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Slipknot's Clown On His Exit Strategy

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Nine-piece metal outfit Slipknot begins their headline run on this year's Rockstar Mayhem tour this Saturday in San Bernardino. Their percussionist M. Shawn Crahan -- also known as Clown -- meanwhile has recently released his first art book of photography, The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, as well as launched a film imprint with Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor called Living Breathing Films. (Production will begin on their debut films after the tour is completed.)

We spoke with him about the band, his planned retirement (it involves his wife being topless) and the effect the death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray two years ago had on him.

During live performances you often put yourself at risk of physical injury by doing insane stunts on-stage. Has your recovery time gotten longer as you've gotten older?

Oh yeah ... I'm always injuring myself. I don't know if it's because I'm a klutz or an idiot, I don't know. I just had major knee surgery. I took a trip to Australia, and when I got back I couldn't move my left leg. The normal healing time runs up to the exact date of our first show on Rockstar Mayhem. I'm not worried though about me. I'm worried about Clown. Clown will take the weakness of me, and tell me to deal with it. And then Clown gets to disappear after the show, but I am stuck with all of the damage. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

I treat every show like it's the last. Since the beginning, every show we've told ourselves that this could be the last. My kids know that if I die on-stage, that's where I should have gone. I don't want to, though. I want to live for a very long time. I'd like to retire and leave on a good note. Whenever Slipknot calls it a day, I ain't coming back. I'm in Tahiti with my wife, wearing some stupid briefs on a beach with a Corona in my hand, while she is walking around topless.

So when Clown disappears for good, you're going to disappear for good then also?

Oh yeah, I'll be gone, dude! I'm not going to be a relic. I have other dreams and other aspirations. I want to be a grandpa. I want to give my wife all the time she deserves for all of the time I've been on the road, all of the anniversaries I've missed.

I lost my dad when I was on the road. Something you never want to experience is to get done with a show, be told "that was a great show" and then find out your father died while the show was going on. But my dad knows I was living my dream and was proud of me and taught me everything I know, and is with me every day. But when I hang it up for good, there will just be a few quick words and I'll go on my way.

The cover of Crahan's photography book, "The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey."
The cover of Crahan's photography book, "The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey."

Has Paul Gray's death affected that outlook?

I can't speak for anyone else, please respect that. I can only speak for me and be responsible for me. A lot of people are always telling me, "You know Paul would want you to go on." And my response is very precise. I'd say, "Maybe I don't want to go on without him." And that's the truth. I still have a couple of goals, but they are goals I'm not going to be able to do with him.

We started the band together. He used to live with me. I used to feed him. I used to give him money. He and his little brother used to work at my bar on the weekends, and we would cause mayhem. He loved my art, and I loved his music.

I'm going to be doing a signing for my first photography book. It took 11 years to make. Lars Ulrich wrote the forward to the book. Metallica was one of Paul's favorite bands, and all of this is happening without him there. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be doing any of this. I will have tears in my eyes when someone says, "I'm sorry about Paul," and that will affect me greatly.

You mentioned some of the outside endeavors you want to pursue outside of music. What exactly are your goals with Living Breathing Films?

I want to make psychological thrillers. I want to make you look at life differently.

I remember seeing Taxi Driver while growing up, and my mom would explain how people were in an uproar about Jodie Foster being an underage girl portraying a prostitute. That excited me that you could have that effect on people through cinematography.

I've been married 19 years. The first time I watched Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, I got fifteen minutes into it, pushed "stop" and went upstairs and stared at my wife for half an hour. She looked up and asked, "What's up?" I asked, "Are we all good?" She said "Of course we are." The next day, I turned the movie on again, I got about seven more minutes in, shut the fucker off until I was confident we were all good. That's the effect I want to have on people in everything I do with my art, my music, my films.

Slipknot headlines Rockstar Mayhem at San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino tomorrow, June 30. M. Shawn Crahan will be signing copies of his photography book, "The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey," tonight at 7 p.m. at Book Soup.

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