The most recent entry in the Electric Theater series paired Slipknot’s clown with accomplished author and music journalist, Laina Dawes. As a respected commentator and a contributor to the metal culture, Dawes and clown did little to compare professional credentials but rather, had a personal conversation that proved just as illuminating had the exchanged been structured like a traditional Q & A.
Beginning with Dawes discussing her move to New York from Toronto, the notion of identity soon steered the exchange. With both clown and Dawes sharing their observations about the specifics of the city, Dawes talked about how the diversity of the region helped to create a more accepting environment that she hadn't ever experienced in her hometown of Toronto.
The reality for Dawes is that as a black woman that expressed a sincere passion for metal music, finding a sense of community where she grew up never materialized. Dawes explained that what she tended to gravitate towards was typically met with skepticism and misguided attempts by others to redirect her. Dawes admits that she never fit in and while New York afforded her the opportunity to be herself there.
The logical tangent of mental well-being would eventually work its way into the exchange as the two talked about the importance of physical space amid the lockdown. The talk of living nomadically and embracing the healing qualities of the outdoors would eventually become a conversation about using music as a retreat in lieu of being able to find an actual place. Both clown and Dawes exchanged the kind of comfort they find in the organic discovery that happens with music and how sometimes, going down that rabbit hole is a healthy escape from the often harsh realities of life.
Changing the dynamics of Electric Theater, Dawes showcased her journalistic skills and took the lead in the conversation by pitching clown a question. Dawes would go on to ask him about the kind of cynicism and scrutiny Slipknot was surrounded by in their early years of emerging success. She wanted to dig into how they band was able to thrive under the weight of such skepticism and clown was happy to oblige.
Citing a strong backbone and the ‘not-give a fuck’ factor that has been instilled in him since his childhood, clown attributed his ability to side-step the cynics in simply acknowledging that they are human - flawed, fallible, and fragile humans, no different than anyone else walking the planet. In the same breath, clown would admit that there is an excitement associated with being able to defy expectations. The ability to prove someone wrong and triumph over the naysayers is particularly motivating and a talking point that seemed to resonate in the professional careers of both clown and Dawes.
As both creative contributors to the culture of heavy music, Dawes and clown were each able to bond over their encounters with their skeptics. Enduring the incredulous from people that projected failure, both Dawes and clown connected in having a unique self-awareness that allowed them to persevere through the negativity. The scholar and the musician found a kinship in that they both pursued their passions despite being surrounded by people that suggested otherwise.
Listen to complete conversation between author and music journalist Laina Dawes and clown of Slipknot on the latest episode of The Electric Theater below.