‘Don’t blame the band’

2008-08-22 00:00

Slipknot’s publicity has sky-rocketed in South Africa this week after Morné Harmse’s actions with a samurai sword.

Lead screamer of the band Corey Taylor this week rejected claims that the band are to blame for Harmse’s actions. He was quoted in music publication Blender this week saying: “Obviously, I’m disturbed by the fact that people were hurt and someone died. As far as my responsibility for that goes, it stops there, because I know our message is actually very positive.

“You have something like this happen; it could have been Marilyn Manson, it could have been any number of people who make art that is startling visually, on the darker side.

“It could’ve been Pat Boone, for Christ’s sake. At the end of the day, there are always going to be mental disorders and people who cause violence for no other reason than the fact that they’re f*cked up and lost.”

So who are Slipknot and what are their songs about? Quite simply, the Grammy Award-winning group are a U.S.-based band who wear masks and fall into the heavy metal category.

Recent song titles like Psychosocial and All Hope Is Gone seem to contradict Taylor’s statement about a “positive message”, but upon deeper investigation the songs and lyrics reveal, quite simply, a critique on society:

“The state of the nation — violation!/A broken promise is as good as a lie/The hell is humungous, the devil’s among us/and we will burn because we won’t unite!”

Recognised as one of the pioneering bands in American heavy metal, Slipknot hail from Des Moines in the state of Iowa. Among their own musical influences are fellow metal bands Black Sabbath, Korn and AC/DC. Slipknot are known for often chaotic and energetic live shows — but what are they like when they’re not on stage?

A recent podcast interview on YouTube with Taylor reveals a calm, normal-sounding man. He talks about spending time with his family and being on the road with other bands.

The controversy is, most obviously, around the image of the band, who are famed for the use of masks.

The masks have been generally criticised and thought of as a gimmick to try to sell their product. The band’s view is different, however: they primarily reason that the masks are used to draw the attention away from themselves and towards the music.

Perhaps the most striking correlation between the Harmse incident and Slipknot can be found in the psychology and influence of the masks.

Band members have, in recent years, admitted that the masks serve as a visual representation of how the music makes them feel and say they put the members in an animal-like mentality.

Harmse’s parents, in a statement this week, said he told them: “When I put on the mask, everything became dead quiet and my body moved”.

Slipknot: What the fans say

Fans and some music authorities have lambasted claims that Slipknot is the culprit behind Morné Harmse’s actions.

5fm DJ Gareth Cliff, on his show this week, said: “People will find every other reason for this tragedy — they will blame the band, they will blame the devil, they will blame the school … but they won’t acknowledge that this kid is a disturbed psychopath and he is the one who committed the crime.”

On Facebook, a number of South African fans commented. Niki Kritzinger wrote: “When [the media] profile this kid they’ll hopefully realise that it has nothing to do with Slipknot or this supposed ‘Satanism’ they’re blaming it on … it’s just another case of trying to find a scapegoat for something a kid in a conservative Christian society did.”

Adrian Marais wrote: “You guys should come and rock [SA] with a underground gig. You have a huge following. All this bullsh*t about some kid killing classmates with a sword in Krugersdrop puts the ‘blame on you’ — I say f**k that. I say the conservative nature of all old school South Africans can go to hell. The older generation are so closed minded in SA blaming everything on the devil when they don’t even know their arses from their faces. We need you guys to come and wake everybody up.”

Nolene Martin wrote “I can’t believe that you guys are getting ‘blamed’, so to speak, because honestly after reading about it in the news and seeing the TV reports — I believe the only people to blame are the kids’ parents, the schools, and the government (for taking away corporal punishment)!”

Ryan's blog: "I'm going to start a band."

Yusuf Laher's blog: "Blame the band, not the society"


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