Slipknot's Shawn "Clown" Crahan on Knotfest, the Ring of Fire and backstage insanity
By Kory Grow
God, Satan or whatever broke the mold when he created Slipknot's Clown prince, percussionist Shawn Crahan. When we talked to him about what to expect at his band's inaugural Knotfest, taking place at the Somerset Amphitheater on Saturday, he told us, "You're going to walk in through the door and get squirted with a scent." He later told us what that aroma was, in all its putrid glory--you'll have to read that in this week's print edition (or maybe just here).
But as is often the case when talking to the inimitable Crahan, his pearls of wisdom didn't stop there. In the conversation below, which took place on the last date of the Slipknot-headlined Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest, the percussionist took Gimme Noise on a tour of the madness that he expects will surround him when he gets to Somerset.
CP: How did the idea for Knotfest come together?
Shawn Crahan: Knotfest is basically a concept we've had forever. Being exposed to European tours, which start on Thursdays and end on Sundays--sometimes even Mondays--employers encourage their employees to go out and enjoy themselves in the summertime and get a nice weekend. So all these tents show up. It's like a refugee camp and everything and anything you can possibly imagine does go on. Friday night its pop, Saturday night it's hard rock, Sunday is metal, Monday could be hip-hop or whatever. There's like a rave after every night. There's hundreds of bands that play over the span of four days. It's incredible.
So a lot of Knotfest is incorporating what we've been exposed to for our whole career, which is these European festivals. And now there's a handful of festivals in the United States that are doing well that have their thought of process going on for several years. It's time for us.
CP: Why did you pick Somerset as a location?
SC: Well the Somerset location offers the camping. So that's the main reason right there. Somerset is a good place. It's changed a lot. I'm not a big of what it used to be, the security and how fans have been treated. But it's only my opinion. I've been maced there. I thought I would never play there again, but it's under new people. They're good people, and they've done great things with it.
CP: You're broadcasting Knotfest as a pay-per-view special. A press release says will be able to see all the insanity that goes on backstage. What kind of insanity are we talking these days?
SC: Just depends on the day, man. Today, it's been lightning and raining like a mother. I mean people had to be pulled inside; things are running a little late, I believe. I can't tell you what's going to happen until the day. The camera crew is going to be running around all day; catching the rides, catching the fans, catching the chaos, catching all the crap. You never know who's fighting or what's going on, but we're kind of at the point of our career where anything and everything is on. Nothing is held back.
CP: Will you be able to catch any of the insanity onstage when you're not playing?
SC: I'm going to check out all the bands, but unfortunately, I personally have a lot of duties I have to do. I have to ride the Ring of Fire [amusement park ride] with VIP people and all kinds of weird stuff. I just figure it worked at the Somerset location, being very hilly. We have things placed no matter where you're at, you kind of feel like, "Hey, I got to get there." The ride basically goes upside down and it holds you at the top, and then it you come down. Then you go backwards and it's just a lot of fun. It doesn't take up much room, and it's just a giant circle.
CP: Sounds like hard work having to ride the Ring of Fire...
SC: Yeah it's hard, but it'll be the last day. It will be a memory. Like today. Today is the last Mayhem show and, you know, I'll get on the bus, and we'll drive off and say goodbye to some people. And then you'll remember those memories. We'll remember all these shows. We remember where we began and how we ended and what's happened from A to Z. You'll take in the good and hopefully there's not any bad. And boom, it's another successful part of this "rock-and-roll degree" that we're doing--the "rock-and-roll college" that we're involved in. It's not for everybody.
CP: Maybe not, but a lot of people appreciate what you're doing.
SC: I just want to say one thing: Thank you to everyone out there that has supported the band over the last couple of years. Whether it be texts, or posts, whatever it is. Emails, letters, prayers, energy, we really appreciate it. We love each and every one of our fans. I can speak on behalf of the band and say that. Thank you for everything that you've done for us and it means everything.We're not going anywhere. It's been tough, there's been a lot of people that have dropped off in the last year or so. So we're not the only ones. I just want to take the time to thank everybody every chance I get and thank you for your time today and we'll be seeing you soon.
Knotfest features Slipknot, Deftones, Lamb of God, and more on Saturday, August 18, at Somerset Amphitheater, Somerset, Wisconsin; 888.458.8297
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