Slipknot drummer M. Shawn Crahan, better-known as Clown or #6, has launched his own label, Big Orange Clown Records.
Slipknot drummer M. Shawn Crahan, better-known as Clown or #6, has launched his own label, Big Orange Clown Records. The imprint falls under the Sanctuary Records umbrella; its first signing is Gizmachi, a metal quintet from upstate New York. The band will on May 3 release its debut album, "The Imbuing."
Clown's intense passion for finding new music and introducing it to bigger audiences is what led him to start the label. As its A&R head, he is open to signing artists of every genre.
"I'm always looking for that song -- whether it's classical, country, rap, hip-hop, hardcore, metal, whatever -- I'm looking for people who dig into their souls and they mean it," he tells Billboard.com. "If they do, I'm going to be involved, because they might write that song that will for one minute make the world take a second to think about it and maybe bring on change."
Clown went directly to Slipknot fans to solicit material, and he says thousands of submissions have poured in from around the world. And while artist-run labels don't have the best track record for success, Clown is confident that he knows talent when he sees it, along with what music fans do and don't like.
"I believe I have a Ph.D. [in this], and that's what all those people in the industry need to know, all those punk-ass A&R guys who sit there at their desks and tell me what they think," he says. "I tour eight or nine months a year talking to the kids, listening to the kids, watching them boo or applaud the openers."
Clown has certainly taken Gizmachi under his wing. Having befriended vocalist Sean Kane at a concert a few years ago, the two kept in touch, with Clown giving the band pointers to help it develop its sound and presentation. He produced "The Imbuing" and directed the video for the first single, "The Answer."
Gizmachi plays metal that is at times old-school, thrash and progressive, with Kane alternately singing and screaming the lyrics. Asked how Clown helped shape the album, Kane says, "He took our music and he didn't change it. He added all the great elements of the Clown to it and turned it into something different."
Gizmachi also secured the opening slot on six dates during Slipknot's current Subliminal Verses tour, which includes Shadows Fall and Lamb Of God. Although he wants to work closely with his acts and do more producing/directing, there is no guarantee that he will be involved with everyone to that degree: Gizmachi lucked into the tour because of timing, and also because Slipknot gave its approval. The label's artists "have to prove [themselves], and that's what I expect with anyone," he says. "I'm here because of nothing but sacrifice."
In other Slipknot news, Clown is filming the tour for footage to be included on the band's next DVD. The group is also re-releasing its album "Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses)" on April 12 as a double-disc set. The new edition sports alternate versions of tracks like "Danger -- Keep Away" and live renditions of "The Blister Exists," "Three Nil," "Disasterpiece" and "People=S***."
"I'm proud of the way 'Subliminal' came out," he says. "I wouldn't change it for the world. I wouldn't put anything on it that's not on it ... but I'm just also pleased that the fans can get the [other songs that were scattered on different releases]. We just want to give our kids everything they need to be happy, because it's all about them."