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Q&A: Violent J on ICP’s Bizaar, Bizzar Ride

Two albums, world tour might be more Insane Clown Posse than some can stand

“That’s us — the most hated band in the world,” brags Insane Clown Posse’s Violent J with a laugh. “And I’ll proclaim that over any of these lameass bands out there. We own that title. We make USA Today‘s worst album every year. They don’t really know much about music, but it’s still great. It’s great to be named the best at something . . . even if it’s sucking.”

For the Motor City hip-hop clown duo, there’s exists a contentment in that title that’s been a long time coming. For years the group has been ridiculed, reviled, panned, slagged and just about any other derogatory verb you can imagine. With the release of their two new albums, Bizzar and Bizaar, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have created a double fuck-off to their detractors, offering two bitter pills to swallow. It’s the usual axe-wielding horror rap times two, but the guys in ICP have a sneaky trump card up their sleeves. Their cover of Eighties one-hit-wonder Sly Fox’s “Let’s Go All the Way” has found them creeping into MTV after a decade of being ignored by television and radio. Whether or not MTV can boost ICP into the sales stratosphere hardly matters. With a dedicated legion of Juggalos, the duo has a guaranteed audience that doesn’t hinge on singles. “We don’t need to be triple platinum or win any Grammy Awards,” J says. “I used to think that one day we’d get the world to see things our way and see us as a band, but to be honest with you brother, I don’t think that’s ever gonna really happen.”

Nevertheless, with two discs and a worldwide tour kicking off this weekend with Nashville Pussy, Suicidal Tendencies and Chuck D’s Confrontation Camp in tow for some dates, the bizaar, bizzar, bizarre ride continues.

How’d the hell did you hook up with Nashville Pussy?

I never heard their music. I have now, man . . . they’re really different than us. They do southern rock almost, like Lynyrd Skynyrd sped up. I don’t know how the juggalos are going to take to it. That remains to be seen. But any band that calls us and asks to be on our show, we’re more than honored to have ’em as part of our show. And the first three bands that called us were Suicidal Tendencies, Confrontation Camp and Nash Pussy, and we welcomed all three with open arms. It’s a pretty weird mix up there, but that’s what the carnival is about.

So who has the scarier rednecks, Georgia or Detroit?

Oooh. I’m going to say Detroit has scarier rednecks, because Detroit rednecks are wolves in sheep’s clothing. In Georgia, they’re just wolves in wolf clothing. In Detroit you don’t know who’s a redneck until you go home and meet their parents.

Which of you has the scarier fans?

I don’t know, we’re about to find out. I think they’re all in one. They just don’t know it yet, but they’re the same people. They’re gonna meet each other and realize they’re the same.

Any story as to Confrontation Camp’s presence on the tour?

Chuck D shocked the hell out of me. When he came to Detroit two years ago he called us out of nowhere, and said, “I’m a giant fan, can you come down, I wanna meet you guys.” We couldn’t fucking believe it. He had all of our CDs, our videos. He said, “I’m a Juggalo, man.”

Your tour launched with a surprise, $2 show in Cleveland. Do those gigs set you back much?

We pay the expenses in our merchandise. If you go $2 a head that’s not going to cover the cost of a show. But we do a lot of merchandise. Listen to this, you can have an arena with other bands and they won’t do the merchandise that we’ll do in a small club. That’s because our connection with our fans is so much more personal. It’s more than a song on a radio. Our fans feel connected to us, us being kind of geeks and losers, that’s what Insane Clown Posse is. But I got a wall with two platinum albums and three gold albums. And we did that with no radio, no nothing.

The merchandising aspect seems as tight as that of the WWF.

The WWF is a lot like us in a lot of ways, because those are characters in wrestling. You have a whole arena of blue-collar workers and their sons. And everybody knows what they’re looking at is fake, but they’re booing the bad guys and cheering the good guys having a good night away from reality. And that’s what our concerts are. They’re just having a good time.

Yet some take you so seriously.

‘Cause we do rap. And the thing about rap is keep it real. But here’s the problem with that: we all live and breathe in a real world every day. Why does our music have to reflect that too? I want my music to take me out of real. I work and pay bills. I want my music to take me away on an adventure — these two serial-killing clowns killing the bad guys of the earth, cutting redneck’s heads off. Fuck keeping it real, let’s keep it entertaining. That’s what you buy a record for. Whatever your life is, rap about it. Well sometimes that’s depressing. And that’s the reason critics hate us, they haven’t figured it out. There’s not a kid in our audience who thinks we’re axe-murdering serial killers. It’s part of the play.

And you’re hardly novices in the axe-wielding clown genre.

I’ve been doing this ten years. We have a documentary coming out in about two months that shows the entire journey so far. We have all this footage going back to 1991 of us dancing on stage with Kid Rock. I mean, I’ve had shows where I had every single kid in that audience singing every single word of a song with me and then get up the next morning in that very same town and read in the local paper that the show sucked. Who the hell was this? Obviously they didn’t get it. It’s just crazy for a guy to review Sting’s album and then review our album. But I can talk to you all day and the fact is that we’ll always be dissed. But it doesn’t matter because as long as there are people out there listening, I’m gonna be in business. And I have a feeling I’m gonna be in business forever. There’ll be plenty more albums in the future for people to dis. So come and get it.

You mentioned Kid Rock, do you see him around any more?

Without question he’s a multi-trillionaire and he could live high and mighty but Kid Rock is the kind of guy who’s gonna keep it like it was. I’m not good personal friends with him, though I’ve known him forever. I love the fact that he blew up, though, because that’s a guy who paid some heavy dues. Seeing him on MTV, I know he wasn’t a guy who was just created and blew up the next year. He was somebody who actually paid his dues. When we make fun of him on our record, that’s just having fun. It’s just fun to make fun of public figures. It’s just us being clowns. I don’t think he’s concerned with what’s on our records anyway. But he’s deserving of everything he’s got.

Your Eminem parody, “Nuthin’ But a Bitch Thang” was a little more pointed. Did you ever think about including it on “Bizaar” . . . or even “Bizzar”?

I didn’t want to spend a whole song dissing him on Bizarre/Bizaar. We still got at him, there’s a song called “Please Don’t Hate Me” where we kill Eminem at the end. I didn’t just want to make it to where all we were singing and rapping about was Eminem because that gets boring real quick. It was just an answer to what he did to us on his album.

Was there a beginning to that feud?

There was a lot of his underground stuff of his from back in the day, “fuck ICP/buy my cd” that kind of thing where he’s just going off on us. So on a radio show we did a parody of “My Name Is” and called it “Slim Anus.” The following day Eminem did an interview on the same radio station and they played it for him. So his album came out and he dissed us back. But I guess we started it. But what Eminem’s doing, we were doing in 1994. He grew up on our humor, it’s all Juggalo style. But I think Detroit and I think Esham. I see Kid Rock, I see the Verve Pipe, I see Sponge. I see all these people and I don’t see Eminem. I don’t know where he came from. I remember the local scene, and Eminem was never on it. I think he is just one of those guys who started rapping and got lucky. But damn he’s got a lot of talent. I will tell you this, I never listen to his albums, but from what I hear on TV and in interviews, if he and I weren’t battling each other on records, [laughs] we’d be great friends. Cause a lot of the things he says I agree with. I think he’s awesome. I mean he fucking buried us on his album and the thing sold six million fucking copies. Whatever, it’s rap history, rappers always battle each other.

Speaking of battles, any preference: Gore vs. Bush?

Completely, completely uneducated and uninterested in the whole thing. [Laughs]

You have a preferred hangover remedy?

More. That and Vicadin, which I’m hooked on anyway.

What’s the best city in which to get tattooed?

Believe it or not, Spokane, Wash.

Strangest fan request or comment?

Well, I can tell you what the strangest thing I ever heard was. After a girl performed oral sex on me, she said, “If my boyfriend knew what I did, he’d never let me wash my mouth out.” That was without a doubt the oddest thing I’d ever heard. She said, “He loves you guys so much.”

OK, last question, were you ever scared of clowns as a kid?

No. That would mean me being scared of myself which would be a sort of paranoia that would require mental fixing. No, I scare others.


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