Slipknot’s Clown breaks down Knotverse: “It’s a way for us to be as close to you as possible”
Slipknot’s foray into the metaverse was only announced this month, via a partnership with Sandbox, but it’s been a lifetime in the making. Inspired by the early days of playing the video game Quake online via dial-up internet with friends in different parts of the world to the creativity that came from editing the source code, Clown has always been interested in how communities can work together to create art.
When it launches in 2023, Knotverse will bring the principles, spirit and community of their groundbreaking festival Knotfest to Web3, making it more accessible, more involved and more Slipknot than ever.
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Clown is still working out exactly what Knotverse will entail, but it’s more a case of figuring out what he wants to prioritize, rather than scratching about for good ideas. There’s talk of virtual concerts, creating digital art as a community and access to a library of Slipknot gigs from across the years.
“I don’t know how people will pay for it,” Clown admits. He believes it’ll likely be a subscription-based model, perhaps $20 a month, “but we’re not making that our top priority.” As with everything Slipknot have done over the years, art comes before profit. “What we're going to offer is going to be mind-blowing. It’s going to be anything and everything you’ve ever wanted from Slipknot.”
So why now? “It's time to reeducate all the humans and get them ready for the future because they’re not going to have a choice in the matter eventually,” he says. “It's better for the culture to hear about it from us, than the opposition. The opposition makes things very boring.”
And when Clown talks about the opposition, he means the people “that want to get to you and your money first. That’s never cohesive with fun or fairness.”
Clown is approaching Knotverse “as a piece of digital art. Now's a good time to get people on the same page, and we can figure this out together,” he says. “It's time to take the power back into our own hands. We need to catch up to the wonderful abilities that are in front of us.”
First up, what do you want Knotverse to represent?
I’m designing everything in a way that when you can't be with us, you are with us. We want to provide a safe space that's available 24 hours a day. What I do is God Music, which means I contribute to helping people. We’re making a world that’s my own Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, so when a fan, a Maggot, is depressed or has a rough day at work and needs a little Slipknot, they can come to Knotverse and be offered all kinds of new things. That's what the metaverse is for me — a way to help my culture that’s also a lot of fun for everyone.
So it’s not going to replace the world of Knotfest you have already created?
This religion known as Slipknot is to be with you, using any tools we can. It doesn’t matter how advanced technology gets. It can’t replace the emotional, physical aspect of being at an actual show. We all know that, which means we’ll keep touring.
But what about when we can't be together? There are people in the world who never got the chance to see [drummer] Joey Jordison, [bassist] Paul Gray or [percussionist] Chris Fehn play with Slipknot, and two of those gentlemen are no longer with us — rest in peace, brothers. We’ve never been to China. There are places in South Africa and the United States that Slipknot still hasn’t gotten to, and there are fans everywhere who have never been to a show because their reality doesn’t allow it — that could be religious reasons, work commitments, anything.
So Web3 and metaverses are a wonderful way of acting out reality as close as you can, in a digital world. Let’s say Knotfest is taking place in Palm Springs, which fans in Mexico City can’t physically attend — Knotverse could have a carnival arena with giant screens, broadcasting us playing live. You’d be surrounded by fans, all interacting with each other in real time. That’s a very real experience in a fake world.
A digital world has got to offer up a lot of new avenues for an artist like you, right?
We're in an era where technology means absolutely anything is possible. Do you know how many things I've come up with and wanted to do with Knotfest that we've not been able to? I’ll give you one example: Years ago, we had these cars that you could beat on with a stick. Well, on the day of the festival, I found out that we had to chain the sticks to the ground, which I thought was just cheesy and missed the mark. Then there are transport costs, storage costs. With the metaverse, I can come up with any concept and utilize it perfectly in a digital world.
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I don’t need to worry about sticks being stolen; I don’t need to worry about people being hurt. Instead, I can make it so in Knotverse, each strike of the bat makes a different note. Then maybe we organize a group of people, and we record this drum circle, turn it into an NFT, with 75% of the money going to charity. We can have digital meet and greets that are just us hanging out, talking about music or coffee or whatever. You can watch Sid [Wilson, DJ] scratching, knowing he’s doing it live from somewhere in the world. It's fascinating. We can have guitar lessons, we can have performances, we can do interviews. It’s a way for us to be as close to you as possible.
People thought I was crazy when I spoke about creating a Slipknot museum as part of Knotfest, but there are so many artists involved in making one of our masks. I wanted to share that with the fans rather than just throwing it into a box. But even now, that museum doesn’t tell the whole story. With Knotverse, I can tell it all, and you can get involved in as much or as little as you want.
How will Knotverse shape the future of the band?
We’re putting out one more album, then we’re off the label [Roadrunner Records]. After that, I can start talking about the rest of my free life. Whether we go with another label or not just depends on who wants to work with Slipknot because we want to take things far. And the good news is, I’m not going to have a lot of naysayers around us telling me what I can and can’t do. Knotverse allows us to take back control. And I’m taking it all back for all of us because the opposition had their chance. They don’t deserve anything more from us.
Would you ever release music through the metaverse?
It depends on who wants to work with Slipknot, but it's a new world out there for music right now. Wherever we live and whoever we live with, though, Knotverse is our platform to release everything as timely, efficiently and harmless as possible — cutting out all the middlemen. It's a direct link between us and you. If we own our own music, and I don’t have to ask for permission, we don’t have to accommodate anyone else’s rules, which waters down what we do.
There's a lot of new words floating around, but they’re just reflections of old words. It sounds scary to say you want to release an album through the metaverse, but really, that just means streaming something on the internet. Don’t be scared of this new technology. You have to go with change. Otherwise, you get left behind, and I don’t want that for our family. Knotverse is a fun new way of taking power into our own hands and being rulers of our own decisions.
How important is it that Knotverse is affordable?
Anything worth doing is worth doing for money, right? So when I got into this space and we started learning about crypto and NFTs, I spoke to a couple of people in our organization, and I made them promise me that we would always remember our culture, and we would make everything cost-effective for our culture. No one gets more embarrassed than me about making a profit. I do everything in my fucking power to be able to give back as much as I can.
If you want to talk about money, I see Knotverse as something you sign up for, and you get a lot. If you're part of the religion, the culture, you come in to Knotverse and see people you know, and everyone artistically gets to show themselves. The metaverse is something that we need to be at forefront of — that's going to benefit all of us. I want to give fans assets to make their own NFTs and make their own money because I want you to survive. I want you to make it in this world.
You’ve got big ambitions for Knotverse, then?
I want to be the biggest thought process in rock ’n’ roll ever. I'm not trying to take on the Beatles, Pink Floyd or Metallica. I'm just simply trying to be Slipknot and utilize everything artistically I was born with. Morbidly, I'm getting ready for the end game. I'm 52 and I’ve got friends dropping left and right around me. The world's fucked up, and it feels like the end times, so I'm getting organized. And I'll tell you what — organization means good things for the Maggots.
So as well as giving you control over the future of the band, Knotverse is also your way of securing your legacy?
I’m not going to be here forever, and I don’t want to leave it to someone else to tell our story when I already have the ability to paint it myself. I’ve been waiting for the ability to share intellectual property without the corporate world digging its knives and forks in and spreading it thin. Trust me, that’s already been a battle. I still want people to roll through a garage sale and find that first Slipknot album for 50 cents, and then negotiate it down to a quarter, because that’s real life. That’s pop culture. But I also want a space that tells our complete story, to the best of our abilities.
You won't meet too many artists in bands that have more intellectual property than me. I used to film everything, and I only stopped a few years ago because no one could keep up with it. I’ve been waiting for things like metaverses, crypto and NFTs to take off. I'm from the generation that helped build them, and now I'm finally sitting at the right side of what we all wanted. Now I can organize and give all of you, everything. I can explain the story, and you can devour it on your own time. I’ve been doing this band for 25 years now. It’s time for us to do us.
Slipknot have a fanbase that really trusts your opinion on art, music and everything else. Does that add to the pressure of launching something like Knotverse?
No, because there's no other band that can do it but us. No disrespect to anybody else, but we're the band for this. There are several people in Slipknot that have been video gamers and coders from day one. This was made for us. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but it's great because I've waited my whole life, and I finally have everything I need to do it. We don’t want to use any templates, either. We're building and designing everything ourselves, from the ground up.
And by the way, the reason why it's Knotverse and not Slipknotland is because Slipknot is Knotfest, but Slipknot has chosen to let Knotfest be for everyone — so that makes Knotverse that was as well. I could let another band do their album premiere in that space; I can stream other band’s gigs there. It's not just selfishly motivated. The metaverse is bigger than all of us, and we’re just trying to do our bit.