In 1997, when a heavy, rock-influenced sound and record label meddling gave Insane Clown Posse their first brush with the mainstream, it was hard to imagine Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope remaining relevant in 2003, let alone 2013.
That's because none of us were taking the Juggalos into account. In the 20 years since the release of their first album, Carnival of Carnage, ICP has watched as a devoted fanbase morphed into a closely knit culture and a lifestyle all its own.
ICP is bringing the Mighty Death Pop tour to Flagstaff on June 2; we spoke with Shaggy 2 Dope about surprising old fans, making new fans welcome, and why there were Juggalos long before Juggalos had a name. (We also got an update on the FBI's decision to label the Juggalos a "hybrid gang.")
Insane Clown Posse is scheduled to perform at Pepsi Amphitheater in Flagstaff on June 2.
You guys have tweeted about playing some deeper cuts on the tour you're on right now. What prompted that, and how is it going to be different from a normal show?
We've been touring forever, and as years have gone by we've seen what goes over really good that we do live. So over the years we've kind of formulated our show to all the shit that we know that people love and wanna hear compiled.
But there are so many people that have been to so many of our shows that for this tour, we decided to go back and dig into some old shit. We're not really doing the shit we normally do on tour. We're not doing "Chicken Huntin'," we're not doing our songs we always do--the staples that we usually do live.
We're doing a lot of rare shit, a lot of old shit, and then a lot of shit from [The Mighty Death Pop!, their 2012 album]. There's no shit that we usually do on tour in this show.
How have the fans reacted to that so far?
People have been loving it. I haven't actually face-to-face talked to a gang of people, but from what I could tell just from being up there, it's going great. It's nothing but love. I think we're definitely blowing some wigs back on some of the juggalos that come to see us, because they're expecting that same old shit and then we come in sideways with some other stuff--and I think that's definitely blowing some wigs back, but in a good way.
I was interested in knowing how your feelings about your music and your music itself changed when you realized how devoted your fans were, and how much they built their lives around it.
Of course, everything we put out is 100 percent through and through our full heart. If there's anything that we don't feel is up to our standards, there's no way we'd put it out. There's nothing just floating around that gets out there without our stamp of approval. So everything we put out, to us, is our heart and soul.
As far as anything changing for anybody, I don't feel that we ever had to change, because what we do, for Juggalos, is the same shit that we're into. We're, like, all one person. We just put out what we do best, and what we think is awesome, and nine times out of 10--of course you're not going to please everybody all the time--but what we do is we just figure that what we think is awesome is what Juggalos think is awesome.
Because like I said, it's one big mind between us and them. Because we are them. And of course it sounds different nowadays, and I'm sure some of the content's a little bit different, but that's because we've been putting out records for 20 years. We can't put out another Carnival Carnage, because that was then. That was that era. We can't do another Riddle Box because that was from '95. As your career goes along, of course your music's going to progress with time and maturity just from doing it.
So reaching people on such an intense level as you reach Juggalos, that's always been your goal?
No, not at all! When we first started out, we were Inner City Posse. [laughs] So it just so happens that there's an audience that are the same type of people that we are. So the shit we're saying, the people that are picking it up are the same type of people we are, and they feel it just as hard as we feel it.
So it's no specific class of person, or where you're from, or anything like that, because there's all walks of life listening to our shit. But it's always just a certain type of person. Maybe you feel down or something, or feeling left out or picked on--usually that's the typical person. Or [they're in] some situation or rough patch, what we put out helps them out. So that was never our intention, it just kind of developed into that and what it developed into was fucking beautiful.
We wrote last year about a guy named Shawn Wolf who was allegedly singled out for being a Juggalo when he was seeking custody of his kid, and it was amazing to see how much it meant to him. Even after it'd maybe gotten him into trouble with the authorities, it was still such a big part of his life.
Yeah, and it's amazing that people get in trouble by the law for being a Juggalo. That's just insane. And that's why we've got a lawsuit against the FBI right now, because they got Juggalos as an official gang, like a Blood or a Crip or an MS-13 or a fucking Latin King or whatever.
And that's not the deal at all. It's just so twisted that it's insane--That's like saying that Little Monsters from Lady Gaga or whatever are fucking gang members. It's just fucking stupid. We don't understand it, and that's why we're fighting back. We're doing what we can do.
And that kid you were talking about, that's not an isolated incident. That's just running rampant in America right now, and it's crazy. We're just putting shit out and people are listening to it, and because of that, they get fucked with? That's insane.
Is there something you think people are missing, in your lyrics and in your music, when they misunderstand Juggalos?
I think people just hear the cursing and think that's it. They look at the surface value, and that's what they get out of it. And there are some people that listen to our music that don't claim to be Juggalos, they just enjoy the music.
So it's hard to say either way, but then you get people that super feel it, so it's like any level you want to look at it, people are going to perceive it differently. And however people perceive it is cool. If you don't like it because we curse too much, fuck you, who cares?
The fact is, it's not hard to maintain or do nothing, because we just do what we do. We're not bending our rules to appeal to nobody. People are drawn to us, but we ain't changing our ways for shit. We just know that's something you gotta do--fly to New York and do this now--but we're not changing for shit.
When we're on any talk shows or late night shits or any sitcom, that's not due to us changing what we do; we never bended ourselves to try and get accepted into that world. It's people stepping into our world.
We're not sitting here trying to make cheesy fucking pop-rap shit just to get on Ellen, but if Ellen calls us, fuck yeah we'll go on there. Because I ain't changing shit for Ellen, but if she wants to accept us as us, as the Juggalos we are, then that's cool. But we don't change anything for anybody for any kind of status.
So if you got an oppotunity to do something like that, you'll just take the opportunity to be yourself on there.
There's no question. Then people can look at us, hate us or like us. Don't matter.
What should somebody who's never been to a show be prepared for? What should they look forward to if they're going up to Flagstaff and it's their first time?
Having mad fun, getting wet, kicking it with your homies, just having a great time. That's what we do. It's like a big family reunion for Juggalos. They just come and marinate and we're like the background ambiance for that big party. And then people that aren't Juggalos, just curious people that wanna come check it out. It's all love, too. Nobody's gonna beef with nobody; it's all good at our shows.
Don't wear your Sunday Best, and get your party on.
If a group of people like the Juggalos had been around when you were growing up, what would have drawn you to them?
They were, they just never had a name for them. We didn't even come up with the actual name Juggalos--Juggalos did. When me and J were kids, we called ourselves floobs. Same fucking thing as a juggalo. We weren't the only ones doing that. There always has been, there's just a handle for it now. That's the only difference.
So what is it that brings Juggalos and those other groups--what brings these people together?
Probably things like life situations, same mental class of people. Because really there's no money barrier, there's no racial barrier, there's no religious barrier. Everybody's accepted that wants to be down. And it don't matter where you come from or what you're into. As long as you roll with Juggalos and you're cool, ain't nobody gonna turn you away.
When was the last time you were here in Arizona?
I believe in the last show we did, the American Psycho tour.
Always a good reception here?
Love playing Phoenix and the surrounding area. Everywhere in Arizona is fucking awesome. We got nothing but love for all of Arizona, it's fucking great every time we come over there.
The Juggalos aren't a gang--and it's ridiculous that either of us would even have to say that--but are there any behaviors or thoughts among them that worry you, or that you wish you could push your fans away from?
No, because we're not cult leaders, we're not here to tell people how to act and what to do. People are people. And of course, you're going to have your bad apples in every bunch, but people get that misconstrued and try pinning that on everybody, as opposed to just these two fucking knuckleheads that might do something.
And when that sort of thing happens, when there is a bad apple, your fans usually police themselves to make sure that that's not happening?
Yeah, all the time. You see that all the time. People band together and get their own shit together. Nobody likes chilling with a bad reputation like that. So yeah, people that aren't assholes, of course they're going to stand up and be like, "That's ain't me. Let's get this done the right way, we're not a bunch of fucking hoodlums."
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