As the heavy music world still comes to terms with the loss of yet another icon from our lives, we can’t help but think back to the times they filled our hearts with love, ears with heavy tunes and thoughts with hope and clarity of better times ahead.
Joey Jordison, founding member/drummer for Slipknot and inspiration for a whole new generation of drummers from the late 90s/early 2000s passed away in his sleep, age 46, leaving behind a legacy that’ll last a lifetime and a plethora of fans and peers from the music scene mourning his loss. It’s one thing to be a fan of the man and icon that was, but for those who looked up to him as a role model and inspiration for their own musical journey, the news impacted them much harder.
Over the next few days we’re going to pay tribute to Jordison, the man who pushed the limits of what one is cabale of behind a kit and dive into his extensive career from his early days in Slipknot, through to his other highly acclaimed bands like Murderdolls, Scar The Martyr, Vimic and his last project, Sinsaenum.
Kicking off the tributes is this moving piece by Polaris drummer Daniel Furnari who talks about his first encounter with Joey in the early stages of his own career and how he admired the man who dared to break the mold on what a drummer can truly achieve at the back of the stage…
When I was 11 years old and drums had just taken over as my number one obsession, I used to sit there for hours trawling drummerworld.com for videos, trying to find my new favourite player. I remember seeing a lot of forums arguing about who was the best drummer in the world at the time – and the one name that everyone kept bringing up was Joey Jordison.
Joey Jordison. What a cool fucking name. I didn’t know who he played for but I remember I liked the alliteration, almost like some kind of cartoon gangster. I typed his name into the Drummerworld search bar, hit enter and literally jumped back in my chair in fright. The image that came up looked like something out of The Grudge to my little pre-pubescent eyes. Then I hit play on a clip of ‘Eyeless‘ and that scared me even more. I knew a little about Slipknot and their masks from seeing their shirts on the goth and metal kids who hung out in front of Town Hall, but I didn’t know what they sounded like. Before I knew it, I was watching a masked horror movie character on a 20 piece drum kit play the wildest solo I’d seen, while rotating upside down on a giant glowing pentagram. I wasn’t ready for it by any means, but boy did it stick with me.
Two years later someone on my schoolbus stuck an earbud in my ear and played Slipknot to me again, and something clicked. In a matter of months ‘Before I Forget‘ and ‘Psychosocial‘ introduced me to double kick ideas that I could actually attempt to play, and taught me to keep it simple when needed; ‘Wait And Bleed‘ and ‘Eyeless‘ showed me you could put a jungle/DnB beat into a metal song and make it badass; ‘The Blister Exists‘ and ‘Vendetta‘ gave me something to aspire to for speed and accuracy. That simple RLKK fill in every song, played over and over again so blisteringly fast the hits basically became flams… for most of us now it’s our bread and butter. But where did we learn it?
Have you ever heard drums sound so viscerally pissed off? Like every single stroke was telling you it wanted to see your head on a pike. Joey at his peak was pure aggression, pure adrenaline, pure violence in musical form. I didn’t realise just how lucky I was to finally experience it in person, feel it punch me in the gut, the very last time he came to Australia.
Last week I was debating with some friends about whether any drummers in the last three decades had come close to Travis Barker‘s level of impact. And I guess I can blame the fact that he hasn’t been in Slipknot for over 10 years… but somehow my dumb ass forgot about Joey. The guy who stared down at you from the wall of every teenage bedroom – inspiring and terrifying – and every drum shop in the world for over a decade. The guy who became one of the reasons I still play Pearl Drums today. The guy whose signature snare can be recognised a mile away with your eyes closed… still sampled in huge libraries, still sought after by drum collectors, still uncased excitedly by young hardcore drummers at their first shows, still sounds just as perfect for a blast beat as it does for a hip hop pocket. The guy who literally mixed his own blood into the ink that was used to mark his signature sticks. The guy whose parts all my students are gonna be learning and examining and appreciating for the next couple of weeks, because I don’t know of a better way to pay tribute to and pass on my respect for a true icon and a GOAT.
Joey changed everything. We were just lucky to be here to witness it. I’ll never leave him out again.
Written by Dan Furnari @DanFaznari
1975 – 2021