SLIPKNOT IN­SIDE THE MIND OF CLOWN. AND YES, THAT IS AS SCARY A PLACE AS YOU IMAG­INE IT TO BE

CLOWN SLIPKNOT NOW THAN IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO… You’ve no idea what’s com­ing next – but IT’S BIB­LI­CAL

Kerrang! (UK) - - News - WORDS: EMILY CARTER PHO­TOS: PAUL HAR­RIES

Shawn ‘ Clown’ Cra­han is sat in his truck. He’s not go­ing any­where in par­tic­u­lar; he’s sim­ply parked out­side his house in Des Moines, Iowa. “No- one both­ers me here,” the 49- yearold ex­plains, mat­ter- of- factly, of his un­usual choice of lo­ca­tion for to­day’s in­ter­view. But it’s ac­tu­ally the least sur­pris­ing de­ci­sion Slipknot’s leg­endary per­cus­sion­ist has made re­cently. As he’ll em­pha­sise and elab­o­rate on many times across our near- two- hour con­ver­sa­tion, the Clown that Ker­rang! en­coun­ters to­day has dras­ti­cally re­formed from the man who changed the face of me­tal when he and his eight masked band­mates and broth­ers ex­ploded into life some 20 years prior.

Pon­der­ing the fu­ture and who he wants to be in later life (“I’m gonna be 50 soon – and I know that’s re­dun­dant and I know peo­ple are over that: ‘Midlife cri­sis, blah, blah, blah…’” he grum­bles), Clown has given him­self a to­tal over­haul in the years fol­low­ing Slipknot’s last al­bum, .5: The Gray Chap­ter. “I’ve dropped one… two… three… four sizes in my cov­er­alls,” he counts proudly. “I like to work on my core, and that’s what Slipknot is. If you wanna sur­vive a Slipknot show, you’ve got to have your core in line – be­cause you will be re­quired to utilise it. So I’m

try­ing to strengthen my core, and work­ing out to­wards that. It’s go­ing re­ally well. I’m a much smaller Clown now.”

This new, more, er, com­pact mu­si­cian is also un­der­go­ing some­thing of a fa­cial makeover with his new Slipknot masks, which he af­fec­tion­ately refers to as his “chil­dren”. Not that we’re al­lowed to take a peek at them just yet – the big re­veal is still to come. “I posted a photo on In­sta­gram of my chil­dren, but they had garbage bags over their heads so you couldn’t see them,” Clown smiles. “They’re do­ing good – they’ve had their hair sewn on now, and both hair is the same, which is in­ter­est­ing. My wife doesn’t like the new masks – I’ll just let the whole world know that. She’s not feel­ing it at all ( laughs). But when I sewed the hair on, she liked it bet­ter.”

Mrs Clown, says her hus­band, views Slipknot in the same way the rest of the world seem­ingly does. “Ev­ery­body is just brain­washed to go, ‘Hey, I want OG Clown! Hey, I want the red cov­er­alls!’ Argh­h­h­hhh!” he jokes. “I grow up. I’m a year older ev­ery year, so fuck it. It changes. My wife is like ev­ery­body else and likes the bril­liant idea of 1998 Slipknot: in your face, fuck you, mid­dle fin­ger pressed up against your fore­head, ‘We are the ’Knot, we do what we want when we want.’ She’s stuck in that. I get it all day: ‘You gonna wear the red cov­er­alls?’ ‘I don’t know, I have no idea!’”

We won’t ask about the cov­er­alls, then. But what we will dive into is Slipknot’s new al­bum – due to ar­rive in 2019 – the band’s past, present and fu­ture, and why Clown’s more than happy to have gone “soft”…

So, Clown, we haven’t seen your mask yet, but we do have the first new Slipknot mu­sic in four years: All Out Life. The sin­gle broke your own Youtube record and got 4 mil­lion views in a day. Were you ex­pect­ing a re­ac­tion like that, or do you ever get ner­vous that you’re go­ing to come back after a time pe­riod away and peo­ple aren’t in­ter­ested?

“What would I think if peo­ple moved on?! ( Laughs) That’s awe­some. It’s re­al­ity, right? It hap­pens to peo­ple all the time – bands, gen­res… I get it. But it’s not on Slipknot’s clock. We’re not a band – we’re a cul­ture. Last time we spoke [this Oc­to­ber, to an­nounce Slipknot’s head­lin­ing of Down­load 2019], I hys­ter­i­cally started laugh­ing and say­ing, ‘You don’t know any­thing, do you?’ And then bam: a cou­ple of weeks later ar­rives All Out Life. I knew that, and you did not. You have no idea what’s com­ing next. I mean, you an­swered your own ques­tion: 4 mil­lion peo­ple in a day, and I think it’s up to 16 mil­lion now. Does it sound like peo­ple are gonna move on? I. Don’t. Think. So.”

You come across as so con­fi­dent, but isn’t there even the tini­est worry?

“Here’s where I have it. For the peo­ple around me, they don’t want to come up with shit – they don’t want to be tied to time and num­bers and ideas, be­cause they need a scape­goat. And I’ve al­ways been the fuck­ing scape­goat. But I’ve liked be­ing the scape­goat. Go ahead: every­one blame me. I don’t care any­more. That’s where I get my con­fi­dence from, be­cause I’ve had to be con­fi­dent, and I’ve had to walk in with a clear pic­ture of what we’re do­ing. I ab­so­lutely freak out about what it is I’m do­ing. But I wouldn’t say that I’m wor­ried, be­cause in art, in my opin­ion, you have to be con­fi­dent, other­wise you’ll never com­mit. [Pro­ducer] Rick Ru­bin told me once that one of my great­est gifts was that I knew how to com­mit.”

All Out Life was ini­tially teased via a new so­cial me­dia app, de­signed to dis­cour­age peo­ple from the at­tach­ment to their phones. Is that some­thing you im­ple­ment in your own day-to-day life, too?

“Oh yeah, I’m done. I’ve seen all I need to see and I’ve heard all I need to hear. I’ve seen the facts and the health is­sues. But it’s not go­ing any­where. I’ll par­take in lit­tle amounts, just like putting salt and pep­per on pota­toes. But I’m not gonna fuck­ing run my life on it. There’s a big world out there, and I get up and go out­side ev­ery day, breath­ing in real air. It lets me know that there’s a life out there – even if it’s cold. I don’t like to go to din­ner with peo­ple who are on their phone, and I let them know right away. But it doesn’t mat­ter how I wanna live, be­cause it’s only gonna start fuck­ing this world over more. It’s gonna take ev­ery­body’s money with­out even tak­ing your credit card out of your wal­let – you’re go­ing to have more money in the in­ter­net than you will in your mort­gage. I like all those things so I’m not talk­ing shit on them, but you wanna come to din­ner with me? Turn your fuck­ing phone off.”

If you were grow­ing up in to­day’s world, and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this phone cul­ture from a much younger age, would you still be out­side breath­ing in the real air, or sat in­side play­ing Candy Crush?

“Well… I don’t know. I would hope that my soul and my spirit would al­low me to get out. But I have chil­dren that were born into it, and it’s so easy for them that they don’t see it be­ing a prob­lem. Like, one of my sons will send away for Slipknot shirts. He’s like, ‘Fuck your merch com­pany. I have money and a phone and an Ama­zon ac­count – bam.’ I’m gonna be hon­est with you: they get it done quicker than I do ( laughs). And that’s not a slam on any­one – that’s just the fuck­ing truth. It’s way faster than I could even think. I love that my 14-year-old son is the one who’s gonna drive me around in the space­ship one day be­cause I’m gonna be too old to learn the tech­nol­ogy. I’m cool with where the world’s go­ing, but I’m just not gonna par­take. And I’m not grumpy about it.”

You’ve re­cently said the new Slipknot al­bum is themed on ‘evil vs good’. Is that in broader terms, or is it aimed in any spe­cific di­rec­tion?

“I don’t say things that aren’t aimed di­rectly at you. I guess right now you can see a lit­tle laser point­ing on your fore­head for that ques­tion. I can only speak for my­self, but let me tell you, this one’s bib­li­cal. This is the old­est tale of all. Is there any spe­cific one thing? No, be­cause Slipknot is a unit and a group ef­fort that pro­jects ideas. I can only speak for my­self, but just look at what’s al­ready out, and ap­ply it to the state­ment, ‘ We are not your kind.’ And if you don’t like me, then just get away from me. Get the fuck away, or I’ll make you get the fuck away.”

How dif­fer­ent is your own per­spec­tive from the rest of the guys in Slipknot these days?

“There’s no chang­ing this band. It’s amaz­ing,

“IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME, GET THE FUCK AWAY – OR I’LL MAKE YOU GET THE FUCK AWAY” CLOWN

and it’s a life­style that only the nine of us – even the two new mem­bers [drum­mer Jay Wein­berg and bassist Alex ‘V-man’ Ven­turella] – know. Let me give you a quick story on the re­al­ity of Slipknot: Chris Fehn, num­ber three, and Jay Wein­berg, num­ber­less, were killing time in a bus. We were talk­ing about a space shut­tle to Mars. Chris and I were be­ing the way we are, and the story was be­ing told with a lot of anx­i­ety of what it would en­tail to go to Mars: how many hours, days, months it would take. It was in­tense, and we were just laugh­ing, be­cause we’re in­tense peo­ple. Chris and I were mak­ing the trip to Mars worse and worse for our­selves, and while we were do­ing it, we were like, ‘I’m still in. I’m still go­ing to Mars, even though I can’t have Ken­tucky Fried Chicken.’ After about 15 min­utes, we look at Jay, and we’re like, ‘You go­ing to Mars?’ He looks at me dead in the face and goes, ‘Not with this band.’ ( Laughs) That is fuck­ing Slipknot.”

So noth­ing at all has changed?

“Noth­ing. But you start los­ing par­ents, and un­for­tu­nately peo­ple’s re­la­tion­ships come and go – whether that’s friend­ships, or rel­a­tives, what­ever. We’re not young men any­more. But we’re not old men, ei­ther. And it would be a tragedy if we hadn’t learned from the beau­ti­ful jour­ney that we’ve been on for 20 years. I think in­tel­lec­tu­ally, spir­i­tu­ally, men­tally and phys­i­cally we’ve changed – all the nor­mal things that hap­pen to hu­mans have hap­pened to us. But as far as what Slipknot is? I think it’s prob­a­bly more in­tense now than it was in 1998. You know, ’98 was a chem­i­cal re­ac­tion, and all the chem­i­cals were re­act­ing through rock’n’roll. Now the chem­i­cal bond has been made and es­tab­lished. It’s not go­ing any­where. And I’m just do­ing the best I can now. It feels weird to me to say that it’s more dan­ger­ous or that it’s bet­ter, be­cause that just feels cocky – and I know that that’s pretty weird to hear from me. But I’ve had a lot of loss in my life, and a lot of heartache lately. And none of it feels good. And if I’m go­ing through it then I have to as­sume that the per­son down the street is, too. Hope­fully they’re not, and they’re hav­ing a good day. But that’s where I’ve changed. But the Clown is the Clown, and he’s big­ger than me – let’s not play fuck­ing games. He’s this thing. It’s for­tu­nate and un­for­tu­nate ( laughs).”

Do you ever feel like peo­ple have the wrong per­cep­tion of the Clown? You’ve acted in the past like you don’t give a fuck, but you say you’ve changed, and you’re very lovely to speak to now…

“( Laughs) Well, that is sort of a trick ques­tion, isn’t it?! Lis­ten: I’m hu­man. And I don’t want to dive too much into this, but there’s a lot of rea­sons why I’ve changed. There’s more rea­sons than I have time for, and I wouldn’t want to just bla­tantly get into it and then all of a sud­den it only par­tially comes out. But what every­one needs to know is that I’ve changed, and I feel so good in life. I’ve learned so much about my­self and the peo­ple around me. I’ve spent a lot of time think­ing about Joey [Jordi­son, Slipknot’s found­ing drum­mer who de­parted the band in 2013], but I’ve re­ally never even spo­ken about him, ever. And here’s the deal: we’re gonna pick up on this [in com­ing in­ter­views]. But I’ve taken a lot of time to look at my­self through your eyes, and how I’ve cho­sen to be around peo­ple, and how my ac­tions have turned out. I’m not proud, but I’m not go­ing to take any­thing back, ei­ther – I can’t change what was. I just feel like I’ve changed a lot for the bet­ter, and I re­ally look at life dif­fer­ently.”

Could you have seen your­self calm­ing down and chang­ing your at­ti­tude when Slipknot first started out 20 years ago?

“The old me would feel like you’re try­ing to say that I’ve gone soft! But the new me is kinda like, ‘You can think what you want.’ And I also know that now I pre­fer to be softer. There’s a time and a place for ev­ery­thing. But no-one needs to feel the way I feel. I’ve been se­verely de­pressed with my anger, and my in­abil­ity to feel, and to not be able to process life’s curve­balls. It would re­ally hurt me to think that there was a Clown 20 years ago that wasn’t hop­ing for peace for him­self. It’s just the hu­man con­di­tion, isn’t it? There’s no man­ual, and you have all these things you have to break through. I call it ‘be­ing within the curves’. You go down the road and there’s curves, and the curves help you stay in the road. If you hit them, they bounce your car and you’re like, ‘Fuck!’, and you have to get back in the lane. That’s why I drive a big old truck – I drive above those curves. That’s kind of a lame way of ex­plain­ing it, but I’m just try­ing to process life the way you are. But what’s dif­fer­ent now is that I’m more aware of your pres­ence.”

“I’M COOL WITH WHERE THE WORLD IS GO­ING. I’M JUST NOT GO­ING TO PAR­TAKE” CLOWN

So how do you cope with the un­pre­dictabil­ity of life?

“Thank you for ask­ing. This is re­ally a hu­man ques­tion. I have an in­ter­est­ing way of do­ing it… I’ll get on the phone with my man­ager and I’ll say to him: ‘If you knew what I was deal­ing with to­day, you would just shit your pants.’ I al­ways say that if I started writ­ing this stuff down, and I lit­er­ally had the brave heart to give it to the world to read, peo­ple would think I’m mak­ing it up. Even to­day, some­thing that I’m deal­ing with, that I’ve been deal­ing with for the last year and a half, was in such a bizarre way that you wouldn’t even be­lieve it if I told you. That’s a lot of the rea­son why I’ve changed: be­cause I’ve re­alised that you could have the same bizarre shit hap­pen­ing to you, too. So I don’t write it down, and I throw it out of my brain. If I wrote it down, I could read it all back and go, ‘Oh my God, this would be a best­seller!’ But that’s what keeps me from writ­ing it down: not let­ting it be the head­line. By say­ing out loud, ‘I should write this shit down,’ it makes me smile and re­alise, ‘That’s ex­actly what I’m not go­ing to do.’ Be­cause I’m go­ing to get through it. I don’t need to write shit down and make money off a book. No – it’s my life and my duty. Get up and get on with it.”

It must be hard to just keep it just con­tained within your­self, though?

“It al­ways has been. I haven’t been the type of per­son who’s reached out a lot. But there’s a lot of rea­sons for that. I mean, just look around. Ev­ery­body’s got some­thing. I guess I just al­ways felt like some­body was try­ing to take what I wanted away, and that kind of be­hav­iour was de­struc­tive. I’ve al­ways been on a de­struc­tive path – and that’s prob­a­bly where I’m go­ing to end up. But, I don’t know… my eyes are open. I’m some­one that you wanna have din­ner with now! Maybe I used to make it like you don’t wanna have din­ner with me, but I be­lieve now, and I know in my heart, that I’m some­one you should have din­ner with. I haven’t changed that thing within Clown – I’m an artist and I’m there. But all kinds of peo­ple change. Andy Warhol had his changes, I’m sure Jimi Hen­drix had his changes, and John Len­non sure as hell had his. I just use these peo­ple be­cause we recog­nise them, you know? And I know that my mom and dad changed.”

Those are some pretty iconic names. Do you see your­self as an icon?

“Oh, jeez… I think the peo­ple that are clos­est to me would tell you that I don’t want to take credit, and I’m re­ally em­bar­rassed by at­ten­tion – well, the wrong at­ten­tion. I have a hard time be­ing recog­nised, I guess, for my abil­i­ties. When you watch some­one get to, like, Michael Jor­dan’s level, you’re just like, ‘Wow.’ I’m not say­ing I’m Michael Jor­dan by any stretch ( laughs), but what I’m say­ing is some of the things I do are nat­u­ral. Like, when you watch him, you see that it’s nat­u­ral that he can just jump that high. Some of the things that Clown does just come re­ally easy to me, so the at­ten­tion feels weird. I was just born for this, and I want to share art. I know what the def­i­ni­tion of iconic is, but I don’t know if I am. I mean… when I see my­self in a Clown mask next to all those other iconic guys, I can say, ‘Yeah, I’m iconic.’ Be­cause I see Corey Tay­lor and go, ‘That moth­er­fucker is iconic! Look at him!’ I guess if I’m stand­ing next to him and I see my­self in that OG Clown mask in those red cov­er­alls ( laughs), then yeah, it’s pretty iconic. I try my best to do things for all of us that are rel­e­vant and per­ti­nent to to­day. And I feel like that’s where the most eu­pho­ria is – it’s like sex to me. I love watch­ing peo­ple feel the art and be moved by it.”

What is the proud­est achieve­ment of your life?

“Je­sus… How do you an­swer that?! I’m gonna give you an an­swer that ap­plies to many things. I don’t know ev­ery­thing, but I don’t want to know ev­ery­thing. I don’t care about con­spir­a­cies, and gov­ern­ment, and I don’t care about any of that. I know for a fact that I de­cided to take life on, and be­cause I did, I was able to meet my soul­mate, and we were able to make chil­dren. I was able to step up and say what I wanted to do for real in this world, and it came true. When peo­ple ask me what it’s like to re­ceive my dream, I don’t know how to an­swer that, be­cause I don’t know any dif­fer­ent. I think my num­ber one achieve­ment is know­ing that I was aware that I was in a thing called life. If life ends to­mor­row, I don’t think I robbed my­self. That’s the best I can do, but it’s a stupid an­swer be­cause it doesn’t re­ally an­swer any­thing ( laughs).” K!

“IT’D HURT ME TO THINK THERE WAS A CLOWN 20 YEARS AGO THAT WASN’T HOP­ING FOR PEACE FOR HIM­SELF” CLOWN

SLIPKNOT ’S 10TH AN­NIVER­SARY EDI­TION OF ALL HOPE IS GONE IS OUT NOW. a new slipknot record is due next year. THE BAND HEAD­LINE DOWN­LOAD FES­TI­VAL IN JUNE – SEE THE GIG GUIDE FOR In­for­ma­tion and line-up de­tails

Huh, we thought we’d just find hair un­der Clown’s mask

“Weeeeeeeeeeh!”

Clown’s new mask: min­i­mal and im­prac­ti­cal Slipknot’s 2019 merch line in­cludes Clown sock pup­pets

Vol 3: less Sub­lim­i­nal, more in-your-face All Hope Is Gone: and so, too, is your chance of get­ting out of this room alive .5: a new Chap­ter Iowa: The GOAT (lit­er­ally)

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