UPDATE: Bad news for camel shit fans: TMZ reports that California fire officials have squashed Slipknot's plans to make their upcoming Knotfest smell like camel dung. The site reports that burning oil is illegal and the odor would be considered a "public nuisance."
Knotfest, the upcoming three-day bacchanal in San Bernardino, California organized by multi-platinum masked metallers Slipknot, will go down in history as the first rock festival to have an official smell. And that smell? Camel shit.
Boasts the press release, "Knotfest has its own aroma that will infest your brain, body and clothes for days after the festival is over. Personally picked by Slipknot themselves, the smell of Knotfest will permeate the festival grounds. Oil drums will be filled with camel shit… set aflame to last the entire festival."
"We did the camel dung on the first Knotfest. It was awesome; it was beautiful," Slipknot percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan tells Rolling Stone. "[Fans] came into the museum and they had to be hit with camel shit. A very distinct smell. You can't huff it, but it's got this smell. And it's not necessarily the most comfortable thing, but its not necessarily the worst thing, it's just remembering thoughts — it's gonna be a reoccurring thing."
Slipknot hope the smell will be conducive to creating a community through olfactory memory, a gesture that recalls a more hardcore version of Marcel Proust's "episode of the madeline."
"I write down things in life that are special, that only living in this thought process can you ever obtain," he says. "Freshly mowed grass. How it smells when a nice spring rain hits. Because of Iowa, I like being in a different state that doesn't even have grass and think that I smell fresh-cut grass. It brings me home. Makes me feel safe… So, I figure, since we're not a band anymore — we're a culture, everybody needs to get used to that real quick — that the culture has to have a smell. You have to be able to be somewhere in the world, maybe be in a little pain, and then all of a sudden smell that and feel good again."
Contrary to reports that claimed the dung would be mixed with oil, Crahan insists it will be au natural, heated with a slow burn over charcoal, "like we're doing ribs." As for where they will acquire three days' worth of camel dung? "Well, that's a good question," says Crahan. "I don't want to get anybody in any sort of accusations of wrongdoing or whatever, but you have to get it from a zoo probably. How you get it from the zoo is not my origin of expertise. I just put out the order and the captains go out and get it done."
The flaming oil drums will accompany the festival taking place October 24th - 26th. It features performances from metal icons like Danzig, Anthrax, Testament, Carcass, Napalm Death, Fear Factory and Prong; newcomers like Five Finger Death Punch and Of Mice and Men; the debut of rapper Tech N9ne's live band; and, of course, two headlining sets by Slipknot themselves.
Extramusical activities include a Mad Max-style Thunderdome with nightly fights, a petting zoo full of goats, the first zipline at an American music festival, a communal drum circle on junked cars, the Fitz Army motocross show and more.
"[We] got pyro that's just stupid," says Crahan. "Just lighting shit on fire all day long, blowing 23-foot fuckin' flames in the air, the whole deal."
One special carnival ride will be on hand to hearken back to the days when Crahan attended the Iowa State Fair. "The main ride that I rode my whole life was the Ring of Fire, man," he says. "My grandma always told me, love was a circle, it just goes on and on and on and it'll never break. It's just real. It's entrapped in that housing like a cell, and that's where I go with that."