Where's God? Insane Clown Posse's Violent J speaks frankly about God and religion

040913_vioj.jpg
Chip Kalback
Violent J onstage at the Ogden Theatre. For more photos, visit our slide show of ICP at the Ogden.

Since the early '90s, Insane Clown Posse has built itself into what is arguably the most successful independent band of all time. The cult of fandom surrounding ICP is unprecedented and notorious (the FBI considers Juggalos to be a gang). Outside its home state of Michigan, the polarizing act has developed a large and extremely devoted fan base, including here in Colorado. We had the rare opportunity to speak at length with the personable and thoughtful Violent J about the act's latest video, "Where's God?" and the nature of his spiritual beliefs.

See also:
- Inside the Insane Clown Posse iPhone App
- Review: Insane Clown Posse at the Ogden Theater, 9/29/11
- A major label tried to muzzle Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse. Here's why.

In 2009, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope revealed the fact that they're Christians -- or, perhaps more specifically, that they believe in god, even if it's not the god of a specific sect of the Christian religion. The group's song "Miracles" courted controversy with those who ironically took things more literally than necessary when Violent J reflected on how magnets work. ICP recently released another video for "Where's God?" that may have some people thinking they're holy rollers.

Westword: Recently you put out a new video for "Where's God?"

Violent J: Nowadays, for us, releasing a video to the YouTube world is like releasing a single.

Why a video for that specific song?

It's really something different for us because there's always been speculation about our religious beliefs. Some people say we're holy rollers and everything. This is the first time we put out a video or a single where we address our religious beliefs pretty much flat out. When we put the album out, we got so much feedback, and a lot of people really liked that song. That's really why we chose to put that out. It was one of the more popular songs on the album, and those are the ones we try to make the videos for. We're not scared of the controversy about the religious tone of it. We're not afraid of some people calling us holy rollers.

icp fan 2.jpg
Chip Kalback
For more photos, visit our slide show of ICP at the Ogden.
You explicitly revealed your Christian faith around four years ago. Was that belief system always an important part of your life?

You know, we were born and raised not with any specific religion. My ma never took me to church or nothing. But she taught me the basic principles of how it works, heaven and hell. And I've always believed that. I don't know the specifics of any certain religion or anything like that, but I've always believed you can hear your guardian angel on your shoulder telling you if what you're doing is evil or not. And I've always believed that good souls go to heaven and bad souls go to hell.

I don't know if I necessarily believe in hell the way a lot of religions depict it. Of course the more I learn about specific religions, the more it turns me off, because I don't think somebody is going to spend an eternity in hell just because they weren't a member of a specific religion. But the thing I do find positive about believing in god is that it gives people a lot of hope, especially later in life, when people are losing loved ones and getting older themselves -- they're facing their own mortality.

icp ogden 1.jpg
Chip Kalback
For more photos, visit our slide show of ICP at the Ogden.
And hope is a good thing, man. I know that the further the world goes, and that this and that was wrong and proves that mankind evolved from this and that, and people are more and more not believing in god and believing more in science, I still think hope is a good thing. I still believe in it, and I think it gives people something to live for, you know?

Some people might listen to some of your earlier records, and I admit I have been one of those people, and wonder if those beliefs are sincere. But it's also obvious to anyone who thinks about it for more than a few moments that it's theater and entertainment and maybe even cathartic. Do you feel that's true?

All I know is that we're just as guilty of ruthless, brutal lyrics today as we've ever been. It's just different songs. We've always had songs like "Where's God?" on our albums, but we didn't release videos for any of them except when we did "Miracles," and that showed a new side to us. But we've always shown that we do care.

All our albums we refer to as Joker Cards. In the first ten or twelve years of our career, it was counting down from the first six Joker Cards. And on the sixth Joker Card, at the very end of the album, track seventeen was called "The Unveiling," and in that song we said the Dark Carnival is god.

That shocked a lot of people, and that's where a lot of the rumors came about us being holy rollers. I think, for the most part, even if it pissed a lot of Juggalos off, they all understand that even if they believe in god or not, I think they appreciate the fact that we care and we want to see Juggalos in heaven. Even if they don't believe in heaven themselves, they appreciate the fact that we care.

I honestly believe that the Dark Carnival is god. I believe that some of the coolest stuff, the magic we feel at our events -- not just the Gatherings, but at our concerts, the thing that brings us together -- I believe that's god working his magic. It's not a god of any organized religion, but I believe that it's a higher power that is bringing us all together in this way. I truly believe that. We've always believed that from the very beginning.

We've dropped little hints, and we've revealed that we're religious people from the beginning of our music. We've never hidden the fact that we believe in god. Behind the face paint, behind the brutality of our music, there's a fine message there that says this is entertainment, but in real life, live by that guardian angel on your shoulder and it'll tell you when you're doing something you shouldn't be doing. It'll tell you when you're being helpful, and you should listen to that voice.

Continue reading for more from Violent J.

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67 comments
Qué Kcuts
Qué Kcuts

I did miss this article. And will miss it again for this singular reason. You asked ICP a question as if anyone was interested in an answer.

Joe Ponce de Carrano
Joe Ponce de Carrano

I think we have an intellectual. The whole insane clown posse thing is a bit hokey for me, but glad to read youre a realist.

David Spohn
David Spohn

who gives two squirts of faygo what this moron thinks?

Josh Moore
Josh Moore

Does anyone really care about ICP?

djmazz
djmazz

i can see why ICP love the hate, it really shows how stupid/ignorant the hate is! to me ICP's music has always been fun, stupidly funny, crazy and also downright serious and meaningful. if you can't see the meaning behind not just the lyrics but the overall theme, it's your loss and not ours! so many different sub cultures of music especially, will always have haters, because they just don't understand...

DeathRow
DeathRow

Look im not a juggalo and i dispise most of them.

But you are missing the point. Juggalos are mainly kids that did not fit in with other groups and mostly rejects. (not doggin on them) But ICP saw this as an oppertunity to give these kids a sence of belonging and show them that they are not alone. They are accepted for who they are. And they knew that no one would listen to their music if it was all like "Gooooooood"(GOD).  Sure it may seem like the wrong approach to many, but they had their message in there. After they had loyal fans they took the leap in telling their fans the message. And it was ment for the long run. It was a plan of hope/carring that took years to pan out. Even tho many turned away from ICP, the message was heard (the seed was planted). Thus reaching more people than kids than a preacher could (no pun intended). If you ask me, these guys are very intelligent  and have great hearts to match. Again this is coming from someone(me) who use to hate these fans/ followers and everything they stood for. A lot of them still dont really get the message but 20 years from now the little seed that was planted might sprout. Its not about the here and the now, its about life and its wonders.......

RustyShackleford
RustyShackleford

Joe Bruce, by using marketing savvy and a rough understanding of adolescent psychology to leverage disaffected youths into a lucrative source of income, is no different than any other cult leader.

Or perhaps we should say con artist.

rockiesfever
rockiesfever

i think i just became stupider after reading this article

TheMindofReason
TheMindofReason

J wasn't the one who asked how magnets work, it was Shaggy. If you're going to insult the groups' intelligence then do your research so you don't sound like an idiot in the process. I'm so sick of people shit talking ICP, mostly because it's been the same damn agruement for the past 20 years. "They're gay cause they dress like clowns" "Their music sucks" "Their fans are morons" We get it okay, we fucking get that you don't like ICP, so don't listen to them. Everytime I say I don't like Justin Beiber, people say it's because his music isn't made for my demographic, so imply that same knowledge towards ICP, if you don't like their music then that's because you don't fall into the demographic they're marketing towards. And plus, anyone who still falls for this "family" bullshit is just as bad as the haters. Do you not realize that these guys don't give a rats ass about their fans? They've been riding on this "juggalo family" stuff to keep their careers going after the end of Shangri-La, and people still believe it. That's why they can get away with practically coming up with their own religion and over-charge for their merchandise. It's because they give broken down, social misfits a false sense of community by manipulating them to believe that they truely care for their fans. 

jugallo_angel
jugallo_angel

When they stated The Carnival is GOD... what they are saying... its GOD that created the Carnival... its GOD that influences them... its GOD that bringing together all the Juggalos and lettes under one roof to celebrate LIFE... actually LISTEN to THY UNVEILING... read the interview.... and in MIRACLES to me it states they appreciate the things that GOD has given them... they dont want to hear all the boring scientific stuff behind it because they already know it... they just appreciatte the wonders of LIFE... its thier way of saying the old quote " stop and smell the roses " and enjoy it


... And if you stop and actually LISTEN to thier other songs... and see thier gatherings.. and thier shows... they done MORE for world peace then anyone ever in history... how... they dont discriminate against race, religion, status in society... listen to the song WE BELONG... its sayin EVERYONE belongs... no matter how rich, how poor, colour of skin.... you belong... and can be a part of a larger family...

dezertjuggalos
dezertjuggalos

People are just mad that 2 clowns made it big while when you wake up in the morning your still flippin burgers

o1hitt3ro
o1hitt3ro

Wow...a lot of you people probably didn't even read that interview and/or are commenting out of your anuses....They know how magnets work, they were simply saying in that song that magnets are a curiosity of life and how they are interesting...they are not saying that magnets are magic because of how they work...they are saying that magnets are LIKE magic because they are interesting and they insight a feeling in us, the same with looking at a rainbow, or even looking at animals and life in general...we know scientifically how it works but its the thing THAT it works that makes it FEEL like a miracle and like magic....And again ICP are quite insightful when it comes to religion and how to be a good person....yeah their music is full of death and destruction, but you are just seeing it for surface value and you are not listening to the words beneath.

hephner78
hephner78

Thank you all for the interesting hate messages toward Juggalo culture. Enjoy the Karma you are creatng :) have a nice day, MCL


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@rockiesfever  ... these obese retards make stoners look like rocket scientists.

... well, bottle rockets anyway.


o1hitt3ro
o1hitt3ro

@TheMindofReason  A. For anyone who thinks Juggalos are morons, I have a close friend who is a Juggalo and the top in his class in psychology....and B. I wouldn't call it a "false sense of community" because it is quite the family culture...and C. I wouldn't say that ICP "doesn't care" either, they did after all hire lawyers to help Juggalos that have been wrongfully harassed for being supposed "gang members"

djmazz
djmazz

@BackOffImStarving @djmazz 

if you can't appreciate or at least respect 'music' in all its shapes and forms that some will either love or loathe, well, you fit right into what I said in my first sentence. There's so much crap out there that I don't like, but I have better things to do than sit on my ass and write dumb comments like yours or to bitch to people that what they like sucks!

djmazz
djmazz

@BackOffImStarving @DeathRow 

I've seen that at just about every music event I've ever gone to, dance metal rock clubs pubs in the bush and on the streets. what's your point?

hephner78
hephner78

@BackOffImStarving @hephner78 well looking thru the thread I see you are the classic hater. you feel the need to make a negative comment on ANYTHING anyone says in support of a subject you don't agree with. I can probably go find some negative video about members of almost ANY subculture group and post negative hateful things about them. The facts are the facts, and those are that ICP's general body of music, the general philosophy they speak of, and the overall message is one of tolerance and love. YOU have nothing to share with anyone but a negative opinion...methinks you are the waste of space on the planet. go find an island or a cave where no one has to hear you try to force or impose your system of belief on the rest of us.


BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@hephner78 @BackOffImStarving You should really consider going back to finish 6th grade English.  Education is a beautiful thing.  There's no shame in going back to where you left off.  I believe in you!

hephner78
hephner78

@BackOffImStarving @hephner78 In what way have you shown ME to be illiterate? And I only meant the noose of making yourself out so publicly to be a dumbass. Should have known not to use a metaphor with you, as that is obviously above your intellect level to understand. But, you are finally beginning to bore me, your responses are so predictable as to be not worth clicking over to read. And  no, I meant "tying", but once again, as it was a metaphor I'm sure you won't get it. 


BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@hephner78 @BackOffImStarving And I think you mean "tightening the noose," by the way.  What do you want me to do next?  Cut you some break?  Get three sheets to the turkey leg?  Put my foot in my belly button?  

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@hephner78 @BackOffImStarving"Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism."


I just evidenced you some evidence, douchebag.  Too dumb to commit crimes more complex than the equivalent of a bunch of drunk chimpanzees throwing feces.

hephner78
hephner78

@BackOffImStarving @hephner78 lol, you really are an idiot, you havent figured it out yet. I am no teenage, angst riddled emo kid who listens to ICP for catharsis. I am a 43 year old grandfather who is a buisness owner, a homeowner and a taxpayer. Linguistic gymnastics? Hardly, as I was writing probably before you were born. Your statements seem to be coming from a butthurt hater point of view, I guess some juggalo whipped your ass sometime, or banged your girlfriend, and now you have to get your anger out by posting hater rants on articles about a band you dont even like. LOL. As for the fact that im responding, Its not because I'm offended by you , roflmao, its because you are making me laugh. You havent "poked holes" in anything...youve made nothing but stupid, uninformed statements to try to attack ME, personally, when you know nothing about me. My only statements were about the pointless and nonsensical statements you made. Thus you reveal your obvious trollishness. In real life im sure you are one of those douchebags people avoid that lives in his moms basement. Go comment on articles you enjoy lol. 


BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@hephner78 @BackOffImStarving How long did it take you to pull up the online thesaurus?  Was it the Urban Thesaurus?  Find some better sources, dude.  For someone who is laughing, you sure seem butt-hurt when normal, intelligent people poke holes in your BS.  "unmitigated and uncalled for vitriol"  Ooooh!  You might want to sit down and take some ibuprofen after those linguistic gymnastics.  

hephner78
hephner78

@BackOffImStarving @hephner78 lol, and what on earth makes you able to judge that based on two short observational responses to your unmitigated and uncalled for vitriol? I doubt UNLV is considered a college with "low" standards. Your assumption that all juggalos are uneducated and dimwitted is both ignorant and illogical. No cross-sectional group of a million or more people is made up people all with the same level of intellect or background. All youv'e shown is a propensity for intolerance and a close-minded, judgemental attitude. You only ever posted on this topic to cause drama. All you've succeeded in is giving me a laugh to have a hater to pick on. By all means continue.


BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@hephner78 @BackOffImStarving Try to crack on their intellect?  I don't even have to try.  You are doing the work for me.  If you are a college graduate, the school that accepted you must have really, really low standards.  Perhaps enrollment was down and they needed to fill a few empty seats with empty heads.

hephner78
hephner78

@BackOffImStarving @hephner78 hooked on phonics? I didnt worry about grammatical perfection, but my spelling and context are perfect. Trust an uninformed hater to fall back on trying to poke fun at typos or grammar when they don't actually have any intelligent argument to present, just unfounded hate. Grow up. FYI keep it coming with your weak attempts at flaming me. It's funny to me as a college graduate to listen to some hater try to crack on the intellect and living situation of juggalos. 


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