Former Roadrunner Records A&R exec remembers Joey Jordison of Slipknot
Monte Conner, the music industry veteran who signed Slipknot to Roadrunner Records in 1998, has written a tribute to Joey Jordison on Variety. Jordison was an iconic drummer and one of the founding members of Slipknot.
Conner starts off his piece by discussing the depth of Jordison’s multifaceted creativity. At the time, Conner was the senior VP of A&R for Roadrunner Records. Now, he’s the VP of A&R for Nuclear Blast Records.
“Slipknot co-founder and drummer Joey Jordison was one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” he says. “Fans know him for his explosive, no-holds-barred drumming style. Most don’t realize he was also a gifted songwriter, arranger and guitarist. [He] understood the art of crafting huge choruses and hooks.
“Those songs impacted music far beyond the metal world,” he continues. “They reached the masses and will live on as anthems for the ages.”
Conner went on to describe the first time he heard the demo for “Spit It Out” in 1998. He initially hearing about the band from a colleague in 1997.
“It was raw, seething, emotional, explosive, creative, guttural and beautiful all at the same time," Conner says. "[It was also completely untethered from tradition. It did not fit any genre of metal but seemed to take the best elements from the entire metal palette and combine them all into an utterly unique, multi-dimensional beast. And it was all driven by the foundation of Joey’s over-the-top, manic drumming style. Everything had coalesced, and it felt like all the planets had finally aligned. I saw the band’s true potential and knew I had to sign them.”
After he heard the demo, he flew out to a showcase in Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s McCormick Auditorium April 4, 1998. During the performance, Slipknot opened for alt-pop artist Sister Soleil. Looking back, Conner commented on how peculiar it was seeing Slipknot at such a venue. “What an odd and sterile place, not to mention a strange pairing, to be seeing Slipknot for the very first time,” he says.
The venue will always be known as the place he first met Jordison, despite the oddness.
“I met Joey and the rest of the members for the first time just before the show,” Conner remembers. “I will never forget how they lined up to meet me, one by one, as if they were rank-and-file soldiers meeting an officer. [They were] deadly serious, like they were going into battle. They were wearing their standard coveralls but not their masks—they wanted to look me in the eyes.”
Conner goes on to describe how the band looked like a “dangerously psychotic gang or militia” onstage. They were already wearing their signature coveralls and masks. Despite their in-your-face appearance, nothing could take attention away from their sound.
“But as wild as the spectacle was, most importantly they had the music to back it up, not to mention [Corey] Taylor, an incredible frontman who could actually sing these beautiful melodies,” Conner says. “That night, it was actually their music that spoke to me, even more than the spectacle I was seeing.
"In fact, that night I could actually picture the day that their individual masks could be marketed and sold to fans as collectibles, or even as Halloween costumes. That day would come even sooner than I could have ever expected.”
After the show, Conner went backstage to hang out with the band. Jordison immediately pulled him aside to talk about underground heavy metal.
“In all of my A&R travels, I had never experienced a musician who was so plugged into and knowledgeable about the label, and even my career,” Conner says. “He and his bandmates were about to change not just my life, but the entire trajectory of Roadrunner Records and the music world.
“Joey was a truly groundbreaking character who will be sorely missed by metal fans worldwide,” he concludes. “I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of his all-too-short but seismic journey.”
Many others in the music industry also showed their respects to Jordison. Not only other artists and executives, but also friends and fans paid tribute to the musician. Alternative Press’ own Ali Cooper created a list of 11 drummers who were influenced by Jordison to mourn the loss of one of metal’s greatest drummers.