Joey Jordison on Sinsaenum, Keeping His Transverse Myelitis a Secret + Potential Memoir
Joey Jordison parted ways with Slipknot in late 2013, and he has quietly struggled with a neurological condition known as transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord which damages nerve fibers. Since his diagnosis, Jordison has spent his time rehabbing in the gym and behind the drum kit, resulting in projects like VIMIC (which rose out of the ashes of Scar the Martyr) and the extreme metal group Sinsaenum.
Along with Jordison, Sinsaenum features members of DragonForce, Mayhem and Daath. The powerhouse musicians came together and created he band's debut full-length, Echoes of the Tortured. In this exclusive interview, we spoke with Jordison about the new record, struggling with transverse myelitis, his work on a potential autobiography and more!
I’ve been really enjoying the interludes on the album. They’re well placed and I love when extreme bands get really artsy. Can you tell me about those interludes and who was the main composer?
That was something Fred [Leclercq, guitar / bass / synth] and I and Attila [Csihar, vocals] talked about doing because with each song we wanted to have a breath to let the listener digest what they just heard before we take you on another journey. Really, it was an idea that we both had together about the construction of the record, but Fred handled that mainly.
Sinsaenum started out with a lot of older ideas from Fred and you guys were eventually recruited to make them a reality. Can you tell me about your creative input in this band and what it was like to work with this old skeleton that Fred brought out?
Well, the thing is, me and Fred were touring consistently together with Slipknot and DragonForce, and we became friends. I mentioned before, every interview I do is a little bit different because I always get to have the privilege of getting all the information out. When we were touring together, me and Fred, we would hang out all the time. You meet people and you realize that you can never judge a book by it's cover. We had a kinship, we would just sit and listen to mid-90s death metal and black metal all night. This happens all the time on the road, people say we should do something someday, and it never happens — “Let's do a side project someday, we'll do some stuff.” This was a true meeting of the minds. Fred had sent me so much material, it was just mind-blowing. I just loaded up my drums and took them to Sound Farm where I did the last couple records for Murderdolls and Slipknot. Just like f—ing went in and blasted the motherf—er out like within a week.
I was just completely on fire with them. It wasn't something that we wanted to do it was something, literally man, like in our souls and our hearts, that we had to do. There's a difference. There's a difference in that. It was a really cool process. It was different than the way we usually record records. You know, we were in different countries, but the communication was always open. The phone lines were always open no matter what time it was; if we were sleeping or different work hours or what band we were playing with or anything like that. That's how much it meant, that's how we got it done.
After being a member of Slipknot for 18 years, I feel like people would assume that you know everything there is to know about being in a band. With Sinsaenum and with VIMIC, are you still discovering new elements of being in a band with different people?
I really appreciate that question. That's one thing that a lot of people haven't asked, so I've almost been waiting on this one. No matter what comes your way, being a musician, you will never ever learn to play it all. I always say, ‘You'll never learn to play it all, but always strive to.’ I'll tell you what, with these guys it's just insane. All of the guys that are in VIMIC; just learning from people. The same thing when I played with Rob Zombie, when I played with Korn on the road, all the Roadrunner s—t, Murderdolls, whatever. This one was great, Sinsaneum and the guys in VIMIC, just because I've reached these different counterparts within people that understand where I’m coming from and I understand where they're coming from. This music that we have coming out right now has been the most gratifying thing I've done in my whole career.
I haven't felt this way since we released the first two Slipknot records. It's real weird, man. I couldn't be more happy. Even though both of the records are really soulful, and of course with Sinsaneum, they go very dark, and VIMIC, the emotions are very deep and dark and soulful within. Life takes you down some weird paths, but that's just any human being. Not only being a musician, everyone knows this. The older you get the wiser you get and we're in that right now.
Listening to Sinsaenum’s “Splendor and Agony,” what stands out to me is Attila's vocals because they are very uncomfortable. They make you feel anxious and unbalanced. Did you guys visualize this uncomfortable feeling when you were composting certain songs and what's it been like working with Atilla? He seems like an interesting dude.
Attila was just here at my house for a week. He just left not too long ago. We had met and we had kind of like, conversed from around 2008 until now. He's a f—ing legend, he literally walks his own path, and he is actually one of the sweetest people I've ever met in my life and he's actually one of the most intellectual and smartest people I have ever met in my life. With Sinsaenum, between Sean and his vocals, Atilla is literally kind of the frosting on the f—ing cake. Sean is pummeling right on beat and just pummeling your face, where Atilla is literally like a ghost, but he is kind of the one that makes that atmosphere on top of it. He's got one of the most unique vocal styles of anyone, probably any metal vocalist, ever. The visuals that he's coming up with, you know, the videos and stuff that we have right now and the things that he puts together when we would do the videos in Budapest, he knows a certain vision that I don't think that many people actually on this earth, in this type of music, have.
Do you think that Sinsaenum is going to tour?
Yeah, we are. We talked about that when we were just in Budapest doing videos. We are going to tour, it's just a matter of when because, of course, we all have our own respective bands and s—t like that. It's just a matter of time. I mean we could go on tour tomorrow, but the thing is with this band with the production we want to put on, it's going to be a spectacle, and everything that we want to occur is very strategic and needs to be planned out. There's a lot of people behind the Sinsaenum scene that are not just in the band that are going to be helping out with everything. I mean, there's a whole production scene behind this and what we want to convey live is going to be something that you do not want to miss. It's going to be insane.
Throughout the album, you're really embracing death metal and black metal. You're blasting away, constant double kicks. Considering your diagnosis with transverse myelitis, how does it feel to play some of the most demanding drumming of your career?
You know, that's the best thing about what I've accomplished in life right now. When I got diagnosed with that, you know, all I had to do was pick myself up and get into the gym and find the right trainers and everything and just get myself healthy. That's all I did, it was just right in my heart. All I do is I'm in the gym all the time. That's all I do; I'm in the gym and I play. That's all I f—ing do. And write music. And I'm stronger than I've f—ing ever been in my life, like seriously. I'm not just saying that. I'm the strongest I have ever been. Ever.
There was a time when I was beat down and I lost my way. All this weird f—ing s—t happened but I came back from it, man. I was f—ed. I was completely f—ed for a long time, but I came back.
We never really got to worry about you because this was kept secret for two-and-a-half years. What was the reason for keeping it under your hat for such a long time?
One thing was, I didn't want to be the person that, like, ‘Oh, I got sick, so everyone feel sorry for me.’ I got stuck with something that was very f—ing very traumatic and I was focused on getting myself back and I didn't need to f—ing cry to the f—ing media to get a bunch of sympathy to f—ing make myself look like, ‘Oh, I'm so f—ing hurt,’ and all that s—t. I kept it quiet. And all I did was get myself back focused on my f—ing self and my life and what I wanted to do in my career. You know, it's a f—ing horrible, horrible affliction, man. It cripples people; I was. Sometimes people don't come back from that. I got back from it.
You were talking about some of your last days with Slipknot; you had no legs, you had to be carried to the throne. I went back and watched the footage of your last show in Chile. It sounded like your kicks were on point to me.
Yeah, the last shows, the kicks were completely on point. I was playing on the Paul Gray tribute tour. I got back and was playing better than I had in a long time, but it took a while. Basically, when I was back on Ozzfest in 2013, my legs were completely back and completely on-point and all that stuff.
I remember you saying in an interview once that music is really the only thing that you love in terms of what you want to do with your life. Is that still the same?
Well, I am going to write a book some day and I've worked on it. It will come out. I need to do these tours and these records and get those released before the final chapter when the first book comes out. I started working on it. It will come out in the future, but right now it's not in the cards. Right now the focus is touring and supporting these records I've been doing. Right now it's all about getting on the road.
We'd like to thank Joey for giving us some of his time. Sinsaenum will release 'Echoes of the Tortured' on July 29. To grab a copy of the album, click here.
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