By Denise FalzonIt's been a tough few years for Slipknot, the nine-member outfit infamous for their grotesque masks and controversial lyrical content. The Des Moines, Iowa metallers tragically lost their bass player, Paul Gray, in May of 2010, resulting in the band taking some much-needed time off. Having risen as leaders of the nu-metal sub-genre in 1999, following the release of their self-titled debut, Slipknot found themselves performing to thousands in arenas across the world and releasing three more full-lengths before Gray's untimely death. As percussionist and founding member Shawn Crahan (aka Clown) explains, Slipknot are ready to share their grief with their fans on tour, which will bring them north of the border to Heavy T.O. and Heavy MTL on August 11 and 12. He discusses Slipknot's recently released compilation, Antennas to Hell, as well as their plans to record another album and move on as a band, despite the loss of their friend and band member, noting that Gray will never be forgotten. Crahan also gives his opinion on the current predicament of Randy Blythe, the frontman of Lamb of God, who have been forced to cancel their performances at the Heavy festivals.
Do you prefer to be called Shawn or Clown? I kind of have a weird thing about it. My real name is Michael Shawn Crahan, but my dad's name was Michael so my mom called me Shawn. And everybody likes a nickname and I've always been the Clown. So I leave it up to people, how they were brought up, to call me what they want, but both are kind of fictitious to this world. I prefer Clown because I feel like that's who I am, but I also respect my parents so it's either-or, however you feel comfortable, it doesn't offend me at all.
It's interesting that Clown isn't just your Slipknot persona, you've had that nickname for a long time. I have pictures of me running around my house with a butcher knife and a clown mask on at 14 years of age, so I've always lived in my imagination. I'm an only child and there's been several occasions in my life where my mom has had to pinch me on the arm several times to get me to pay attention because I was off in Never Neverland. That's one thing that is so interesting about the masks that I guess people often refer to us as wearing; I don't wear a mask but I am the Clown. I don't know if that makes any sense, but you know, it's a horrifying feeling to have someone wear a mask and stand in front of you motionless with no expression and watch someone. Like you as an example, if I was standing in front of you, you would start with the normal behaviour of knowing me and just stating normal facts, like "Oh that's scary, I don't like it, blah blah blah," you know? But then this innate thing in you, this fearful innate thing, would come about and your expressions and your language and your body language would begin to change. And the further I would take it, the further this inability to change what you're unable to change would take over and it would be apparent. But for me, I don't wear a mask because I live in my own imagination. I don't even know I'm wearing it, I don't wear a mask, I'm the Clown. With or without the mask, I'm that thing. It's kind of an interesting concept because people wear masks all day long. People wear masks, but they're unaware of it, they say they wear masks but they're unable to look you in the eye and bring out that internal fear of something that is unrecognizable to you because you can't see through it. I have the ability to do that with or without this so-called mask because I don't wear one on stage or off stage, I just don't. What you see is what you're dealing with.