Interview conducted by Dave Wedge. Published on 6/20/2012.
Slipknot's two-year trip through hell in the wake of bassist Paul Gray's death has taken the masked marauders to massive European and Australian festivals, where they did what they've done for the past two decades: used music as a cathartic weapon to kill their inner pain.
Percussionist/chief keg smasher Shawn "Clown" Crahan, who co-founded the band with Gray in the mid-90s, said the eight remaining members will wrap-up their global trek with the Rockstar Mayhem tour across the U.S., and end on a high note with Knotfest
– a two-day blowout in Iowa and Minnesota in August.
"We're finishing this whole process of sharing our grief with our fans," Clown told Lambgoat from Chicago this week. "The whole idea is to end with some fun and to start a dream we've had for many, many years, and that's to start our own festival. It's just the beginning of something we've always wanted to do."
For the festival, which takes place August 17 in Council Bluffs, Iowa and August 18 in Minneapolis, Crahan said they turned to "friends" like Lamb of God, Deftones, Cannibal Corpse and Dillinger Escape Plan, among others.
"There's some old family and some new family coming in," Crahan says of the lineup. "Most of the bands are friends of ours. So I don't really look at it like we 'picked' anybody. We invited them."
In addition to a killer lineup, there will be lots of fire, huge junk car percussion kits, undisclosed "special surprises" and a twisted carnival, including an old school roller coaster called the "Circle of Death," which Crahan himself will be riding with lucky fans.
"I'll be putting kids' names in a hat and pulling them out and then I'll sit next to them and ride it," he says. "That ride has been on the midway at the Iowa State Fair since I was a little kid. We're just thinking, let's have some fun."
As for Mayhem, Crahan said the whole band is "really looking forward to spending the summer in the U.S.," especially after months abroad, dealing with customs hassles, airports and long trips between gigs.
"Mayhem is an incredible tour because they make it fun. We wreck golf carts. We BBQ and everybody hangs. It just feels like a family," he said. "And playing is God to me. We get to play in our church every night. We get the pain out. We get life's angst out. We all feel better about ourselves. We're really blessed. And we're all getting along."
With younger bands like Whitechapel also on Mayhem, Crahan said he's excited to see where the Knoxville, Tennessee group - and other next generation metal bands - will take the genre.
"I want to hear about them a year from now. Bands like Suicide Silence – I've fallen in love with them because they're just going," he says. "There's a lot of great bands out there. I'm always looking for the next thing and bands like Whitechapel... I'm happy about it."
"But it's all dependent on the work ethic and the dream of that band," he added. "I just hope it continues and more good bands come out. Because people need it."
After Knotfest, Slipknot will take a break but Crahan insisted he and his lifelong comrades will return with a new record and more tours.
"We're going to go away for a short time... and we're going to finish it up in our own minds. And then we're going to write a record, and record a record," he says. "We're getting to the point where we can laugh a lot and tell stories that don't bring tears, so I think everything is working pretty good. I think we're in good shape."
- by Dave Wedge