CLOWN – The musician, songwriter, music producer and artist known as Michael Shawn Crahan, aka Clown. He is comfortable with being called Clown for that is who he truly is, on or off the stage, whether performing with the legendary Slipknot or with his new macabre and Extreme band called The Black Dots Of Death. With his side projects To My Surprise and Dirty Little Rabbits in-between, there is only one Clown associated with them all. Clown is not your stereotypical “Rock Star”, instead he is an artist that delves deep into the human psyche, revealing what he finds along the way, while never being bashful to push the envelope.
There is much more to Clown than his being a founding member and percussionist for Slipknot. Oh, there’s so much more. All one needs to do, when a golden opportunity arises, is talk to Clown and find out for oneself just how unique, open minded, brutally honest and caring he unmistakably is. Hard Rock Hideout recently had the opportunity to talk with the legendary Clown… only Clown did the most talking. That’s the way it should be. When a man like Clown, who holds such hard earned status in today’s Heavy Metal climate and Rock Music history, coupled with his volumes of knowledge on life itself wants to speak… I’m going to listen. Here is what Clown had to say:
HRH: “Ever Since We Were Children” combines a mix of music styles that carries it’s dark themes in a maniacal sense of emotions. This album flows so well and it works for me. How do you pull this off? What’s the method to your madness?
CLOWN: Well, “what’s the method to your madness” is a good question! Anyone who spends a lot of time with me really knows me. When I was young, I used to think I wouldn’t make it to forty one years old! Now, I’m hoping to make it to sixty one! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) Let’s hope!
CLOWN: I took a physical the other day and I filmed the nurse taking blood from my arm. I sent the video to my wife’s phone and said, “look what I’m doing today”! I filmed my parents cremation too. I was invited and asked by Paul Gray’s wife to film the birth of their child. I’m always searching for more truths and answers. In schools, they should be teaching us about death and preparing us for death. I have a friend who is suffering from a life changing and traumatic experience, I spoke to him two weeks ago. He said don’t take life for granted, live for the day because you can’t predict what will happen. You have to get as much done today because you don’t know if your gonna get killed in a car wreck tonight.
HRH: How true it is, Clown.
CLOWN: I’ve lost my Mom, Dad and now my best friend last year. My first best friend. It has all struck a chord with me, that life is fragile, life is random.
HRH: I couldn’t agree with you more, Clown.
CLOWN: This new album is something I’ve been working on for ten years now. The whole psychosis audio experience and dangerous thinking is happening on this album. I’m always opening my minds eye into different ways of thinking. I’m not wasting anymore time and not waiting for the next Slipknot album. I want to facilitate the art that’s inside of me and bundle it together. Just because I’m a percussionist, people don’t know I’m an all around artist. I play drums with The Black Dots Of Death, only you are getting more from me, a freedom of artistic expression and more than just a percussionist.
HRH: Which do you prefer to be addressed as, Shawn or Clown?
CLOWN: People who know me, know me as Clown and call me Clown. I’ve always been Clown and always will be Clown. It’s who I am, a reference in a sort of way. My real name is Michael Shawn Crahan. You can call me Shawn, still, calling me Clown is correct.
HRH: Okay, Clown it is! I thank you for clarifying that with me.
CLOWN: Not a problem.
HRH: Is it fair to think “Ever Since We Were Children” imitates aspects of life that no one wants to talk about?
CLOWN: Yes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, through being a member of Slipknot and living a life of Rock and Roll, is I’ve received a Phd… a Doctorate in Rock and Roll. I could give a class on passports, different currencies, countries, pyrotechnics and drum lifts. I have a real sense on all that through experience. I tell a lot of people that my career in the old days was based on extreme danger and extreme violence. Now, I search for salvation through music. In my last twelve years, my feelings of salvation were brought on by being a member of Slipknot.
HRH: That’s really cool, Clown.
CLOWN: Twelve years later, I’m still searching through my feelings and applying them to The Black Dots Of Death. Two other bands I was in were based on how I was brought up in the seventies and the music I grew up on. Listening to my mother play guitar and the whole Monterey Pop Festival thing had an affect on me. This record is all stories and situations that a lot of people want to ignore and not talk about. It’s been a waiting game to reinvent my anger. I recently did an art show on my lifes work… no parents could attend and losing my best friend who couldn’t be there really hurt.
HRH: What comes first for you, an album’s theme or the song’s lyrics?
CLOWN: Basically, the music is written first. With “Lower Than Dirt” I remembered that I had the “fat kid” reference hit at me while growing up and it hurt, it made me feel “lower than dirt”. I wrote a song a day while writing this album, the experience was great with the producers and engineers. The songs on the new album are short stories, written for people like they’ve gone through them. I’m an only child, so the closest thing to a brother I’ve ever had in my life is my lead singer. He thinks a lot like I think. He is willing to fight to the death and not give a shit what other people think… with responsibility that is. There is responsibility in the way I act and the things I say, of course. He’s very ready to stand up to what he believes in. He builds his mindset around all his lyrics and he is the lead singer. I give my lead singer all these songs, then on a certain day and depending on how he feels is how he approaches the songs. Something will happen in “his” life and that is how he approaches writing songs.
HRH: The songs on “Ever Since We Were Children” are dark, melancholy and do make me feel nervous!
CLOWN: I’ll start my mindset around the sound of a song, combining both frequencies that are audible and inaudible. When you mix in audible with inaudible frequencies, it creates psychosis audio. Something is taking place there that truly affects people!
HRH: Whoa, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that before! (laughs)
CLOWN: I purposely do it, I’m diagnosed with severe depression and I go from one state of living to a next state of living. I like to get paranoia, stress and heart rates up with people! If someone tells me, Clown, I had to eventually turn off that Slipknot or Black Dots Of Death album because it made me very nervous, then that is the greatest compliment I can ever receive! You’ve listened to the first Slipknot album, I’m sure.
HRH: I certainly have!
CLOWN: There is a lot of psychosis audio happening on that first album.
HRH: I realize that now! (laughs)
CLOWN: I like to take music to the realm of insanity, it’s like, take me to that zone! Back then, when we made the first Slipknot album, you were dealing with nine guys who would cut their hands off and do anything to get somewhere in life and in this music business. I put all of my life experiences into my music and I have to write a song a day. I’m going in for minor surgery next week and I have anxiety over it. So, I incorporate this into my music. My wife celebrated this past Thanksgiving away from me, so I was invited over to a friends house for Thanksgiving dinner. Their food wasn’t my wife’s food, so I wrote the song “Thanks For Nothing”. It was the anxiety I experienced that day, from not having my wife’s food. All the riffs and the way this song was written reflects the way I felt that day.
HRH: Based on what is happening in the world today, is there any hope for mankind?
CLOWN: None. It’s very disturbing about how I and others feel about it. Let’s look at the facts. The end of the world has been written about and discussed since man has been able to write, paint and make music. Bigger, faster, quicker and cheaper is our downfall. I’ve watched the talking heads on television, each giving their reasons as to why the world is a mess. They say it’s economical aspects, a shortage of water and over population. I’ve turned to my wife and said, if you add up all nine ideas we’re listening to on television, then you have the recipe for disaster. We have beings in space studying micro gravity already. We’re already off this planet! To quote Radiohead, “dinosaurs already ruled the earth”, there was a T-Rex running around this planet, devouring this planet. Now, it’s us making a mess of it! We’re not doing very well when we have an oil spill in the ocean and it takes that long to cap it! That was an insult to our Earth and mankind.
HRH: Apocalyptic Nightmare.com has been launched. This should prove to be an excellent outlet for you to showcase and sell your art. Will you consistently add your art to this site?
CLOWN: It’s taken me a long time within the management family to get this site launched. If I had waited for management, my site would not be up as we’re speaking. I want things to fly around and get to the facts. Like my friend I mentioned earlier said, “get it done today”. About one eighth of this site is done. There are no videos or film uploaded just yet. I want my album covers, poetry, short stories and all my paintings up. Three bands I’ve produced are on it and I played drums and wrote songs for them too. There will be a remix section along with a photo and painting section. I had and have a certain way to get things done. There will be a link to get my book when it’s done. Contact information for signings, public speakings and slide shows of my life experiences as well. It’s going to take a lot of time, there are thousands of pictures I want to share and more merchandise to be sold with my artwork on it. It’s kinda like my tombstone and what my Mom always said, “I was a renaissance man”.
HRH: That’s going to be a fabulous site once it’s all complete Clown.
CLOWN: Once our website comes out, The Black Dots Of Death.com, everyone will know who our lead singer is. In the meantime, let everyone know we’re coming for them! The Black Dots Of Death is a dangerous band, with danger all around us!
HRH: Where do you draw inspiration from?
CLOWN: I work with Make-A-Wish Foundation. I get incredible strength from these kids. To be a part of this is an amazing and surreal feeling. It gives me a serious mindset, to speak with a kid that is terminal. I get disturbed by talking to a terminally ill kid who is way more positive than me, then they ask me, what’s wrong with you? I’ve seen kids who have had their arms and legs blown off at a children’s hospital. We get invited to go in and it’s so surreal, I’ve seen some crazy things, mind blowing things that I want to share with people. I’m funny sometimes, yet I’m really serious too.
HRH: That is just admirable Clown, your working with Make-A-Wish Foundation.
CLOWN: As kids get older and healed, they’ll have a family, find us and thank us for the time I spent with them. I like to be next to kids and sometimes I’m brought to tears by the questions they ask me. I’m good at public speaking and a lot has happened in my life, so I like to tell kids my experiences. I’ve met kids who cut themselves, they come to our show with their parents and they are embarrassed by being with their parents. I always say to them “you are lucky and very fortunate to have parents like this”. Management will always ask me the day before or night before a Make-A-Wish engagement. They know full well that it gives me anxiety thinking about the engagement, in the days leading up to it.
HRH: All requests go through management then?
CLOWN: Management is my direct connection for me to produce a band, do a remix, drum clinics and public speaking as well. I like speaking about going from a small town to a big band.
HRH: Will there ever be another new Slipknot studio album again?
CLOWN: In my heart of hearts and soul of souls, I think there would be another Slipknot record again. I would love another Slipknot record! Please, don’t print this and quote “Clown said there would definitely be another Slipknot album”. Nothing is in the works right now. I live for the day, one day at a time. It would be a special day for a new Slipknot record to come out. Still, there are no guarantees in life. I cannot predict the future, I’m not a fortune teller. Right now, I want to celebrate my bass player’s life, (Paul Gray), our love for him and love for our band.