NME meets Slipknot’s Clown and Tortilla Man: “There’s been a lot of blood on stage”

Watch as we catch up with the band about their whiskey, cult following, Knotfest At Sea and what to expect from 'experimental' outtakes album 'Look Outside Your Window'

We’re still recovering from Slipknot and their face-melting show at The O2 on Saturday. Their biggest ever gig in London to date, it certainly felt like one for the history books. But before all that madness kicked off, we headed to the band’s special pop-up shop in Camden where they were signing bottles of their Number Nine whiskey for a catch up with percussionist and bandleader Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan and the mysterious ‘New Guy’ (AKA Tortilla Face).

Watch the full video interview with Slipknot above

Naturally Clown did all the talking, but we still learned a lot – including about Slipknot’s plans to drop an album of unheard material later this year…

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Congratulations! You’ve been nominated for two NME Awards; Best Band In The World and Best Album In The World for ‘We Are Not Your Kind’. 

Clown: “Thank you very much. It was a very surreal time to make the album, and more importantly a surreal time for all the people who have had it. It’s been a really beautiful moment in our career, I think.”

It feels as if right now there’s a universal love and acceptance for Slipknot, one that there’s never really been there before.

C: “Yeah. It can be a little bit confusing. One must ask ‘why?’ But I know why, you know why, and the kids know why – that’s all that really matters. It’s a life well-lived and perceived. We’re nothing but honoured to be in a culture that is as beautiful as ours. It’s bigger than I ever thought it could be – which is beautiful in its own sense.”

Slipknot live at The O2, London. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

This Camden pop-up is a nice way of stepping inside that culture. It’s basically Disneyland for Slipknot fans. 

C: “A lot of what we do is about the challenge. With laws around booze in America and laws around booze over here, they’re two different worlds. The challenge is to get our booze made in Iowa from our corn and get it over here. That’s what this is about. No cultures should be separated from each other. We like to bring anything and everything that we are to our people.”

“Knotfest At Sea? A bunch of crazy people on a boat. It’s kind of like the making of a horror movie” – clown

So it’s about extending the Slipknot family?

C: “Absolutely, 100%. It’s our people, our world, our culture. We’re just lucky. This is the type of art that uses time and temperature, and I’m interested in that. It’s a level of art that’s more like the school world, which I was no good at. It’s amazing. It’s not a gimmick – I don’t do crap like that. It’s for the people.”

Speaking of extending the culture and keeping it gimmick-free, what’s the Knotfest At Sea cruise going to look like?

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C: “A bunch of crazy people on a boat for an extended period of time. It’s kind of like the making of a horror movie. One doesn’t know unless one tries. Initially I didn’t like the idea, but things are so good right now and people understand so I have a feeling that we’re actually going to make it what it needs to be. You hear ‘cruise’ and you think that there’s just no way that could be, but I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that it’s a truthful experience – that I can walk away and go ‘I loved that’.”

Slipknot live at The O2, London. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

So you’re going to make it as authentically ‘Slipknot’ as possible? 

C: “First of all, we’re all pirates anyway – so we’re taking it really literally and going to war. I think it’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing. It’s going to be different, surreal and challenging. If things feel easy then you get complacent.”

Are there any other big challenges on your bucket list for Slipknot?

C: “Oh, man. There are a million. I want to play Hong Kong just so I can eat food. I’d like to eventually play Hawaii on the band’s dollar. It’s the same dream: get up there for 90 minutes. That’s the closest to God that I’m going to get. That’s the focus of everything still.”

“90 minutes on stage – that’s the closest to God that I’m going to get” – Clown

What have you done to step things up for the live experience on this current tour?

C: “This is probably the hardest setlist that we’ve ever had. I judge it more off things that I have to do temperature-wise. There’s a projection that we have to give with the songs. You either give 100% or 190%, and this set is just 190% throughout. New Guy [aka Tortilla Man] was a bleeder last night. There was a lot of blood on stage. This set is different and the blood just proves it – something got out of line.”

Do you feel it will get out of line again tonight?

C: “London is one of our houses. This is like a convention of our culture. There’s going to be a show, but this is more like a homecoming. It’s going to be extremely dangerous, but there will be no arrests, there will be no injuries, there will be no deaths. This community has got each other’s backs. The perception is, ‘Uh-oh, Slipknot’s in town!’ But really it’s a good thing to get the culture together for the medicine.”

Slipknot live at The O2, London. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

And the Slipknot community have really got behind you, Tortilla Man. They’ve really welcomed you to the family.  

New Guy: *nods enthusiastically and gives thumbs up*

C: “You’re not going to get him to talk. Slipknot is an ongoing mechanism that doesn’t even know itself. That’s what’s so interesting about it. It blooms differently every year. None of us know what’s going to happen, I don’t really care. I just wake up and live the day so we’re having a lot of fun. I don’t like the blood much any more. There really was a lot and it kind of made me sick. It has different effects on me these days.”

“I don’t like the blood much any more. There really was a lot and it kind of made me sick” – Clown

What can you tell us about ‘Look Outside Your Window’, the record of experimental ‘All Hope Is Gone’ outtakes?

C: “‘Look Outside Your Window’ is a very unique art-piece on its own. It’s sort of timeless in my opinion, so I try not to worry about it too much. I’ve waited this long for it to be right and it just never has. We were going to release it way early on this album cycle, but this one takes precedence. It’s not meant to be confused or watered down for marketing purposes. It’s really just another piece of the puzzle and the imagination that’s missing. People might really need it.”

Slipknot live at The O2, London. Credit: Jenn Five/NME

Do you think you’ll release it this year?

C: “It was scheduled for Christmas but I just quit asking because I don’t want it to interfere with this – and mainly because of what it is. It needs its own space. We’re having a good time enjoying this album and we have no ego with that. It’s just beautiful art that we want to share in the right way. It’s going to come out on this album cycle. It’ll just be this thing that happens and people won’t even know.”

Slipknot will take over Milton Keynes National Bowl on August 22 for Knotfest UK, after the inaugural Knotfest At Sea cruise sets sail from Barcelona from August 10-14. Visit here for tickets and more information.

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