After using it to help launch its new single “All Out Life,” Slipknot will be putting its sly Touché app in dry-dock for awhile as the group continues marching towards its sixth studio album next year. But the group’s Shawn “Clown” Crahan, who masterminded the promotional tool, promises the Maggots haven’t seen the last of it.
“Right now there’s other pieces of this puzzle called Slipknot that are happening,” Crahan tells Billboard. He says the campaign for the new album, whose title hasn’t yet been released, “is a very definite outline we created, going on three years ago now. Right now we are gearing up the machine that we’ve built, and it started with Touché and ‘All Out Life’ and the video. Touché will grow, of course, but right now I’m wanting it to self-destruct a little bit. I had a point to make with it, and the point was made.”
Touché began as an anonymous app that spent two weeks offering cryptic teasers about “All Out Life.” The group used hints on Reddit and other outlets to drive fans to the app, where they were able to add filters and masks to selfie images. “We dangled the carrot in front of their faces, and they had no idea,” Crahan explains. The Touché platform slowly morphed into more direct Slipknot imagery, evolving into something called Chaos before revealing “All Out Life’s” release on Halloween, racking up more than four million YouTube views in 24 hours and reaching No. 3 on the iTunes chart.
“I was confident it would work,” Crahan says. “This felt right to me — baiting, drawing, whatever word you want to use. We wanted to create something brainless and draw you in and bring you in in a way that you’re used to…and remind you why you even like my f***ing band to begin with.”
Crahan did, however, have a serious point to make via Touché, one he says was inspired by the proliferation of the mobile device culture and the effect he feels it’s having on society. “This is based off of watching entire families sitting at dinner tables and just destroying their time together on these brainless things,” he explains. “I can’t judge ’em for that. It is what it is. But I think they forget that they used to sit around without them — and that’s a big problem. I mean, you can learn piano or guitar on these (apps), and I’m sure they work, but you can’t forget that you can sit down at a real piano or pick up a real guitar. So (Touché) was a way of saying OK, all these things are in our future — as long as we don’t forget that there is a reality around us.” Crahan says Touché was also inspired by Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor’s lyrics for “All Out Life,” while the bloody video for the song, which Crahan directed — and which features fans who had no idea exactly what they were taking part in — makes its own point about the importance of the flesh and, well, blood experience.
“‘All Out Life’ means get the f*** up, go live your life and live it all-out,” Crahan says. “The band’s been gone for three years. You want blood from me? You got it. That’s what I’ve been giving you for 20 years. But I want blood from you, too. We’re no longer just a band. We’re a culture.”
Crahan says that although it’s been in one form of motion or other since early 2016, the new album is not yet finished. Slipknot has been working on the follow-up to 2014’s Billboard 200-topping .5: The Gray Chapter with returning co-producer Greg Fidelman, with “a plethora of songs, all demoed” to choose from. “That’s something we never had the luxury of, but it’s because we started three years ago,” Crahan says. “What I can tell you is I’ve known all the words all the time, so I’ve been able to paint the dream world and the nightmare in my mind.” Conceptually, he adds, the album “breaks down to…good vs. evil, or in this sense, evil vs. good. It’s about being a human being and experiencing what you have in correlating it to this world. This world is ugly and it’s supposed to be, and it has to be in order for art to lead to grandness and beauty.”
Crahan isn’t tipping his mask as to when the album will be released, but he points to Slipknot’s tour dates — currently starting June 7 at Rockfest in Finland, with European shows into early July and an Aug. 10 slot at the Iowa State Fair. However, Crahan notes, “Nothing is in stone. There are songs that are considered the album, but everything can change. We would never go do (concert) dates without an album, but…we’re not following any rules this time, not that we ever did. We’re on an outline, and I think everybody’s going to be pleasantly surprised.”
One thing that is definite for Slipknot is the Dec. 7 release of a 10th anniversary edition of its fourth album All Hope Is Gone. The set will feature different artwork as well as a bonus disc featuring a 2009 concert at Madison Square Garden — including an album’s worth of songs recorded during the All Hope sessions that, save for “‘Til We Die,” have not yet surfaced. Crahan declares himself “not a big fan of reissues,” but he’s confident that the collection of “different artwork, some different music, some remastered shit, blah, blah, blah” will excite the Maggots.
“I push and push and push for as much content as I can that’s different in any way possible, any way that makes sense for the fans,” Crahan says. “I’m lucky I even have a team that will help me make physical product, and I’m even luckier and blessed to have a fan base that’s willing to buy physical product. To tie it back to Touché, they don’t need to be reminded it’s still important to hold a f***ing piece of music in your hand. That’s part of the point I was making, too.”