More than a few words with ICP's Violent J
On Juggalos, fatherhood, Michael Jackson and 2-liter technique
This isn’t the first time we’ve written about Insane Clown Posse and friends. Here’s some of our earlier coverage:Melissa Giannini's 2000 article on the first Gathering of Juggalos, photos by Doug Coombe Hobey Echlin on ICP in 2002 Serene Dominic’s 2008 piece on the duo Brett Callwood’s 2010 piece on fellow Psychopathic recording artists Twiztid Brett Callwood’s 2010 piece on fellow Psychopathic recording artists Twiztid
Also worth checking out:The FBI’s 2011 National Gang Assessment that put Juggalos on the U.S. law enforcement radar The YouTube video of ICP press conference on possibly challenging the FBI juggalo gang assessment is here The now-classic ICP video for "Miracles" As well as the Saturday Night Live parody Check out some pics of ICP from the author Doug Coombe
Published: August 15, 2012
MT: What does the growth of the gathering say about Juggalos?
Violent J: I think it says everything about the Juggalos. Listen, ICP is one thing, but I think the Juggalos I believe deserve infamy. There's never been anything like Juggalos in the history of rock 'n' roll. They deserve their notoriety. I love it when an article is about Juggalos. They are amazing. It's almost like the first time I ever saw an Amish person. I was like, "Those are Amish people? I've heard about them." I love the fact that in some areas of America, Juggalos will be chilling on the corner and people will go, "Those are real Juggalos?" I love that. I want Juggalos to go down in history. Is that partly because, if they go down in history, we go down in history? Maybe. Sure. They're not like the KISS Army, not like the Deadheads, not like anything. Juggalos are a little bit of everybody — people blazing their own path, they're not walking with the sheep. [The term] scrub is very popular in the Juggalo community. Shaggy has "Scrub Life" tattooed on his stomach. Like that old TLC song, we're the ones hanging out on the passenger side of our best friend's ride. Straight up. And sometimes scrubs are the best people. I bet you Einstein was a scrub, I bet you Thomas Edison was a scrub. I bet they were looked at weird in their school 'cause they were thinkers. Scrubs, they don't follow the masses. That's what I'm saying.
MT: Are your kids Juggalos?
Violent J: Absolutely. How couldn't they be? They're gonna be Juggalos no matter what as long as I instill the values of them being a Juggalo — not being judgmental, being open-minded. You know, stupid things like laughing at a kid 'cause he's fat, or picking on the ugly girl, or racism, or picking on a kid 'cause he's wearing $2 shoes, shit like that? That's all bullshit. It's all non-Juggalo shit. We don't laugh at each other for shit like that. If you're 400 pounds, you can peel off your shirt at the Gathering of Juggalos and nobody gives a fuck. We don't judge each other for things like that. The opposite of bullies is Juggalos.
MT: Where did the song "Miracles" come from?
Violent J: Being a dad made me realize what all of life is about — it's all about passing it on. It all makes sense when you have kids, you realize what you're doing here. Because the minute you have kids, it's not about you anymore, it's about them. You're just here to teach them and nurture them so they can go ahead and do the same and keep civilization going. Seeing everything through their eyes again is so remarkable. That's where the song "Miracles" comes from. It's seeing everything through their eyes. You start to take everything like rainbows and shooting stars for granted after you've seen them a few times. But when you're a kid they're treats of freshness, little things of dopeness to appreciate. I was giving the kids a bath and they we're just playing with the water coming out of the spout and it took me right back to being a kid.
MT: Do your kids know what you're doing for a living?
Violent J: Like most kids of musicians, they don't really fully understand it yet. They think everybody else's dad is a musician. I think when they get older they'll understand then. JJ gets on my shoulders when he's out on the road with me and he loves to spray Faygo; Ruby doesn't like it 'cause she doesn't like to get cold Faygo on her and she doesn't like the scary costumes, but JJ is right there. But JJ is too young to understand that what I do is cool. I try to tell him, "Not everybody's dad does what I do," but he doesn't get it yet. We'll have some of JJ's friends in the car and his friends will ask to play my music. And he tells them they can't hear it 'cause there's swearing in it. He knows that swearing is bad. I've never heard him swear. When he hears my music, I tell him that's just Daddy working.
MT: Who designs ICP merch?
Violent J: We have a team of people. A lot of designs come from Juggalos themselves. Juggalos send stuff in and then we call them back and say, "Hey would you like to make some money?" I'd say half of our merchandise comes from Juggalos. The other secret is being Juggalos ourselves. We don't sit around trying to figure out how to appeal to today's youth. We are who we're selling to. It's like a bunch of die-hard Star Wars fans coming up with the next Star Wars movie. It's cake.
MT: How much does the merch sell?
Violent J: Merch is probably 70 to 80 percent of Psychopathic Records sales — 'cause you can't download a T-shirt, you know? CDs hardly make any money, but we're doing everything we can to fight it. That's why the packaging is so expensive on our new album, so it's still cool to actually hold it on your hands. A lot of Juggalos are collectors, so we got that in our favor.
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