Published Aug 09, 2019While much of the conversation around Slipknot's new album, We Are Not Your Kind, has revolved around the unnamed member replacing longtime percussionist Chris Fehn, the band don't want people to find out who he is. The affectionately-named "Tortilla Man" has been praised by fans and the rest of the band who've spoken on his role in the band, but they've been taking a much more relaxed approach to people's interest this time around.
"I honestly don't think about it. I don't even know the guy, I don't know his name or anything. I just see this dude playing drums and to me he plays really well," guitarist Jim Root tells Exclaim! coyly when asked in an interview about whether they want to keep his identity from going public.
Back in 2014 when they replaced drummer Joey Jordison and bassist Donnie Steele with Jay Weinberg and Alessandro Venturella, they wanted to keep their identities hidden. Obsessive fans unfortunately ruined that for them by identifying Venturella through a hand tattoo and Weinberg through his time filling in for his father, Max Weinberg, in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. This time though, the band are intent on keeping the identity of Tortilla Man a secret.
What Slipknot really want fans to focus on with We Are Not Your Kind is the music itself. Their sixth full-length is a return to form for the highly experimental band, who've been playing things relatively safe for the past decade. We Are Not Your Kind breaks away from the relatively formulaic structure of All Hope Is Gone and .5: The Gray Chapter with a rejuvenated energy reminiscent of their early days.
"If you look at even before I joined the band, though, there have always been tracks that had like, funk or stuff like that, so this band hasn't ever really had any kinds of rules. Everybody in the band with all of our different personalities brings so many different flavours to the music," says Root. "The experimental side of things has always been something I would like to dive further into, [although] without taking it as far as bands like Radiohead or the Mars Volta do, where they sort of turn into elevator music [laughs]."
Root's been adamant that he doesn't like to compare the band's records to each other; he'd rather fans make their own comparisons instead of setting expectations himself.
"When I was a kid growing up and saw bands while reading magazines, you'd see a band come out and say, 'Oh this album is going to be heavier than our last one,' and then it isn't when you hear it. That's kind of a letdown, because you're expecting something, so I don't like to put that expectation out there because each album to me should live on its own and everybody should make their own opinion on how it is or how it compares."
Slipknot albums seem to come out very sporadically — this being their first in five years, and the last one having come after a six-year break — but the band don't often have time to just work on Slipknot. Between band members' other projects and taking time for their own lives at home, it's hard to get nine members of a band in the same room. That said, they had more time together than ever before for We Are Not Your Kind.
"Now that I'm not in two bands since I'm not in Stone Sour, I can focus all of my energy into Slipknot. We had a lot of time to build these demos to the point where we could mess with arrangements. People want to relax and do their home life things but I don't really have much of a home life. I just write, it's what I do. It keeps me sane."
Instead of having an album of singles pieced together as they best fit, the band took inspiration from '70s prog rock bands by composing it as a piece to listen to as a whole. Root emphasizes the importance of albums working as entire compositions instead of pushing singles because of the shift in listener habits. With streaming taking over the music industry, he says there's a huge loss in culture that people aren't fully recognizing.
"It just has a trickle-down effect that impacts the entire industry. When you look at streaming, you're seeing all of these studios disappear. You're seeing all of these really historic places for music and pop culture in general being affected when these places are disappearing. It's not just pop culture; look at the movements and what all of these bands did to help change society and open people's minds. It's pretty fucking historic, and to see that go is a shame."
We Are Not Your Kind is out August 9 on Roadrunner Records.