The Origin Behind Why Slipknot Wear Masks

Corey Taylor Photo by Michael Campanella/Redferns (via Getty Images) / Shawn "Clown" Crahan Photo by Kevin Nixon/Classic Rock Magazine/Future via Getty Images/Future via Getty Images
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Have you ever wondered why the members of Slipknot wear masks?

The band formed in 1995, and while the metal community fell in love with their 1999 studio album debut, they were equally captivated by the band’s appearance.

In the late ’90s and early aughts, there was no other band that looked as eerie as Slipknot. The band wore jumpsuits and masks, with each member wearing their own unique mask, such as Corey Taylor‘s “raggedy doll-like” mask and Shawn “Clown” Crahan‘s clown mask. This visual presentation would end up becoming an important part of the band’s craft.

Well before the days of Slipknot’s formation though, Crahan developed a fascination for masks.

Per a past appearance on the BBC2’s program Artsnight, the Slipknot percussionist talked about coming across a clown mask when he was 14 and the impact it had on him (the following was transcribed by Rolling Stone):

“I had gotten a version of this mask when I was 14. I just never knew why it was in my world but it was always around me. Then one day, it just so happened, it was that moment of clarity to decide what I want to project. This thing has no fuckin’ limits.”

But when did the band as a whole start to wear masks? Well, the origin behind that story dates back to 1995.

Per a past feature with Metal Hammer, Crahan talked about a Halloween show the band played that year where he decided to rock a mask.

Speaking to this moment in time, Crahan shared: “We were all going around the room asking, ‘What are you going to wear?’ I pulled up the clown mask I had and said, ‘I’m wearing this’.”

He continues, “A few of them were like, ‘No fucking way. You can’t be the only guy wearing some stupid mask.’ So I said, ‘I really don’t care what you think, this is who I am and this is what I’m going to do.’ So here we are all these years later…”

The rest of the band eventually warmed up to this idea and were inspired to rock their own masks. Per Taylor, the act of wearing masks became an essential component of the band’s artistry.

Talking to Steve-O (during a past conversation on the Jackass star’s podcast), Taylor shared the following regarding the band’s masks (the following was transcribed by Metal Castle):

“In the beginning, it was cool that nobody really knew who we were. And the reason that we wore the masks wasn’t for anonymity or anything really, it was all part of this artistic vision that we had. And part of it was the shock value, but at the same time, it lent itself to the artistic stylings that we were trying to kind of go for. It was almost like a uniform, we were the anti-image. […] It was basically almost like an anti-establishment thing.”

Do you consider the band’s masks to be an essential component of their art? What is your favorite Slipknot mask?

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