In our huge cover feature, frontman Corey Taylor, percussionist/creative mastermind Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan and long-term manager Cory Brennan of 5B Management give us the incredible story of the rise and rise of the band over the past 20 years.
Slipknot return to headline Download Festival this weekend and are set to release their new album We Are Not Your Kind’s on August 9 via Roadrunner Records. So far, their comeback has been ecstatically received with new single Unsainted scoring over 7.7 million streams in one week on Spotify alone while its video – directed by Clown – notched up 17m views in its first 12 days and trended No.1 on YouTube across all categories, not just music.
Yet one of the most compelling aspects of the Slipknot story extends beyond recorded music and into the live sector via their own travelling festival Knotfest. Launched in 2012, it is an event, in Clown’s words, in which they put their “souls into every end of it, from the bathroom to the lights.”
So far, Slipknot have done 11 Knotfests in places as far flung as Tokyo, Mexico City and Bogata. In the feature, manager Cory Brennan told Music Week how it all began by Slipknot identifying a huge gap in the market.
“Knotfest started out of necessity and opportunity, chiefly a need in North America,” said Brennan. “There was Rock On The Range, but there weren’t any other heavy music destinations out there. They were all being hipster. There was nothing for rock bands in many parts of the US. We went into areas where there was no competition, where no-one was thinking about the fans there, and we did it. The first one was in Omaha, Nebraska, the second one was in Wisconsin – they were back to back and it was amazing.”
He continued: "They’ve created a community that can travel from country to country and resonate with 50,000-100,000 fans each time and it’s not like anything else."
Brennan was notably delighted to list just some of the acts it has attracted, including Judas Priest, Deftones, Korn, Danzig, Marilyn Manson and The Offspring, and noted that Knotfest’s success is no longer reliant on Slipknot.
“In 2017 and 2018 we got to prove the model could work without Slipknot,” he explained. “A Perfect Circle headlined one, Slayer headlined one, then Avenged Sevenfold headlined one. It proves people care about what we can offer as a brand.”
Knot Fest is also expanding throughout 2019 and 2020, with Brennan hailing it as “one of the most important things to Slipknot right now”. There are three on the books for 2019 and there are 30 associated Knotfest Roadshows this year, too, the European arena dates of which sold out eight months in advance. Brennan outlined that Slipknot are currently talking to promoters about Knotfest Moscow, South Africa, Santiago, São Paulo and more.
Slipknot created a community that can travel from country to country and resonate with 50,000-100,000 fans each time and it’s not like anything else
Cory Brennan, 5B Management
Their international expansion into South America was boosted by the formation of Cobra Agency Latin America – a strategic alliance between Cobra Agency, Mexico’s Basic Music, and 5B Artists + Media that will exclusively represent Slipknot’s Knotfest festival in Latin America. This month will also see them plant their first Knotfest flag in Europe.
“The first one is in Clisson, France, the day before Hellfest starts,” Brennan told Music Week. “You buy a separate ticket to Knotfest and a separate ticket to Hellfest. We’re at 40,000 tickets, and it’ll sell out. Now we’re getting approached about doing Knotfest in Germany, Switzerland, and throughout Europe.”
Subscribers can read the full Slipknot cover story here.