipknot even got big. Now, Scar the Marty gets to go out and open. It's cool how everything unfolds together. I just saw Jonathan Davis, and he loves the record. We're excited for the tour. It's going to be a homecoming. I'll probably spend a lot of time on Jonathan's bus. We're just really close. For me, it's coming home. It's going to be one of the most special tours I can ever remember doing.
Was working with Maynard James Keenan on the Puscifer remix you did a dream come true?
It was really weird when I got the call to do that remix. I had never met Maynard before or anything like that. My name came up. He was doing the remix record. I had done one for Marilyn Manson. It was "The Fight Song". Somehow, it came up again for me to do a remix. He sent me the material and was like, "Do whatever you want!" I was like, "Alright!" I went in, got a bunch of crazy samples, and re-did the drums. I put guitars over the thing and female vocals as well as auxiliary percussion. He let me go wild with it, and it came out awesome.
How do you feel going into the next Slipknot record?
It's going to be the transition I think it needs to be at this point in our lives. I think it's going to be easy going into the record. Everyone is in a good headspace. Like with every Slipknot record, every one of them is so different. With the excitement around making another Slipknot record alone, I know it's going to be amazing. That's with us just getting into the room seeing each other and knowing we're going to make a record. That vibe alone already sets up the record to be astounding. Once we're together and we know we're making a record, all bets are off. There are no limits. There's no specific type of formula we're trying to fit into. We're not worried about radio. This one will be the first since Paul Gray passed. It's going to be an amazing Slipknot album. I'm super excited for it. It's going to be well worth the wait.
Did you have fun playing with Unlocking The Truth?
Oh yeah! We met them all. We handpicked them to open up the Scar The Martyr show in New York. They were absolutely great. We hung out with them, and they were really cool! I remember being exactly like that. It puts a smile on my face [Laughs].
Have you heard Scar The Martyr? Will you be seeing them on tour? What's your favorite Slipknot song?
Tue 11/5 Yakima, WA Yakima Valley Sundome
Wed 11/6 Butte, MT The Butte Civic Center
Thu 11/7 Salt Lake City, UT Maverik Center
Sat 11/9 Bismarck, ND Bismarck Civic Center
Sun 11/10 Rapid City, SD Rushmore Plaza Arena
Tue 11/12 Casper, WY Casper Events Center
Wed 11/13 Sioux City, IA Tyson Event Center
Fri 11/15 Oklahoma City, OK Chesapeake Energy Arena
Sat 11/16 Wichita Falls, TX Kay Yeager Coliseum
Sun 11/17 Corpus Christi TX Concrete Street Amphitheatre
Tue 11/19 Springfield, MO O’Reilly Family Center
Wed 11/20 Cedar Rapids, IA US Cellular Center
Fri 11/22 Grand Rapids, MI Deltaplex
Sat 11/23 Huntington, WV Big Sandy Superstore Arena
Sun 11/24 Nashville,TN Bridgestone Arena
Tue 11/26 Bethlehem, PA Bethlehem Events Center
See Joey talk Rob Zombie here!