He’s been the driving creative force of Slipknot for over two decades, and Clown, aka Shawn Crahan, is also the main man behind the band’s eponymous Knotfest. Three years ago, after being approached by a Mexican promoter, he brought the event to Mexico City, and this year’s festival took place just weeks after an earthquake ravaged the city. We caught up with Clown at the festival to find out why Mexico loves Slipknot, talk plans for the metal juggernaut’s next record, and discovered that, underneath it all, Clown just wants to be a regular guy.
How and why did Knotfest end up coming to Mexico?
Clown: “The Mexican people were up our ass! We had Mexican promoters approach us about playing as Slipknot in Mexico City. We’d never played there, and the reason? Traditional touring. We make an album, we go to Europe, we go back to the States, we go to Japan, we go to Canada. This last album cycle, we actually had time to do Mexico City. So we said we’ll just roll in, have some local openers, and they were like, ‘Fuck that, we want Knotfest!’ I was like, ‘Wait a minute, we just gave you Slipknot, we don’t even know if you have barricades for Knotfest.’ Well fuck it, [they said], ‘We’ll make ‘em.’ I just want all these kids, all these fans, to have a day in life, because it could be over tomorrow. They had an earthquake today and evacuated my hotel! This comes after two major earthquakes, it’s hard. But they need it. That’s what I’m doing here. These people have a genuine ability to be one. Hence two devastating earthquakes, and they’re all still here. Some of these kids worked months for tickets.”
What’s your role in the festival?
“Philosophy, concept, theory. I have an innate ability to see it like it is and feel it. Last year, the food trucks were way over, disrupting the energy. The bands and the business side, I leave that to my promoter. I went with an independent company because I work with rogues. I don’t wanna work with people who only want to make money. You wanna get a bunch of smart-shoes involved with it? Smart-shoes are people who wear shoes that pass for business, and can pass for ‘I can hang next to a rockstar’. Look at managers. They’ve got to represent a band and hang with the artists, but they’ve got to go in and sell ‘em. This is all fake.”
It sounds like you hate the music business! Do you still enjoy what you do?
“Of course, would I be here? I’m here because I love this. This is what I wanna do. Maybe the distaste is the business. I don’t wanna have to tell my friends when to play. I’m here to remind everyone that shit can fuck off, and when the kids see me they’re like, ‘Thank you.’ I’m not gonna let endorsers and shit… but you’re not gonna have it without names.”
On that note, Slipknot is the big name behind all this. What’s next for the band?
“We’re about a year away from being in the studio. It’s not my fault the maggots don’t pay attention. We make an album, we tour for three years, we take two years off. It got a little screwed up after ‘All Hope [Is Gone’, the band’s fourth album] because Paul passed away, so we took time off, took time with our kids, and toured for a couple of years until it felt right. Then when it felt right, Joey took off. I’ll be in the studio in November 2018. There’s a plethora of shit written. I don’t wanna be told by a label when to write, like some fucking Cheerio. I wanna write because I write. I’ve made people so much fucking money – pay for the studio. Give me this engineer, give me this producer. It’s just jamming, but I’ve never heard music like this, that we’re doing right now. I’ll be 50 by the time it comes out. I’ll be touring when I’m 50, they’ll throw me a birthday party! So where I’m at these days, I’m like, ‘Maybe make it the last one.'”
As in, the end of Slipknot?
“Who knows? I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. I’m not gonna be like, ‘Farewell tour!’ then come back. Never say those words to fans – you have to come back if you say that. For me it’s like, I’m going to go fishing indefinitely.”
Have you had any contact with Joey Jordison since he left the band and opened up about having transverse myelitis (a condition causing inflammation of the spinal cord)?
“I don’t talk about Joey. But I say a few things these days. This is a hard lifestyle. There’s lots of paths, and lots of things that dictate the path. It’s almost impossible to have balance, it’s like, ‘Am I nothing or am I everything?’ I guess we just grew apart, that’s all I can really say, out of respect and love for him. I didn’t help start a band thinking anything like that would happen, or that Paul [Gray] would pass. Corey Taylor won’t be mad at me saying, but I didn’t think there’d be other bands. I thought we’d wear masks forever. I wanna believe I’m a rock star, [but if I acted like that], you’d be standing next to me going, ‘This is ugly shit.'”