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When Slipknot returned to the stage last year for the first time since the May 2010 death of bassist Paul Gray, the band brought along original guitarist Donnie Steele to play Gray's bass parts while remaining hidden behind the stage. Steele continues to tour with the band and stay behind the stage, a move that some fans have questioned. But as percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan told Spin, "What gives him the right to be onstage with us right now? When we're going through an experience like this with our fans, they need to concentrate on the eight members that are grieving, not on someone new. This isn't a diss on Donnie. I love Donnie, but we chose to tour for just one reason -- to share the tragedy, pain and grief of what happened to Paul with our fans instead of going through it alone."
Crahan explained to us the approach that the band and Steele took and what the possibilities are for the future: "Donnie Steele is 'filling in' for Paul Gray, and he plays behind the stage, and it's a beautiful thing because he wants to represent Paul in a way that no one in the world would even think about it. I mean, he just wants to represent his spirit. There's no decisions as of yet, because there's no reason to really think about it. It's gonna be a long ways off."
Steele was part of the earliest Slipknot lineups along with Crahan, Gray and others, but left in 1996 before the band completed its first, self-released album.
Gray was found dead of a drug overdose in a Des Moines, Iowa hotel room in May 2010.
Slipknot will begin its co-headlining stint on the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Tour on June 30th in Devore, California. Following the end of that trek, the group will headline Knotfest, two festival dates put together by the band itself on August 17th in Council Bluffs, Iowa and August 18th in Somerset, Wisconsin.
Slipknot will tentatively enter the studio sometime in early 2013 to begin recording its fifth album. In the meantime, a greatest hits collection called Antennas To Hell arrives on July 24th.