Slipknot's sophomore album Iowa was the one that put them on the map. It peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard album charts and earned the masked men two Grammy Award nominations for Best Metal Performance. It might not surprise you, if you've heard the songs or know a little bit about the group, that it was not an easy one to make.
"When we did Iowa, we hated each other," percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan later said. "We hated the world; the world hated us." Coming down from a major tour to promote their self-titled debut with very little time to themselves afterward, tensions and bad behavior ran rampant. Drummer Joey Jordinson and bassist Paul Gray worked on putting together basic song ideas amid the chaos (along with new guitarist Jim Root), but almost everyone's moods were poor - fearful of losing their musical identity or selling out. Frontman Corey Taylor wrote lyrics addressing these anxieties, mostly while he was fighting laryngitis and could barely sing; on the 15-minute long, closing title track, he reportedly stripped off his clothes and rolled around in glass to get the rawest, most vulnerable takes he could.
Things were tough for producer Ross Robinson, too; a legendary collaborator with '90s rockers like Korn and Limp Bizkit, Robinson fractured part of his back in a dirtbike incident during the making of the album. Undeterred, he was back in the studio after only a day in the hospital, and later claimed his own physical pain helped fuel some of the album's power.
For all the raw emotions and hatred Slipknot felt in the Iowa era, fans identified with what they were singing about in a major way - and more than 20 years later, Iowa remains a touchstone of 21st century hard rock.