Shawn Crahan of Slipknot interview and photos

Interview video  coming soon…

SC411: Hey, Soundcheck411 here, with Shawn of Slipknot, talking about his new book, The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, that’s going to be released on June 19, 2012. So, you’re founder and drummer of Slipknot, why a book all of a sudden?

S: Um, I’ve been fascinated with film in particular, um, the single frame of film and now recently I’ve been getting into the moving frames, film making, you known, documentaries, this kind of stuff. But I’ve had an obsession since I was a little kid, taking photos but I didn’t know the obsession, the instinct of taking photos of my dad or my mom, I didn’t start recognizing that even though I’ve been taking medium format Polaroids for eleven years. I love doing it  and I convinced myself that I hadn’t graduated college so I thought I’d go and get a masters degree myself on the ability to take these photos and what I could learn so I went on the journey about eleven years ago and that’s, my parents passing away within that journey taught me; made me go back and look at single frames I’ve taken and some of my favorite pictures of my dad, I didn’t even realize I took. I was like, I love this picture of my dad, like the picture that was on the little ceremony thing at his funeral was a picture that I picked and I didn’t pick it because I took it because I didn’t even know until after, that I’ve taken it. It was just him, where we used to go in Florida, looking out, smoking a cigarette, in shorts, looking at the clear water beach and the sunset was coming down and I just took a candid picture of my old man and it’s my favorite picture of him besides some younger ones and I was like “Whoa, I love doing this” and I started taking the book really serious. It’s been in the making for eleven years and I have over 5,000 Polaroids that I’ve taken and I start with 300 and we narrowed it down to around 150 or under 200, I don’t know cause the adjustment had to go with some people signing off on it  and I just couldn’t find some people on the earth today. So they have to sign off on it and it’s just a reflection of my life and a lot of people that know me as an artist, they known that I never let anything escape. Right now, I’m kinda using my iPhone as that weapon and even though it can’t be really big, I’ve accepted the fact that, you know, I’m here in the moment with a phone, this is what they’re shoving down me in this world so I’m gonna get everything I can with it because it’s reality; so I let go of a lot of stress and thinking that I need something bigger or better, whatever, I’m just taking this thought process of what they’re enforcing me to use, weather I wanna buy it or not, that’s my choice, that’s my free will. It’s just a movement and it started seriously with the medium format because you pull the Polaroid and as my band was being shot all the time, I found myself completely infatuated with these Polaroids and they would shoot my band and put a Polaroid back on 120mm film camera, it’s just bigger then a 35mm and they would get their light right and do a test. They would pull that Polaroid and they’d sit there and warm up the chemicals and you have about 3 seconds, 5 seconds- and this is what I’ve learned over the manipulation of the Polaroid. You got about 3 seconds when like, the magic is happening, like it’s brand new. The chemical on the imprint of light  and the image onto the paper and the transfer of the two things happening all at once, but nothing at all. You got about 3 to 5 seconds to get that human interaction and really change it. Like snapping em, putting the thumb prints will cause a blue, snapping em will cause red, yellows and blues. Fingernails would make blue lines and stuff like this so that kind of attraction in that was really an infatuation and instant gratification to watch them take a picture of how I felt with my band and they would always go, after three tests cause they were really good, they’d say “yea, I have my light now” and they would take that Polaroid back off and throw the film back and just go to town cause they got their lighting. Like the gentleman out there, he’s picked a corner, he has a digital camera, like this and instead of looking at a Polaroid, you can make your adjustments real quick, up, up, down, down, whatever for light, you know. But back in the day, it was all that and I would watch these Polaroids, they’d throw them in their photo box, they’ve been shooting for a while, they probably have thousands of Polaroids and they just to the fact that they have the imprint where it’s hmm, I’m more interested in the film, the film is really important to have but for me, the instant gratification in taking something subconsciously, creatively, saturated and tangible in one’s own mind, the soul for me and bringing it out here in reality and making it tangible is an incredible feeling especially if you’re achieving what you see and it comes out of nowhere just all these random circumstantial things that you put together and then you hold it and you commit to manipulation first and I take that into account when I’m taking the photo cause I’m just gonna put human conditions on it and I have no idea how it’s gonna turn out and at the last minute I’m gonna rip it right in half. Commit to commitment and that’s how you get your masters degree. It all broke down to that someone would look at me and say “why did you destroy that picture? Why are you bending the sides? Why are you putting your thumb so hard? And I look at it now and my face is completely gone because you pressed down on it”. And I would say “Well, you’re living in a reality controlled conformity and you haven’t broken an imprint and what I’ve been looking for is how to trust myself and break the imprint of conformity; what we’ve taught ourselves, and try to obtain something original on to itself. I freed myself and I would just react. It’s the action plus the reaction equals the result and the result it kind of like God. It’s euphoric, I tear up and I shutter because I go from the subconscious to the conscience and reality and tangible. I could just shutter and give it to you; and this book is that. It’s me giving the world that. I can’t give the whole world an original photo, but I can give the world a book.

SC411: Tell us a little bit about the title, I think you kind of explained it in what you just said.

S: The title is The Apocalyptic  Nightmare and “The” is kind of the imprint. We debated about even having that fractional word involved with such colorful words as Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, so it’s an introduction from life, this boring kind of fractional word to lead us in because we need to be led into color. It basically represents my life. I create art because of pain. My life is a journey, at times it’s a nightmare and apocalyptic ’cause I’m going to end, weather I like it or not and apocalyptic is the end of life and I bring it in singular because I’m gonna die. It’s the only thing I don’t have control over and I hate to say it but it’s a pretty serious thought that I came up with but death is more proof than God. Believing in God,  you have to have faith and not everybody has that, you have to work for that, it’s a struggle, it’s real. However, I can prove death exists; I had to bury both my parents, I filmed my dad being cremated, I know it exists, I can prove it.  So, The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, the nightmare kind of comes into play, you know, if I think about death too much, it’s not a dream, it’s not something I want to come true, it’s a nightmare. If I spend too much time on it, I can get depressed, like we all do. That’s why they don’t teach us in first grade; they don’t take first graders to a morgue and show them that and teach them that because some people might not conform to that, they might get obsessed with it or they might depressed with it. Both could be detrimental to their process of living. So this is just the end, of the end; or the end of the nightmare for being born and it’s a journey because I’m gonna go from this place to the next place and there are people that are buried, I can see their grave, they’ve been there for 200 years so there has to be something on the other side because they’ve been there longer than I’ve been born. The clock starts ticking actually, the proof of death, something’s got to be going on, because you’re there longer than you’re here, this, this place. Something happens within our bodies when a man and woman connect. There’s a whole thing that goes on there. It’s super natural. We see it now, we finally have the camera’s to watch the whole nine months in a macro world, a movie, and it’s going on before we could even comprehend it, it’s already happening. It’s happening, these things. For instance, when a sperm meets the egg, the egg floats away and it buries itself  and disappears. Why does it do that? Why does it do that? It’s like it has a brain, it’s like hiding so it cannot be interrupted, the most beautiful gift in the world, life. It has to hide, so nothing happens and we’re born. We’re one in a trillion. There’s a trillion sperms and one makes it in so all of us have an originality on to our self. No one has our face or our mind and we’re making that journey so Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, you know, it’s not a dream to be off or to end but it surely, I guess will be an honor because you have to look at it kind of as a graduation phase. Although we don’t want to do it, it’s what we do and because we do it and we’ve chosen it from free will, there’s got to be something going on. So a little spiritual-ness thrown into this with my art, but I think it’s good to talk about.

SC411: Definitely. You mentioned, you went through thousands and thousands of photos, like 5,000

S: Yea, 5,000 plus, something like that.

SC411: What did you have to see in a photograph to have it make it into this book?

S: I had to feel it. Believe it or not, some of my favorite photos are the photos of basically heaven and hell and purgatory, the grey area; the grey area is an optical mixture, I believe that Giorgio Serrato or whatever, I might of said that wrong but he believed that grey was an optical mixture between white and black. He kind of proved it with a white piece of paper and a dark black charcoal; he did a dark outline and he shaded the back just very lightly with black on white and it’s grey. A grey crayon is a mixture of white and black to get this thing that we think is grey, but it’s a mixture of white and black. All of the color and none of the color. Some of my favorite photos are when I have the slide thing that goes in between the Polaroid and the lens and I forgot to pull it, so it’s blocking the image through the lens onto the paper and I’m euphorically, “Ah, this is great!” And then I’ll pull, you know. I got used to just taking a picture and pulling, manipulating and throwing. And then I have a cigar and someone would be like, “Oh my God, those photos over there.” I’d be like “Ah, isn’t this great?” Like we went a whole hour without pulling those photographs, like we had something to do now, we’re so unfocused and now we can go and I go over there and I have ten photos if not more, they are all black ’cause I forgot to pull that silver thing. At first I’m not happy but in time I was like these are some of my favorite photos and they’re not even photos because the image never made it through. But it’s a reminder that I’m human, I don’t know anything and I’m not smart, but with this failure, it created something that not only denied me my God, but it made me open up to accept everything at once but nothing at all. So I accept, I learn how to accept that I have nothing so something and nothing are right next to each other and that seems pretty absurd. But I accepted it- nothing. It’s like dying, I accepted it. They had to have that feeling. Those photos had to have that feeling to make the book.

SC411: And you don’t usually plan to take a photo, you just feel, you see something, you feel it and you take it. What is it that catches your eye? That makes you want to take a picture?

S: If my phone was not there and was here, I would have taken a picture of you cause you said that, but I’m not gonna waste our time by going over there.

SC411: Maybe it’s a good thing you don’t have it!

S: It might, but right in the middle of that question, I would have explained it for you. I don’t know if we’re filming or recording, probably recording so, say that again one more time cause I got off with this thing about my phone.

SC411: You take random pictures, you don’t plan to take a picture.

S: No.

SC411: What is it that you see that prompts you to take a photo?

S: It’s like this thing right here (points to a dent on the table) this organic thing. That shouldn’t be there-

SC411: But is,

S: But is, exactly. And it’s the whole world that’s bullshit,  because here’s the conformity of the world (talking about the conference room table), we’re going to put glass on it so people can move but you know, we want this perfect room. We’re in this conference room because the other one doesn’t look as good. I’m going to tell you that right now; we’re in this one because the other one isn’t as sharp as this. Look at all this conformity of chairs, the amount, look the water. They thought that everyone was coming in, we need eleven waters, coffees, all that. You know, is this for impressing or to look professional, here you and I are very close, I did an interview over there, but I’m doing an interview here. So I look for this (points to dent on table).

SC411: Imperfections?

S: Yeah, because those are real. Look at that tape, right there (points at tape strips on the carpeting).  Now, someone taped this, look at that. Look at that circumstance, there’s like three pieces of tape to cover a seam, the imperfection of life in this office and they thought that tape was gonna make this look more professional. My favorite part of the tape, there are two things. 1) The part that’s coming off, it looks like a, just to prove myself, imagine that being a swan. Look at the top, the neck, long like a swan. It’s the black swan because look at the head and the beak and look at the body. The swan is moving this way on water, it’s legs are underneath the water and it has a wing here, it’s kinda fluffing, maybe it’s getting ready to get away. But that’s a swan, to me. And I’ll actually have to take a photo of that later cause we talked about it but my 2nd favorite part is that they start it with one piece of tape up to a point and then it became three and then we got the winner, who won the race at the end, down there. That’s how I see it. I’m done shooting these rooms and lights; I’ve studied all that, it’s all nothing to me, I focus on this, right there. (Pointing to dent on desk) That looks like a bug, it has white guts but if you look closely, to me, it’s like a head, arms, legs, body, she’s wearing a dress. It was a bug that got squished, that was a person. *laughs* and it has white blood and not red. That’s just me.

SC411: Is that representative of how you see life?

S: Yes

SC411: Life is not perfect, and it’s OK.

S: It’s more than OK. When you start living in the imperfection, that’s the perfection. That’s finding God, your way is knowing that the perfection that you’re never gonna get lies within the perfection.

SC411: How has compiling this book and going through all the photographs affected you?

S: Man, I’m just enlightened, you know, for myself. That’s why I share it. I don’t make art for anyone, I do it because of pain and when it’s done it becomes tangible. The perfection that I achieve is the ability to bring it, like I told you, but the imperfection it giving it. That’s what’s hard for me. There I achieve true oneness perfection by giving it, you know, it’s scary for me,  because when I look at these photos, they’re deep, even if they’re not deep. You know, you’re gonna look at it and you’ll be like “why do you feel that way about this dog with a face that’s been stretched because you manipulated it?”. ‘Cause I was there. The dog was messing with me, it wasn’t focused, it was just all over the place because it was a puppy and it was just annoying; so I took a picture and all of a sudden I get it back and it’s face is like this (Stretches hands out a couple feet apart) because it’s got 3,000 thoughts going through. The dog’s everywhere and I caught it and when I took the one photo, yep, that’s that dog, unfocused so much you can’t even see what it’s face is and I’m like, “Yes.” The perfection I’m going for is unachievable so you have to erase everything and give. All good teachers are good students. I’m a teacher, I’m a magician, I’m a leader but everyday I’m a student, everyday; ’cause good teachers are good students and good students are good teachers and if you don’t buy into that, you’re missing every ability of life.

SC411: Hopefully the readers of your book can get a lot of that and come out different people after looking at the book.

S: Well, that’s the objective; is to heal, feel or sometimes not feeling is the greatest gift. Art is in the eye of the beholder, it’s a old saying but it’s the truth. One thing I love about art is, I love watching people thumb through my photos, ’till they get to something that talks to them and that’s what I notice. I’m not mad that they’re gone through 10 pages without anything stopping them, I’m happy that they stopped. If they make it through the whole book without taking the time or whatever because it doesn’t speak to them, it just makes me want to work harder. So, yeah, I hope people get something out of it and enjoy it. I enjoyed making it and it’s a lot of my life.

SC411: Thank you very much, we will definitely check it out.

S: Thank you.