After two quite successful and highly acclaimed albums, as well as a split CD with their label-mates Bloodthorn, the Finnish guys from And Oceans are finally on tour for the first time in France. I couldnít miss that at all! Which is why I interviewed the nice K2T4S in Strasbourgís ĎLa Laiterieí, as usual. Letís see if theyíre as weird as it is saidÖ
Best sales for a first album in the history of Roadrunner, Slipknot is a band with a very special look, and huge sales. But it looks like success isnít easy to go through, and a behaviour of rock star appeared quickly, at least for Shawn, the clown (percussions), who answered the questions of this press meeting. Not an event that will stay in my mind, though I have to admit that this guy is very professional when it comes to answerÖ
First of all, how would you explain the success of the band?
The success of the band just comes out because of our hard work ethic, we work really hard to tour all the time, thatís what we wanna do more than anything else, just keep on playing live, over and over. And we have very dedicated fans, who we pay a lot of respect to (ndr: when I see how you acted the whole evening, I strongly doubt it). We try to sign as many autographs and do as many in-stores as possible for the fans, we wouldnít have the honour to go on tour and do this without them.
And how do you live that success between the moment you were unknown, and now?
The success was coming every day, because we kept on playing every day, going on tourÖ Our album, instead of going down in sales, in going up in sales, because we are constantly in the public sight, weíve been on tour since May! I think that the success is getting bigger and bigger every day because we are working and will keep on working very hard.
When I see the way you act on stage, and some of the riffs you use, I feel like you had to be playing death metal at the beginning of the band. Is that right?
Well, basically, we donít have influences as far as musicians and bands go, but we have influences on genres of music. And death metal is one of these influences, like grindcore, hardcore, industrial, noisy stuff. A couple of the guys played in other bands, and we played together on week-ends, and a couple of the guys were in a death metal band. But thatís a really hard market, and when we got together, we didnít want to give that up, but we didnít want to be a death metal band. We wanted to have a little bit of everything, and we continue to tour because all the songs are different. Itís like life, every minute of the day is differentÖ
Isnít too difficult to have a line-up with nine members? You can have different musical points of view for exampleÖ
No! We get that question a lot, but itís pretty easy, because we all know what we want to be. Weíre like a wheel, when itís inflated, itís rolling. While deflated, itís not rolling. We all know what we have to bring to the table, we give everything a chance, but we know in our hearts what it takes to work. Itís really easy actually.
With the name of the band, and the way youíre dressed on stage, we canít help but think of death penaltyÖ What do you think about that?
Yeah, wellÖ I wonít tell you what the name of the band means, but as far as the way we are dressed is concerned, it does look a bit like prison maybe, but that was never thought. I donít knowÖ We donít wear orange, because orange looks too much like prison, so thatís why we never wear orange. I shouldnít say Ďneverí, but thatís why weíre not wearing orange now. (ndr: but you still sell orange clothes!)
With the way you look, and the fact that you are like a tribe, do you think it is a part of your success?
Yeah. I mean, we are pretty much like an army. If you screw with us, youíre gonna go down, especially on our stage. Itís the war up there, and we stick together. We are very good friends, we just know where we need to be, so we all work very hard towards that goal. Thatís the one thing we know, we have to stick together and concentrate on what the fans want and what we need to do.
Concerning this tour, how did you choose the bands you tour with?
You know, we have a personal view in everything that we do, and as far as the fans are concerned. We have asked One Minute SilenceÖI had never heard them, I didnít know, but they just kept on calling, so we took them out. Kill II This, they played with us before, and they also called us, so we put them on. We have to be good friends, and thatís why we gave them a few more shows. We try to help American bands who are on the rise, or bands whose management calls us. But for Will Haven, we asked them to go with us, because we like them. In the future, there will be more bands that we want to be with us, and I donít give a fuck what people say about it. If a band tours with us, itís only because I like it, I wonít matter if you donít! But thatís our way of relationships, we rarely talk to the bands, we are quiet people. If I had known there were twenty people in here, I wouldnít be hereÖ But Kill II This are friends, soÖ
What about your second record?
Itís coming soon. Itís gonna be heavier than this album, and better. We have a world domination plan, and we are strictly against things like Roadrunner and MTVÖ All that shit is gonna die, all those people are gonna answer to us! Iím thirty years old, Iím married, I got kids, I could care less. If labels want to make money, I just want to see them fail; I wanna make what our fans want us to make, thatís all we care about. Thatís the most important thing to us. As long as our fans are happy, as long as we are happy, then everything else can go away. But the new record is coming pretty soon, probably before 2001, and it will be a kick-ass album. You donít have to worry about that! It wonít be made for bullshit stuff like MTV, itís gonna be made for the hardcore fans who want to keep it real.
Still about tours, you have toured with Coal Chamber and Amen. What did you learn from this experience?
Iíve learnt a lot actually. I have a lot of respect for Coal Chamber, because they work very very hard. Those guys want to play seven days a week, if they can, so we were on tour with them for four months, we played a lot of shows, and that was awesome. Amen are personally great friends of ours too. So, we have learnt everything, our band mates, the tour, the road, how to do your laundry, how to eat, where to eat, what to eat, those kind of things. But when it comes about playing on stage, we pretty much know what we are doing, we donít have to learn anything about that.
Three days ago, you played for the second time on the French TV show ĎNulle Part Ailleursí. How were those two experiences?
I donít know, it was alright. But French people need to relax a little bit more. It was cool, they let us play Ď(Sic)í, and on all the TV shows weíve done, people wanted to hear ĎWait And Bleedí or ĎSpit It Outí, the band doesnít mind, we wrote those songs, we love those songs, but the label, the medias feel they are commercial songsÖ So, the Canal + director let us play Ď(Sic)í, so that was definitely cheers to him. Heís a big fan of the band. And that was also cool, because the first time we played there, there were a lot of people who didnít know what the fuck was going on, but this time, I donít know if they sell tickets or what, but when we walked in, there were at least sixty kids with Slipknot shirts, so that was a good feeling to us. We donít like to play for stuffy asses, people who donít understand the band, I prefer to play for my fans.
Have you played for an American talk-show?
We played on one, Conan OíBrian. We were probably the heaviest band ever who played on a late night show, it was a giant honour, because I think it was a success for heavy music. I personally talked to Conan after the show, and I let him know that he had done something very important. And I think he has thought about it, I donít know if theyíll play other heavy bands, thatís up to them, but at least, they accepted us, and that was a giant victory. Weíll do all those things, that can make things change. We went in there, we played our song, and we left, and we did a very good job. And the whole America got to see us. We have blown things up and kicked ass.
With the fact that you are often on TV and sell a lot of records, arenít you afraid to be called or compared to commercial bands?
Well, a lot of people have to understand that we have been fighting constantly. Thatís an educational problem! A lot of people wanna bitch about the bands that are on MTV, and they wanna bitch about the bands who are on the radio. And those people have to understand that those bands are on MTV and on the radio because they sell lots and lots of albums. So as long as those bands keep on selling so much albums, and keep selling videos, for example, when Britney Spears is on the TV and on the radio every hour, she will get more money in order to get more shows, more merchandise, to make more people like her! So when you have a band like Slipknot, which gets on MTV, you have to understand that we want to change that, we want to open the door for heavy music. If you wanna be able to turn on the TV and say Ďhey, I like to watch MTV because they play the music I likeí, then you have to get credit to the bands like Slipknot, and not start to point the finger and say we are a commercial band. I donít give a fuck to hear that, Iím not a commercial soul, I play my music, I play it for myself, I donít give a shit what anybody thinks, but itís all education. People think we are making a lot of money because we are on MTV and stuff, but I donít make any money at all! If people want to get rid of the crap on MTV, they have to give Slipknot a chance. We wonít let you down. Weíll go there and tell to those guys how stupid MTV is, weíll be like Ďwe make the rulesí, we want to pick every video for the shows. Itís like, for the video ĎSpit It Outí, it has been banned, but we didnít do anything to change it. What can I do? Itís been banned, forget it. You have abandoned us, weíre not gonna change a few things for you! Youíve had your chance, you banned it, now thatís it! We are gonna change the rules, and take the shit out of them. I want everyone in the world to have the chance to see us, I wanna touch as many people as possible. We have to change that!!
Could you explain the meaning of ĎPeople = Shití?
You know, people are shit! Is that the Earthís fault there is pollution? No! Thatís manís fault. Is it the buildingís fault there are bombs in it? No, thatís manís fault! Anything that is wrong in this world, you can blame man of it! All the oil poured in the oceanÖ Who made the fucking oil? Who dug it out? People equal shit. People have the possibility to change everything, but most of you guys take it easy. Men have the answers to change the whole world, but until people change everything, people equal fucking shit!
Well, on stage, you wear masksÖ Before you chose to do that, havenít you thought of the possibility to wear make-up like black metal bands? You wouldnít be recognised either!
Iím not into fucking make-up! I donít wanna be another Kiss. Thatís a whole different world that I donít want to know. The masks are just a way to privilege the music, we all came from big bands, and we didnít want to hear Ďoh my god, this is coming from this band, this one is coming from that bandÖí. So, we just said, Ďfuck that shití, we donít care whoís in that band, masks! Iím the clown, thatís all you need to know! There is the clown, cool, thatís it! You donít have to care about my hair, my piercing, the shoes Iím wearing or whateverÖ Just focus on the music, thatís why Iím here talking to you guys. Itís not because Iím ugly or good looking, itís just because Iím in Slipknot, playing heavy music that people buy.
What about the history of the band?
Well, I started the band in 1995, and there were two rules. We had to play what we wanted to play, and doesnít matter what we play, how we play, how much it cost to see us playÖ And the second rule was that I wanted to have three drummers. At the beginning, when I started the band with the bass player, I was the drummer, but I didnít want to play drums anymore. And then we got Joey in the bandÖ We just got really serious shit, we worked very very hard, to get the band work! No one even knows how much, I donít even think the other guys in the band know how much Iíve worked for the band! It was very difficult, and it still is. We played our first shows in the Midwest, as itís quite expensive to get nine guys play a show, but when we came back, we were the kings. Thatís really the historyÖ
And how would you imagine your life in ten years? Will you still play music?
No! Negative. Iíll be out. This band is not going to last. I have three kids and a wife, and I donít want to leave them. That would be against what we are. We have plenty of years left in us, we have plenty albums out there, plenty good shows and songs, but the minute the whole world gets Slipknot, then weíre done. I wanna be with my kids, I wanna be with my wife, I donít wanna ever see guys like you, I donít wanna do anymore fucking interviews, I just want to be left alone for the rest of my life, with the people that I love the most. I wanna fish and grow tomatoes, and watch my grand kids! And sometimes sit with the guys of the band, and talk about these old good times. Because they are good times, I love them all, itís a surreal dream that surrounds us, and itís going faster than we can do it, and there is a time when weíll have to put an end to it. And by now, I donít look forward to that day, I donít know where it is. But I wonít play music anymoreÖ