It's been over two years since Slipknot suffered the loss of bassist Paul Gray, but lead singer Corey Taylor says the band isn't ready to put their masks down. They're ready to continue on.
"We had lost one of the founding members of our band and one of the key musical and creative forces and a brother," says Taylor, 38.
"It was shocking. I needed time to figure out what it all meant and what we should do."
Together, the band decided how they would continue without Gray. They chose to honour his memory by releasing a compilation album chronicling the last 12 years of their music. The album, "Antennas to Hell," is meant not only to be a tribute to the late Gray, but also to the band's fans.
"We've had some uncanny success at radio with certain songs and whatnot, but at the same time, we've also had these songs that the fans have told us that they need to hear," says Taylor.
He says it was easy to pick the songs for the album, which was released on July 24, including fan favourites "Wait and Bleed" and "Psychosocial," one of his favourites.
"It's a song that never ends," he says. "We would get to the end of the song and the guys would launch right back into that (first) riff just because it's so much fun to play."
Slipknot's remaining eight members took to the stage last June for its Memorial World Tour, which was dedicated to Gray.
"It took us a long time to kind of wrap our heads around why we should do it," says Taylor. "Everything we do has a purpose, everything we do has a reason. It took us awhile to figure out the why."
When Gray died, Taylor says the band was getting multiple offers to do tours, but they just weren't ready to get on the stage without him.
"It was almost not insulting, but it was grotesque at the time," says Taylor. "I was like, 'Really? Can we not just grieve right now?'"
Taylor says touring has certainly helped the grieving process, but he's not sure that process will ever stop.
"There's not a moment of the day, whether I'm on tour or now, that I don't think about Paul," he says. "I was just really proud to be in a band with him, to know him, to be able to share this with him."
There are no plans to replace Gray, says Taylor, or have someone wear his trademark coveralls and mask.
"That would be like trying to replace an arm or a leg or your own mind," he says. "I don't think there will ever be a replacement for Paul."
Taylor says Slipknot isn't in a rush to go into the recording studio for a new album, but they've been writing lyrics here and there.
"We've all kind of started thinking about the fact that we do have to go into a studio without Paul," he says, adding Gray was the glue when recording songs. "Without that force in the studio, we don't know what that would be like.
"When the time is right, we'll go for it the way we always have."
In the meantime, Slipknot is currently touring in the U.S. and will make two stops in Canada, where they will be headlining both the Heavy TO and Heavy MTL music festivals in Toronto and Montreal on Aug. 11 and 12.
"Some of the craziest audiences I've ever seen are in Canada," says Taylor.
One of Slipknot's first concerts in Canada was at Ozzfest in B.C. in 1999.
"I can remember just stepping out on the stage in this sea of crazy people just going off and I was like, 'Wow, alright, Canada's got it going on.'"