Slipknot’s Clown Has ‘Come Full Circle’ in The Black Dots of Death
Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan has never been a man known to rest, literally. A chronic insomniac since childhood, the Slipknot percussionist seems to always have extra time to work on his paintings, photography, and other musical projects including The Black Dots of Death.
When Noisecreep recently caught up with Crahan, he explained that death itself was the main inspiration behind The Black Dots of Death recordings. “I’ve been obsessed with death since I was a little kid,” Crahan said. “I don’t really know why that’s been a thing with me, but [death] just seems like an absolute. I felt maybe since it’s an absolute, then maybe it’s something I should be check into.”
From his early attempts at poetry as a teenager to the gory visuals that have defined Slipknot, death has been an integral theme for Crahan every step of the way. But it wasn’t until the untimely death of original Slipknot bassist Paul Gray, and a near-death experience of another close friend last year, that the finality of death became a driving force for Crahan.
“[Paul Gray's death] really put life into reality,” he said. Crahan admitted he still struggles with articulating just how much he misses his former bandmate. “It really got me. It got me more than my parents. I mean you know your parents are going to die; they’re older than you and they take care of you.”
“Life is ending,” said Crahan. “I’m 41 years old and life is on the verge of just being done, and I don’t know if I can handle it.’ After a close friend suffered a stroke, he told Crahan, ‘If there is something you can do today, do it, because tomorrow may never come.’ Hearing that, Crahan realized that The Black Dots of Death could no longer be a project to meander and experiment with: the band had to live. Soon after, Crahan finished the final three songs for the band’s debut album, ‘Ever Since We Were Children.’
“I’ve kind of had a wake-up call,” the drummer said. “It’s not all about me. It shouldn’t be me at the center stage. My art in my head just needs to come out for me — for my legacy, and who I am.”
On first listen, there’s a violence flowing through the heart of The Black Dots of Death’s avant-garde stylings that’s reminiscent of the attitude in Slipknot’s earlier music. “I’ve come full circle,” Crahan says of the connection between his old and newer work. “But [the violence this time] is less physical and more mental. Back then it was, ‘I’m going to kill, kill, kill. Oh, these people don’t believe Slipknot’s real? Everybody get out of the way, I’m gonna kick the door in. If I can’t kick it in, I’m gonna run through it, and if I can’t run through it, we’re all going to run through it. We’re gonna make them believers.’”
Lately, Crahan has been spending a lot of his time on the phone with his fans. Originally, the plan was to call 10 random fans who pre-ordered the Black Dots of Death debut CD and confirmed with their phone number, but that vision got scrapped. Crahan is now trying to call as many as he can.
“I’m finding out how old they are, if they go to school, if they work, what they’re studying, what they were, what’s going on where they live. I’m saying ‘thank you’ for believing in me.”
He continues, “I’m just trying to get back to myself. That’s all because of all the loss and the death. Basically, [I'm] preparing for my own death, getting everything that I can get in this reality before that time ends. Because I could wake up tomorrow and it’s gonna be done.”
‘Ever Since We Were Children’ comes out March 29th via Rocket Science Ventures.