Slipknot’s Jay Weinberg – Committing Myself to Band’s Full Ethos Is Best Way to Honor Joey Jordison
Over this past year, Slipknot suffered a great loss with the death of former drummer Joey Jordison and during the chat Weinberg reflected on how he personally continues to try the honor the legacy that Jordison created with the group.
Weinberg also offered insight into the recording process and his approach within the group as they push forward on new music. And he also offered some thoughts on how Slipknot and Bruce Springsteen, who he previously played with, may have more similarities than people think.
Check out the chat in full below:
It's Full Metal Jackie. On the show with us this week, we've got Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg. Obviously, you've been out on the Slipknot tour and you guys are sort of in the homestretch of the U.S. portion. Let's talk about music. The new album is going to be your third Slipknot record. What were you anticipating most about the process this time, even more than before?
It was different to say the least, because look at the global climate that we're in right now and have been for the last year and a half, trying to making an album, just like anybody getting together with other people. This past year and a half was a challenge, so a lot of us really didn't know what to expect after we put out We Are Not Your Kind, and we were kind of full steam ahead, touring in support of that record. Then, you know, to have that kind of cut short, really, really abruptly, was definitely jarring.
With that being said, we're all creative people, and we all kind of want to just be firing on our creativity at all times. So with kind of this imposed free time, it wasn't what we expected, but trying to make the most with it. We got creative and started just hashing out these ideas that have now become a new album. So, it came together in a way that's definitely been different.
But I think that's also something that I've kind of come to expect with Slipknot is just always expect the unexpected, and never anticipate one process being similar to another. I think that's one arena that I've definitely come to understand with the band is that there's no room to become comfortable, no room to become complacent or anything like that. It's always got to be new and fresh and it's definitely a testament to the band's creative character that it's still finding new ways to push yourself push the limits, have new sounds, explore new places and that was all part and parcel of what I feel like we accomplished and we are accomplishing with the new music that we're making.
It's a really exciting time, considering there was what, like, five years or four years between The Gray Chapter and We Are Not Your Kind and now we're putting out two albums. Hopefully this one isn't too far around the corner, but it's been a lot of new music in the Slipknot world. That's a good thing.
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Jay, Slipknot is unbridled, but it also requires precision. Creating this music, particularly the new album, what dictates your approach to playing any given song?
From song to song, it's kind of completely different. I tried to kind of just cleanse my palate of whatever we were just working on to approach another song. For me, it's honestly, it's a lot of listening. It's a lot of listening to the other guys, trying out all ideas, not really being pigeonholed to one process of doing something. We might start working on a song and then a couple weeks later, the song is almost completely sonically different from the way it started and that's kind of just the process of trying to make a song the best it can be. It might just take you in a completely different direction than you originally intended.
So, for me, it's all about just kind of having an open mind as far as knowing I want to accomplish something but never committing too hard to something in what we call demo-itis. We might sketch out a demo of what a song is, but you never want to be too married to that because the process of getting all nine guys of Slipknot on it will pull a song in a myriad of directions.
So I just tried to immerse myself in whatever the song feels like is dictating to us and kind of try to step out of the way of the song really. Luckily, with the nine of us and the people that we choose to surround ourselves with, I feel like we always have a really good compass that steers us in the direction of what the song wants to be and when you surrender to that, I think that gives the song enough space to be what it wants and then you just got to deliver on that. Then it's up to each musician to deliver their talents and their musical filters about how they want to approach the song and kind of start to come together.
You have to have your chops. You have to have your diligence and your homework done to really contribute to the song. But to me, it's all about kind of just like stepping out of the way and not thinking about what I'm bringing to the song and just letting it flow through me if that kind of makes sense.
Earlier this year, Joey Jordison passed away. How has his death changed your sense of curating his legacy?
I think with Joey's tragic passing, of course, we're all affected and I never want to speak for my older brothers who started this band with Joey. But certainly, it has been heavy and I think, to me, the way of preserving Joey's legacy, Paul's legacy is really just committing my full self to the ethos and spirit of this band. They live through this music without a doubt. So, to me, that's the most true tribute we can give.
As a collective to their memory, their art, their music, what they contributed to this world that has and will forever have a lasting impact is just to give all of ourselves to this music. To me that's the most tried and true way to honor those who have fallen.
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Jay, like your father, you've also played with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. What similarities are there between Slipknot and Springsteen that would be most surprising to people?
It's funny because looking back on all that stuff, they are two vastly different projects entirely, that's true. But I see a lot more commonalities between the two than maybe most people might see. Listening to Bruce and listening to Slipknot on the surface, that to me like everything is so interconnected. At the end of the day it's all music and it all comes from the soul and from the heart. So, to me like that's the biggest thing is that both have music that's created completely from the soul and completely from the heart. So, to me, that links them completely.
Both are absolutely energetically demanding and intense. With Bruce, we're playing shows four hours long. It's not necessarily Slipknot level intensity music but definitely challenging to wrap my head around a 40-plus year catalog of music. That was a tall order especially for only having played drums at like three years at that point - the vertical learning curve, but much like Slipknot is a vertical learning curve almost every day.
I feel a lot of this skill set that I used with Bruce. He'd be handing me a list of like five songs a day on tour to learn and my learning how to be really quick and learning to jump on the moving freight train of Slipknot is very similar. I just kind of learned to immerse myself completely within the process and do whatever it takes to deliver on what the music is demanding. I think a lot of my learning with Bruce has definitely informed how I approach Slipknot and although they are different, like with Bruce, every person onstage is kind of a Flying V to Bruce with Bruce at the apex of that. We're all kind of following him, whereas with Slipknot, it's just a nine-person all-out assault on a listening audience. That's kind of the difference between the two. But there are a lot more similarities than people might realize.
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Jay, long before joining, you were a Slipknot fan. So, you understand firsthand the devotion of the audience. Why is that insight such a valuable asset for you?
That's a great question. I feel like coming into the band, I'll keep this story short, because I can go on a tangent with it. But basically, they didn't tell me I was auditioning for Slipknot when it came time to actually audition for the band. I think they wanted to keep it family. They wanted to keep it within a very close circle of people who they knew and trusted the vision of Slipknot or understood it to a deep level and I think they knew that about me.
We've carved out a friendship that was 10-years-old when I first met them and you know, I'm 31 now, so I've known them for well over two thirds of my life and so coming from being a fan from before the second album even came out. Yeah, it runs deep with me for sure and they knew that when we started playing together, so we played together one day 20 something songs from the band's history, and right then and there, it was kind of like, alright, you want to start working on a new record tomorrow? That was basically it and we've just been kind of following that path ever since almost eight years later.
So yeah, it is important. I have an immense, deep respect for the band's lineage and the band's history, music, musical and inner personalities, and everything. I share that kinship with our audience, because I was one of them. So, my relationship to the band in that respect is one that millions of people around the world share. I'm just the person who was getting his ribs crushed on the barricade at shows when I was an early teenager and got the chance to jump over the barricade and onto the stage. So, no, it's nothing that I take lightly. I take it incredibly seriously, because it means a lot to me and I know what it means to be a Slipknot fan, too and never wanting to let our audience down, let people who have invested their time and attention into this band down.
It's a constant exercise in always wanting to deliver and I don't think that's taking into account what they want from us. Because I think that's one rule that we have is that it's not any real consideration. Let's make songs that fans will like. That's not at all part of our thinking and I think that's kind of a trademark thing about Slipknot was that. We do what we want, we create the music that we want to create and in that being true to us, and then that being where our inner compasses are kind of directing us, then I think that's something that we just hope people are along for the ride with and so far, it's been really great, especially seeing how people have taken in new music from the band. We just hope to make that strengthen that bond between ourselves and the fans through the music even better.
Thanks to Slipknot's Jay Weinberg for the chat. Stay up to date on Slipknot's touring here and you can follow all things Slipknot via their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.