Playing Without Hearing Protection is “Not an Option” for Slipknot’s Jay Weinberg
It’s no secret that metal, no matter which genre you favor, is loud as fuck. If you’ve ever been to a concert and either didn’t bring hearing protection or thought you were “too badass” to wear some, you know the ringing in your ears that follows you for the next day or two. It’s annoying, it’s constant, and it could also be a sign that you’ve done some serious damage to your hearing.
That very situation is something Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg has tried to avoid since his early years behind the kit. Speaking as part of a public service announcement for the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), Weinberg said the realization that he needed to protect his ears came when he began playing loud music for the first time.
“So back when I was 14, I got into a jam room with two buddies from school who started to teach themselves how to play guitar. And we’re in a room and we’re jamming, but I can’t quite hear them because their amps are turned away from me. And I’m playing everything I can, playing hard and it’s already — the drums and cymbals — everything is super loud, but I can’t hear their guitars. So I have a bright idea and tell ’em, ‘Well, I can’t really hear your guitars. Why don’t you turn it all the way up to 10 and turn both of your guitar amps towards me and then I can hear your guitars?’
“That was not the most astute decision. And I learned that really quickly. We had a great day jamming, but then the next morning I had no high-end frequencies in my hearing. I thought I honestly lost my hearing altogether, and I was really frightened ’cause I didn’t know how to deal with that. And especially when you’re recovering from major hearing loss or a hearing loss event like that, the one thing you wanna do to kind of pass the time is listen to music, and you can’t even do that ’cause it’s too painful.”
Ever since, Weinberg said he’s treated hearing protection as an “absolute must” that he says any musician looking to establish any “sort of longevity and sustainability in playing music” should consider. As someone who’s lost hearing in his right ear, I can attest to how frustrating losing your hearing can be. It’s a constant problem and honestly makes me feel like a dick when I’m out and constantly asking people to speak up.
According to the World Health Organization, “over 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices.” That includes playing music, but also listening to it.
“If you want to have a sustainable life in the creative field of playing loud rock music, especially if you’re a drummer with… These are dangerous tools that we have and we have to use them carefully and not shortchange ourselves for the experience of playing music and still play super hard and still play super loud, but it has to be done intelligently.”