Slipknot’s Chris Fehn Dishes on Mayhem Festival, Knotfest + More
Slipknot are back on tour, bringing the music, the showmanship and the energy to audiences this summer as part of the Mayhem tour. Loudwire caught up with percussionist Chris Fehn at the opening show of the Mayhem Festival run to discuss the band’s live act and their future music plans, as well as his own personal heroes.
You’ve got some of the legendary metal acts in Slayer, Motorhead and Anthrax on this year’s bill, but it’s got to be a good feeling knowing how far you’ve come that you’re headlining a bill that features some of your idols.
I can understand that obviously, but in my world of music and growing up with those bands, I don’t get it. To me those are still my favorite and most looked-up-to bands that I’ve ever listened to, so it’s weird.
We’re awestruck by the amount of energy you guys put into the shows. How hard is it to comedown after a performance, cause that has to be a tremendous high?
Yeah, it usually doesn’t happen for a couple of hours afterwards because you’re still jacked up from the show and your endorphins are running. There’s people afterwards that want to say hi and they’re excited you had a good show or sometimes just even made it through the freaking show in Slipknot [laughs], cause it’s all bloody and it’s all broken and then you come offstage. But for some reason, we mean it so much and it’s so real that it doesn’t hurt. I know it sounds insane, but if you’re worried about being hurt, you’re gonna get hurt. But if you go out there and just let your whole soul open up, for some reason it doesn’t hurt as bad.
One of the things that’s been entertaining in recent weeks is all the video clips of all the band members that are meant to tease the upcoming ‘Antennas to Hell’ video. How fun was it to see your clips package put together?
Yeah, they’re cool, aren’t they? I can’t tell you how much footage we have of us just like that. It’s incredible to see it all put together. But it’s tough looking through all the footage because we all wear masks and coveralls, so I don’t really know where all that stuff was. So looking back at any kind of footage is just one big blob of life. I don’t really feel too much [about it] other than, “Yeah, that’s what I do for a living.”
You’ve got the Knotfest this summer in the Midwest – Wisconsin and Iowa – and Shawn [Crahan] recently talked about the importance of placing it in the Midwest as it reminded him of his youth and the six-hour drives to see shows. For you, what does it mean to have Knotfest in the Midwest?
I think it just goes to show how important the Midwest is to us still. Whether or not there was other places to put it, I don’t know. I don’t want to look like an idiot here, but that’s a big thing for us. It’s close to home, it’s our own show, it’s our own lineup. It’s everything Slipknot, and that’s a pretty big accomplishment.
With Paul Gray’s death, this has been a very trying time. But with Donnie Steele coming back into the fold, can you talk about what that’s meant to the band?
He was such good friends with Paul that I think Paul would be happy that he was doing it in his place rather than anybody else. Because obviously, all of us had some ideas of maybe who could do it, and rather than pick somebody that’s already famous or anything like that, we just wanted to keep it at home. That’s huge for this band. That’s the way that we still are. We’re huge home guys and we don’t need any kind of extra publicity. We don’t need someone in the band bringing in all this extra publicity or being a bigger star in the band or anything like that. It’s not who we are, so we just decided to stick it right back at home.
Donnie’s doing an amazing job. He’s an amazing guitar player, amazing bass player, and he’s good to be on the road with and he’s always happy so it’s been great.
I know it’s been out there that another album will not happen until this period of mourning Paul is sufficiently addressed, but being back on tour with the full band, has that sparked any creativity toward new music?
We don’t really run that way. Guys might be in their various places right now recording some ideas or something, but we’ve never been a band that records or writes on the road. It’s kind of the thing we do on the time off and as far as the next record or the next tour, it’s just, there’s no way to put any time on this band. It’s just that things just kind of happen. We just all show up in a studio and go.
The dedication you have to the craft and the performance, it’s part of why the fans are so drawn to you. Is there anybody along the way that you felt that way about in terms of their live performances and stage presentation?
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I’m such a huge Slayer fan, and watching them thrash, that just started that [for me], and I think, I remember I watched Abe [Cunningham] from the Deftones play once in Minneapolis, and I had never seen anything like that. I was like, ‘Oh my God, he plays like I feel.’ So that has a lot to do with … this is pre-Slipknot, and I wasn’t even dreaming about Slipknot at that point, but this was just my own personal life. I finally saw an artist mean it. And then when I finally got in Slipknot and they meant it too, I knew I was home.
You mention Abe. Have you ever crossed paths with Abe and talked about your admiration?
I was like a little kid. I met Abe in a club, got my picture taken with him, and I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t even know what to tell you.’ I didn’t want to meet him because I didn’t want him to be a dickhead. I have that weird thing about that. My heroes need to stay my heroes, and Abe was awesome. I thought for sure this guy was going to be like, ‘What the f—?,’ but he was awesome.
Each of the members have their own side things, but I think it’s pretty cool that Shawn [Crahan] and Corey [Taylor] have their film company. Do they share any of that with you guys or is that off in their own world?
You know, I’m hoping to get an acting job out of the gig one day [laughs]. I’m always on Clown about it that he might need an extra. But not right now. I like my family and my golf and my metal, you know I play in Will Haven on the side, so that’s the other thing I enjoy.
You mention the golf, how serious are you? Just futzing around or hardcore?
I play for real. I’ll play with anybody and have a good time no matter what. But inside, I’m trying for birdie every time.
Outside of music, do you have any heroes?
Yeah, Pete Rose was a huge hero of mine growing up for me. Charlie Hustle. I remember him as a kid breaking the hit record, and it was crazy. The steroid thing has really bummed me out about sports in general, but gosh I had so many. I was a huge athlete growing up. I played college football. You know, Tony Dorsett, if you wanna get back there.
Obviously Mayhem this summer, but anything beyond Mayhem at this point?
It’s just wait and see right now. That’s how we always do it. We don’t promise anything, but when we do sign up, we keep our promise.