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Interview with Insane Clown Posse vocalist Violent J

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One of the most loved and hated musical groups in the world has got to be The Insane Clown Posse. It seems that there’s really no in between, either you love or loathe Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J. Say what you want about these two guys, but for how little mainstream attention they receive they’ve achieved some remarkable success over the years, selling millions of records and concert tickets largely through their own efforts. The guys just released their eleventh studio album in early September called Bang! Pow! Boom! which debuted at a very impressive number four on the charts in its first week of release. The album is significant because it reunites ICP with their producer of choice Mike E. Clark who has overseen some of the bands most successful records. The guys are just starting out on a huge tour that will see them on the road non-stop until the end of 2009. Recently we got the opportunity to speak to Violent J about all things ICP including the new record, their ongoing feud with Eminem and what’s going on currently with their wrestling careers. Say what you will about the group and their music, but Violent J is definitely one of the coolest and kindest musicians we’ve had the chance to interview.

Your brand new eleventh studio album Bang! Pow! Boom! is just about to drop. How do you feel it compares with the rest of the ICP catalogue?
Violent J: I feel like it fits in with the old, original sounding albums like The Great Malenko, I feel real proud, I feel ecstatic that it’s coming; it’s a very exciting time for us. Even though this is like our eleventh album, it still feels exciting and exhilarating to be dropping an album, it feels like high pressure times being up to bat, you know it feels crazy and exciting.

What was the writing and recording process like for Bang! Pow! Boom!? When did you start writing it and then when did the recording take place?
Violent J: Well for this album we set out to recapture the sound of the old records. Usually on every record we like to continue forward and keep trying to invent a new sound and go to uncharted territories but for Bang! Pow! Boom!, we really set out to capture that wicked clown tone, that old school vibe like our older recordings, we set out with that purpose. We wanted to have all new song titles, all new song topics, all new ideas, all new adventures but we wanted that old school sound, you know what I’m saying? So we recorded this album... I believe we went into the studio, it took us about eight months and I have to check to see when we went into the studio but it was about an eight month process. The thing was we recorded using our old tactics and tricks like you know over the years, I ended up getting my own studio, Shaggy ended up getting his own studio and we learned how to work the equipment and everything so things have changed since the days of The Great Milenko. But for this record, we put all that aside and we went back to our old tactics, we recorded the whole thing from scratch with Mike E. Clark and we started around December and just recently finished maybe in uh, May or April or something.

Even with using old equipment, we dusted off old equipment that we used to use and we used old tactics and tricks to get our voices to sound like they used to. We quit smoking weed, we sipped hot tea before we cut vocals and we took it really serious and we recorded the whole thing from pure silence to an album working with Mike E. Clark hands on. None of this “you send me the track and I’ll lace it up and send it back,” none of that, you know what I mean? Straight up recording from scratch with Mike E. Clark at his studio, all together, all three of us brainstorming, just like how we did The Riddle Box and The Great Malenko and all of that and I think we did it, I think we succeeded. I think it sounds like it was recorded back in the day, but it has all new material. We’re really really proud of it, we set out to do this for the first time, we’ve never done this before, we’ve never set out to sound like we did back in the day but on this record that was the goal and I feel like we fucking schooled it man.

You mentioned there that you guys stopped smoking weed to record this album. Have you resumed now that the album is finished?
Violent J: You know I never really did, I never really resumed. Shaggy wasn’t really a big smoker anyways, now and again you know, but uh, I never really did resume yet, I mean I’m not saying I’m not going to. [laughs] I just haven’t yet you know.? Maybe when I get back out on the road and things resume back to normal but I haven’t really had the urge, you know what I mean? And I’m still caught up in the Bang! Pow! Boom! frame of mind you know, I’m still in that frame of mind and I just haven’t really started back with that you know.

Where did you get the title Bang! Pow! Boom!? Is there a significance behind it?
Violent J: Absolutely. Bang! Pow! Boom! is the name of a character, he’s not a joker’s card but he’s very much part of the Dark Carnival you know. I would never disrespect the six joker cards by calling Bang! Pow! Boom! the seventh joker’s card, but perhaps this is the first joker’s card of six more, you know, who’s to say? But Bang! Pow! Boom! is a character of the Dark Carnival and just like the joker’s cards, this album has a story line, a theme to it, it has an adventure to it. When you listen to the album, it takes you on an adventure, it all ties together. Bang! Pow! Boom! is not just a collection of bomb ass songs, all of it is a story, it is a concept album and Bang! Pow! Boom! is the name of a character in the Dark Carnival, I can’t even tell you what it is. The Bang! Pow! Boom! character itself is when the Dark Carnival is overcrowded with souls on the way to hell, when the murder-go-round is overcrowded and when the terror wheel is overcrowded and the lines are too long and there’s just too many people awaiting the rides to send them all to hell, when there’s just too many souls on the Dark Carnival grounds at once and everything is overcrowded, that’s when Bang! Pow! Boom! is called in to perform the cleansing. And Bang! Pow! Boom! just comes in and wipes them all out, in one fatal swoop he sends them all to hell. [laughs]

Now in addition to being a famous hip hop duo, you guys have also had a highly successful career in professional wrestling. What’s going on with your wrestling careers at the moment?
Violent J: Well you know we just had a match at the gathering of the Juggalos last month and it was Shaggy’s first match in a long time because he’s pretty beaten up and wounded man. He’s got like a fucked up back and a fucked up neck and he wrestled at the 10th annual gathering because it was such a big deal, it was a ten man tag team, it was me and Shaggy, Scott Hall, Psycho Sid Vicious and Corporal Robinson versus Trent Acid and the Young Alter Boys in a ten man tag team match. So it was pretty easy work because it was a ten man match, but Shaggy’s pretty beaten up you know? I still wrestle from time to time, I’ll tag team with Corporal Robinson on surprise at some independent shows here and there but nothing that we ever announce and promote. I just love wrestling and once it’s in your blood it’s hard to get it out, I love wrestling, but my heart is with the music you know what I mean? But uh, we still wrestle every now and again and once Shaggy recuperates, we’ll be back. We actually got an illustrious wrestling career, we were in WWF, we were in WCW, we were in ECW for a second, we were in TNA, you know we’ve been around and we’ve wrestled some pretty big names in wrestling. We’re crazy, crazy proud of that man because we were always, always, always huge wrestling fans.

Yeah you guys have had an awesome wrestling career in addition to your music so it’s pretty special.
Violent J: Yeah we’re so fortunate brother. And that’s cool that you asked us about it because we don’t get too many questions about that.

I’ve watched you guys a lot, definitely back in the WWF days, so yeah I’ve followed your wrestling careers as well.
Violent J: I know a lot of people in wrestling you know, they think we suck and we shouldn’t be there and everything but we just didn’t take any opportunity that they wouldn’t have taken themselves if they had it, you know what I mean? And it was an honour. Have you ever seen a six man tag team when the one guy is in the ring wrestling and the other two guys are outside of the ring and they’re talking to each other and you wonder what they’re saying? Well in our case, when we were six man tagging with Vampiro, Vampiro would be in the ring wrestling and Shaggy and I were outside waiting to tag in and when we were talking to each other, I’ll tell you what we were saying, we were saying “holy shit man we’re somehow wrestling!” [laughs] Like look at this crowd man! We’re in the WCW, this is awesome! That’s what the fuck we were saying. We were geeks about it, we love it man.

ICP has been going strong now for twenty years. How long do you see the group going on for?
Violent J: I see us going on like The Rolling Stones, as long as I can hold my old ass up. I mean why not? Shit man, as long as people want to come out and see us, that’s awesome you know, we’re going to stay doing it forever man. We got stories to tell, we got horror stories to tell in our songs and as long as people want to come hear our stories, we’re going to be up there on stage telling them. I mean it would be really really cool to be fifty-five or sixty and have a Vegas gig somewhere, you know what I’m saying? Being in Vegas and have people coming through on vacation coming to see us in Vegas, that would be awesome man. I feel like ICP is going to be here forever ‘til the fucking wheels fall off man and I mean that, we’re going to be old as hell. Look at Ice-T man he’s fifty years old and he’s still rapping, we ain’t going to be no different.

You guys have had a well documented feud going with Eminem for years. What is the status of the feud these days? Is it still ongoing?
Violent J: You know before he passed away Proof reached out to us and we made amends you know. We had a bowling match, it was infamous bowling match, it took place here in Detroit, it was ICP vs. D12 and we kind of squashed all the beef but Eminem wasn’t there you know... Even Bizarre from D12 has come and played the gathering twice and Juggalos love him and we squashed all the beef. But you know what, we’ve yet to talk to Eminem you know and one day we were having a Psychopathic Records event at St. Andrews Hall and Eminem was below St. Andrews Hall in a club called The Shelter which is right underneath St. Andrews. They were shooting a video down there and we were upstairs at St. Andrews, they were downstairs at The Shelter and we told all the security and everything that we’d like to talk to Eminem for five minutes to officially squash all the beef. And Eminem never came up you know, wouldn’t talk to us so I really can’t answer it. I will tell you this, we don’t diss him no more on our records and we’re not looking for him or anything like that. As far as I’m concerned it’s over with you know what I mean... I can criticize Eminem for things in his career but we don’t have no beef like that with him no more.

Aside from music and wrestling, you guys are also film stars and you’re currently on a movie called Big Money Rustlas. What can you tell us about the movie and when can we expect to see it?
Violent J: Well it’s already been filmed, it’s already together, it’s awesome, it’s funny, it’s a Western and it comes out next year. The reason it comes out next year is because we filmed it ourselves, we financed the whole thing and we’re trying to learn more about the movie business before we release the DVD, we don’t want to just release it and that’d be it. We want it to be released worldwide, we want worldwide distribution, we want it to be released to all of the film festivals, we want to get the most out of it. And it’s not a cheap looking film, it’s a nice looking movie, it cost millions of dollars to film and we want to get the most out of it. We filmed it in the desert in California and I play a gambling tycoon named Big Baby Chips, Shaggy plays the new sheriff in town named Sheriff Sugarwoof and I send my three assassins to kill Sheriff Sugarwoof one at a time before I myself get up to go fight him in a gun battle, it’s awesome. We released this movie about ten years ago called Big Money Hustlas and we kind of play the same characters in the new movie except for we’re their ancestors. But this movie stands on its own, you don’t have to have seen Big Money Hustlas to enjoy Big Money Rustlas. Big Money Rustlas stands on its own as its own film. But if you did Big Money Hustlas, it makes Big Money Rustlas all the better. It’ll be out in about February, we got like several canons lined up and that’s one of our big guns that we’re going to break out early next year.

Everything seems to be going great for ICP at the moment. What are ICP’s plans like for the fall and early 2010?
Violent J: Well the movie comes out in early 2010, we’re going out on tour showing the movie in theatres before it comes out on DVD and we’re going to show it in theatres and bring the whole cast with us and kind of host it, have a good time in the theatres. Then we’re going back on the road again, we’re leaving on the road the 16th of September and we’re staying out on the road all the way until Christmas this year. Then we come home and in February we go on the movie tour and then as soon as that’s over we go back out on the road again. So we’re going on the road all next year, we’re going back to Australia, to Europe and if Shaggy can get his fucking legal problems straight, we’ll be coming to Canada. We want to come to Canada so bad we can taste it man, you wouldn’t even believe it. We almost were able to come there too but then Shaggy got in a new batch of trouble, I’ll have to come up there and tour my damn self. He’s almost out of trouble though so that’s good...  [ END ]
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