ICP's Violent J Talks Texas, Faygo & The Juggalo Family
"Texas is my favorite state"
Next Tuesday, Detroit's Insane Clown Posse invades Houston for the third time in as many years for another night of Faygo and Juggalo family fun at Warehouse Live. This will also be Rocks Off's third jump into that sticky, harrowing breach.
Photos by Marc Brubaker
The past two years have been some of the most visible in Violent J (above) and Shaggy 2 Dope's nearly two-decade career. Back in 1997, their label, the Disney-owned Hollywood Records, was pressured into shelving their album, The Great Milenko, and canceling a promo tour behind it. ICP went aboveground and were pointed to as a prime example of corporate censorship, which did nothing but help build the band's underdog status and foster a whole new fan base for the next 13 years.
In April 2010, the group released a video for "Miracles" from 2009's Bang! Pow! Boom! which confounded mainstream yucksters and indie blogs as it went viral for the better part of that summer, even though the group was in on the joke. We think. Then came the interviews, some radically altered, and a new interest in Juggalos, their army of fans, whose annual Gathering of the Juggalos festival in Illinois became national news fodder for a weekend in August.
Back in August, it was announced that the rap duo had paired with Jack White, of all people for a classical rap project, which was a confounding and exciting prospect. The musical marriage between the Detroit rock impresario, now living in Nashville, and one of the most polarizing acts in recent history made many in the music business cry into their IKEA bedding for at least a week.
Since the first time Rocks Off went to an ICP show in 2009, we have felt strangely drawn to the Juggalo culture, keeping it at arm's length but always finding it fascinating.
We read about the crimes that self-professed Juggalos have committed, and have to reconcile that with the outpouring of seemingly familial love we see at their shows. It's not normal to see fans hugging one another. Indie shows are veritable ice fests of blank stares and boredom.
But the violence at the shows - we watched a Juggalo break a window at Warehouse Live last year, and a fistfight broke out at a Walter's gathering last summer - isn't anything out of the norm for a metal or a hip-hop show, either. We've seen fights and idiocy at indie-rock and dance parties too, brought on by ostensibly well-heeled and educated liberal kids. The world's a warped place when someone can threaten to cut you at a Iron & Wine gig.
At last year's Warehouse Live show, we were drenched in Faygo for an hour, and even drank some of the stuff. A few days later a Christmas card from the ICP label, Psychopathic Records, showed up in the mail here at work, complete with a smiling hatchet-man Santa. Someone at ICP HQ realized we "got" the group.
Rocks Off has been trying to interview at least one or both of the ICP guys, Shaggy 2 Dope or Violent J, since our Juggalo odyssey began. We almost didn't think we would get a few minutes with anyone until this past Friday afternoon, when we were patched through to Violent J while the tour was stopped in Salt Lake City.