Slipknot: Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan on Paul Gray, ‘Iowa’ and the future

By on 11 October 2011

Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan has spoken to Terrorizer in advance of ‘Iowa’s imminent anniversary.

October 31st sees the re-issue of Slipknot’s devastating second album ‘Iowa’ – a decade since it changed the face of extreme metal.

Terrorizer magazine will be celebrating the story behind the album with an exclusive interview with founding member Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan, which you’ll be able to read in our Dark Recollections feature within issue 216 of the magazine on sale November 3. But seeing as ‘Iowa’ hasn’t left the Terrorizer stereo in weeks, we’re sharing some exclusive interview content NOW!

Can you tell us what were some of the biggest external influences that went into the writing process behind ‘Iowa’.

“Basically being on the road for a long, long time for the first record [1999’s self-titled debut], not knowing if we were ever going to stop, taking all that knowledge, not making a fucking dollar that whole time, the drugs, the alcohol, the isolation, the sadness of being alone for some. Those are just a few things that went into making ‘Iowa’. And lest not forget where the world was at that time the world was a very scary place at that time, things that happened in 2001, that changed the world forever.”

Was there any fun in making ‘Iowa’?

“None. Zero.”

How would you describe yourself going into make that album.

“I was already a pretty self-destructive person even on the first record and the first record cut me open to being a full-fledged lunatic in my own right. When ‘Iowa’ came around ‘cos of all the things that were interfering – the business, the chemicals, the women, money, the fame, all the shit that came into play – it really took me to a whole another level of darkness.

“I am an only child so when I separate myself from people I do it better than anyone ‘cos their ain’t no finding me. You don’t find only children, you grow up learning how to be fucking alone and how to hide perfectly, how not to answer the phone, how to make sure we’re in places no one can find – so that’s pretty much how I lived.”

Looking back, a decade later, was it worth it?

“One hundred per cent. Would do it all over again. Wouldn’t change a thing. Don’t want to do it all over again.”

Have you got it in you to make another ‘Iowa’?

“We will never recreate ‘Iowa’. We can always make a heavy record, we can always make a dark record. I don’t like to think we would do it to ‘out-do’ that record because there would be no progress, and the reason why a record like that hasn’t been written is because we haven’t been in those circumstances.

“And I would say though, a lot of where we are at these days is leading up to some of that kind of feeling, and obviously with our bro [Paul Gray] being gone does not help our brains at all. And that brings for some dark thinking and some dark times.”

How’s your mood right now?

“My mood? I am going to be honest I have never been as angry as I am right now. There is a lot of reasons for it, my wife struggles with a disease [Crohn’s Disease], I hurt for her, it rips me apart. My kids are all older and they are going through crap that life throws at you at those ages and I really never saw it coming; and to be honest losing my brother – I’m just not going to let go of that.

“Paul Gray is the number one reason I was able to be the artist I am because he believed in me. I loved his ability to write songs and the songs that he wrote made me feel and together we pushed each other to be the best and to make it happen and now he’s gone and that songwriting has gone. It doesn’t matter if people like to hear that or not, it’s the truth.”

What does Paul mean to you?

“Paul was a musical fucking genius. In the studio I used to get frustrated with him cos he would take so long but now I understand it, He was looking for that one note that took it [a song] over the edge; it could just be one fucking note.

“He was a genius, he was the real deal from the streets of Los Angeles; [a] hard-assed life. He and I were exactly the same person from different sides of the tracks: I was a spoiled-rotten only child, went to a private school and he had a hard life. When we met and we were exactly the same person in the head, we were exactly one of the same thing.

“I am who I am these days cos of his belief in me and it’s really hard to just want to do it without him.”

How do you think Paul would look back at ‘Iowa’?

“That album is his; that’s his greatest accomplishment; that’s his tombstone; that’s his baby; that’s his pain. He got peace cos he got that out. He didn’t do it alone, I’m not discrediting everyone else, but [‘Iowa’s] Paul fucking Gray, that’s just the way it is. Don’t let anyone tell you any fucking different.”

‘Iowa – The 10th Anniversary Edition’ is out on October 31 via Roadrunner


About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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