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More with Insane Clown Posse

Today’s lesson is one of the best interview lessons we’ve ever featured on English, baby! As you can imagine, Violent J, one half of the brains behind Insane Clown Posse, is a hilarious guy. But who would have guessed he’d be so good at defining the term “posse” on the fly? Just goes to show that he’s at the top of his game. No wonder ICP’s new album, Bang! Pow! Boom! is one of the band’s most successful yet.

Portions of this interview were published first by the Oregonian as a preview for ICP’s upcoming show in Portland on September 23. Below is everything not included in the English lesson.

Jason: How has the Dark Carnival changed since you left it seven years ago?

Violent J: It hasn’t changed. It’s a very real magic going on here. I hope I don’t sound like every other band. I don’t know what every other band sounds like. But I’m telling you there is a very legit, very real magic going on within the Dark Carnival. It was there the whole time we were doing the Joker’s Cards and it’s there again. You can feel it in the audience. It’s the Dark Carnival! It’s like it’s there! And I could pass a lie detector test. I believe it’s a very real thing. I don’t think it exists to be called the Dark Carnival, I think that’s what we named it.

Jason: ICP is really the only band that I can think of that created an entire sub culture on it’s own. How did that happen? How did it get to be that you could be a Juggalo in the same way that could be a goth or a punk?

Violent J: I credit that to the Dark Carnival, to the magic, because it certainly wasn’t in our plans. It wasn’t anything we thought up, you know what I mean? Just as incredible as it is to somebody looking at it from the outside, you can imagine how incredible it is to us.

Jason: So it’s totally mysterious. It’s not something you could do again.

Violent J: No. And it’s not something we planned or manufactured. Even the name “Juggalo,” I’m not 100% sure where that came from. I have a hard time thinking of Juggalos as just another word for ICP fans. There are other bands they love and there are things we present to Juggalos that don’t work. Like, for example, at the Gathering of the Juggalos, me and Shaggy will bring a band that we love and we’ll tell the Juggalos, “We’ve loved them our whole life and we want you to see them,” and they’ll get booed offstage.

Jason: It’s not even within your control.

Violent J: Exactly. We love wrestling. At the gathering, we always present a huge wrestling show called Bloody Mania. We put thousands and thousands of dollars into it. And the thing is, Juggalos throw pop or beer into the ring and it makes the rope slippery and the wrestlers end up being not able to do half the moves. This year, we went out there and we asked the Juggalos, “Look, we worked really hard on this show,” we told them, “you can throw things if you want, but we’re just letting you know that it’s gonna take the value of the show down and we’d prefer if you didn’t.” But they didn’t give a f— about that. So that’s what I’m saying. They’re not just our fans, they’re their own entity. They could very easily move on from us one day. I hope they won’t.

Jason: Do you remember the first time you saw a clown as a child?

Violent J: Wow, I’ve never been asked that. I don’t think I remember. I just remember them always being creepy. I remember going to the state fair in Detroit back in the day where they actually had legitimate freak shows. They had this guy named Crab Boy who was this old man and his hands were actually deformed and they looked like crab pincers. I remember sneaking in under the tent and he had a hose for people who were sneaking in and he sprayed us with the hose! I remember that more than I remember seeing the clowns. I remember the whole carnival. And you know how now if you go to the circus, the ring master is the host of a local radio show or something? I remember when they had the real ringmaster who traveled with the circus. I was affected by that.

Jason: So ICP is meant to channel the broader freakshow and circus experience?

Violent J: Absolutely. I also remember I went to a freakshow and there was a guy outside a tent yelling, “Billy Reed is still alive! You’ve got to look at him! You’ve got to see him! He’s amazing! He’s still alive!” And when we went in there it was some kid with long hair putting nails up his nose. But what really got me was the guy yelling, “Billy Reed is still alive!” I remember being a kid and being mesmerized by that. You know, “Who is Billy Reed, and why is he still alive?” I couldn’t believe that people traveled around the country as a freak show. That was just so incredible to me. I also mentioned before that we’re huge wrestling fans and it’s so weird to know that professional wrestling also somehow evolved from carnivals and I didn’t know that until way later in my life.

Jason: Have you ever read Geek Love?

Violent J: No.

Jason: It’s a novel about a freakshow and part of it takes place in Portland. It’s good if you ever need something to read on the road.

Violent J: I’m all about reading!

Jason: So you just finished a new film, a western.

Violent J: That movie is done and when people would bring that up for the last ten years…sometimes I dreaded that question. Because ever since we did the first movie…We did the first movie in 1999. It was called Big Money Hustlas. We were funded by Island Def Jam. But we always knew that we would do a second movie. But it took us ten years to build our company up so that it was strong enough to do it by ourselves. Because we weren’t gonna do no bootleg-ass movie. We were gonna do one that was better than the first movie, you know? And it took us ten years to be able to finally do it and do it right. We did it this year. A lot of great things happened this year. This year we reached number 4 on Billboard which we also did 10 years ago. But 10 years ago, it was with Island Def Jam and now we did it on our own strictly on Psychopathic Records. It’s like we’ve learned how to do everything completely on our own and now we can shoot a multimillion dollar movie without going bankrupt. We can put a record out and work it and get it in the top 5 and we’re super proud of our own company. So, the movie is done and the only reason we’re not hurrying up and putting it out is we put so much into the movie that before we just release it on DVD or something, our guys are completely, totally studying the movie industry. We’re trying to learn so that when we release it, we can release it in China. We can release it in Sweden. We’re trying to learn how to get it into the movie festivals. We’re talking to distributors. We’re trying to learn anything we can about the movie industry so that it don’t just come out on DVD and it’s hot for a month and then it’s gone. We put way too much into this. We have a tentative release for February of next year, but we’re learning the ropes so that we can get maximum benefit out of it.

Jason: I first heard ICP on the radio in the mid-nineties and on your new album you compare listening to the radio to having a dick in your ear and I was just wondering what’s changed since the ’90s?

Violent J: Did you live in Portland when you heard us on the radio?

Jason: I lived in Albuquerque.

Violent J: See, that blows my mind. Because I didn’t know we had any radio play in Albuquerque.

Jason: Yeah, I was 13 and “The Great Milenko” was on the radio and that was the first time I heard it.

Violent J: Really? If it was being played in Albuquerque, I guarantee you, it was being played only in Albuquerque. Radio has never been a part of our history. Even when we were on Island and before that Jive Records, we never received any real radio play. We don’t have any hits. That’s one thing that’s unique about the band. There’s not that one song that everybody knows us for. But I think it’s better that way. If you’re on the radio, every time you make an album you have to hope they’ll play it on the radio. At least we succeed or fail based on what we do and not what somebody at a radio station thinks of us.

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One Response to “More with Insane Clown Posse”

  1. elektronik Says:

    Hi, Well this was definitely something new, I really liked it as I am new to this

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