This summer, Des Moines, Iowa's own Slipknot — along with Disturbed, Mastodon, DragonForce, Machine Head, the Red Chord, Suicide Silence and a handful of others — will be taking part in the inaugural run of Warped Tour mastermind Kevin Lyman's Rockstar Energy Mayhem festival (otherwise known as the tour that effectively immobilized Sharon Osbourne's long-running Ozzfest).
But Slipknot percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan doesn't care what you call Lyman's latest brainchild, so long as you understand that it's not a festival at all — it's a Slipknot tour, plain and simple.
"It's a bunch of bands opening for Slipknot," Crahan told Metal File last week, during a brief break from the studio, where the band is working on its fourth, still-untitled LP, which should arrive in stores by summer's end. "We're headlining, as it should be. Sorry — it's a Slipknot show, kids. We've been gone for two years, and you've all had the chance to do what you're going to do. But now we're back; step in line. That's what's up. We're the DNA that keeps whatever cell this is moving. Period.
"With me, I've been out with a lot of bands, and I don't care," he continued. "We're back, and it just happens to be this thing called the Rockstar Energy Mayhem festival. That's cool. But we didn't want them, they wanted us. Everyone wants our f---ing money and our kids. We're playing a show, and a bunch of great bands are playing too. But we're back, so get out of our way. Call it what you will, but we're headlining. It's our show, and we're here to kill you."
And he's not kidding. Crahan said he's keyed up for Slipknot's return to the stage, following two years of hibernation, and promises that this summer, the boys will preview some of the new material they've been working on since early February.
"We're going to cast some magical spells, and you're going to get more than you can choke on," he said. "Slipknot is a philosophy, a way of life. We're a great band, and if you don't know that, I don't know what you know. We've been doing it longer than most bands can, and no one has done it harder than us."
According to Crahan, Slipknot brought an abundance of songs into the studio and is nearing the completion of the effort, under the direction of producer Dave Fortman (Mudvayne, Superjoint Ritual). And while he wouldn't go into detail about the LP (frontman Corey Taylor said in a recent interview with Billboard that the album would "rip your face off"), he scoffed at the suggestion that it's the band's heaviest offering to date.
"I'm not that guy who's going to tell you it's harder," he said. "Harder, to me, doesn't mean anything. I could give a sh-- about hard. Hard means nothing to the Clown. Slipknot is a phenomenon, it's an enigma, and the enigma weighs on your emotions. And the emotions aren't just heavy, they're cerebral, they're surreal and they're on a whole other level. I just know that this album is different than anything we've done."
When asked to elaborate, Clown refused, saying that the music, once it's released, would speak for itself. "Listen, we are the hardest ever," he said. "We blow all bands away. I don't give a f--- who your band is. I've probably played with your band, and you don't show me sh--. So, it's like, is this band heavy? Oh, yeah, we're the heaviest. We're heavy thinkers, heavy hitters, heavy writers and heavy people, but it's emotionally heavy. There's a lot of emotion on this record, and we're all on the same page with our own emotions, so you're finally seeing the kings of all the courts bringing their kingdom's jewels in for one gigantic war."
But Clown did admit that the record sounds more mature than anything they've done previously, because, well, they're all grown up.
"It's a record made by a bunch of f---ing adults, and that's why it's different. Every record should be different," Crahan said. "Our self-titled came out in '98, and the second record, people were thinking maybe we'd give 'em more commerciality, and give in like everybody else does. But instead, we go completely against that, and we made the anti-sophomore record, and we get all the respect for that.
"The third record, we start moving in directions we always wanted to. Basically, on the second record, it was like, 'We're the drug penetrating the vein, and we're on our way to your brain and your heart,' " he continued. "The third record was, 'Now, I'm in your brain. Check out this other sh--. No other band can handle this. No one can fathom what we do. This fourth record was done by a bunch of crazy guys in their 30s. That doesn't mean we're slowing down or not as intense — our brains are different, so we're bringing different emotions, different feelings and different anxieties to the table now. This record is another diagnosis of our insanity.
"No one has done what we have done," he added. "This is a war, man. The sh-- that we do, nine guys trying to f---ing write together, and keep this insanity going? Does anybody take the time to realize that? For me, this is like going to Vietnam, serving your tour and then the government asking you to do another tour because you're a badass. We've got 10 purple hearts, and we're f---ing killers. This isn't your rock and roll; this is our rock and roll."
For Crahan, making the record hasn't been a picnic. The music has taken an emotional toll on him ("This sh--'s real, it hurts, and I've cut myself open and given everything to this record," he said), but he's cool with that — so long as Slipknot's allegiant fans, the Maggots, aren't disappointed with it.
"The reason the fans love us is because they sense and feel something they've never gotten from anybody else — it's loyalty, it's respect and more importantly, they've finally found someone who feels like they feel," he said. "We're not your normal band. We represent something to kids they never gotten from school, or their parents, or other bands. We supply a feeling only Slipknot can supply. We have our own culture, because, we've done this 10 years for you, and 12 years for ourselves.
"We have nine guys, and all nine are different," Crahan went on. "But we're still doing this, so I'm amazed. That's how f---ing badass we are. Some stupid band with three members or four members wants to bellyache to me? Come on, man — this is the 'Knot. This is nine guys, an assault on the senses, a physical war through music, and it's going to be force-fed down your throat, and it will turn your insides out. It's been designed to destroy you."