Masks On, Gloves Off: Who REALLY Started Slipknot

15 February 2024 | 1:54 pm | Ellie Robinson

The band’s origins are convoluted, but sole remaining founder Shaun ‘Clown’ Crahan has arrived to clear the air.


Slipknot (Credit: Jonathan Weiner)

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Slipknot percussionist Shaun ‘Clown’ Crahan has cleared the air surrounding a question fans had long sought the answer to: who exactly was responsible for the band’s original formation?

The band’s origins are convoluted, but in short, it’s widely accepted they formed in 1995 under the name Meld, spinning off from a band that Crahan and former bassist Paul Gray had called Pale Ones. The band soon recruited vocalist Andrew Rouw (aka Anders Colsefni), guitarist Donnie Steele and drummer Joey Jordison, with their debut as Slipknot coming in the 1996 demo Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (which also featured rhythm guitarist Josh Brainard).

In a new interview for The Break Down With Nath & Johnny (as transcribed by Loudwire), Crahan noted that many fans had “real misunderstandings” about the real origins of Slipknot, affirming that only he, Gray and Rouw were to thank for the band’s formation. “The bottom line,” he said, “is it was Andy Rouw, the original singer, myself and Paul.”

Rouw left shortly after the release of the original Slipknot demo tape, and Crahan pointed out that by the time the band were signed to Roadrunner Records (in July of 1998), “it was just basically Paul and I.”

He went on to say of his close bond with Gray, and how instrumental it was in Slipknot’s early days: “I'm here to tell you my friend Paul Gray was at my wedding three years prior [to] he and I and Andy starting the band. And that's that. And so I had family. I had two kids at that moment. When Paul came to the wedding, we were eight months pregnant walking down the aisle. Then we start the band, and then a year or so after starting the band, we get pregnant and have our third child, and we have that child before we're signed.”

Crahan is the last standing founder of Slipknot, with current frontman Corey Taylor joining in 1997 (and guitarist Mick Thompson joining a year later). The band recently faced some controversy with its lineup: keyboardist Craig Jones was fired in June of last year – replaced with someone who, at the time, remains anonymous (though rumours of his identity have expectedly surfaced) – and drummer Jay Weinberg was let go just five months later. Weinberg later said he was “blindsided” by the sacking.

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Meanwhile, the estate of the late Jordison have sued Crahan and Taylor for allegedly profiting from his death.