The veteran guitarist details the adrenaline in playing such an iconic venue, the career milestone that is MSG and the common goal that has always fueled Slipknot.
February 5th, 2009 marked an important milestone for the Iowan disruptors of Slipknot. The band was charging through a relentless global campaign in support of their fourth full length effort on the All Hope Is Gone World Tour – a run that was already eight months and nine countries in.
The historic night saw the masked nine hold court on the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden for a performance that would be forever archived in metal music lore. The evening proved triumphant for the band as they dominated the capacity arena, showcasing selections from the celebrated studio album, All Hope Is Gone, in addition to essentials from the band’s already cultural-shifting catalog.
Riding the momentum of an album in All Hope Is Gone that was universally hailed, so much in fact it reached the very top of the Billboard charts, the show served as a pivotal moment in the history of Slipknot – the band’s moment in the winner’s circle.
The significance of the performance was prefaced by an obvious moment of validation for heavy music. Slipknot had cultivated a reputation for laying everything bare onstage with live volatility and now, one of the most prestigious rock music shrines on the planet was ready to welcome the spectacle. It was the kind of show that will forever be referenced in the narrative of the band, a watershed moment that set a new cultural standard and forever linked Slipknot with The Garden.
On August 18th, Slipknot will release the audio from the landmark 2009 event as the LP, Live At MSG. The release will feature new artwork designed by the band’s own, M. Shawn “clown” Crahan and will coincide with the 15th anniversary of the seminal fourth full length studio album, All Hope Is Gone.
Ahead of the release, guitarist Jim Root revisited the climate during such a pivotal era for the band. He explained the kind of charge that comes with playing such significant stages and how Slipknot has always been about finding a new level. Root reflected on the weight of MSG, the importance of All Hope Is Gone and how the live album offers a glimpse of the chaotic energy that is Slipknot in the flesh.
By the time the band arrived at Madison Square Garden on the All Hope Is Gone World Tour, you had already been on the road for eight months and touched down in nine countries. What was the energy level like of the band going into the MSG show?
Root – Usually we’re pretty road weary after that amount of time out. That never affects the show though. There’s an adrenaline that kicks in. Combine that with the electricity of NYC and an iconic venue and any fatigue from the road is out the window.
As the set played out, was there any sense that something about this particular show would be something memorable?
Root – It’s hard for me to put myself back in that headspace. Once the set kicks off, the adrenaline hits and you hear the crowd it’s chaos. Like a shark feeding frenzy, my eyes roll back in my head and muscle memory takes over.
The dressing rooms were nice and I’m sure we fucked them up.
By that time in your career, Slipknot had already accomplished so much. Given that level of success, did you still see a headlining play at MSG as a career milestone?
Root – Yes. Of course it was perceived as that. You have to keep setting goals and working toward something or you can become complacent. We’re constantly trying to do so and playing iconic venues and or pushing ourselves and thinking about the next goal is always there. MSG and playing a show there is no exception.
Following the MSG show in 2009, Slipknot would go onto headline Download for the first time ever before going on your historic run at Donington. Pardon the sports analogy, but do you look back on 2009 as kind of an MVP year for the band and what do you attribute to that?
Root – That’s hard to say. You can work your ass off and dedicate yourself fully to a goal or standard. Doesn’t always mean you get there. I don’t think there’s a formula for it and I’m not sure if it’s timing, planning or just dumb luck. But the work ethic may have a bit to do with it.
Every album for the band was pivotal, but something about AHIG proved to be transformative for the band. The tension within the band at the time was well documented. Given how well Slipknot has done with adversity, do you feel like the turbulence of the era contributed to the quality of the songs?
Root – I think so. I think a bit of healthy competition and constructive criticism can do well. As long as it’s from a good place and genuine. Nothing good ever comes easy. There’s always a sacrifice. Being an only child I know what it’s like to have siblings after so much time together. No matter how pissed we might be at one another, we still have each others backs. Another important piece is the common goal. We share that. And no matter what petty shit is bothering anyone at any given time, it’s not as important as our support for one another and that goal. Which in my mind has yet to be reached. It’s a moving target that morphs.
The live Slipknot experience is something sacred. Was there any trepidation about releasing a live record given how next level Slipknot is live? Was it tough to capture that on record?
Root – It’s impossible to capture the energy of really most any band live. Whether it’s audio or audio visual. Even if you were to put it in a virtual world big pieces of the puzzle are missing. The DB level of the PA, the energy and sound of the crowd and people around you… The smell. The odor of a venue and everything in it. The pyro going off. There are a lot of intense things to experience when you’re at a venue. We have a chaotic energy and think it’s captured well enough.
In going over the track listing, was there a particular song you remember live from that MSG show? Does reliving those memories in song inspire any of those same feelings?
Root – That’s difficult to answer. That show happened so long ago and we’ve done and been through so much since then. What I can say is. There’s a couple tunes we haven’t played on that set for awhile. And throwing those back into a set list is exciting. Not saying we are. But that’s the thing about it. Playing certain songs so much can become mundane. Put them on a shelf for awhile and they have a new energy and excitement to them.
Live At MSG will arrive August 18th. The physical release of Live at MSG will feature limited edition, custom colored vinyl selected by the band.
Additional color variants include Clear with Silver Splatter, Lemonade with Silver Splatter and Black Ice with Silver Splatter with all retailers carrying classic black.
The album and the additional color variants are available – HERE
A2. Eyeless [4:15]
A3. Wait And Bleed [2:44]
A4. Get This [4:28]
B1. Before I Forget [4:22]
B2. The Blister Exists [6:37]
B3. Dead Memories [4:03]
B4. Left Behind [3:28]
C1. Disasterpiece [5:09]
C2. Purity [6:26]
C3. Everything Ends [4:22]
C4. Psychosocial [5:41]
D1. Duality [5:26]
D2. People = Shit [4:10]
D3. Surfacing [4:49]
D4. Spit It Out [7:35]