Shawn Crahan, otherwise known as "Clown" or "Number 6", isn’t just one of the original members of the band Slipknot, he also helped define their sound and create their unique aesthetic. As the group’s percussionist, Crahan bashes away at his insane, drumline-inspired setup and pushes himself to give the audience the biggest spectacle possible. As Slipknot's behind-the-scenes visual guru, he directs the group’s videos and helps bring their chaotic vision to life.
Even though most of his life has been wrapped up in Slipknot, Crahan isn’t merely "the Clown." Aside from his duties within the group, the percussionist has produced records for other bands, directed a feature film, and even starred in a film from the director of Saw II.
In Slipknot's early days, Crahan was known to bring cow heads on stage in order to put the band and the audience in the right head space. As the cult of the band grew, the story changed and it was rumored that Crahan actually brought pig heads onstage.
He cleared this up in an interview, explaining that cow heads were just more cost-effective: "If there were ever cow heads onstage [fans] got a little more bang for their buck. It [was] about eight dollars a head at that time, instead of six... and a much bigger piece of anatomy to work with."
Slipknots fans are known as "maggots," and while that sounds a little gross and incredibly disrespectful, Crahan says it's actually a term of endearment. Not only does the group "feed" off of Slipknot, but when they're throwing down to Slipknot in the pit, they look like fly larvae. He told Loudwire:
I used to study maggots a lot. There's always a lot of dead deer... where I live... There was this one particular time I was filming a [lifeless] deer. The maggots were in full effect and they were concentrated on this area and I noticed they were all vertical and they were just tight as can be, like trees, just straight up and down. When they had enough they would let off of the flesh, and they would let go... and roll off the deer and onto the ground... I loved the fact that they looked like a bunch of kids smashed together.
Aside from their music, Slipknot is known for their masks. Each era of the group has featured a different kind of mask, with tone shifts and gruesome visages that represent each member. Crahan says the mask "was always a very important thing," and "was always a staple." Crahan has had the original clown mask since he was 14 - and has the photos to prove it. He said:
I have pictures of me running around my house with a... clown mask on at 14 years of age, so I've always lived in my imagination... That's one thing that is so interesting about the masks that I guess people often refer to us as wearing; I don't wear a mask but I am the Clown.
Each member of Slipknot performs under a number ranging from zero through eight, and according to Crahan, the numerical designations are incredibly personal. The percussionist told Loudwire he felt emotionally connected to the number six, and he was ready to fight for it if any of the other members wanted it. He said:
I already knew in my heart I would be number six. I had a feeling in my heart that if someone brought up number six that we would have to have a conceptual battle, and whoever was deepest with it I would feel would bare that number. However, I knew if I took a deep breath and just let everybody express what they felt and it worked out.
He noted that luckily no one else in the band wanted the same number, and each member had their own connection to the numbers they chose.