Alessandro ‘V-Man’ Venturella – Slipknot ‘Retaining Our Essence Throughout The End, So Far… and Beyond’

Slipknot 2022 Photo: Jonathan Weiner

One of the most notable and iconic bands of the past two decades would be none other than the nine masked figures of Slipknot. With an ever-changing lineup and a profusion of heavy tunes behind them, the boys are about to embark on the next phase of their career with album number seven, The End, So Far being released on Friday (our review here). This group has been making music for almost as long as I have been alive, so it is with the greatest honour that I had the privilege to chat with bassist and all-around great guy Alessandro ‘V-Man’ Venturella about the album, Slipknot’s ill-fated Australian domination with Metallica, whether a makeup tour is on the cards, and to dive into his profound appreciation for some of Australia’s best-kept secrets in heavy music.

‘V-Man’ is a veteran in this scene, having been the guitar tech for bands such as Mastodon, Coheed and Cambria, Architects and more. He has since moved on to bigger things as Slipknot’s full-time bassist where he has been perfecting his craft over the past eight years.

When details of the album emerged, so did confusion amongst maggots (Slipknot fanbase) around the globe, as speculation surrounding what the album’s title The End, So Far might mean for the future of the group and whether it holds any deeper meaning. Settling any confusion, in his deep English accent, V-Man explains:

“It is the end of an era within the band and that’s all it is. We are definitely continuing and there has already been progression.”

To end any further doubts on this subject, the well-rounded musician further explains how the album’s last track ‘Finale’ ties in with the band’s current chapter, revealing:

The title of the song was there, way before it was completely finished, so perhaps that is where Corey (Taylor, vocalist) was going with that one. It actually fits perfectly when you listen to the album as a whole.”

One thing that always seems to divide fans of well-established bands is a change of sound and style. The opening track ‘Adderall’ stands out from the rest with its soft, melodic nature. Venturella gives us further insight into this song, stating

“When I came over and started working on the record, I focused on the heavier songs and all the riffs. At one point we were listening back to all the songs we had worked on for this album and when that song came up it was completely different in its entirety.”

Venturella goes on to discuss expanding their diverse sound, while still staying true to their roots and signature Slipknot sounds. “I think it still retains Slipknot in essence. At first it can be quite a shock because it’s not what the average Slipknot fan might expect on one of our albums but then suddenly you begin to hear all the little bits of what Slipknot is.”

Having lived life to the fullest as a dedicated music fan himself, V-Man continues to reminisce on how one of the world’s biggest metal bands continues to connect with newer and younger audiences through this new release. The talented bassist shares:

“I think it’s to do with the way that the band has always been, even before I joined. There’s always been a progression with the music while continuing to hold on to the essence of what Slipknot is. If you just keep doing the same thing repeatedly, that can cause people to lose interest because it can feel like the same record each time.”

Keeping this thought in the back of their minds whenever they enter the studio, Slipknot knows all too well what works for them and what doesn’t.

“When we write music we throw out ideas and once it goes through the wheelhouse that is the band, that’s what makes it Slipknot. By keeping that process fresh is what keeps the band relevant and continues to keep the old fans interested while drawing in fresh ears.”

It’s no secret that maggots all around the world sent the internet into a tailspin, trying to uncover the identity of Tortilla Man when he joined the band back in 2019. Since then, his true identity has been revealed as the ever-so-talented Michael Pfaff. With this being his first-ever appearance on a Slipknot record, V-Man shares just how much of an impact his new close friend and bandmate had on the album.

“His input stretched quite a lot on this album. Mike and I bonded instantly when we first met. We both play piano, but he is incredibly studied on that aspect whereas my focus has always been aimed toward classical guitar. His understanding of melody, harmony and rhythm brought in something so fresh. I love that as a musician I have always aimed high and tried my best, then for him to come along and really push me to reach my potential. He would regularly do something in the studio and it would leave the rest of us mind-blown. Whenever we did stuff in the studio with choirs or something else that might be a bit left field for this genre, Mike is there planning it all out, writing the manuscript and other bits of sheet music. I think that he is just so impressive and inspiring.”

Navigating our way through the pandemic wasn’t easy for any of us, with countless people losing income and purpose, however, the masked bassist managed to stay productive in preparation for LP7, but even that presented its own challenges.

“I am very grateful to have been able to go out there and continue to write and record music while this nightmare was unfolding then as things returned to normal we returned to playing shows and touring. Don’t get me wrong, I spent a good six months at home on my computer while playing guitar, bass or even messing around with some drumming. It kind of felt as if I was on a bit of a break, then I went to Iowa and spent seven or so months at Clown’s house writing music, then we were off to Los Angeles before getting straight into the new album cycle. So I personally managed to keep myself busy throughout that whole period. I definitely felt prepared when we jumped back into playing live as I continued to play my instruments throughout that period.”

While reflecting on V-Man’s time during the COVID pandemic, I noticed his Metallica arm tattoos and asked him about his thoughts on them, to which he replied, “I’m a huge Metallica fan, I have a ‘Sad But True’ tattoo on my chest and I have a full Metallica sleeve on my left arm.” This led me to become reacquainted with the heartbreak that many of us felt when the mammoth Metallica and Slipknot tour of 2019 slipped through our fingers. V-Man shares his frustrations with the thousands of disappointed Australian and New Zealand metal fans:

Mick (Thompson, guitarist) and I were talking about this failed tour recently. We were both so excited for that tour, it would have been an absolutely perfect bunch of shows. We never support anybody. I’ve been in this band for nearly ten years now and we have always been the last band to perform at each show. For once we were going to be the support act for the one and only Metallica, which would have been utterly incredible. I was really looking forward to that. Also, the fact that it was Australia, which is part of the world where it feels like something new and fresh, similar to Japan. It is one of those places where we don’t get the chance to visit much so there was quite a lot of exciting factors.”

We have been hearing rumours of the band’s return to Australia for years now, so I decided to put the pressure on to try and get even a tiny shred of information as to when the nine-piece metal giants will be making it up to us by visiting us down under again – even suggesting the idea of an Australian edition of Knotfestfollowing the recent success of the festival that our friends in Finland got to enjoy earlier this year, but alas, the Englishman kept his cards close to his chest, giving us the intriguing response of:

“I can’t say until anything is announced.”

Before their demise, Australian music fans thoroughly enjoyed festivals such as Big Day Out and Soundwave (both of which Slipknot played), where we created memories watching our favourite artists that we will cherish forever.

However, Australia’s heavy festival circuit isn’t what it once was, with COVID being one of the main contributors to that. A festival such as Knotfest might just be exactly what this country needs to reignite the golden age of large-scale touring heavy music festivals – and it’s a topic that’s been spoken about more frequently than not – dating back as far as 2017 here on Wall of Sound when bossman Browny quizzed Corey Taylor about the chances of bringing it down under. That last mention was during the period when we had nothing huge to look forward to on the annual heavy/alt music calendar. Sadly, big tours like this are few and far between in the post-pandemic world.

Often large acts such as Slipknot recruit talent to fill support slots for their own festival outings, so I picked V-Man’s brain about the Australian artists he likes.

“I’m a big fan of Karnivool. Years ago I played alongside a band called The Red Shore. I would love to get Plini to come and do something with us at some point but the genre difference might be too large, but I personally don’t see that as being too much of a problem.”

Perhaps a Plini support isn’t too wild of an idea! Having kept a keen eye on Slipknot’s tour schedule recently, I am aware that the Iowa metal lords have played genre-crossing shows with artists such as Cypress Hill, so stranger things have happened. V-Man continued on discussing prog-guitarist Plini, and the appreciation from band to musician was awe-inspiring,

“I was actually chatting with Plini recently and I suggested to him that I get him on some shows, and he seemed open to the idea so who knows, that might happen at some point.”

There is a massive gap in Slipknot’s touring schedule both before and after the Knotfest Japan event taking place in early April of 2023… so the idea of Slipknot heading our way and possibly playing alongside Australian artists such as Plini or Karnivool (while they are close by in the South-East Asia region) isn’t too far fetched. 

Ending the conversation by going back to the upcoming album, V-Man emphasizes the importance of taking the time out of your day to really listen carefully to the album in an attentive manner.

“Listen to the whole thing, actually take the time to appreciate the album in its entirety. Find some good speakers. Don’t listen to this album on your phone held up to your ears. That’s the thing with music, if I was to perhaps work on my car while playing music, then that becomes background music. I wouldn’t suggest listening to this album in that way. Dive in and appreciate it for what it is. I’ve never been one for lyrical content, but I do miss those days where we used to sit down with an album and look through the physical book while reading along to the lyrics and appreciating the artwork. That process of music is slightly missed nowadays. I would suggest to younger fans that are only just getting into music to give that a go as it might be a new way for them to connect to the music.”

Release day is this Friday. Set your alarms so you can punch this album front to back as V-Man suggests.

Interview by Adam Rice

Pre-order/save The End, So Far here

Slipknot - The End, So Far album review

Slipknot – The End, So Far tracklisting

1. Adderal
2. The Dying Song
3. The Chapeltown Rag
4. Yen
5. Hivemind
6. Warranty
7. Medicine For The Dead
8. Acidic
9. Heirloom
10. HE77
11. De Sade
12. Finale

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About Adam 'Ricey' Rice (103 Articles)
A young music enthusiast who dives into a world created by an artist then returns to reality to express what he experienced in writing.