Everyone's Replaceable

Clown Contemplating Turning Slipknot Into Menudo

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knot slipknotHere’s an interesting Clown quote from Hellbound, a new BBC audio documentary about Slipknot (listen to it here… transcription courtesy of Metal Injection):

“I’m always trying to figure out how to let it be forever, kind of like a Van Gogh painting. They’re not just gonna take one of my album covers and stick it in the Louvre [museum in Paris]. But if we can keep it going, if we can keep the philosophy and the culture going, there’s no reason why kings and queens can’t take it over.

“Don’t be surprised one day, you know, nobody in the band will be in the band. It’ll all just be new people. I’ll be eighty and there’ll be a whole Slipknot thing moving. I mean, we’ve got two new guys now, man. You never know — my son might take over. You never know.”

First of all: the analogy with the Van Gogh painting no makes sense. A Van Gogh painting isn’t “forever” because Van Gogh licensed his name to be used by other artists after his death, it’s forever because it’s a great work of art. If you’re gonna make a comparison to the medium of music, then what Clown should really be worried about is writing great songs, because those will be “forever” (and depending on your feelings about Slipknot, you could argue that they’ve already accomplished this goal).

What Clown is really describing isn’t a band — it’s a brand. And being a brand in and of itself isn’t bad — branding is important if you wanna get your music to the masses — but the notion that the brand would be more to the audience than the individual band members is bizarre. Fictional characters get rebooted with new creative teams. Bands do not. Groups that are really producer-owned, like Menudo and C&C Music Factory, might, but I don’t think there’s any credible musician in the world who wants to be remembered in the light as those guys. Even bands where the members only just barely seem to matter are unlikely to continue after their most important member (e.g., Dave Mustaine, Axl Rose, etc.) finally retires or dies.

(Quick digression: maybe you could argue that what Clown is describing is akin to a symphony… but I’d argue that’s not correct, either. 95% or more symphony performances are not of new or original pieces of music.)

This is really just a bad idea. If Clown’s main concern is actually providing for his son or giving him some “in” to the music business, well, he’s already done that — as his heir, Clown Jr. will someday inherit some portion of the Slipknot catalog even if he’s not on a stage in a jumpsuit banging pots and pans like his father before him. If Clown’s main concern is actually seeing that Slipknot’s legacy lives on throughout the ages, then he should just focus on making art that resonates with people on a deep, meaningful level. Y’know, like “People = Shit” and “Pulse of the Maggots.”

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