In a new interview with NME, Slipknot percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan discussed the possibility of the band’s story being turned into a biopic, revealing that he has several ideas for a serial project of his own.
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The topic came up when Clown filled us in on the forthcoming debut of Knotfest Australia, which he said was one of the many new projects that Slipknot have been working on. Having just fulfilled the terms of their contract with Roadrunner Records, the band will be fully independent at the end of next March – which, Clown told NME, means they’ll be able to experiment with new creative avenues (like a standalone single-based release model).
Some of the band’s future endeavours will include visual projects helmed by Clown – he’s long been involved in filmmaking both in and outside of Slipknot, directing 17 of the band’s music videos and three of their documentaries, as well as narrative films like Officer Downe. When asked if he’d ever consider helming a Slipknot biopic in the vein of Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman, Clown revealed: “It wasn’t that long ago that I was very frustrated with this sort of idea, because the business, if you will, was pressuring us for something like that.”
The artist (who doubles as Slipknot’s de facto “creative director”) called back to the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton – a biopic about the origins of N.W.A – which he said “made all the business people think Bohemian Rhapsody was a great idea”.
“The problem is,” Clown explained, “is that I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, and it’s strictly one-sided. And the people that wrote it and stuff, they’ll tell you, ‘Oh, it’s supposed to be one sided.’ It’s just about the star, you know, it’s Freddie Mercury’s story – but I’m a Brian May fan as well, and I want to know more about him. But you can’t do that in two hours, and the suits in the corporate world, who maintain the [film industry], they don’t want to do more than two hours. That’s too much of a risk for their business, and unfortunately, they control how art is handled and gets to the majority of the human race.”
He assured fans that a narrative project about Slipknot’s story is “most definitely going to happen” in the future, but not under the helm of a major Hollywood studio. Explaining why he refuses to humour any of their ideas, Clown said: “It wasn’t that long ago that people wanted to make action figures of us, and they didn’t even get to [the prototype stage] because they wanted to mock us up as grandiose and fantastical and superhero-ish. My philosophy was always like, ‘Don’t you think that the real Slipknot is scarier than anything [pretend] you can make me into? The fact that I’m human, and that we bring that sort of fear out of people?’
“I could never get anybody to create us, so I’m kind of holding that to the film. I’ve had so many ideas brought to me, and there’s so many people who are frustrated with me about it. They’ve actually told me, ‘Maybe it’d be better if you’re not involved.’ And I’m just like, ‘Yeah, we’ll see how that works for you.’ Because if I’m not involved, that means I’m not involved. That means, ‘Good luck with whatever the fuck you’re trying to do, because I’m not going to approve a word of it.’
“They push, but I’m not interested. Because that’s fucking cheese to its finest, to make something just so I can have all the suits walk out of it going, ‘That was really good!’ It’s like, ‘You never played with us in the band, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about! You’re just impressed that some putz director hit a mark in some visual way for theatres to sell popcorn. Get the fuck out of here. This is my life.’”
Clown went on to say that initiatives like Web3 – which he’s personally involved in via Knotverse and his own NFT project – are changing that. “Web3 is creating all sorts of situations for kids that should be directing movies, but never would’ve had a chance [in Hollywood] because they don’t have a network or they’re not in the scene,” he said. “I mean, the internet is a wonderful place for talent. So now, with all these kids taking over their own destinies, if the right people approached me and wanted to do [a Slipknot biopic], there would be a way to hash it out.”
As for the prospect of Clown taking the reins on a Slipknot biopic himself, he revealed that he has “some very insane ideas for how to make it work”, but would need the assistance of “some very creative people” to turn them into a viable pitch. He explained: “I’m not a writer. I can only give you the stories. But if I sat down with some really creative [screenwriters], I would be able to tell them all these ideas and we could come up with something that would make people say, ‘Yes, we’ll give you the money to make that.’”
Clown’s main vision for such a project, he said, would take the form of a miniseries: “I love True Detective, and that [first season] was eight episodes long. I’m thinking about eight-to-15 episodes. That way, you can go in the past and see [the late] Paul Gray playing a right-handed guitar when he’s left-handed; I can go back to when I was a little kid, and tell all the stories about the crazy shit Joey [Jordison, Slipknot’s ex-drummer who died in 2021] used to do. I can paint all those pictures that would make you go, ‘Oh, that’s why this fucking dude is who he is!’
“I’m not making Bohemian Rhapsody, man. There’s a lot of dudes [in Slipknot] that need to be represented equally – not one is greater than the other, and you can’t explain the band without explaining all of them. And then there’s our first manager [Sophia John], who passed away – that story would have to be in there – and then there’s a motley crew of about a dozen other motherfuckers… I mean, it’s a big story, man! It’s insane. So we’re gonna do it, but we’re gonna do it our way.”
Meanwhile, last week it was announced that Slipknot would headline next year’s Download Festival alongside Metallica and Bring Me The Horizon. The news came after the band announced the first-ever Knotfest in Australia, as well as a nine-date European tour for next June.
They’re currently touring on the back of their recent seventh album, ‘The End, So Far’, which arrived back in September and featured the singles ‘The Chapeltown Rag’, ‘The Dying Song (Time To Sing)’ and ‘Yen’. In a four-star review of, NME’s Andrew Trendell said it “may rattle many of the metal faithful, but for the prowess and lasting impression of this record alone, this is a true Slipknot record”.