If you are a fan of heavy metal, chances are a good chunk of the bands you love were signed by A&R executive Monte Connor. Connor worked at Roadrunner Records for the majority of his career, and in the last few years has moved his A&R prowess over to Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Connor, who signed Slipknot, recently penned a touching tribute in Variety to his friend Joey Jordison, who sadly died last week.
In addition to being a great drummer, Connor noted that Jordison was "a gifted songwriter, arranger and guitarist who understood the art of crafting huge choruses and hooks." He noted that Joey, along with late bassist Paul Gray initially wrote the majority of the music, with frontman Corey Taylor crafting the lyrics and Shawn Crahan crafting the image.
Connor recalls how he first heard of the band, getting a tip from a Midwest regional radio rep. Connor talked about how the first time he heard "Spit It Out," he knew he had to sign the band.
Finally, in early 1998, I received the demo for “Spit It Out” — and heard what I’d needed to hear. It was the first track they’d written that contained all the elements that ultimately would define Slipknot and put them on the map: It was raw, seething, emotional, explosive, creative, guttural and beautiful all at the same time, and completely untethered from tradition. It did not fit any genre of metal, but seemed to take the best elements from the entire metal palette and combine them all into an utterly unique, multi-dimensional beast. And it was all driven by the foundation of Joey’s over-the-top, manic drumming style. Everything had coalesced and it felt like all the planets had finally aligned — I saw the band’s true potential and knew I had to sign them.
I flew out to a showcase gig they’d set up for me and one other label, in Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s McCormick Auditorium, on April 4, 1998, opening for alt-pop singer Sister Soleil. What an odd and sterile place, not to mention a strange pairing, to be seeing Slipknot for the very first time. (This was long before the advent of YouTube and I don’t recall being sent a live video, although I had seen photos of the band.)
It's wild to remember a time when live videos of bands weren't just readily available. That's in fact, exactly why we initially started Metal Injection, prior to Youtube.
He also shared this really touching story about how much Joey loved Roadrunner:
I went backstage to hang with the band, and after a few minutes, Joey immediately pulled me aside. He not only had a vast knowledge of extreme and underground heavy metal, but he was an encyclopedia on all things Roadrunner Records. He wanted to talk about Deicide, Obituary, Suffocation, Sepultura and all his favorite bands on the label, and hear some insider stories. He knew as much about Roadrunner’s roster and history as I did, if not more — and I’d been with the label since 1987. I could also tell that as much as he genuinely wanted to talk about those bands, he was also trying to impress me… and he certainly did. In all of my A&R travels I had never experienced a musician who was so plugged into and knowledgeable about the label and even my career. He and his bandmates were about to change not just my life, but the entire trajectory of Roadrunner Records and the music world.
Read the whole tribute here.
Jordison passed away last week this week at age 46. Tributes began pouring in from all across the metal world, and Slipknot blacked out their social media as a tribute to Jordison. The band has memorialized Jordison in an eight-minute video montage, which you can watch here. Slipknot wrote:
"Our hearts go out to Joey's family and loved ones at this time of tremendous loss," said Slipknot in their first written statement since Jordison's passing. "Joey Jordison's art, talent, and spirit could not be contained or be held back. Joey's impact on Slipknot, on our lives, and on the music that he loved, is incalculable. Without him there would be no us. We mourn his loss with the entire Slipknot family. We love you, Joey."