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Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan Discusses Directing ‘Officer Downe’ Film, Slipknot Culture

Slipknot's Shawn Clown Crahan
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Slipknot percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show. Clown discussed his foray into movie directing with his debut film, ‘Officer Downe,’ getting into the differences and similarities between the movie and music business. He also discussed preparing for Slipknot tours and the culture around the band. Check out the chat below:

How are you doing my friend?

Doing well, thank you very much.

Let’s talk about Officer Downe, the new film that you directed. It stars Kim Coates from Sons of Anarchy. You worked a long time toward directing a feature film. What turned out to be the biggest misperception you had about directing once you started working?

That’s a really good question. I was pretty prepared because of my love for movies. I’ve studied movies, I’ve watched movies, I learned as much as I could. I knew it was going to be the hardest artistic work that I’ve done because there are so many layers to movies such as cameras, actors, sets, wardrobes, stunts — it just goes on and on. You have to be able to pick up all those pieces and roll.

So, I think, I don’t know, I was pretty prepared and I don’t let myself get let down or surprised too much any more. I mean, it’s business. Maybe I thought the movie business would be a little bit different than the rock ‘n’ roll business, but, in fact, they’re the same animal just packaged differently. The business is still very precise and very pristine to the output of it. So, I think that’s the only thing I was hoping that maybe the corporate world would be a little bit separate to give me a break, but it ended up all being the same thing. I could go work for Microsoft and I would say the same thing.

Business is business.

That’s right. Business is business.

That’s the funny thing. People who aren’t in the music business think it’s all fun and games; I’m sure it’s the same in the movie business. The movie business doesn’t seem as fun as the music business to me.

It’s not even close to being as fun as rock ‘n’ roll. I feel sorry for all the wonderful people that are involved in creating art. I mean, I got to meet dozens and dozens of people. We’d have big scenes and I’d have 10 to 15 extras that I’d have for the day. I’d get to meet them and talk to them and see what they’ve done artistically or where they’ve been. The music business is just pirates and fun and it’s just out there. The movie business is the “here and the now.”

I guess what I can explain is there was another set that was being done, another production, one of the days that we were working. I saw some rather big movie stars pull up. They just pulled up in normal cars and had normal clothes and were just having the bottom of the ladder people tell them where to go and giving them tickets for lunch. I’m like, “That person is huge and they’re just getting treated mediocrely (sic) I can’t believe it!” If they came over into my world, everybody is treated pretty [well] out there. So, it’s a big difference between the two for sure.

Officer Downe is based on a graphic novel. What connected with you about the character that made you want to bring him to life on screen?

Well, it’s very strange for me to do a comic book for my first movie. But, I used to collect and I love comic books. It’s just that comic books are comic books, they usually aren’t movies. If they are, they usually change severely from what the original content was. So, I think what attracted me first and foremost was the fact that I had the ability to take something so challenging and bring it to a world that I understand because the people that worship graphic novels, comic books, and superheroes, or anything in that world, when people love it that can get taken away from them real quick in the movie.

So, I love the challenge and I’m really interested to see what that society, that culture, thinks of it because I know what it’s like to have things taken away from you. To have a character that you love more than anything and then someone gets their hands on it and they make it their own, which is always great in art, but art to me is “we.” If they make it their own and they don’t make it for all of us it becomes a pretty bad thing. So, I think that was the biggest thing was, “Wow, I’m gonna make a comic book and I really have a chance to blow this up.”

What’s the biggest difference from the fulfillment you got from making Officer Downe and that of Slipknot.

I have my own thing. I have my own euphoric pleasure, okay? So, for me, the movie making, I guess the way I design my art and the way I roll and the way I’ve always created with that, it’s always in the moment. For instance, in Slipknot, it’s 22 hours of hell, all day long and two hours of God. But that two hours of God makes me go through the hell all day long. I’ll go through hell every day for the rest of my life as long as I have that two hours.

Now, making movies, my satisfaction is only at the moment of reviewing what I just shot. So, you can imagine, I work with the actor, I work with the seamstress or wardrobe person, I work with the set designer. Then there’s the cameramen, the lenses, the lights. There’s the technique we’re going to shoot. There’s all this stuff happening and then there’s action, then you get it, I watch it back and when I’ve received exactly what I wanted and I can see we’re moving on, that’s my satisfaction right there.

So in a 12-hour day of making movies, let’s just say I do, I don’t know, 100 takes? I get to watch 100 things and those 100 things are what satisfied me for the day — they equal the two hours, hopefully. But most of the day is just pure Hell. Work, work, work. The fun and the God to me is watching it back going, “That’s it — that’s what I wanted.” Then I already know the movie is done. It’s really hard to wait for a move to come out two years later and these kinds of things. So I find my euphoric pleasure in the moment that I watch the playback.

What kind of mental buildup do you go through to prepare for the rigors for a Slipknot tour and how do you recalibrate when like what happened recently — tour dates have to be postponed or rescheduled?

I’ve done this for 20 years, so I don’t want to lie to you, I’m pretty chill these days. I don’t have time for heartache or problems, especially drama. I don’t have time for the Internet and he-said she-said. I don’t have time for any of that garbage. I love what I do, we love what we do, things happen — we’re getting older. I’m 46. People can’t even imagine what’s wrong with my body. Just take a look at me and you can understand what we’ve gone through. [laughs] You do have to prepare mentally. You have to prepare physically and you have to prepare spiritually. By this time, 20 years, there’s nothing you can really do. You can only hope to take a deep breath, do the best you can and put your best foot forward and roll.

Tell us, how does growth and maturity of Slipknot’s audience change your role in their lives through music?

Well the good news is it hasn’t changed at all. We can go away for six years, come back and catch the young generation. We’re a band that’s going to keep doing that and doing that. That’s how we designed it. That’s who we are. So, unfortunately I don’t change. I get to be a kid forever. I get to sit in my maturity, [the furthering] of being wise and being a man with my family and in my privacy, but I get to go out on the road, I still get to be Clown. I still get to do what I do.

I used to talk to 10-year-olds in 1999, I talked to 10-year-olds in 2000. I talked to 10-year-olds in 2016. So, the crowd hasn’t changed at all. No one has changed. The older crowd has gotten older, and they’re still around but there’s a whole new crowd. There’s a whole new 10-year-olds and 14-year-olds coming to our shows. Just like in 1999, just like 2000, just like 2001 and so on and so forth. That’s what Slipknot is about. We’re a culture, we’re not really a band anymore. I say that all the time. I know people are sick of it, but that’s just the truth — we’re a culture.

It absolutely is the truth.

We are always going to be here. It’s gonna go on after I’m not here, the philosophy of Slipknot. It’s a culture. I won’t allow it to be a band. You wanna break it down, yeah, we’re a band. But a band to me is something that goes into a rehearsal room and practices — we have not been a band forever. We’re basically this entity, this culture. We love it and we designed it that way and it’s so much easier for us to have it like that because it’s a mindset, a thought process.

We don’t preach, we don’t talk about religion or politics. We talk about life and living and if we’ve ever said anything, it’d still be don’t ever judge me. That’s what we try to get to kids — live your life, come with us whether you’re 10 and become — that’s why I affectionately call all the fans ‘maggots.’

Everybody in the beginning was like ah, that’s too harsh! What do maggots turn into people? Open your brains, they turn into flies. So come here, be a maggot, feed off of the pain and crap of the world but still — be rewarded with your own self-awareness. Make it through, don’t commit suicide, don’t run away, don’t get addicted to drugs. Don’t fight this world, find your social scene, find your culture, be self-aware, pick yourself up, grow wings and take off — go wherever you want. But the beautiful thing is, they always fly back and say hi. They may not listen to Slipknot anymore, but it’ll always be a pillar within their soul and they know it, we know it and that’s what makes us a culture and not a band anymore.

What can you tell us about dates in terms of the release of Officer Downe?

Right now we got accepted to the L.A. Film Festival which a week ago that was awesome because it was only supposed to be shown once and there was a heavy demand for the movie so it was shown three times, which was just fantastic and really fun. But it was a festival, so I think there’s four or five months still left. I know we were trying really hard to do some summer stuff but I think at this point i’m thinking maybe it’ll be more of a Christmas thing, maybe? I’m not too sure.

I don’t get real involved because that world changes by the minute. It’ll just change and change. So I kind of wait until the last moment and just be told what’s really going on. But I would say about five more months and then I’ll be heavily involved with many premieres. Hopefully I’ll be traveling around with the movie and doing some Q&As and having a good time, watching the movie with my fans and movie fans, people I’ve never met and start my directing career.

Well, I wish you the best of luck.

I appreciate it and I want to say thanks to all the fans and everybody for the support on the movie and obviously the support on our tour and what we’ve got to do to continue our career, so much love to all of our fans. We’ll see you soon, stay safe. Thank you.

Thanks to Clown for the interview. Read more about the ‘Officer Downe’ film at IMDB. Catch Slipknot on tour this summer with Marilyn Manson and see all tour stops at our 2016 Guide to Rock + Metal ToursFind out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.

See Where Slipknot’s Albums Landed on the Top 100 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 21st Century

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