Slipknot mastermind M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan spoke to us exclusively Friday evening, talking about how the band's two-day, two-state festival, Knotfest, came together.

How long has this been in the works, and how did it finally come together?
Well, because it’s been in the works for a long, long time, I’ve been explaining it like this: There’s certain things we’ve been wanting to do since the very beginning. I think after the very first time we went to Europe and we saw how Europeans do festivals in the summer—I mean, some of them begin on Thursday and end on Sunday, having a different genre headline every night, and there’s all these tents, so it looks like a refugee camp, with all these people. It’s always raining over there, so there’s all this mud, but they don’t care, they prepare for it and it looks like Woodstock, you know? The very first time we were a part of that, we were like, it would be great if America had this philosophy, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

So over the span of our 12 years, we’ve been concentrating on our culture, our fans and ourselves: the music we write, the lyrics Corey [Taylor] writes, the art I make, our stage presence, our performance, our stage. And you know, it all came together because of one thing. We had something go on that was unexpected, and that really affected the band, and we were beginning to think that maybe we might just take the time off for ourselves and deal with it the way we needed to, and then we realized, well, our fans are the most important things to us, they’re the reason we’re here, so we should tour. So last summer we toured Sonisphere, and we shared in that thought process with them. They consoled us, we consoled them, we went through it together and the healing process could begin. And we went and did one show, direct support for Metallica at Rock in Rio, 150,000 people at once, same thing. Two, three months back, we did Soundwave Australia, plus a couple of shows ourselves in Sydney and Melbourne, but in other territories it was for Soundwave, and again shared in that thought process. Then there were a couple of months off, and now we’re coming back to the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, which we were on the very first one and now we’re coming back to headline this one, and it’s cool because we’re ending it with the American kids, where we’re from. And this is a great way of finishing something that we want to celebrate our way. Our way of life, our way of thinking, what we want to bring to rock ’n’ roll and the way we see things. So we were like, let’s do a couple of our own shows called Knotfest.

We are what we are and we do what we want, as much as we want, the way we want to do it. That’s the Slipknot philosophy. And right now it seems like everything we’ve been going through the last two years, it seems perfect to end it with something really special. Now’s the time; we’ve been thinking about it for a while and finally pulled the trigger and said yeah, we can do this, it’ll be a blast. [Thursday] night at midnight, I went to Council Bluffs, Iowa, and I gave out tickets. Kids bought tickets and they didn’t have to pay a service charge to Ticketmaster or whatever, and Clown handed you your ticket, and I signed it, and then I took a picture with you. In the old days, I used to stand out at Midnight Madness, you know, my favorite bands would come out with records and I’d stand outside until 12:01 like everybody else and get a copy of the disc and go home and worship the band that I loved, and those days are pretty few and far between now. But Knotfest is so special to me that I said, I’m going. And there was a huge turnout, even with just one member [of the band] going and barely any preparation to advertise it. And that’s what it’s about. Our culture, our people, our fans, no matter what the age. And one thing I can tell you about Knotfest is you’re gonna smell it, you’re gonna taste it, you’re gonna hear it, you’re gonna see it, and most importantly you’re gonna feel it.


Why the locations? Iowa is obvious, but why Wisconsin/Minnesota?
Well, when I was growing up...Des Moines is not an A market for bands, so we’d have to drive to Minneapolis or Wisconsin to check things out. It’s just under the drive to Chicago, which is the furthest. Depending on the time of year it can be—you know, five and a half hours doesn’t seem like much, but coming back that night, basically getting there, experiencing everything you need to experience, then having to get back for the next day at work, I mean, it can kill you, you know? But you do it for rock ’n’ roll. So this was the philosophy, this was how we had to do it. We wanted to keep it Midwest, keep it what it is that we are and what makes sense. And a lot of tickets have been bought from Chicago, which is cool—people from Chicago are buying tickets for the Somerset show, which is the direct opposite of when I would go as far as Chicago to go to a show because it’s not coming to Des Moines. They’re buying tickets for Somerset because it’s not coming there. That’s why. It’s important to remember where we’re from, and where it all started, and more importantly, what did we do when we were young and loved music? What were the sacrifices we made to enjoy what we loved, what I consider God, which is music? I would always have to go to Chicago to see the bands that I loved, and it was hard as hell. Also, Somerset is a place where camping is allowed, and that was important to us. We wanted to bring that European philosophy to this. You can bring a tent, and we’re starting that refugee camp culture. That’s a big deal for us, because that’s what we’ve been doing our whole career, is going over there—Reading, Leeds, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park, Graspop, Download, Knebworth, it goes on and on and on over there. I can remember going to Norway and driving further and further into the woods and just seeing tents everywhere in the trees. It was like being in a movie, and I was like, God, can you imagine growing up this way? Where this is the way it is, and your parents know that you’re gonna be gone for four days, enjoying culture and life and meeting new people? That is important to us. That is  a definite start on what we’re trying to accomplish.

Tickets for Knotfest are available now!