In Memorium, Rock You To Death: An Interview with Murderdolls Guitarist, Joey Jordison

Joey jordison murderdolls
Joey Jordison (Center) WithThe Murderdolls in 2003 (Image Source)

Musician Joey Jordison, best known as the legendary original drummer for Slipknot, and guitarist for The Murderdolls, passed away on Monday, July 26th, 2021 from the neurological disease transverse myelitis, which he had suffered with for many years.  This is very sad news, not only because Joey was an extremely talented musician, but because he was a cool guy who was just too young to go.

This interview, which was conducted in person by me for the now defunct MK Ultra Magazine, took place in 2003, while Jordison was doing press for The Murderdoll’s debut, Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls. I pulled this from my archives this morning, to re-post here on The ‘Gig.  It is not available in its complete form anywhere else on the web, so I thought it would be a nice remembrance for the enjoyment of Joey’s fans, and those who loved him. Goodspeed, Joey.

Rock You To Death

An Interview with Murderdolls Guitarist, Joey Jordison

By Gail Worley

The most important lesson I learned from conducting the following interview with Murderdolls guitarist Joey Jordison is to never, ever do an interview in a conference room that has no ceiling, especially when the floor outside said conference room is a highly polished wood floor. Because here’s what happens whenever someone walks by the room: not only does your tape recorder pick up the clomp-clomp-clomping of their shoes as they walk the hallway, but the echo from their clomping footsteps rises up over the walls of the room in which you’re trying to do the interview, creating an echo chamber wherein, upon playback of the recorded tape, every single one of my questions and every single one of his answers sounds like the chorus to a Morbid Angel song. Live and learn.

Best known as the diminutive, Kabuki-masked, powerhouse drummer for multi-platinum selling extreme metal band, Slipknot, the 27 year old Jordison is, in person, about as far removed from his perceived Slipknot persona as you can possibly imagine. In fact, it’s difficult to reconcile the striking images of his impenetrable Slipknot mask or ghoulish Murderdolls make-up with Jordison’s adorable baby face that’s relatively unmarked, save for two bar piercings where his now-shaved left eyebrow once was, and a small ring through his right nostril.

Appearances, it is said, can be deceiving. Nevertheless, image is important to Joey. “I can’t find a happy medium as far as make-up for the Murderdolls,” he tells me. “Sometimes I go on stage with hardly any, and a lot of people like that. Then other people go, ‘Oh man, you need more. You need to look like a freak, a scary guy.’ Then I’ll put all the really weird stuff on.” For Jordison and his Murderdolls band mates (Singer Wednesday 13, bassist Eric Griffin, drummer Ben “The Ghoul” Graves, and second guitarist Acey Slade, who recently replaced Tripp Eisen) the “Less is more” philosophy has no meaning. “Less than one percent of the whole population of the world gets to do what we do, and have success at it,” he emphasizes, “So we’ve just got to go for [the extreme look].”

Murderdolls was spawned from Jordison’s attempt to reform The Rejects, a trash-rock band he had before Slipknot. “The Rejects was already in full-swing, basically, when I brought Wednesday into the band,” Joey explains. “He and I started writing songs, [because] I wrote all the songs in the Rejects and I wanted a songwriting partner. When I brought him in, our sound started to change a little bit, because he had a lot of songs that I really liked.” Since Joey was a fan of Frankenstein Drag Queens, Wednesday’s former band, the decision was made to take the best from both worlds. Merging what the Rejects were doing with the glam/goth essence of Frankenstein Drag Queens, Murderdolls was born. And what a beautiful, dark, ass-kicking rock creation it is.

Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls, the band’s phenomenal debut album, is surely destined to stand out amid the overwhelming glut of mind-numbing idiot rock and false metal plaguing “Modern Rock” radio and print media in the year 2002. From an enthralling first spin, the Murderdolls album inspires one to wonder what Marilyn Manson might have been capable of, based on Portrait of an American Family, if he hadn’t started to take himself so seriously, infused with a slightly camp, goth version of 80’s metal, like what Taime Downe did when he cross-bred his industrial band, Newlydeads, with a revamped Faster Pussycat. Song titles like “Grave Robbing, U.S.A.” and “She was a Teenage Zombie” of course, will conjure images of Rob Zombie’s tongue in cheek horror flick obsession. Jordison would agree with those observations.

“Faster Pussycat was the whole reason I went to see Kiss on the Hot In The Shade Tour,” he enthuses. “As far as the 80’s scene, I wasn’t into a lot of the ‘hair bands.’ I really didn’t like the fact that it was so much about fashion, but Faster Pussycat was more dirty, more funky, more sleazy than a lot of other bands, and their songs were really catchy. “Also,” he continues, “we get a lot of comparisons, as far as the record that we just put out, to the La Sexorcista record from White Zombie — before they went industrial, back when it was still more rock & roll.” And anything that’s rock & roll is all good with Joey.

In this exclusive interview, Joey Jordison spoke candidly about his fellow Murderdolls and what they bring to the band’s sound, why he thinks Nu Metal may be on the way out, horror movies as creative inspiration, and how the Murderdolls rocked an episode of Dawson’s Creek. Check it out; clearly there is nothing to fear.

Gail Worley: Wednesday did an awesome 20 Questions interview with and revealed that he dug all this obscure and cheesy 80’s glam hair metal. He seems like a pretty cool guy.

Joey Jordison: Wednesday is awesome. He’s an encyclopedia of the 80’s scene. I mean, that’s what he grew up on, ya know? “If they didn’t fucking look cool, I wouldn’t buy it.” That’s his thing, but he’s younger than me, too. He names bands – he knows everything about them – and comes up with shit that I’ve never even heard of. That dude, he knows his shit, that’s for sure. I was more into the thrash and the speed metal, though there are definitely specific 80’s bands that I like.

GW: Since Tripp left the band and was replaced by Acey from Dope are you gradually taking all of Dope’s guitarists?

JJ: No, I mean, yeah I know it does sound weird and I’ll tell you what, I like Dope. Their drummer, Racci (Shay) who used to play in the Genitorturers, used to be in The Rejects, which evolved into the Murderdolls. So Racci used to play with me as well, before he joined Dope. It’s not intentional that I’m [after guys in] Dope, but I thought they were a really good band. Acey and Wednesday have been friends forever. Wednesday actually kept in touch with Acey more than he did with Tripp, even when Tripp was in the band. Plus, Acey and I got along so well, and we like a lot of the same bands, so it’s a mutual thing. When we were out on the Dope tour, every morning I had a different rock shirt on and he didn’t expect that from me, playing in a bludgeoning heavy metal band [like Slipknot], so we hit it off. When it became obvious that Tripp could no longer be in the band, he was the only guy that I thought of [as a replacement].

GW: He’s got the image, that’s for sure.

JJ: He fucking rules dude! He’s got great energy on stage and he’s just so nice, such a polite guy. Acey rules!

GW: Is there any truth to the rumor that you picked your bassist, Eric Griffin, not on his bass playing talent, but on the fact his hair looked like Nikki Sixx?

JJ: (Laughs) Noooo! I did say that I hired him on the fact that he looked cool, but people take that too seriously. He did send an audition tape, him and Ben. I did think he looked cool as fuck but it’s not a Nikki Sixx thing at all, and he didn’t really look like that when I met him. But I made a joke about that and now obviously everyone really thinks that’s the case.

GW: I was actually just kidding, but I love Nikki Sixx.

JJ: Yeah, and Eric’s a good-looking kid.

GW: Here’s a good quote from another interview you did: “I think a lot of kids will be medicated by this record, because it’s not just another record with depressing lyrics…everything can’t be so heavy and depressed all the time.” Would you like to elaborate on that?

JJ: Yeah, well, as you know – and everyone knows, and people who try and deny it, that’s bullshit – I hate this term “Nu Metal,” [but in that] scene, most of the lyrics are about alienation, trauma, personal problems, you know what I mean? All of this depressing childhood stuff and that’s cool, there’s nothing wrong with that. But with this record, and with there being so much of that out there – just that sound of nu metal and those lyrics and that formula – I was like, man, let’s put some fun back into this. Let’s fuck shit up again. I think [nu metal]’s almost gotten to the point where it’s really stale. Once a scene gets really big, it usually starts to die. Not that I’m dissing that scene or whatever, because of what I’m doing with Slipknot… though I don’t consider Slipknot to be nu metal because we are so extreme. [The point is] it’s okay to come to our show and – we get this all the time from kids – say, “Oh, I had fun at this show!” It’s cool to see kids slamming and singing along with “Grave Robbing USA.” Our lyrics are, like, funny. The song usually makes us laugh or has a really dark twisted sense of humor to it. That’s the way we write our songs.

GW: How collaborative is your song writing?

JJ: Wednesday and I write all the music. Like, “People Hate Me” I wrote that whole song myself, but then there’s songs, like “Twist My Sister,” that Wednesday wrote. Songs like “Dead In Hollywood” or “Slit My Wrists” we collaborated 50/50 on, but we write all of the stuff ourselves.

GW: Speaking of the song “Dawn of The Dead,” you did much more justice to that movie than the Misfits. How influential are various films on your songwriting?

JJ: Granted, we do carry that element, for sure, but I don’t want people to think that we’re like the Misfits, where every song has a horror movie title and is specifically about horror. We’re not like that. Songs like “Slit My Wrists,” “People Hate Me,” “Let’s Go To War,” “Motherfucker I Don’t Care” – those aggro songs have nothing to do with horror movies.

dawn of the dead quotes
Image Source

JJ: I don’t want people to think that every one of our songs has to do with that, but songs like “Dawn of the Dead” or “Dead in Hollywood” do have to do with…well, “Dawn of the Dead” is straight up about the (George) Romero film. That whole chorus, “When there’s no more room in Hell/The dead will walk the earth…”

GW: Is from the movie poster.

JJ: That’s from the poster, yeah. How cool is that? We’ve got the Quiet Riot breakdown in the middle, where it’s just the drums and it’s just that chorus, and kids will sing along to it live, and they kind of catch themselves – like “What am I singing along to here?” – and it’s funny!

GW: It’s very anthemic.

JJ: Exactly! It’s hokey and it’s infectious. It’s like when you listen to a Ramones album, you don’t have to sit there and dissect it and feel like it’s hard to get into. It’s a fun record and it never gets old! It’s like, timeless. That’s how we try and write our songs. Humor goes a long way, a lot of people forget that.

GW: Yeah, and as long as a song isn’t too topical, as long as there’s some humor or romance infused in it, it’ll last.

JJ: Yeah, sure absolutely.

GW: Like that song “Die My Bride,” some people might think it’s offensive or anti -woman or something, but it’s fucking funny, and if you keep it in context, it’s a love song.

JJ: Sure, “I’d rather cut you than the wedding cake…” I love that song, that’s one of my favorite ones.

GW: I saw a picture of you in Kerrang wearing a Mercyful Fate shirt. Are you a big fan of that band?

JJ: Fuuuck! Huge huge fan. I have a bunch of Mercyful Fate shirts and I bring them with me on the road. I’m a huge King Diamond fan.

GW: Would you consider Melissa and Don’t Break The Oath to be two metal masterpieces?

JJ: Absolutely, hands down! But my favorite Merciful Fate song is “Doomed By The Living Dead,” and that’s not on either one of those albums. It’s on Beginnings, which is like a compilation, a best of. I’m a huge, huge Mercyful Fate fan.

GW: You’re a pretty young guy. Did you have an older brother or sister who turned you on to all this good music you’re into?

JJ: No, I’m the oldest in my family, so my parents got me into music. Instead of sitting me in front of the TV when I was young, they would sit me in front of the record player and play Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Rolling Stones, Mott The Hoople, all those bands. From the time I was five years old, I was rockin’ it. My parents rocked. Oh fuck, it if wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing this. [Note: at this point in the interview, Joey’s lunch arrives, and some of his answers are obscured by the sound of chewing.]

GW: And you’ve played guitar since you were ten?

JJ: I started playing with a guitar I had at my grandpa’s house at about age six or seven…no, five. I have pictures of me at four years old, holding a guitar, at my grandpa’s house, with him playing piano. He was a big piano player, an awesome piano player. I was really just drawn to [becoming a musician] because there was so much music around my family.

GW: Who are some guitarists you admired when you were started to play?

JJ: See, the players I like, it’s not necessarily about if they could really shred, it’s not about that, to me. It’s more like guys who hit a chord, and you can feel it. Like, Ace Frehley, Johnny Thunder or Steve Jones, they’re all big influences on me. Maybe they’re not the greatest guitar players, but their attitude that they project through the guitar is fucking phenomenal, and they’re legends for it. Tracii Guns was a big influence, as far as my guitar playing. He was one of the guys that shunned that whole hair metal thing, first. When everyone was doing the big hair, when it was at its peak, he was the first guy to shave a mohawk and cut his hair short and not wear make-up. I thought that was cool.

GW: Well, Tracii Guns is actually quite an accomplished musician.

JJ: Fuck, he is! He can do it all! He’s amazing, that guy.

GW: I understand the band just filmed an episode of Dawson’s Creek; what was that like?

JJ: It was cool, you know. We’re on their Halloween special, and we’re the band, basically, at this Goth club that everyone goes to. We played three songs: “Dead In Hollywood,” “Love at First Fright” and “197666.” We really fit the part for it, and we definitely changed the atmosphere of that show, at least for one episode. People are like, “Dawson’s Creek, what the fuck?” I’ve never seen the show but if people don’t understand that we’re trying to spread our music out to a wider audience, then maybe they’re not a fan in the first place. We’re just trying to get exposed to as many people as possible. Like I said, I’ve never seen the show, none of us have, but I hear it’s really, like, a big show. (Looking at his Subway Spicy Italian foot-long sandwich) I can’t eat all this.

GW: Well, how can you refuse to do a nationally syndicated TV show? You’d have to be nuts to turn that down.

JJ: Exactly. Amen.

Joey jordison slipknot drummer
Joey Onstage with Slipknot

GW: Did people in the cast come up to you and ask for autographs?

JJ: The extras did, cause there were a lot of extras that were fans of the band, but not really the cast. Actually, all the producers did as well, but I didn’t even see Katie Holmes. That James Van DerBeek guy, I saw him. He was digging it.

GW: Is Murderdolls going to continue to be something you work on to the exclusion of Slipknot, given the fact that Stone Sour, Corey’s new band, has also released a CD and is touring?

JJ: Yeah, absolutely. When I do something, I don’t really do it half-assed. I do it all the way and I’m in it for the long haul, “In it to win it,” so to speak. The Stone Sour stuff is like more the nu metal thing – but with ballads that are more melodic – but we’re like “Die My Bride,” “Twist My Sister,” “Slit My Wrists”…we’re not like that, you know? I don’t even have to say it; we’re just completely different bands. I wish Corey all the luck and I’m glad he’s doing well, but as far as going for it and staying with Murderdolls, we’re going to put out another album and try and take it as far as possible, while I have time.

GW: I heard you might also be doing a side project with Killjoy from Necrophagia?

JJ: Yeah, well, Killjoy and I were talking about me playing drums on the new Necrophagia album, but I couldn’t work that into my schedule because of what I was doing with Murderdolls, because I was already way committed. We talked about doing this project called Hell Pig, but I really can’t give you any specific information because we haven’t talked about any sort of dates or anything like that. But I’d really like to work with Killjoy in the future and we’re definitely going to try and do something, that’s for sure. Right now, I have other plans.

GW: What is your favorite movie and what is the scariest film you’ve ever seen?

JJ: Probably my favorite movie, and this is just because my Dad took me to see it when I was five years old, is Star Wars. But as far as horror movies, it’s not necessarily that it’s the scariest movie, but, man, when it came out it really turned the scene upside down, and this also would be the equivalent as far as my favorite horror film, that was definitely The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the first one. That movie is like, so sick and, hands down, my favorite horror movie, for sure. I was maybe eight when I saw it for the first time. It freaked me out! I was really attracted to anything evil and wrong [at that age]. I loved it.

GW: And you’re the older brother, so you had an influence on your younger siblings.

JJ: Yeah, I’ve got two younger sisters, and they rule! I didn’t have a brother and my parents were separated, so I lived with three females and I was the only guy in the house. So, I know what you guys are up to, I know your deal (laughs). I know the score.

GW: You mentioned earlier that Murderdolls often draws comparisons to White Zombie, and with Rob Zombie being another artist who’s inspired by horror films, what do you think of Rob’s work?

JJ: Honestly, not to take anything away from the guy, but I’m not a big White Zombie fan. My favorite album by them is La Sexorcista, I really did like that album, but as far as an influence, it hasn’t [had any affect] on the way I play. I do respect the guy though, he is very talented.

GW: You’re on your way to Europe tomorrow, right?

JJ: Tomorrow night, yeah. We’ll be on tour with Papa Roach. We are going everywhere with them. All the way through Europe – you name the country; we’ll be there. We start in Helsinki, Finland and then go everywhere and end in London, England. It’ll be a cool tour. We actually just got back from Europe about two weeks ago, we were doing our own tour. We’re getting a buzz in England and all of Europe, it’s really big. It’s great over there. Slipknot’s fucking massive over there as well.

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