|Slipknot's first songs were composed in 1993, during what is referred to by the band members as the "Basement Sessions". During the early years the band went through the names The Pale Ones , Pyg system, and Meld before they settled on Slipknot. Conducted in the basement of Anders Colsefini, co-founder of the band. Many of the songs on Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat and some that were added to later albums were written during these sessions. Shawn Crahan was the lead drummer before Joey Jordison entered the band. Crahan, being one of the founders, came up with the idea on having three drummers; first to create a powerful tribal sound that Crahan wanted, and second to create a 'wall of sound' effect.
They achieved a stable line-up in 1995, and released a demo entitled Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat on Halloween in 1996. The demo sold well, but had a very small release of only 1000 copies. A few major record labels became interested in the group. At that time, the band contained five members, but Roadrunner Records didn't want to sign them at first, feeling that the songwriting needed some work. One year later, after a rather large promotional blitzing by John Kuliak, a Midwest Promotion representative for Roadrunner, an agreement was worked to get Slipknot signed to the reluctant label. In due course, Slipknot went out to find a new lead singer, hired Corey Taylor as the lead vocalist, and pushed Anders to percussion. Anders was not interested in being a percussionist and left the band to pursue his own musical goals.
Roadrunner Records eventually signed the band, and released their self-titled debut album, Slipknot, in June of 1999, produced by Ross Robinson. The album became Roadrunner Records' first Platinum certified album. Regarding the album, one reviewer wrote "You thought Limp Bizkit was heavy? They're the Osmonds. Slipknot is something else entirely."
2001's Iowa, the follow-up to their debut album, was much anticipated by fans and debuted at number three on the Billboard Magazine album charts and at number one on the UK album chart. They again toured extensively to promote the release. The band also appeared as themselves in the concert scene of the 2002 movie Rollerball, where they played the song "I Am Hated" from Iowa.
After a hiatus of close to two years, the band regrouped in late 2003 and began writing and recording with renowned producer Rick Rubin, who had previously worked with artists such as Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Britney Spears, System of a Down, Pennywise, Jessica Simpson and Slayer. The band released their fourth album, Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses) in May 2004. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.
After the release of Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses), the band took part in the 2004 The Unholy Alliance tour in Europe with Slayer, Mastodon and Hatebreed.
A live album recorded from shows in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Osaka, Singapore & Tokyo was released in November 2005 titled 9.0: Live. Several members of the band also collaborated with other artists on the Roadrunner United: The All-Star Sessions CD released in October 2005. They also appeared in cartoon form in the adult comic Viz (issue 152, Feb 2006), where they appear singing "People = Shit" at the end of the "Mrs Brady, Old Lady" strip. The band is currently on hiatus until 2007 as they work on their side projects; Corey Taylor and James Root are both with Stone Sour, Joey Jordison is with Ministry, and Chris Fehn is working on his golf. It was announced on Slipknot1.com that the new Voliminal: Inside the Nine DVD is done and will be released on December 5, 2006. However, vocalist Corey Taylor has stated that the band do not expect a new album until 2008, as they are all currently working with their respective side projects.
The band is known for its peculiar image. The members wear matching uniform jumpsuits, and custom-made masks inspired by facets of their respective personalities. In the past, their jumpsuits have featured large UPC barcodes printed on the back and sleeves, which are identical to the barcode on their first album, Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat. The members' masks are typically altered or presented in a new form with the advent of each new studio album. Their masks and jumpsuits are now more unique to each member and sometimes include ties.
Initially, the group's members desired to preserve their secret identities, refusing to be photographed maskless, even to the point of conducting interviews or posing with fans while wearing their masks (or at least obscuring their faces in some other way) Aside from their real names, members of the band are also referred to by numbers 0 through 8. During an interview in 2000, when Corey Taylor was asked about the history behind the masks he responded with this:
"During a practice before we recorded Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat, The Clown (Shawn Crahan) brought a mask with him and played wearing it and it just kind of branched out from there."
Today most members of the band have now been openly photographed without their masks, largely as the result of their work outside of Slipknot.