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Photos by JD Punisher Photography (Brisbane)

Richie Black Photography (Melbourne)

As a massive Slipknot fan the one thing I was kicking myself about after the very first Knotfest Australia last year was the fact I didn’t get a chance to check out the Knotfest Museum that is a featured – but separate – part of the travelling metal extravaganza.

But that all changed this year when HEAVY was presented the opportunity to take a sneak peak behind the curtains in both Melbourne and Brisbane, with Brisbane having the added bonus that I was allowed to take my two young daughters for a look inside the world of the band that they have been listening to since before they were born.

The first thing we saw as we entered the sacred room of the Nine was the welcoming smile of Knotfest Museum Global Curator Caelin, who is the person responsible for bringing Maggots the world over a rare and exclusive look inside the minds and world of the Iowan metal machine that is known as Slipknot.

Dressed as a circus ringleader of sorts, Caelin acted as tour guide, host and walking Slipknot encyclopedia for the duration of our visit and was more than happy to answer any questions we had (and believe me, there were many).

As we entered the mood was set instantly by the sweet sounds of Slipknot exploding from two mounted speakers from the top corners of the room, set at a volume which, while definitely loud enough to ensure you knew exactly where you were and why you were there, was not excessively loud so as to cause discomfort. To the left was a simple one-seater couch with a small table and lamp decorated by fairy lights which was warm and welcoming but also as soft as it was going to get.

With next year being the 25th anniversary of Slipknot, Caelin had decided this year’s theme was albums from throughout the band’s career and Iowa was the first to be represented, announced by a large, full-colour wall flag featuring the album cover and nothing else.

Not wanting to be Left Behind at this early stage we moved on to the first viewing area which featured a range of floor toms and snares, all Tattered & Torn from obvious use. One of the road cases sat Gently to the side sporting a sticker that read Jesus Fucks, which I happily took on board with Easter just around the corner, although I’m not too sure the girl’s mother (who is now a Christian) saw the funny or educational side of it…

We came across the first of many full-colour pull-up banners featuring individual band members, with, of course, Corey Taylor up first. Next to his image stood an old red Slipknot jumpsuit with the goat head emblazoned on the pocket area, with an old roadcase next door featuring several worn uniforms and stage attire.

I must point out here that although the exhibits are roped off the barrier is only minimal and set out more to let you know that this space is a no-go zone area. There are no Danger – Keep Away signs or people hovering over your shoulder waiting to Liberate anyone who dares get a little over-excited by being so close to actual items used by the band on and off stage.

Moving on we come across one of my personal highlights of the museum, with the bottom corner of the room dedicated to the late Paul Gray. I admit to giving some thought before entering as to how this sensitive slice of Slipknot history would be presented. Paul’s music and life touched many people from all walks of life and while his legacy will endure forever the way in which his life and art is honoured will always be up to individual interpretation.

Which is why the section of the Slipknot Museum dedicated to his memory was perfectly set out.

It was no bigger than any area set aside for different albums or band members. There were no memorials or signs of loss, rather a simple – yet beautifully powerful – roped-off area featuring Paul’s signature red Ibanez PVB bass delicately leant against his Peavey amp with his mask placed lovingly atop. There was no fanfare or flashing lights, just the way Paul would have wanted it. It provided a deeply moving and personal experience that could be shared or kept intimate depending on the individual and something that will live forever in the hearts of any Maggot privileged enough to bear witness.

Next up we were made to feel Welcome by a large wall flag of Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses which featured a large display of past band masks from different album cycles, made even more sinister by flashing lights that gave off an eery and ominous vibe. The showcase also featured stencils of varying logos and collector’s pieces including a full-face Slipknot motorcycle helmet (which reminded of the time I was pulled over while wearing my open-faced Slipknot helmet and fined because – in the Copper’s exact words -“it’s not fit to even be a skateboard helmet”) and a rare Clown mask with him sporting a striking pink mohawk. Each mask was tagged with a readable information piece highlighting the date of inception so fans old and new could appreciate the timeline of events that bit more.

The Duality and contrast on display was mind blowing, with the attention to detail enough to provide even the staunchest of Maggot’s new and exciting information about the band and their history. And if not, Caelin was never far from earshot to fill in the blanks.

Next to the mask case was one of Clown‘s drum set-ups, the one that is often seen floating somehow in mid-air during the live set and pummeled repeatedly by Clown’s baseball bat that has found a new home hitting objects much larger than the regulation baseball.

One of our touring party, Simon, studied the set-up more closely, before smiling and saying “I always wondered how these were mounted”, and trust me, this guy is a Slipknot buff so if he didn’t know, not many would. However, I refuse to be a Critical Darling and spoil the surprise so you will just have to visit the Museum yourself next time to find out the magical mechanisms of the floating drums.

Just when we thought All Hope Is Gone, another member of our party Jimmy, being a musician himself, spotted three guitars – one bass and two guitars – sat proudly in their respective stands and connected as though ready to play.

Thinking Caelin might .Execute him just for asking, Jimmy Skeptic (ly) approached her and asked if they were set up for punters to play and the Red Flag went down immediately when she smiled and said ‘of course’. I have never seen the big fella so happy outside of a Krispy Kreme donut shop as he slung Jim Root’s guitar over his shoulder and set about ripping into action.

Each guitar is owned and played by RootMick Thompson or V-Man, with all amped up with the quad cortex set to emulate the exact sounds each member hears on stage. Earphones are also provided meaning that when a hack like myself decides to have a play no one is tortured by the sounds of screaming cats as they are tossed into the river inside a hessian sack.

Even my 9-year-old daughter Scarlett – who has recently started learning bass – strapped up and had a crack, with the look of delight plastered so lovingly across her face as she heard the fully amplified version of what she could one day accomplish enough to make my aspirations of her possibly joining Griffon Taylor and Simon Crahan‘s band one day suddenly not as insurmountable as they previously had been.

Plus, as an added bonus, personalized Jim Root guitar picks were available to sweeten the experience, and if you are lucky Caelin might even let you pocket one before you leave.

But don’t tell her I said that…

Not wanting the experience to end and wondering What’s Next, we moved towards the centre of the room where a monstrous metal creation beckoned menacingly.

For those who don’t know (and if you are reading this I seriously doubt it’s you), Clown is a creative genius, not only proving chaotic violence and mayhem to Slipknot’s live performances but also directing video clips, designing set pieces and generally taking over the world from an artistic perspective one beautiful mess at a time.

Whispers have been circulating for some time about a new piece of art he has been working on, and now, for the first time ever on public display, that work was completed and ready for global consumption. I must admit to having not one inch of artistic appreciation anywhere in my body, but this strange and beautifully twisted mass of metal before me was strangely alluring.

Put it this way, it was definitely no Disasterpiece.

The creation, labelled Patiently Awaiting Jigsaw, was as engaging as it was compelling, made up of assorted chains, farm machinery and other sporadic pieces of twisted metal that gave it a haunting Mad Max type feel and provided another glimpse into the Psycosocial mind that is Shawn Crahan.

Close by was an oversized road case with labelled pull-out draws that housed each member’s stage gear ranging from shoes and socks to drumsticks and other items of interest. This was another accessible feature open to Museum goers who were afforded the opportunity to open each drawer and study the contents.

Suddenly I had this unnerving feeling of someone watching me as I closed the last draw and looked around straight into the eyes of Mick Thompson (actually, it was his personalized banner but those eyes are freaky as fuck whether they are in the flesh or on canvas). To his left stood a massive guitar roadcase, housing five guitars as played by the band and looking like they were side of stage and ready for use.

V-Man’s banner stood to the opposite side of Mick’s, the two of them forming a guard of menace over the solitary and mesmerising item that sat atop the guitar case. 

Clown’s custom-made gold mask.  This was another of the major Museum highlights for me and, as far as I know, was featured in Australia on public display and outside of Clown’s home for the first time ever.

And so I wanted to keep it. 

But with a price tag of US 25k and made of solid white gold the chances of inhabiting the same space were unexpected and rare, so the chance of close contact was even less. But why be The Negative One in the room when there’s so much more to enjoy?

Caelin must have been able to feel My Pain as she ushered us onto the next album, We Are Not Your Kind.

Directly next to the album cover sat a display case with a glass panel which housed more guitars and masks, but what stood out more than everything else was a set of gloves atop two red baseball bats that had been used to smash more home runs than Babe Ruth. They were both dinted almost beyond recognition and I swear I could see fading blood stains on one of them but forgot to ask Caelin if they actually were.

Passing a banner featuring Jim Root we came across a well-lit area with the cover of Slipknot’s debut album in life-sized glory set in front of a mounted camera that looked like it was set up and ready to provide a Goodbye snap of you and the foundation members of Slipknot.

Which it was, but also featured an instant download feature that enabled you to scan a code and have your future prized possession delivered directly to your phone or mobile device. I’m about as technologically advanced as a Stegosauras but luckily my youngest girl Katana was on hand to show Daddy Dinosaur how to upload a photo to ensure he didn’t leave thinking all People = Shit.

An image of Tortilla Man behind a green floor matt emblazoned with the ouji board picture that graced Slipknot’s self-titled debut album was on hand to escort us to the Museum Finale, but not before Scarlett surprisingly and suddenly dropped to the floor and sat directly where the séance conductor would normally take their place before summoning forth evil spirits. She smiled lovingly back at me and at that moment I knew I had to Be Prepared For Hell when her Mother looked over and saw what was going on.

Unfortunately Everything Ends, but Before I Forget here’s a few important facts about the Slipknot Museum for you.

Every Knotfest worldwide features this sensational glimpse into the world of Slipknot, with tickets available from the exhibit on the day (at a more than reasonable price). Punters are allowed to take photos and video, with each Museum specifically curated by Caelin to suit band milestones, achievements and/or geographical location.

Each Knotfest run of festivals in different countries and continents features fresh and mostly rare displays of Slipknot memorabilia, with three full warehouses of goodies carefully and lovingly scoured each time to present the best and most comprehensive display of Slipknot memories anywhere in the world.

And finally, before the Butchers Hook comes out, you can take as much time as you want exploring the Slipknot Museum with each visit.

In the words of Caelin herself, “I respect fans too much to put a time limit on it.”

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