FeaturesWritten by Augustus Welby on August 5, 2019
This year marks 20 years since the release of Slipknot’s self-titled debut album. Emerging as a nine-person metal band from the American Midwest whose members were adamant about wearing grotesque masks and being referred to by numbers instead of their Anglo-Celtic given names, it’s a wonder they’ve survived this long.
But Slipknot have always rebuffed the nu-metal tag, which attempts to confine them to the era from which they merged. This reflects Iowa band’s greater intention to resist definition and continually amplify their eccentricities. Slipknot are back with their sixth album, We Are Not Your Kind, and despite having seen a number of personnel changes in recent years, their recorded identity is unmistakable.
Ahead of the album’s release, Music Feeds spoke to percussionist and backing vocalist M. Shawn Crahan, aka Clown, about Slipknot’s endurance, independent spirit and his belief in the album’s brilliance.
Music Feeds: The night after We Are Not Your Kind comes out, you’re playing a sold out show in your hometown, Des Moines, as part of the Iowa State Fair. Is it important for you to go back home to celebrate the album’s release?
M. Shawn Crahan: It feels the way it should be – to be at home, day off, knowing that the barcode finally gets to eat. The art’s been done forever, we’re just waiting on the damn business now. The business will start and then all the lovely fans will be able to get what they’ve been waiting for.
MF: How significant does Des Moines remain to the Slipknot story? Do you think the band’s identity, or what you represent, is tied to your origins in the Midwest?
MSC: The truth is most people in the band do not live in Des Moines anymore, but being from Des Moines, being raised and most of us being born, we have the Midwest morals and most importantly the work ethic. That follows you no matter where you move to; the work ethic stays with you your whole life. So I do attribute where we’re from to who we are.
It’s a quite fascinating place to grow up. I still live there and I still love the four seasons, even though winter is brutal. Seasons are kind of like art for me; you’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to honestly live through a winter to honestly say how much you love spring.
MF: The title of the new album comes from the 2018 standalone single, ‘All Out Life’. The song’s lyrics talk about the tendency to dismiss the merits of music from an earlier era just because something more fashionable appears. Do you see that song as sending out an alert ahead of We Are Not Your Kind that says, pay attention to what we’re doing, not the trends it may or may not align with?
MSC: I feel once again Slipknot is on its own journey and we will not be baptised into other peoples’ ways. We are the trendsetters. When we go away so does the fun, so does the real art. When we come back we sort of implement the idea of what it could be if you work hard enough. “We are not your kind” is a very pertinent statement to who I believe we are these days.
The song has been out for a long time, but the saying is so much larger than the song. But the words of the song do help solidify the beginning of what that title suggests. But you have to think in broader layers – you have to think about our fans, generations of ages and the new generation that’s just turning 14, entering high school, looking for social acceptance, looking for cultural placement, and once again hard rock music is right there with the tempo of your angst.
MF: Are you conscious of the demographic you’re aiming at when making new music?
MSC: We never really look at that, because if you do that it’ll confuse what you want to do. We want to bring the internal out, bring it external, and that’s a very hard gift, to trust oneself enough to bring whatever it is out.
MF: Over the last 20-years, Slipknot has maintained staggering commercial success across the globe. Do you still experience any of the uncertainty or nervousness around releasing new music that you perhaps would’ve 20 years ago?
MSC: We are not here to make anybody else happy but ourselves and in doing so we continue to make others happy, because there’s a real trust there. You can trust that I’m going to make truthful decisions for myself, and when they end up not being the correct decisions I will be the first person to stand up and be responsible.
MF: You seem committed to making albums in the traditional sense – a unified and dynamic body of work that demands to be listened to in one setting. Was this something that influenced the creation of We Are Not Your Kind?
MSC: We really prided ourselves on this album to really take a moment to appreciate the body of work itself and ask ourselves if we’d given to it all the way, instead of miking drums, getting a drum sound and moving on and meeting a deadline. In the past we spent a lot of time listening to what we’d recorded. This album we never listened to where we were at. We just kept going.
MF: It’s 20 years since your self-titled debut came out. Did that anniversary lead you to evaluate how far you’ve come and also what’s left for you to achieve?
MSC: I reflect daily on just how far we’ve come and I never forget how much work it’s taken to get here. And anybody around me that gets comfortable, I make sure they get a personal hell because I don’t ever want to forget what it really does take to be on top. I’m not talking about a business ratio here. I’m talking about being happy in life. I’m talking about quality of life, being happy around the people you’re choosing to be around.
This is my work environment and I want to feel safe in it, I want to have fun, I want to be able to enjoy god’s music with no interruptions and every day I am enamoured by the ability of this insane anomaly known as Slipknot that it still exists and is devouring souls as we speak.
MF: It seems entirely apt for a record like We Are Not Your Kind to come from a group of men in their 40s – life remains difficult and unexplainable as death moves closer and youthful aggression gives way to a more reflective wistfulness. Do you ever consider the appropriate age to be making this style of music, whether in a philosophical, aesthetic or therapeutic sense?
MSC: Any age is appropriate. Look at how old I am and there’s guys that have been doing it longer than I have and are still doing it. And I get embarrassed with younger kids anyway, making music. All that anger and jumping around – it’s all bullshit. I like exactly where I’m at. The album’s a masterpiece and it’s taken my whole life to get where I’m at, to be able to put forward what I create the way I do these days.
‘We Are Not Your Kind’ is out Friday, 9th August. They’ll return to Australia this October for a headline tour with Metallica. Tour dates below.
Metallica 2019 Australian Tour with Slipknot
Thursday, 17th October Optus Stadium, Perth Tickets: Live Nation
Sunday, 20th October Adelaide Oval, Adelaide Tickets: Live Nation
Tuesday, 22nd October Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Tickets: Live Nation
Thursday, 24th October – NEW SHOW Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Tickets: Live Nation
Saturday, 26th October ANZ Stadium, Sydney Tickets: Live Nation
Tuesday, 29th October QSAC, Brisbane Tickets: Live Nation
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