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Slipknot’s Chris Fehn on How an ’80s Ratt Concert Changed His Life

Charles Epting

Just before the first notes were played in San Bernardino, Calif., at the kickoff show for the 2012 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Slipknot posted the following on their website:

“We’re sorry to announce that our brother, Jim Root, will not be performing with us at Mayhem today in San Bernardino due to serious health issues. Jim has been seriously sick for the past two weeks and went to the hospital last week where he was advised that his appendix burst a couple weeks before and that it could have been life threatening. Jim is at home recovering and is awaiting surgery to have pieces of his appendix removed and hopes to join the tour as soon as he is able. Slipknot will continue to headline the Mayhem Festival and all other shows. We refuse to let our fans down and will not miss a single date. We will miss Jim greatly and our thoughts are with him. Jim sends his love to each and every one of our fans.”

Despite the setback, Slipknot kept to their word and lit up the night with the kind of fire, fury and soulful spectacle that only the masked men from Iowa can deliver. Before the show, Noisecreep sat down on the bus with Chris Fehn, aka #3, one of the two percussionists in the band; he of the long nose.

Chris, many of the younger bands on the Mayhem Festival cite Slipknot as not just a major influence, but also a band they absolutely adore. Are you typically aware of things like that?

Actually, I didn’t know that so thanks for telling me. That’s very cool. It’s an honor to be considered somebody’s idol or someone you want to emulate. The one thing I hope that they get out of us is that we do it from the heart, and that it’s real. It’s not just some staged thing. We really do love it and feel it. We really do love the songs and we really do love to play them.

What is it, do you think, that creates this insatiable bond between Slipknot and your fans?

They’re intelligent lyrics, it’s intelligent music and we have intelligent fans. So it’s a powerful fit. It’s not some kind of contrived, “Let’s use these words because it’s going to make more money” kind of thing. You know what I mean? We’re real, through and through. I know some people can’t explain why they’re so attracted to the band, but I think that’s why. You can tell whether an artist enjoys and means it versus just doing it for other reasons.

Watch Slipknot’s “Psychosocial (Live)” Video

What was the music that first got you hooked as a kid?

One of them was Mercyful Fate‘s Don’t Break the Oath album. My brother had that record and I was so young, I would say to him, “You’re going to hell! I can’t believe you’re listening to this, blah, blah, blah.” And when him and his friends had left and those records were sitting there by themselves, I had to; I just had to see what it was like. And it made me feel something that I had never felt before. And I got it. I understood that that’s why my brother and his friends are into that.

That’s interesting. You first thought it was threatening, on a religious level, and then it won you over.

When you grow up in a religious family, that’s all you know. The threat and the fear of the other side. That was the dark side he was exposing me to. But the music was just so good. I mean, how can you resist that music?

Were you exposed to many live bands growing up in Iowa?

We hardly got any in our part of Iowa, man. It was tough! But when I was in 8th grade though I saw Ratt open for Bon Jovi. And when Ratt came out I was like, “I have to be that. I have to do that somehow.” Then Jon Bon Jovi popped up out of the floor with an American flag and I was like “Holy fuck!” I have to do all of this.’ I had never experienced anything like those two bands.

Watch Ratt’s “You’re in Love” Video

What about the energy of the Slipknot live show? Are there influences worth noting?

Well as far as the presentation, that’s just us. That’s just all us. But obviously watching Slayer and Black Sabbath and bands like that, you’re head banging – that’s where you learn that part of the dance. I think Korn was a big thing for me, watching them slam and the togetherness and heaviness of that band was quite remarkable to see back in the day, when they were touring their first record. Other than that, in Slipknot everybody’s so passionate and so on fire all of the time that if you’re not, you’ll be that guy. And you don’t want to be that guy, you know? [laughs]

What do you think of a tour like this that blends so many newer bands with legends like you, Slayer, Motörhead and Anthrax?

I think it’s good for the fans. It’s very cool, actually. There might not be The Devil Wears Prada fans normally at our shows and vice versa so you get turned on to new things. We were on some tours on the way up and people were like, “What is this?”

Charles Epting

Any of those stand out?

I can tell you this. We once played in Europe, like a version of their Grammys or something; it was a pop teen awards show. They’re throwing pens, pencils at us, all kinds of kiddie stuff going on. All these little girls around the stage were all dressed up so nice and they were all just so shocked and people were booing us and getting disgusted by us and couldn’t deal with us – and it was just great.

Slipknot just announced they’ll broadcast their final live performance of 2012 worldwide via Pay Per View, during the group’s first-ever Knotfest, an extraordinary two-date metal and hard rock festival. The Slipknot Live at Knotfest event is in partnership with TODOCAST and Event View Live. The official broadcast site will launch today, July 11 via http://www.EventViewLive.com/.

Check Out Noisecreep’s Mayhem Festival 2012 Photo Gallery

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Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tour dates:

Jul 13 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre At the Florida State Fairgrounds Tampa, FL
Jul 14 Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood Atlanta, GA
Jul 15 Klipsch Music Center Noblesville, IN
Jul 18 TBD Oklahoma City, OK
Jul 20 Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Maryland Heights, MO
Jul 21 First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre Tinley Park, IL
Jul 22 DTE Energy Music Theatre Clarkston, MI
Jul 24 Riverbend Music Center Cincinnati, OH
Jul 25 Blossom Music Center Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Jul 27 Susquehanna Bank Center Camden, NJ
Jul 28 First Niagara Pavilion Burgettstown, PA
Jul 29 Jiffy Lube Live Bristow, VA
Jul 31 Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saratoga Springs, NY
Aug 01 Darien Lake Performing Arts Center Darien Center, NY
Aug 03 Comcast Center Mansfield, MA
Aug 04 Toyota Pavilion At Montage Mountain Moosic, PA
Aug 05 Comcast Theatre Hartford, CT

Knotfest dates:

Fri 8/17 Council Bluffs, IA Mid America Motorplex
Sat 8/18 Somerset, WI/Minneapolis, MN Somerset Amphitheater

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