Sid Wilson of Slipknot Remembers "Iowa", Recalls Hanging with Paul Gray, and More
Mon, 07 Nov 2011 09:44:49
DJ Sid Wilson remains Slipknot's secret weapon.
His scratching elevates the band's assault to a level of unearthly brutality, fueling the double bass and riff beatdown of their heaviest fare or expanding the evil on the slower, brooding quiet killers. You can hear his contribution loud and clear on the Iowa "10th Anniversary Edition" right from the get-go of the album on "People=Shit" where mounting electronics intertwine with violent, volatile riffing. Incorporating all of these styles, Iowa is the ultimate in heavy, and no band has since topped it.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief and Dolor, Sid Wilson discussed making Iowa, hanging out with Paul Gray, and so much more.
Did Iowa really allow you to find your space within the songs?
Yeah, when I work with the band, it's more about making what I do part of the music rather than being like, "Here's the featured scratch" [Laughs]. Slipknot is different than a lot of other groups who have DJs. There's more of a street or urban music aspect to their compositions whereas Slipknot is straight-up heavy [Laughs]. In more recent times, we've done some music that's more melodic, but it's still dark and it never seems to have a hip hop groove. We maintain this edgy, punk rock, metal feel. I try to make it a part of the composition. I don't want to single myself out away from the music when I put something into Slipknot. I want it to be part of Slipknot. It's about the combined sound of all of us coming together. We never wanted to be viewed separately, which is the point of the masks and uniforms. It didn't really matter who we were as individuals; it was more about what we were doing as a group.
Your scratching on "People=Shit" makes the opening section even heavier.
There are a lot of times where I'm coming up behind you to kick your ass right over the fence and down into a gorge of metal onslaught [Laughs]. It's like lifting you up into the explosion. I try to make it feel like the top part of adrenaline before satisfaction.
On the other end of the spectrum, "Gently" and "Skin Ticket" boast all of these dark, evil sounds from you.
It's the stuff that gives you that rush or makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I try to give everything that extra push so you're brought over the edge and completely consumed in it. It's the highly emotional feelings you're not aware of until they're happening that intrigue me. I do quite a bit of piano as well in some of our music. "'Til We Die" has some big heavy outer space keys happening. There's this big bass hit, but a key sound at the same time. There's always that last little bit of emotion disconnected from the music. I grab that and try to pull it back in so you're completely immersed in everything [Laughs].
Do you remember the first time Slipknot got together for Iowa in pre-production or rehearsal?
It was a lot different than the first record. A lot of people had brought ideas to the table, but there was a lot of separation happening on the Iowa album. It was really dark. For the pre-production, we usually come prepared with it first and then sit down with the producer—Ross Robinson this time. He's got a really good approach. He brings you all right together in each other's faces and pushes you farther than you're willing to go. His approach is always, "Take it farther." When you think you can't give anymore, go ahead and give that extra even if it means giving everything up to commit to it. At that point in time, all that's important is the music and what you're trying to get across to people. It's brutal. Joey's hands would be bleeding at the end of the day. Every day, his hands would be bandaged up from how hard he was pushing and trying to open the envelope even bigger. That was a really cool thing with Paul. He always brought that to the table big time. We'd be like, "This is it right here," and he'd say, "No, there's something missing. That could be done a different way. There's another angle." He would play the part forward, backward, upside down, and in reverse. He'd change, add, and take away and do every solitary thing you can think of to alter it so he knew every single possibility of executing a part. His modem was open to so many different planets. I'm not really sure how many transmissions he was getting, but the way he would dissect a piece of music was unreal. His doing that kept everyone's minds open. It helped us stay true to what we felt was the real deal and not everybody else's opinion of it. We were giving truly what was part of ourselves.
Do you have a favorite memory of hanging with Paul during the Iowa days?
It's hard for me to pinpoint an exact time. It was always really cool hanging out with Paul. I knew him before I knew the other guys in the band. I'd hang out at different bars he worked the door at. He'd mention he had a band, and I'd be like, "Oh, that's cool." His buddy Frank really pulled me aside one day and said, "You've really got to check out Paul's band. These guys are good, and they're looking for a DJ." They were asking Frank if he wanted to do it and learn how to DJ. Anybody they talked to responded saying, "This guy Sid is right up the alley of what you're looking for". I just miss being able hang out with Paul outside of the machine that is Slipknot. That's the part I remember the most, I guess—when we were kicking it. It was just the friendship.
Have you picked up Iowa 10th Anniversary Edition yet? Have you heard Sid's solo album Sid yet?
For more with Sid, see our exclusive interview about his solo album here!
Visit Sid's official site here! Become a fan on Facebook here! Buy Sid on iTunes here!