“Slipknot now is about being true to ourselves, and we know what we want”: Clown on celebrating the debut record and potential surprise shows

Slipknot mastermind Clown reflects on the upcoming 25th anniversary of their debut album, playing it in full on tour, band philosophy, and even teases some surprise shows...

“Slipknot now is about being true to ourselves, and we know what we want”: Clown on celebrating the debut record and potential surprise shows
Mischa Pearlman
Main photo:
Jonathan Weiner
Live photo:
Anthony Scanga

Somehow, next year it’ll be a quarter of a century since Slipknot released their game-changing debut self-titled album. To celebrate, the Iowa metal legends have lined up a bunch of live dates in Europe and the UK – including a just-announced second night at London’s O2 – that take place about a year from now. That might seem like a long time away, but it’ll be here before we know it. And so, to get ourselves overly excited already, Kerrang! spoke to Clown about the tour and what the celebration means to him and the rest of the band – as well as other plans the band may or may not have...

2024 is 25 years since the first Slipknot album came out. That makes us feel very old – so how does it make you feel?
“Well, I feel the same way. You don’t go through life ever expecting to wind up on the other side of an older age, and then all of a sudden the path opens up and here you are, and you’re looking back like, ‘Wow, this is my life.’ I’ve spent half of my life in the thought process known as Slipknot and I’ll be honest, sometimes that’s hard to take. And other times it’s perfectly natural. So I feel the same way, in that it seems like yesterday and I have a really good recollection of it, and a very good sense of being through it, but it is 25 years come this June. And Paul [Gray] and I were doing Slipknot even years before we got everybody [else], so it’s just been a life lived of this.”

Which does mean you’re not getting any younger, yet it’s still such violent music – especially that first album. You’ve already said you’re going to bring “an energy you’ve never experienced before” to these shows. How are you going to do that?
“I don’t want this to sound like a cop-out, but honestly, we’re special. We are a very, very unique thing. And I can say that now. We’ve always boasted about that, but now, living it my whole life and being around the world and being around many, many, many peers and artists of all different forms, we’re just unique in the sense that I don’t think we’re ever going to know any other way. Sometimes I’m scared to think that I’ll be 70, pretending to myself that I’m going to slam while playing the song (sic). But the crazy thing is, you and I both know that it’s possible. I don’t know exactly what it looks like, but if I get there, I will have worked it out in my own self and I will work out what it means to the unit, as will everybody else – however it is and whoever it is. But the point is, that’s the gift. We just have this thing that I’m really blessed to be a part of.”

That seems like a very philosophical take – and not one that gels with the general impression of Slipknot, which is much more visceral, especially at the beginning. Was that thoughtful edge always there, though, and just hidden beneath the music?
“It’s a hard question to answer. I do not denounce the fact that we were primitive, that we were spiritual on our task. I’m not happy about a lot of the ways I acted, and I feel like maybe there were some people that were giving it a chance, but they were still being snide and very condescending at all times. And that’s where I’d just be like, 'forward-motion, kick the fucking door in, get the hell out of my way'. You no longer matter. And I don’t necessarily agree with that, but the world was a different place, and we were different.

"I do believe there was always a philosophy – not as sharp as now, because you get sharp as you get older. I’m more dangerous now than I ever was. I promise you, I’m going out the way I came in here. You don’t have a choice on that. The fans don’t have a choice on that. Nothing in the solar system has a choice on that. I’m going out the same way I came in. It’s been a wonderful life – I’m super lucky – but we’re dangerous. And the joke’s on everybody. We do what we want and we always come true with it. And so the future is a very violent future indeed, because we’re probably going out the same way we came in. But this is way more expanded than that. I don’t relive what I was. I am here now, and I’m letting you know, musically, artistically, verbally, spiritually, religiously, whatever, that it’s on. So I like that question, because honestly, I don’t have to denounce it like it was yesteryear. It actually is boiling in the recipe right now, so I don’t know if it ever went away. I’m probably still as much Cro-Magnon man [early humans] as I am the philosopher shepherd that you’re deeming me.”

So how are you going to celebrate that first record? Will you be playing the whole thing on this tour?
“Are you joking right now? You’re talking about the anniversary of one of the greatest metal albums to ever release in the thought process known as reality, and you think this 54-year-old man who just told you ‘I’m going out the way I came in’, you think for one moment that this album isn’t going to be played in its entirety in front of, like, a hundred people, 200 people, 300 people, 50,000 people. I’m not going to live forever, man. Neither is everybody else. Things are changing very quickly. I ain’t got no more time to fuck around. That is the vehicle of my soul, and the remembrance, the memories, the heartache of lost brothers and even sisters – all these people that are gone and we’re still doing it. Yeah, we’re going to play that album from beginning to end. But I sure as hell am not going to just succumb to the corporate world and give all those people what they want. They’re going to get it. But you know what we’re going to get? We’re going to have fun, too. So that means small shows and you won’t know until you hear it. And if you heard it, you’re already too late and you’re not going to see it. So you better open up your soul, because then you’ll feel it and you won’t have to hear it, because I’m being very serious. What I would say to you is, when do you think our first show is?"

Given that you asked that, probably not next December?
“We’ve got shows, brother. And I doubt you know when my first show is. I doubt I know when my first show is. What I am going to say is that we love our fans, we love our band, we love what we’ve done. We are in a very special place. We’ve never been happier because we’ve just been working on ourselves for a long time. And I’m not trying to sound crazy or whatever, but there is still a very deep thing between the OGs, and there’s five of us. And we have some pride in that and we have deep things we still work on fixing and we’re doing a lot better at that, and because of that, things are a lot easier. We’re really happy.

"The End, So Far is done. We’re off a record label, we’re off a merch company, and we’ve decided to move on. We’re moving on. We’re already there. We don’t pull a trigger unless it’s loaded, and we already hit the target. We’re confident enough to put out some dates. That’s all I can tell you, but I think you’re going to be happy. I think everybody is, because nobody knows anything. That’s all I know. Because of that, I’m super-happy. It’s just Slipknot as usual, and if you love Slipknot then you know what’s coming. Because Slipknot now is about being true to ourselves, and we know what we want. Honestly, brother, I’m really excited for everyone, for the future of Slipknot. I’m really excited for all of you guys, for what we want to do for ourselves. And if we work hard and do what we want to do, which we are, it’s really going to be an exciting 2024, and I think things are going to happen that you wouldn’t think ever could.”

Sounds like you have an awful lot planned out…
“Yeah. Instead of taking a couple of years off like we have previously in between each album – from Iowa up to The End, So Far – we decided to still do our craft. And that’s what you’re starting to see unload right now. You’re seeing moments in a year take place. So we just released some dates and it’s a small fraction of this kind of thought process [being] sprinkled out. Now, what’s different about that? Well, again, you wouldn’t have that if we were running like yesteryear where we just take the two years off. Time’s getting short and I don’t have any time for all this. I want to play 'God music' and I want to kick you in the face, and the only way to do that is small shows, things in their entirety, remembering where I came from and the way shows used to be in clubs.”

Slipknot's 25th anniversary UK and European tour kicks off in December 2024. Tickets are on sale now

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