Joey Jordison has established himself as a reference in the world of drumming, especially in the heavy metal drumming scene, in the 15 plus years he has been drumming for metal band “Slipknot”. He’s arguably one of the fastest drummers in the world, showcasing an amazing speed and control over his hands and feet.
Born Nathan Jonas Jordison in Des Moines’ Mercy Hospital, Iowa in the 26th of April of 1975, Joey Jordison grew up with his parents and his two younger sisters – Katie and Annie Jordison – in a rural area outside of Waukee, Iowa. His parents exposed Joey Jordison to music in a very early stage of his life. There was always music in his house, so instead of sitting Joey in front of a television to calm him down for instance, they would sit him down in front of a stereo, making him listen to music. Joey Jordison listened to “Led Zeppelin”, “The Who”, “The Kinks”, “The Rolling Stones”, and “KISS”.
His love for drumming started being shaped when he was 5 years old. Joey Jordison found a full 5-piece drum set boxed in a little room at his grandfather’s house. His grandfather setup the drum set for Joey to play with. After that, Joey knew what he wanted to do with his life. Motivated by the drummers of the bands he listened to – John Bohnam (“Led Zeppelin”), Peter Criss (KISS), and his favorite drummer of all time Keith Moon (“The Who”) – Joey Jordison practiced and played in pots and pans his mom would setup for him. It was also at this time that Joey’s original white Kabuki-style mask he used on “Slipknot” entered his life. His mom wore that mask for Halloween, scaring and traumatizing Joey with its emotionless look. That moment stayed with him for the rest of his life, and was what propelled him to use that mask with “Slipknot”.
When he was about 6 years old, Joey Jordison started learning how to play guitar, even before he started to learn how to play drums. Just like with what happened with drumming, Joey’s grandfather was crucial in introducing Joey to guitar playing by letting him play the guitar he had at home. Joey Jordison never took any formal lessons and learned how to play guitar by copping some “Rolling Stones'” licks and the blues scale. He always showed great facility in catching on songs’ rhythms, locking in quite easily with the groove.
In 1982 Joey Jordison watched a news report stating that Ozzy Osbourne, a heavy metal star, had bitten the head off of a bat the night before. Joey immediately jumped onto the Ozzy Osborne bandwagon. Soon afterwards he bought Ozzy’s first album – “Blizzard of Oz” – and Joey’s love for heavy metal music took off.
After playing guitar in some elementary school bands, Joey Jordison got his first drum set when he was 8 years old. The set was a surprise gift from his parents. They asked him to go into the basement in search of an Elton John tape. As soon as Joey stepped foot into the basement he found a fully setup drum kit. At the time, besides guitar, Joey was also learning how to play the piano and an instrument he started learning in the 4th grade – the xylophone.
Some time after, his parents got divorced and Joey and his sisters started living with their mother – Jackie Jordison. With the absence of his father, Joey Jordison felt he had the responsibility to be the man of the house. He has stated that this responsibility turned him into a more mature person at a young age. Jackie would later marry Michael Aldrich owner and funeral director of “Fisher-Aldrich Funeral Homes” in Iowa. Michael was a talented clarinet player and one of the founding members of the “Maple Street Jazz Band”. Joey Jordison would occasionally help in the funeral homes.
The time spent at school was not the most enjoyable for Joey Jordison. He was really introverted and didn’t have many friends, spending most of the time by his locker with his headphones on. He got decent grades but they still suffered because of the time he spent playing music. While attending high school, Joey Jordison was in the jazz school band and hung out with his cousin Steve Allan White. This profoundly help him improving his drumming ability at the time. He competed in jazz contests and traveled all around the Midwest – the 5-state area – winning a lot of awards with the jazz band. As time went by, he started skipping band practice, which ultimately got him kicked out of the band. In the first competition without Joey, the band finished last. Joey Jordison started skipping jazz band practice because he was playing with punk and trash bands, which made his focus start shifting big time. It was around this time that music really started becoming Joey’s life.
Despite being involved in multiple projects, Joey Jordison did not have his first serious band until he was 15. He formed the band “Modifidious”, a speed-metal trash outfit he played drums for. Joey was the youngest member of the band, having band mates with 24, 25 years of age. The band was moderately successful and helped Joey break new ground, playing for live crowds in support of local bands like “Atomic Opera” featuring future “Slipknot” guitarist Jim Root (#4 – “The Jester”), and “Heads On the Wall” featuring future “Slipknot” custom percussionist Shawn Crahan (#6 – “Clown”). “Modifidious” with Joey on drums, released two demos in 1993 – “Visceral” and “Mud Fuchia”. The recordings happened after a legion of line-up changes. Josh Brainard (ex-“Slipknot” guitarist), and current “Slipknot” sampler/keyboardist Craig Jones (#5 – “133”) were some of the previous guitarists of “Modifidious”.
After leaving high school, Joey was hired by a local music store called “Musicland”. In March of 1994 Joey Jordison got a job at a garage in Sinclair. Jordison worked the night shift, which he preferred, as it left his weekends free and allowed him to spend time with his friends and listen to music while working. In early 1995 “Modifidious” disbanded. Following this Joey Jordison joined a local band called “The Rejects” as a guitarist, with whom he only played a couple of shows. This band would latter become known as “Murderdolls”. Joey Jordison was also involved in a band with late “Slipknot” bassist Paul Gray (#2 – “The Pig”). The band was called “Anal Blast” and was formed mostly as a joke.
In 1995, and after failing in getting Joey Jordison to join him in the band “Body Pit”, Paul Gray met with Joey at Sinclair’s. He invited Joey to watch his newest project – “The Pale Ones” – rehearse in Anders Colsefni’s (“The Pale Ones” vocalist) basement. Besides Anders and Paul, the band also included Shawn Crahan on drums and Donnie Steele on guitar. Joey reluctantly agreed, eventually making it down to the basement to view a practice session. The first song that Joey heard them play was named “Slipknot” (this was the first incarnation of the song “sic”).
From the moment Joey Jordison heard their music he immediately knew he wanted to be part of the band. He has stated that he remained poker-faced during the session so he didn’t look like he wanted to join the band. He then asked to play with them. He learned the only 4 songs the band had at the time, and just like that he nailed them and joined the band as their drummer, pushing Shawn over to play custom percussion. A lot of “Slipknot’s” early development was discussed by band members while Jordison worked night shifts at Sinclair’s garage. Soon the band decided on a new title for themselves, and in 1995 “Slipknot” was born.
During one of “Slipknot’s” practice sessions Shawn Crahan showed up wearing a clown mask that he had in his possession since he was 14 years old. Shawn did the whole practice session with the mask and refused to take it off. The remaining members felt unease with the mask since they couldn’t see what Shawn’s facial expressions were like. They just saw a smiling clown face all the time. The weirdness of it all was the motivation for “Slipknot” members to start wearing masks. It was at this time that Joey chose to use the Kabuki style mask his mother traumatized him with when he was 5 years old.
“It’s open ended and it’s got so many different meanings that you can’t just pin point, stereotype or pigeon hole. It could be love, beauty, hate, disgust – it’s all that stuff in one!” — Joey Jordison on what his mask symbolizes.
“Slipknot’s” demo album “Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat” was released on Halloween, October 31, 1996. “Slipknot” received a small amount of airplay on local radio stations. However, the demo didn’t lead to any kind of interest from record labels, so the band returned to the studio to develop new material. In early 1998, “Slipknot” produced a second demo exclusively for record labels, featuring five tracks. The band began receiving the attention they were seeking, and by late June of 1998 “Slipknot” was offered a deal from “Roadrunner Records”, which they took; and the rest is history.
Joey Jordison came up with some of “Slipknot’s” most known symbolisms. He was the one who coined the fans as “maggots” for the first time. He was responsible for creating the “SlipKnoT” logo, which was inspired on one of his favorite bands logo – “KoRn”. He also came up with “Slipknot’s” tribal “S” symbol that he has drawn all over his drums and cymbals.
Joey Jordison has recorded 5 albums as “Slipknot’s” drummer. In 1999 they released their self-titled album, certified platinum in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Two years later they released “Iowa”, attaining platinum certification in the United States, Australia, and Canada. After a brief hiatus, “Slipknot” released “Vol.3 – Subliminal Verses” in 2004. This album was certified platinum in the United States and Canada, and certified gold in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia. In 2005 Joey Jordison produced “Slipknot’s” first live album – “9.0: Live”, which reached gold certification in the United States. In 2008 “Slipknot” released “All Hope is Gone” having sold more than 14 million copies worldwide. Joey Jordison played drums for “Slipknot’s” demo album released in 1996 called “Mate.Kill.Feed.Repeat.”, and also mixed the album.
With each studio album “Slipknot” has released a video album in DVD format. “Welcome to Our Neighborhood” was the first one, being released in 1999. This DVD was followed by “Disasterpieces” in 2002, “Voliminal: Inside the Nine” in 2006, and “(sic)nesses” in 2010. All of these DVDs achieved platinum certification.
Joey Jordison along with “Slipknot”, have been nominated for a total of 43 awards – Echo Awards (1), Grammy Awards (7), MTV Europe Music Awards (1), MTV Europe Music Awards (1), NME Awards (3), Fuse Awards (2), Kerrang! Awards (20), Metal Hammer Golden God Awards (4), Revolver Golden Gods Awards (2), and Total Guitar Readers Awards (2) – from which they have won 16 – Grammy Awards (1), Kerrang! Awards (8), Metal Hammer Golden God Awards (3), Revolver Golden Gods Awards (2), and Total Guitar Readers Awards (2).
Joey Jordison has performed with “Slipknot” on television shows like “Late Show with David Letterman”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, “Late Night with Conan O’ Brien”, and in numerous high-profile music festivals like the “Download Festival”, “Sonisphere”, “Rock in Rio Lisboa (Lisbon)”, and “Ozzfest”.
During the 2001 “Ozzfest” tour “Slipknot” were a part of, Joey Jordison met Tripp Eisen, then Static-X guitarist. Joey invited Eisen to reform “The Rejects”, Joey’s former band. Eisen accepted the invitation, and thus, during “Slipknot’s” first hiatus – mid-2002 to mid-2003 – reformed “The Rejects” with Joey on guitar and the band’s original vocalist Dizzy Draztik. Dizzy introduced Joey Jordison to the music of the “Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13”, a horror punk band fronted by vocalist “Wednesday 13”. Eisen persuaded the band to invite “Wednesday 13” to play with “The Rejects”. “Wednesday 13” eventually joined the band as a bassist on November of 2001. By 2002 he had already moved to main singer after Dizzy was dropped from the project. The name of the band was subsequently changed from “The Rejects” to the “Murderdolls”.
Joey Jordison has recorded and produced 2 albums and 1 EP with the “Murderdolls”. The first album was launched in 2002 and named “Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls”. The EP – “Right to Remain Violent” – was released to promote the launch of the first album. Following a hiatus of 6 years, the band reunited in 2010 to record and launch their second effort – “Women and Children Last”. For this album Joey contributed with all drum and percussion tracks, and with some bass, guitar, and back vocal tracks. He’s also responsible for making the cover art for the album.
Besides playing with the “Murderdolls” and “Slipknot”, Joey Jordison has also worked as a touring musician, and has collaborated with other bands and artists in their music. In 2001, Joey Jordison worked on a remix of “The Fight Song” by “Marilyn Manson”, and made a cameo in the music video for Manson’s cover of “Tainted Love”. In that same year Joey did some guitar work for a track that did not appear on “Marilyn Manson’s” album “The Golden Age of Grotesque”. In 2004, Joey Jordison contributed with his drumming for 6 of the tracks on “OTEP’s” album “House of Secrets”. In that same year Joey and Dave Lombardo – drummer for “Slayer” – saved “Metallica’s” performance on the “Download Festival” by subbing for Lars Ulrich, who fell ill just before the show. After a frantic rehearsal before the show, both drummers took the stage with the band, creating a memorable moment in music history. Dave played the first 2 songs of the set, Lars drum tech played “Fade to Black”, and Joey played the remaining 9 songs of the set. This came to be known as the night Joey Jordison saved the “Download Festival”.
Later that year, Joey Jordison performed with Norwegian black metal band “Satyricon” when their drummer was refused entry into the United States to tour the country with the band. In 2006, Joey joined “Ministry” for their “MasterBaTour 2006”, which consisted of 60 dates across the United States and Canada. “Korn” recruited Joey Jordison in 2007 to join them on tour when drummer David Silveria went on hiatus from the band. While touring with “Korn”, Joey set a record by becoming the first musician to ever perform on 5 different occasions at the “Download Festival”. In 2008, Jordison appeared on “Puscifer’s” album “V is for Viagra: The Vagina Remixes”, with a remix of the track “Drunk With Power”. In 2010, Joey Jordison recorded 4 additional songs for the re-release of “Rob Zombie’s” latest album “Hellbilly Deluxe 2”, and toured as his drummer at the “Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival”.
Music is Joey’s passion and the only thing he does besides playing video games. So it was only natural that he found in music production another great outlet for his creativity. After producing the first “Murderdolls” album in 2002, in August of 2004 Joey Jordison was selected as one of 4 “team captains” responsible for writing and production music for the album “Roadrunner United”, a celebration of “Roadrunner Records'” 25th anniversary.
“I thought it was a great idea and was really excited about it, because it was a chance to work with a lot of artists that I really respected while I was growing up.” — Joey Jordison on producing music for “Roadrunner United”.
Joey Jordison is a fan of the band “3 Inches of Blood”. So, when in 2007 he heard that “Roadrunner” wanted the band to have some demos produced, he jumped right at it. From the demos he produced, the label commissioned a record. Joey Jordison was then invited by “3 Inches of Blood” to continue working with them on their album – “Fire Up the Blades”.
“Pearl” and “Pro-Mark” have both released Joey Jordison signature products – the Pearl “Joey Jordison Signature Snare Drum” and “Pro-Mark’s” “Joey Jordison 515 Hickory Autograph Series Stick” and “Joey Jordison 515 Oak Autograph Series Stick”.
On August of 2010, Joey Jordison was announced as being the best drummer of the past 25 years by “Rhythm Magazine”. This decision was accomplished by a pole on the magazine’s website, which drew around 100.000 votes. Joey beat off drummers like Dave Grohl, Travis Barker, Steve Gadd, Mike Portnoy, Gavin Harrison, Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland, and Thomas Lang, just to name a few.
“I’m at a loss for words. This is beyond unbelievable. Something like this reminds me every day why I continue to do this.” — Joey Jordison on winning “Rhythm Magazine’s” pole.
Heavy metal music can be badly perceived by people estrange to the style. Drummers that play this music aren’t even regarded as musicians by some, who state they lack any dynamic playing, groove, and feel, being only able to play with power and speed. However, to make an honest judgement of what these drummers are playing, you have to go beyond the drum set parts and look at the music as a whole. That way, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how what they play really adds to the musicality of the songs, and to the feel and groove. Looking at the music of “Slipknot”, with Joey Jordison behind the drum set, will show exactly how awesomely played and technical heavy metal can be.
Most heavy styles of music are frantic in nature. The music is intense, fast, furious, and really powerful and energetic. So, the first requisites a drummer needs to be able to play heavy metal music is speed and endurance. Let’s face it, you may be the fastest drummer in the world, but if you can only use your speed for 10 seconds you won’t be that much useful for a heavy metal band looking to play gigs that last more than 1 hour. Joey Jordison is an extremely fast player, but more important than his speed is his endurance and the ability to stay in time, without slowing down or rushing. So as you can see, speed is a must, simply because it’s required by the style of music.
Because of the high level of speed and power a drummer must inject into the music to keep it grooving, it’s hard to add any sort of dynamic intricacies to the drum parts. Joey Jordison uses some very cool tricks to do so. Instead of playing stale cymbal rhythms on all quarter notes or 8th notes throughout a whole song, Joey likes to add some syncopation to it, spreading his hits through different cymbals. A good example of this can be heard on the song “Gematria (The Killing Name)” from “All Hope is Gone”. In the last chorus of the song Joey plays counts 1, 2 and 4 on the first bar with a china, and adds a unison stroke between a crash and the snare to accent a guitar part on count 3. On the second bar he changes the feel of the chorus completely by playing what it feels like an off-beat china groove. However, he’s actually playing counts 1 and 3 on the crash and counts 2 and 4 on the china. The half-time feel he’s playing is what gives the off-beat feel to the china rhythm. Another cool example of his way of creating diversity by using different cymbals, can be heard in the song “Left Behind” from the album “Iowa”. In the bridge section Joey Jordison plays a very cool syncopated groove between closed hi-hat, open hi-hat, and splash cymbals. He’s also a fan of using fast cymbals and bells to add different textures to his grooves and fills.
Another way Joey Jordison finds to add diversity to his playing comes from comping his band mates rhythms with double bass runs, accents on cymbals, and patterns on the toms. He doesn’t play fast double bass just for the sake of it. He uses this facility of his remarkably, creating different feels and rhythms figures that better suit a song. Looking at “The Blister Exists” from “Vol.3 – The Subliminal Verses” we have examples of all of this. In the intro of the song you can hear Joey playing three different grooves that make the song progress to the verse section with an increasingly level of intensity. He starts things of by comping the guitar parts with sparse cymbal and tom hits, with the 2 other percussionists in the band playing unison figures, which create a thicker sound. After that sequence, he plays some double bass runs that complement the rhythms on the guitar perfectly. The opened hi-hat is also added, giving the groove a forward motion to it. The last phase of the intro sees Joey playing a mix of the the first two grooves. The guitar riffs are being comped on the bass drum, and the main accents played on the guitar are accompanied on the toms.
This song is also a very good example of how technical and creative Joey Jordison can be. Regarding technique, in the second verse of the song we can listen to Joey’s playing this incredibly fast and clean double bass run. This comes to show why Joey is one of the fastest double bass players in the world today. In the breakdown section of the song, Joey Jordison plays a small, creative solo with a very cool snare drum pattern, combined with some cymbal, tom, and bass drum hits. This is a very creative pattern.
Joey’s use of blast beats is also very creative. The song “Three Nil” from “Vol.3 – The Subliminal Verses” has a strange intro. Joey Jordison plays a fast blast beat in that section that feels like it shouldn’t be played there. This creates a very schizophrenic feel with the guitar parts being played. By using a very common type of beat in heavy metal music in a different way, Joey created a feel of unease in the song. Another creative way of approaching song making, and of recycling very common grooves one already knows.
As you have seen from these examples, musicality can be achieved in a lot of different ways even in heavy metal music. It’s possible to have a very fast and clean playing with interesting rhythmic figures and orchestrations. Joey is a very musical and creative player when it comes to this style of music. He’s leaving proof that heavy metal drumming can be musical and dynamic, and really expressive. The way he plays coupled with the way he lives music on stage has made him one of the most popular drummers in the world today. The man lives and breaths his music on stage, headbanging like a maniac while playing at incredible and demanding speeds.