Insane Clown Posse are a divisive band to say the least. Heck, after their publicist calls me Jeff (my name is Jac) I'm not feeling that great about them either. But that all changes once I start talking to the band. Violent J, one half of ICP, is warm, receptive and seems like one of the most caring people you're likely to ever come across. Love or hate their music, Violent J and ICP stand for all that's good in this world. It may not come across in their music but they're about togetherness, friendship and being a good person. We had a chat to Violent J to find out about the man behind the make-up and what makes Insane Clown Posse so damn intriguing.
I remember hearing your stuff when I was a kid. You were a lot more ‘fuck this, kill that' back then. Your music seems to have mellowed a bit since the '90s, was this an intentional shift?
People say our music has changed but I don't really know how. I don't think we softened up at all. In my opinion in the '90s it was the first time people heard Insane Clown Posse and all the cussing that we did. I think that was shocking at the time. Then the 2000s rolled around and we were saying more of that but it was just less shocking. It didn't impact them the same way as when they first heard it. So instead of ICP softening up I think it was people were just used to hearing what we say. In the '90s it was a lot more mysterious as well. You really had to search to find our videos. However, now we live in a Youtube world where everyone has a camera. There's just so much more around with Twitter and everything. Compared to the '90s things are a lot less edgy and scary.
How has that forced you guys to change?
I don't think we've changed. The world around us has changed. We're still doing the same stuff we've always done. We're still as angry as we've always been, we still go after people like we always do and when it comes to albums we still put in as much work as ever. We never slack off or get lazy. Every time we do a Joker's Card
we put our heart and soul in it. I really don't think we've changed that much. We've gotten older and had children. I don't think that's affected the music though.
A number of your albums are referred to as Joker’s Cards
by both yourself and your fans - for the uninitiated, could you elaborate on what exactly a Joker’s Card
The Joker's Cards
are what ICP is all about. It's what we really pour our heart and soul into. The music we make in between the Joker's Cards
we have fun with but the Joker's Cards
are when we really buckle down and get dead fucking serious. We're being channeled and saying something that comes right through us. It's like a higher power is telling us what to say and there's an underlying message to each Joker Card
. We wait for it to happen. Sometimes one will come right after the other, others will have years in between. We wait until we feel like we're being spoken to and the ideas are given to us. We don't search for the ideas. This is the method we used when were 19-years-old and it's the same method as we use today. There's always an underlying message but basically it's about finding your way to heaven. I don't think the Joker's Cards
are overly religious it's just the basic premise: 'find your way to heaven'. Each Joker Card
asks you to look at yourself honestly. They can help you understand yourself. They've helped a lot of people's lives and a lot of Juggalos.
How did you find your last visit to Australia? Did you receive a warm reception?
Listen brother, the last time we came to Australia was probably the best trip we've ever had. Every show was off the hook, there were hundreds of Juggalos at every show and they were singing along. Even at our in-store appearances they were doing the chants. It was the first time we ever played for them so they were so appreciative. It just felt so great and they showed us so much love. I have a book that contains all our press clippings from when we went to Australia and that book sits on my coffee table in my living room every day. Our last trip to Australia was magical, we're so looking forward to coming back. I can't stand plane rides, I'm too big and fat to be riding on a plane (laughs). We're coming strictly for the Juggalos.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a Juggalo?
That they're stupid. That they're lowlifes. Juggalos are creative, Juggalos need more than a Top 40 hit. They don't care about the fucking pop chart. They need more to entertain them. They want more of a backstory. They don't want just a fancy hook with a bunch of idiots singing and they'll forget about it in a week and move on to the next idiot. Juggalos need more because they're more open minded. They're the most creative people on the planet.
What’s an ICP live show like? Are you doing anything differently on the Mighty Death Pop tour
An ICP show is what I call controlled pandemonium (laughs). It's a contained riot. It's absolute madness but nobody ever gets hurt. Don't wear your best clothes to our show that's for sure. This isn't a Jay Z concert. This is where you bring your scrubby clothes and you be a scrubby clown. You can be fat, you can lonely, you can be a nerd, everybody is accepted and nobody is excluded.
I understand if you’re unable to talk about it for legal reasons, but why the hell have the FBI classified Juggalo’s as a street gang?
It's insanity. It's the stupidest thing that's ever happened to us. All I can say is people fear what they don't understand and in the United States people don't understand Juggalos. I think a lot of it is jealousy. People are having fun and happy being Juggalos, people see that and it makes them jealous.
As for the FBI, yes there are bad apples out there but they've just got the wrong idea. They shouldn't spoil it for everyone. There are Juggalo police officers, not just one or two but probably hundreds. I've met 10 to 15 just on my own. There're Juggalos of all walks of life. There's an attorney Juggalo - he's helping us fight and sue the FBI. We don't have a lot of money but we're doing what we can because we have to fight it. We cannot accept Juggalos being called a gang now, because in 10 years time everyone's gonna be calling Juggalos a gang. That takes away from all the magic we've done for 22 years. It's bullshit - Juggalos don't ship drugs, there's no organised crime. Juggalos are all about having cookouts, listening to music and going to wrestling and just being together. To call them a gang is fucking ridiculous, it's the stupidest thing ever.
How’s your wrestling career going? Why’d you guys decide to start your own wrestling organisation in the first place?
Just because we wanted to have more events for Juggalos to go to besides just concerts. They're more than just music lovers, they love an excuse to get together. They have their own mini gatherings where they have barbecues in the park. We figured if we started our own organisation and toured it and promoted it every year that it'd give them another reason to get together. They can boo the bad wrestlers and cheer the Juggalos (laughs). It's just a perfect reason for them to get together and have fun. So all in all we've been doing JCW for a long time now.
Okay, if you could tag-team wrestle any two historical figures, who would they be?
Oh man. I would wanna wrestle Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Me and Shaggy vs Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. They're friends of ours. Ric Flair was at a Juggalo gathering of ours two years ago. On top of that Rob Van Dam's a Juggalo, so is the Big Show, half of the ECW locker room were Juggalos. When it's all said and done Hulk Hogan's gonna come and do our TV show in December. Once he does that he'll be Juggalo too.
You’ve been in this business for 20-odd years now. Can you ever see a day in the future when the makeup comes off?
No. The makeup will never come off because that'd reveal how old we are (laughs). We will do this for a very very long time. We're gonna go out like the Rolling Stones. We might not sell out huge stadiums but we'll sell out club shows like we always do. Shaggy and I are best friends, we're like brothers. We love each other, we don't fight, we don't argue. We love to be on the road and get away from our wives. We will do this until the motherfucking clock stops spinning. As for what's in the future - more Joker's Cards
, more music, more great videos, more great movies. We've got a TV show that'll keep going, who knows we may open up our own theme park. Who knows? The future is all ours. We're gonna grow old and all the Juggalos out there can grow old with us.
INSANE CLOWN POSSE TOUR DATES:
Wednesday 4 December - The Gov, Adelaide
Thursday 5 December - The Hi-Fi, Brisbane
Friday 6 December - The Hi-Fi, Melbourne
Saturday 7 December - The Hi-Fi, Sydney
Sunday 8 December - Metropolis, Fremantle