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Having shot a couple dozen or so videos, Slipknot have become masters of the art — so much so that percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan has co-directed the last two of the band’s clips with Paul Brown. The latest, “Sulfur,” is visually stunning, creepy and conceptual in a way the Iowa band have never been before.
Slipknot's Shawn Crahan (a.k.a. Clown) adds:
"This is the third video I’ve done with Paul Brown and with each video we learn more about each other and the art of Slipknot, and we build on that knowledge with each new project. It’s great to jump around and try new people, but sometimes it’s better to stay with a winning team.
When I write a treatment, I always think, “What has Slipknot not done? What can we embark upon that will be fun and knowledge-enhancing instead of the same old song and dance?” Our business can be routine, so I need the band to be able to do something brand new so we can look back at it later and say, “God, this was different and fun and really artistic.”
This one was based on a visual art piece called “Ascension” by Bill Viola that’s at the Des Moines Arts Center. You go down in this room and it’s solid black and it’s basically this gentleman jumping into a body of water. It’s shot in a high frame rate and it happens over 30 minutes and the sound’s slowed down, and it’s just scary.
So for this video, we are the treatment. We like to give our fans as much of us as we can, and even though we’re tired of live performance, we’re always trying to take it to the furthest realm. So I figured this time we’d change up the live performance by shooting groups of three instead of putting the whole band up in a scenario and then the camera rolls by and misses what I’m doing because it’s focusing on Joey. The first group was Corey, Mick and Craig. And then the second group was Joey, Sid and Paul. And the third group was Chris, Myself and Jim.
When I think of sulfur I go blindly into the smell and it’s something people either love or hate, and if you hate it, then it can be suffocating. So, I went to a parallel universe and incorporated water as something that suffocates you instead of being derivative and contrived and just showing the yellow smoke of sulfur or something. We got an 11-foot water tank and we all jumped in it, and we all had our issues. It was the first time I saw everybody very concerned with something we had to do for our art. You had to go up this really weird ladder and the water was dirty and it was a five-foot by five-foot tank and it looked like when you stepped into it you were gonna hit your head on the frame that holds the glass and it would just rip your nose off.
And we were even more freaked out because they had to have a paramedic there that could swim and save you if you were drowning. I look at the video as a testimony to being able to believe in what you had to do. It was dangerous. If you just did it a little bit wrong you were going to hurt yourself. And it happens to be my favorite video ever because it involved that fear. We used a 45 lens like they used in “Gladiator,” which makes everything super-sharp, so the motion is really in your face and you really feel what every member is doing and we just had a fantastic time. It’s probably the best we’ve ever looked and I think it reveals more of how we see ourselves."