Saturday, April 13, 2024

Origin Stories: How Massive Bands Formed And Broke Through

Every big band has had its sliding doors moment. That magic moment where all the stars align, and they take their first steps toward stardom. Counteract has been taking a look into these moments. It would be fun to take a deep dive into this particular subject and have a gander at what moments were the launching pads for some of the most prominent artists.

Arctic Monkeys 

Alex Turner stated in the band’s inaugural with magazine NME in 2005. “I thought, ‘Something’s going on here! We had a gig in Sheffield, and the moment I started singing, the entire crowd sang it back to me,” The remarkable ascent of Arctic Monkeys from 2003 to 2005 saw the band distribute free C.D.s at early gigs, attract file-sharing fans eager for their ‘Beneath The Boardwalk’ demos, and generate word-of-mouth excitement. 

This hunger, combined with their deal with Domino Records (still ongoing), marked their significant success as unsigned artists. The turning point came with the rapid sell-out of their two-track debut E.P., ‘Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys,’ released on the band’s Bang Bang Recordings in May 2005. Even today, collectors resell the E.P. online for hundreds of pounds.”

Gerry Cinnamon

The Glaswegian singer/songwriter is accustomed to charting his course, which is evident in his live performances. Typically featuring just Cinnamon, an acoustic guitar, a microphone, and a set of foot pedals (perhaps a harmonica), it’s a humble setup. However, Cinnamon’s powerful music alone can captivate festival crowds, fill stadiums (as seen in his upcoming two Hampden Park shows this summer), and secure a Number One album (the 2020 release ‘The Bonny’)—all achieved while remaining an unsigned artist.

Throughout his career, Cinnamon’s authentic word-of-mouth allure and natural knack for drawing substantial crowds to venues have been constants. Reflecting on the hype surrounding him, he illustrated the extent by selling out Glasgow’s O2 ABC in just two days back in November 2016, with the sole promotion being a straightforward Facebook post. Recalling that significant gig, he humorously shared with Glasgow Live, “I never even had a set list before I came on because I’m a shambles.” 


Though reports may vary, what remains certain is that eight songs were recorded for Oasis’ initial demo tape. These tracks were later featured on the 20th-anniversary edition of Oasis’ debut album, ‘Definitely Maybe,’ and were part of the Live Demonstration. The tracklisting includes ‘Cloudburst’ (later released as the B-side to ‘Live Forever’), ‘Columbia,’ ‘D’yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?’ (the B-side for ‘Shakermaker’), ‘Strange Thing,’ ‘Bring It On Down,’ ‘Married With Children,’ ‘Fade Away’ (B-side to ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’), and ‘Rock’n’Roll Star.’ Oasis garnered attention and secured a deal with Creation Records after being discovered by Alan McGee, the label’s boss, who accidentally caught their performance at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow in May 1993. Throughout 1994, including a memorable performance at London’s legendary 100 Club, Oasis rose to prominence.

The limited edition white label release of ‘Columbia’ was succeeded by their official debut single, ‘Supersonic,’ in April 1994, reaching No. 31 in the U.K. singles charts. The subsequent release, ‘Shakermaker,’ arrived two months later, missing the Top 10 by one place. Their third single, ‘Live Forever,’ marked a turning point, achieving what its predecessor hadn’t.

With the onset of Oasismania, their debut album, ‘Definitely Maybe,’ made a grand entrance into the U.K. album chart at Number 1 upon its August 1994 release, securing its place as the fastest-selling debut album in the U.K. then. 


Slipknot’s inception traces back to September 1995, when Anders (Colsefni) and Shawn (Crahan) initiated the journey. The duo, known for their frequent hangouts and shared interest in playing Werewolf: The Apocalypse (RPG), drew inspiration for many lyrics in MFKR from their gaming sessions.

During one winter, while welding in Shawn’s garage, Anders and Shawn discussed forming a new band. Both being drummers at the time (with Anders having prior experience as a vocalist), they aspired to create a group incorporating additional stand-up percussion. Anders reached out to Paul Grey, who was in L.A. then, persuading him to return to Des Moines and join the venture. This collaboration wasn’t their first attempt, as they had made similar efforts back in 1991, even composing early songs like “Slipknot” and “Gently.” However, the project had to be shelved due to Shawn’s prior commitments.

The core trio of Andy, Shawn, and Paul then enlisted the services of guitarists Donnie Steele (formerly of Body Pit) and Kun Nong (formerly of Heads on the Wall). The band retreated to Anders’ basement to refine their sound and enhance their musical prowess.

In pursuit of the success that eluded them, Slipknot sought to bolster their lineup and contacted Corey Taylor from the rival band Stone Sour. The decisive moment unfolded when Joey, Shawn, and Mick confronted Corey at his “The Adult Emporium” workplace, presenting him with a request. Contrary to popular misconception, they didn’t deliver a straightforward “Join the band, or we will kick your ass!” Instead, nervous but determined, Mick, Shawn, Joey, and Paul casually strolled through the Adult Emporium, browsing movies, until eventually, they summoned the courage to ask Corey to try out for Slipknot. With its promise of broader opportunities compared to Stone Sour, Slipknot particularly appealed to Corey due to its music-over-image policy.

Corey began rehearsing with the band, and the first lyrics he penned found their place in the song “Me Inside.” This marked a significant experimental shift, prompting Anders to transition to percussion and backup vocals. The revamped Slipknot lineup made their debut at a charity event for a local hospital, showcasing their distinct musical style and ushering in a new era for the band.

In 1999, they dropped their self-titled album Slipknot, released via Roadrunner Records, and as they said, the rest is history.

I hope you enjoy reading about the beginnings of some of the world’s biggest bands. It is Something I enjoyed putting together, so let me know what you think, and if the response is positive, I will happily put together a part two for you all.