Rogue on Rogue: M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan of Slipknot and "The Devil's Carnival" Director Darren Lynn Bousman
Mon, 16 Jul 2012 08:07:11
Slipknot visionary and percussionist M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan is no stranger to hell.
He's done a better job at creating a sonic equivalent to the devil's playground than any other musician in history. Everything Slipknot does possesses much deeper meaning than what's immediately on the surface. You have to let him pull you into the underworld to feel it. Whether it's their uncompromising performances or brutally brilliant music, there are numerous layers. The vision is never tainted, and that's why Slipknot remain one of the most important bands on the planet—ever.
That inimitable and unbreakable spirit is what attracted director Darren Lynn Bousman to Clown in the first place. He cast Mr. Crahan as The Tamer in his latest masterpiece, The Devil's Carnival. It's a delightfully demented musical about three wayward souls lost in hell's carnival and the myriad of characters they encounter. The Tamer is by far the most menacing due to the filmmaker's perception of him and Clown's powerful delivery. Like Slipknot, The Devil's Carnival is as real as it gets…
ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino sat down with both M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan of Slipknot and The Devil's Carnival mastermind Darren Lynn Bousman to talk the film, The Tamer, hell, the film's current tour, Shawn's brand new photography book Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, and so much more.
When was the last time your paths crossed?
Darren Lynn Bousman: It was The San Bernardino Mayhemfestival show. Dude, you're insane! You're a fucking madman on stage.
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: Well, you know how it is. That's how I get my pain out. That's who I really am. I don't wear a mask. That's who I've always been. Everybody is who they are. With the band, that violence and persona kind of stem from me. It's my life. Did you enjoy yourself?
Darren Lynn Bousman: I loved it! The whole experience was awesome.
In The Devil's Carnival, what's your take on The Tamer?
Darren Lynn Bousman: For me, he's an enforcer. He's the devil's right hand man. He's a no-nonsense, balls-to-the-wall dude. He doesn't fuck around. Clown is intimidating already. He's a scary presence as himself. When you put the makeup and costume on him, he walks around with the mace and he's got scars on his eyes. He becomes infinitely scarier and more intense. He's quiet, and he's not running around screaming and yelling. There's this silent presence which makes him scary. What I'm most excited about is where this character is going to go. You just saw the beginning of The Tamer. His role is going to continue to expand. The next time you see that character is going to be a song with other characters. In the first episode, he doesn't actually sing. You'll see him in a much a different light.
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: My take is I'm The Tamer. My whole life has been moving to film. I'm never going to pretend to be an actor. In Slipknot, there's not an actor in the fucking world that could ever play me—never. I'd have to be there. I'd have to be screaming. I'd have to hit him in the fucking face to be me. The Tamer is so close to what I am it's just another extension. The Tamer is in between Clown and Shawn. It's like when you're in your own imagination and you're talking to someone. You're trying to be polite because that's how you were brought up, but you're really thinking that you'd like to spit in this person's face. It's not because you want to disrespect them, but you want to see what they'd do about it, whether they'll smack you, spit back, or look at you with humanity and ask, "Why'd you do that?" I like being silent as The Tamer because you have to try to understand what I'm thinking. What I'm thinking is what Lucifer is speaking to me through the act of Satanism. We're radar-ed together. If you see me in the film, it's because I'm asked to be there. You don't ever see Lucifer ask The Tamer to be there. You have to use your imagination. If I'm there, I'm there to enforce with the strictest hand possible. I'll do whatever is asked of me. By watching myself on screen, I've already grown. If I'm honored enough to be a part of this ongoing thing, you're only going to see a monster that is built. I've already seen the way The Tamer needs to be. You're going to see me grow even more. You haven't seen Lucifer pull me aside and say, "I want you to do this". I'm just there. You have to use your mind. I can portray that more because I have more of an understanding of where Darren is going with it. The whole time we were making it, I watched everybody, and I learned as much as I could from everybody. For every scene I wasn't in, I tried to picture what The Tamer would be doing. The Tamer is so fucking me, man. That's the funny thing. Darren is so incredible with his vision. I love art so much. The Devil's Carnival is art. The color is dripping off the screen. The songs are infectious. The wardrobe and carnival are incredible. I love it because it's hell. I created hell in my life. The Tamer is Shawn Crahan.
Darren Lynn Bousman: Hail Satan [Laughs].
Photo by: Scott Uchida
What did you two initially bond over when you first met?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Shawn and I didn't have a chance to talk a lot before he got up there. I was in the middle of crazy amounts of pre-production. When he finally got up there, he was just such a nice dude and a true artist. The first thing he showed me was his web site and his photography. His art transcends various different mediums, and that impressed me immensely. I've also got to tell you something badass he did. It was one of the funniest actor meetings I'd ever had. This producer Sean E. brought up Clown to me. I said, "Okay, that's a cool idea. Let's set up a meeting". I've listened to Slipknot numerous times in the past ten years. The music has come to me through various avenues. I went into the room, and I was there with Clown and a couple of other people. The first thing he did was pull a poster down of Slipknot. He went, "So you want me in your movie? Point to me on this poster". He slapped it down in front of me. It was the most badass thing I'd ever seen anybody do. He was staring at me with his arms crossed. I was sweating [Laughs]. To have him step on set and be one of the most humble and cool guys in the entire world, he's an enigma. I still haven't figured him out, and that's what I love about him.
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: Darren is an ultimate artist. When you're so involved in your art and vision, you're crazy. You've got a million things going on. When I walked in, I could feel the intensity behind the project he was talking to me about. That's what I like to be around. I like to be around crazy artists. Darren had three million things on his mind and none of them were putting gas in his car or changing the toilet paper roll at his house. It was The Devil's fucking Carnival. I thought, "These are the people I want to work with". At times, I'm like that. I'm unavailable. Don't talk to me about mowing my lawn. I'll get to it after I do thirty photo shoots. I put art first. When I met Darren, it was in his eyes and body language. He was obsessed with this vision he had. I only want to associate myself with people who I know are going to get it done. I shadowed him the whole time to learn. I knew we were the same, but I could see he was out of his fucking mind with this thing called The Devil's Carnival. I care about artists taking something from their subconscious and making it tangible for the whole world. When I looked into his eyes, I knew what was in his brain was going to be delivered by his hand to the general public.
Is the ultimate reward inspiring others with your art?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah! One of the things I really respect about "Clown" is he came out to numerous stops on the road tour. He might've come out more than any of the other actors supporting us and what we were doing. He was able to see firsthand how this movie affects other people. There's no greater reward than knowing what you've done is going to affect other people. It's going to inspire them to put makeup on, wear a certain kind of costume, or be themselves. To me, that's a cool thing I've been a part of.
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: I'm the same way, man. How many directors, writers, or people with vision get in a van and go around with a smile on their face every day? This crowd is comprised of the same kids I picked to represent in Slipknot. He goes out and gives all of them kindness and love. I respect the touring they do. I'm on tour right now, and you've got to be a fucking pirate to tour. These guys are pirates. Every night, they were warm and smiling. I love breathe and eat art. Family comes first because I have four kids and have been married for 19 years. I will die on my own stage though. I will die on the church of Slipknot giving the sermon to the congregation. That's what I'm fucking about. I'm just happy to be a part of something with people who care that much and go the extra mile. Whether I'm involved in the long haul or short haul, that one experience was art. Everyone cared. Props to these guys. It means so much for these kids to come out and speak to Darren and show him the costumes they've made. You make a cult like this. That's worth a million dollars.
Darren Lynn Bousman: It's pretty badass.
Which moves have spoken to you the most?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Any movie that elicits a reaction. It's a moving target. It's constantly changing. I think of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, and films that caused a guttural reaction from me. Also, I'd say movies that break the mold and take risks. Those are the things I love. I'm a huge fan of movies from the '70s—The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, and The Tenant. I'm always unnerved by them.
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: I've got a parallel theme here. I'm like the Travis Bickle who was in Vietnam turned into Colonel Kurtz and checked out. Those are my movies like Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, and The Deer Hunter. Think of Travis skipping New York, going up the river and becoming Kurtz. That's what I want to be. I want to check out of this reality. For me, it's movies that take me away from the stop signs, the street lights, curbs, and some asshole at Walmart. I want to be the guy who's had enough and he goes and gets everything by finding peace in himself. Those films speak to me. The Exorcist is awesome. I love it, but I always want to be Darth Vader [Laughs]. I wanted to turn back into Anakin. It's easy to hate; it's impossible to love. It's the perfect scenario for me. Go cause some shit, and then come back and be a dad. The movies I can put myself into have the greatest impact for me because they touch home so hardcore.
Photos by Corey Soria of Slipknot in Mountain View, CA at Mayhem 2012
What's on the horizon for The Devil's Carnival on this upcoming tour?
Darren Lynn Bousman: We have a new MC, and that's going to give a whole new flavor to the night. We have fan-driven contests. There a new opening acts. You're seeing stage one of The Devil's Carnival. It's going to get a lot bigger a lot quicker. We have massive plans on how to release it to the mainstream and the public. We're really excited by it. We're not going to play the traditional game. This is about to be a life now. We want to make this a continuing thing. This is very much just the beginning. You're very much in the first stage of The Devil's Carnival.
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: If there's anything I can do, I'm going to be there. I will absolutely do everything I can. I'm here for you. I work for Satan, what do you want? [Laughs] I'm fucking there.
Tour Dates Below [Click Image]
Watch the trailer below!
Shawn, do you feel like your book Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey resembles a film on paper?
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: I was very upset that I didn't give myself a chance to learn in college. It's not that I wanted a degree, but I was upset that I didn't prove to myself I can learn. I was in bars learning rock 'n' roll, and I chose to start Slipknot. I'm very fortunate and blessed to have done. Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey is eleven years of medium format Polaroid manipulation. The world wants to be perfect. People want to be perfect. Then, they develop this mindset of perfectionism, which is all about control. None of us have control, especially if we want to control something that can never be perfect. I would pull the trigger of my gun. I'd pull the Polaroid out, deconstruct it, destroy it, demanufacture it, and by doing that I made something original. That ended up being perfect for me. It's like if the three of us were looking in a mirror at each other, we'd say, "None of us look alike". That is originality. That is perfect. There's no control over that. None of us have control over that perfection. We didn't even need to try. We were just born into this reality as the most original things because we're original onto ourselves. There's no one who looks like us. My photography is all about destroying this mindset of trying to make things perfect. I'm very into the idea that the action plus the reaction equals the result. The action was, "Take the picture". The reaction was, "Destroy the picture". The result was "Originality equaling perfection". It's the mindset of knocking the stop sign down and not abiding by rules or concepts of what is perfect and why we should be looking for it. Nothing in this world is perfect. Life is circumstantial randomness, and the closer to get to that the more you'll succeed. My book was eleven years in the making. There are so many parallel dots you need to connect in it. You can open it up to the first picture and connect it to the last. It is a moving picture.
It threads together seamlessly.
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan: It's very much from my heart. I'm getting older, and it's time to get inside my brain. Wait until you see what's coming. Joel-Peter Witkin is like my idol. My Polaroid book took eleven years to make. I still have so many more. I could make ten books. This is the first. You have to start somewhere.
Did you dig this interview? Are you excited to see what Clown and Darren do next? Have you seen The Devil's Carnival or Slipknot on Mayhem?
Be sure to get Slipknot's Antennas to Hell collection Tuesday July 24 and don't miss them on Mayhem or at KNOTFEST August 17 and 18!
Also, see our exclusive interview with Corey Taylor here and a list of his favorite concerts here.
Check out our "Five Reasons We Can't Wait for Slipknot's KNOTFEST here.
See exclusive photos from the amazing Scott Uchida of the band live here!
See our review of the film here!
See our exclusive interview with Ivan Moody and Darren Lynn Bousman here!
Buy tickets to The Devil's Carnival here!