WELCOME TO THE DARK Carnival, "a celestial circus of lunacy, madness and excess that travels through time and space to distort pleasant youthful memories into a horrific living nightmare." Insane Clown Posse members Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope combine their disturbing visions with sociopathic clown personas, giving them the edge to attract hard core fans -- and anger the mainstream.
When asked about the Dark Carnival, J said, "We make Marilyn Manson look like Hanson. We're the wickedest, scariest, greatest band to ever step foot on a stage and that's because of the Dark Carnival."
Each ICP tour is a "thematic riot," with monikers like The Omen, The Funeral, The Resurrection and the "very messy" Pie-in-your-fucking-Face tour. The sets include insane asylums, fire, blood, axes, chains and tons of flying Faygo soda pop.
J said an ICP concert is "not really a display of talent.... We use [theatrics] to hide the fact that we suck."
ICP's idea of a good concert doesn't come merely from lack of ability. J longed for the days when shows had theatrics a-la KISS and Alice Cooper, but the stable of "MTV acts" were often boring.
ICP put out two albums on the indie Psychopathic before it signed to Jive. Unhappy with Jive, ICP packed up a van, hired some indie promotion people and hit the streets selling its own record, Riddle Box, which sold 122,000 units. When Jive asked the band for another record, ICP said "hell no." That's when Hollywood Records stepped forward.
ICP recorded The Great Milenko but hours after it hit the streets, Hollywood pulled it. ICP signed an agreement not to talk about what went down, but in a typical anti-establishment move, J seems to savor the discussion.
He said Hollywood is a good label but they don't have any hits for a reason. "Every time they get their foot into something good, Disney comes and smacks them around."
J said the worst part is that Disney lied when it said The Great Milenko slipped past the company's screening process. "The fact is this: Disney wants all the money in the world. They want the happy, friendly, children money and they want the ruthless, wicked clown money."
J said "corporate Disney" definitely knew what they were getting into. "We had three previous albums out, three serial killing, mass murdering albums.... so they knew exactly what we were."
Disney said it didn't want to release the music because it was so offensive but the company wouldn't let the band go until Island paid $750,000 for The Great Milenko, J said. "What scares me is that happy, friendly, clean of anything dirty, Magical Kingdom Disney are nothing but lying filthy rats and nobody knows that but the bad guys. I'm a bad guy; I admit it. There's nothing good to my lyrics. [But] these people, they lied to everybody."
J acknowledges that the publicity around The Great Milenko was lucky. "That basically put my band on the map and I'm cool with that.... We needed a break. We've been in this business since '91 paying helly dues."
Despite the dues paid, many still view ICP as hype. Others simply hate the band. J said the hatred doesn't really stem from the Hollywood situation, however. "[We're despised] because we're foul mouthed punks and we got paid.... Everybody says our album sucks ... yet it continues to sell 10,000 a week long after the Disney hype.... There's a term for it in the rap world called 'player haters.'"
Despite a hands-on interest in the band's business, J and Shaggy don't reign their world. Manager Alex Abbiss and agent Michael Wood from F.B.I. are key to the clownz. J said they signed with Woods because "he's seriously out of his mind and he's a perfect agent for Insane Clown Posse."
Abbiss has been there from the start. He was running his own record store when ICP came in with tapes dubbed on blank Maxells. Abbiss sold 19 tapes and then quickly called the band and asked if J and Shaggy wanted to go into business. Today, he manages the band and runs Psychopathic records.
In closing, J said, "I want [the music business] to get used to our ugly faces because we're not going anywhere.... We're coming to your venue and we're going to sell it out. We're coming to your town and we're going to blow it up with Insane Clown Posse mania..... So you can either be down with the clown or you can be against the clown.... There's no stopping us."