In the midst of a pandemic we were lucky enough to catch a little time with James Root for some questions. In case you ain’t hip to it, James plays guitar in Slipknot AND he digs motorbikes – perfect for this blog!! Check it out…..
1. Personally being a big fan of Slipknot fan let’s start with music, when did you start playing guitar and how old were you when you started ?
I got a Memphis Les Paul II copy when I was 14. Immediately broke a string, had no idea how to tune it or even an amp for it. When I was 15 I got a good guitar. A Charvel Model 1. I had an ear. Dexterity so around then was when I learned from friends how to tune and started learning songs by ear and all that. Sharing riffs and licks and scales with older guys that knew how to play.
2. The band is known for incredibly physical shows and you guys have been around awhile, I gotta believe it takes a toll on you. After a tour is there a process you go through to decompress and heal up?
Not really. Depending on how long the tour was and where… Sone place are more arduous than others. Routing and busses, if we have them… mainly only the US and Europe. Everywhere else is flying everywhere. Japan. South America, Australia. So if it’s sketchy and a hectic schedule I’ll just introvert for a couple days and then just get out on bikes. Unless we have to leave a week later. Then I don’t even unpack.
3. What’s on your playlist on your phone? any bands you’re really digging on right now?
It’s really diverse. I probably obsessively listen to Queens Of The Stone Age the most lately. Last two records in particular. But have everything from classic rock… Bob Seger, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Yes, Floyd to artists like Portishead, Bjork. There’s some older metal… Metallica, Flotsam and Jetsam, Helloween… newer metal like Gojira… The Haunted “The Haunted Made Me Do It” is a riff record. Top to bottom just incredible. I also like bands like Witchcraft, Mew, couple Tame Impala tunes. Muse. I’m all over the place. A good song is a good song regardless of genre.
4. Switching over to motorbikes, how old were you when you first got into bikes and what your your first bike?
I begged and pleaded for a dirt bike when I was a kid. Got a guitar instead. I guess that worked out and there was a reason for it. My parents were both into bikes. I’ve been around them since I can remember. The dad used to put me in front of him on an old triumph he had. Around that time my mom had a CB. He’d take me everywhere on a shovel and had an ‘80 Sturgis. I could never afford bikes and at the time wouldn’t ride anything but friends Harleys. And. My mom had a Shadow ACE that she let me take whenever. All my money went into musical gear. And I didn’t have much. So. I got a better job and the first bike I bought was a Black Superglide. ‘93 I think? Evo. Awesome bike.
5. I missed it this one, but I heard you made it to one of the famous Indian Larry bike nights in NYC which are always insane! Bobby and the guys ride pretty hard How did you you like riding in the city with that crew ?
That ruined me. It was the most fun I had riding in a long time. Totally new experience. And being on a bike I wasn’t used to made it that much more sketchy. But awesome. Splitting lanes, wrong way down one ways, sidewalks, passing cops telling us to stop. Fuckin’ bananas. I can’t wait to do it again. Bobby and the guys just told me “don’t stop” “not for anything or anyone until we get to where we’re going”. So. I did just that.
6 .What are you currently riding? any favorite go to bike?
I have 15 bikes. Most are Dynas or FXR’s I tend to take an FXDB with me to LA when we’re working on records and I have to live out there for 6 months to a year. Bikes are just easier out there and splitting is legal. Traffic sucks. It socks less on a bike. If I’m somewhere that’s hilly or mountain roads I like my FTR or Tuono. The FXR’s and Dynas are fun too though.
7. Being on the road a lot obviously cuts into the riding time. CJ Ramone told us he once did an entire Lollapalooza tour on a rigid evo!! Do you ever get to ride wile on the on the road?
Rarely. It’s cool to get offered loaners to ride, but I’m 6’6” so I set up my bikes accordingly. And to take a bike on the road can be a pain in the ass. I’ll do it eventually and then I’ll probably never want to tour the States again without one. We have a pretty big production and there’s usually 6 plus busses. To put a trailer on one would make a logistical nightmare for our production manager and security. Whatever. I’ll do it at some point.
8, How’s the riding down in Fla? Any rides in particular ya really enjoy?
It’s a lot of straight lines. Haha. But the weather is great and I can ride year around. We ride to the Keys sometimes. And there’s any number of springs and back roads that are fun. Two lanes are the best. Less assholes in cars staring at their phones.
9. The bike scene has been coming back pretty strong, are you able to hit any bike events with your schedule?
I got lucky the past couple years. I’m only in one band now, so that freed up some time. And I go crazy sitting at home after a month or so. We were working on the last record so I was able to bounce and hit Sturgis. Normally we’re on tour at that time. I’ve ridden to Sturgis and back FL twice. The first time was on a ‘74 FL Shovel that Bill built specifically so we could all be on Shovels. That took about twice as long as it should. Shovels. 🤦🏼♂️ I try to hit as many as I can. Been to Handbuilt in Austin, The Congregation, Sturgis, Couple of Smokeouts and the Bike week and Biketober fests are easy since I’m close by. As long as I’m not on tour. I prefer just riding though. I appreciate the artistry, work, design and fabrication that goes into these bikes,
But I’m not a mechanic or a builder. I just want to beat the shit out them and push my limits. Therapy through adrenaline.
10. Any tour plans coming up after this COVID situation passes ? Where can folks stay current on what you’re up to?
Man. I have no idea. Seems like everyday something’s changing. We’ve had to postpone everything, as everyone else has. So. I’ve just been riding most every night… When I have a bike I haven’t started to fuck with and am waiting for parts for. So yeah. Our schedule is kind of a moving target at the moment. Part of me wants to be able to pack up a bike and disappear this summer and hit events… IF they happen… and the other wants to go play guitar. I guess only time will tell.
THANK-YOU so much taking time to do this!!! REALLY appreciate it!!! Check out James on the IG @jamesroot and the band @slipknot.