Slipknot's Clown on the time he saw two hippies try to screw during Dillinger Escape Plan's set
Formed in 1994 by late bassist Paul Gray and M. Shawn Crahan (aka Clown, aka #6), Slipknot (due this Sunday, July 8 at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre for the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival) stormed onto the scene with its self-titled debut, a release that eventually went double platinum. The band, whose most recent studio release, All Hope is Gone, topped the charts in seven countries, including this one, is known for its over the top live shows, attention grabbing uniforms and distinctive identities, and its high energy music, all of which has earned the undying devotion of a nation of "maggots," as the act's fans are affectionately known.
Hours before Crahan kicked off a tour of his own in Chicago in support of his first photography book, Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, a project that has been eleven years in the making, we spoke with the Slipknot percussionist about a number of things, including the time he watched a couple of hippies screwing during the Dillinger Escape Plan's set, his new book, what we can expect from Knotfest and the death of bassist and Slipknot co-founder Paul Gray.
Westword: What was the most bizarre gift that you received from a fan?
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: Probably a cow heart that was smashed on my face.
What was your "Holy shit, I can't believe I'm watching this from the stage right now!" moment?
Two people fucking on the stage in Norway at a festival. The Dillinger Escape Plan played after them, and we just sat on the stage watching a couple of hippies screw. Watching two people try and keep up with the band's tempo was a little bit too much for me.
What is the one moment you think of when looking back on Slipknot's career?
That I'm alive.
What's something Slipknot fans would be surprised to know about you?
That I have cats.
How do you maintain your anger after so much success?
I probably wasn't meant to be born, but, because I was, you're never going to take the anger away from my blood.
Has Slipknot begun the writing process for the new album, and will Slipknot fans hear new music in 2013?
I don't know what year you will hear it in, but the writing process has begun. It's in different stages with different members, and everyone is just doing what they're doing. Everyone will bring what they have done to the table. Some of it will get used, some of it will not get used, but it won't be Slipknot until all of the gentlemen have put their love onto it. Everybody is writing every day, putting down the pain, the love, and preparing for the future.
Tell us about Knotfest. What is the idea behind it, and will this be an annual event?
It's a dream we have always had. It's a festival idea that we have, trying to bring a little more of the European vibe, have a lot of fun and share our thought process with our culture. There has been talk about it going on if we're not out playing. That's not a priority right now. There is also talk about when the next record comes out, and maybe we'll start it with Knotfest, but, right now, less is more. The first show is in Iowa. The second show is in Somerset, Wisconsin. We are taking a couple of us and seeing how it goes. Whether it goes good or bad, it's another dream that we had and another notch on the board. It's something that we always wanted to accomplish, and we're doing it.
This sounds like it will be the circus from hell.
A circus has elephants, tightropes, nets, a leader in a three ring, and clown cars with thirty clowns coming out of it. I would say it's more like a carnival, not a circus. There is no circus on earth without an elephant -- you'd need to see a fucking elephant.
This is Slipknot's second headlining appearance at Mayhem. How will you guys outdo yourselves from '08, and will you be wearing the original uniform and masks? Will Slipknot have the same over-the-top production that you did earlier this year in Australia?
I cannot tell you what we're wearing. I cannot tell you about the production. We give 190 percent. As far as topping ourselves, it doesn't even occur in our brains, because we kill ourselves with every show. Every show could be our last show. I've prepared my children that if they ever wanted anything for me, it would be to die onstage, because [on-stage] that's my church, that's my altar. It's where we give our sermons. It's where we talk to the congregation. It's a culture between our fans and us. We don't have to top ourselves. We are ourselves, and we give nothing but 190 percent every fucking show!