When Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison decided to temporarily step aside from his band and play guitar in the less-grind, more-glam Murderdolls, it was a move that made the Maggots squirm. Jordison could have been reduced from cult hero to pariah in the eyes of the notoriously fanatical Knot fans -- who, as it happens, refer to themselves as insect larvae. But the metal community has viewed his fashion-conscious punk project surprisingly well.
"The Maggots are great fuckin' fans," says Jordison, a.k.a. #1 in Slipknot. Currently on tour, he's calling from the middle of a photo shoot for the cover of the European headbanger's bible, Metal Hammer. "They understand that we have to do other things. I've been doing Slipknot every day since 1995. I think people need a little break from that."
Toward that end, the Murderdolls are one of two breakout Slipknot side projects. Stone Sour, the baby of Knot singer Corey Taylor, has scored chart success with its riff-heavy, balls-out debut. The Murderdolls are a decidedly dicier proposition than Taylor's more palatable, radio-friendly outfit, with a look and sound that's a hybrid of vintage Mötley Crüe, Marilyn Manson, and the Sex Pistols.
It's been a while since a rock band made a big splash with overstyled hair, liberal application of mascara, and a chic wardrobe. "Every band that's popular in the rock circuit is a Top 40, lame nü-metal band -- the very same formula," Jordison says. "All the song topics have to do with pain and trauma and emotional breakdowns. And our shit's fuckin' fun. There [are] no bands like us -- no party bands. This is loud, aggressive, raw, trashy, sleazy, heavy, blood-and-guts rock and roll."
On paper, the mix looks more scary than fun. Tapping B movies and suburban nightmares, the Murderdolls find grave comedy on turf the PTA dares not tread. On the band's debut, Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls, song topics include necrophilia, abortion, dismemberment, grave-robbing, and zombie bloodlust. But it's the album's long chain of hooks and loud, infectious refrains that make it a party. "All our songs are really sing-along," Jordison says. "It's easy to get into them; they were written with that in mind."
Jordison founded the band (known as the Rejects until this lineup came together) in 1995 and continued recording, writing, and gigging sporadically in between Slipknot tours, never having much time to spend on the band because of Slipknot's meteoric rise. On one of the Knot's countless tours in support of its debut album, Jordison quickly hit it off with then-Dope guitarist Tripp Eisen, whose band was opening the tour. Eisen knew Frankenstein Drag Queens frontman Wednesday 13, whom he brought into Jordison's band, along with drummer Ben Graves and bassist Eric Griffin. After recording the Murderdolls' debut, Eisen opted to leave the Dolls in favor of his new full-time band, Static-X. Jordison subsequently invited Acey Slade -- who replaced Eisen in Dope -- to replace Eisen in the Murderdolls.
Frustrated by the Murderdolls' habit of poaching from other bands, Dope frontman Edsel Dope vented openly in the press, keeping references to Jordison cordial, but being less diplomatic about his ex-axemen. The badmouthing led to more public sniping between Edsel and the rest of the Dolls, namely Wednesday 13. "Acey quit Dope to join Murderdolls," 13 said in an interview on the Metal Sludge website. "[Edsel] now claims to have copyrights on dreadlocks, the color black, people holding microphones, walking upright, and middle fingers . . . because 'he did it first.'"
Still, Jordison and Dope maintain that no animosity exists between the bands or their leaders. "If there is, it's coming from [them]," says Jordison. "I have no problem with any of those guys at all."
He hasn't had much problem building a fan base either. European in-store appearances have been drawing crowds of 2,000, many dressed as Murderclones or using the look as a starting point for a different outfit. As Slipknot did for the Maggots, the Murderdolls are creating a haven in which their followers can freely indulge in nuttiness.
"It's OK to come and look like a complete outer-space freak," says Jordison. "We have that type of energy. I think kids are having fun with going ahead, being themselves, because you can't really go looking like that to a Limp Bizkit show. You'd be way out of place. Goth, punk, metal, black metal, glam people -- we get them all. It's cool."
Free from the Knot's sharp-edged, nine-man performance matrix, Jordison has been making the most of his onstage freedom in five months of constant touring. "I did this move in London," says Jordison; "I dove into the crowd with my guitar, 20 feet up from the PA stack. Wednesday told me they surfed me all the way back to the monitor board, and then all the way back for 'I Love to Say Fuck' -- I made it back onstage for the end of the song. It was pretty amazing."
The band's sets already feature cuts slated for the next Murderdolls album, which Jordison says could appear as early as 2003. Slipknot's members, he adds, are working on new material, too. "I will be going back to the drums," Jordison promises. "So don't get your tits in an uproar."