By Matt Robert
Originally appeared in the May 2, 2013, Worcester Magazine.
Worcester doesn’t make everybody’s top 10 list, though it does have a special place for some, like horrorcore, rock/rap act Insane Clown Posse (ICP).
“Worcester is like top three out of everywhere in the country, maybe even number one,” Violent J, a founding member of the band, says.
“We can always count on the shows at The Palladium to be off the fucking hook and they always are and it just is a great, great thing for us,” he says. “And we’re really just grateful for that.”
The band returns to its favorite local haunt, The Palladium, on tour in support of its latest release “The Mighty Death Pop,” on Saturday, May 4.
“I don’t know what it is,” says J, “but from day one when we used to come through town, we used to draw really well there and had a lot of love and the shows were really super energetic and super awesome, and it’s just a blessing, man! That city is a wonderful place on tour.”
PHOTO: Insane Clown Posse fanatic, Juggalo, Joe Dayter shows off his ICP tattoo, clothing and face paint. Steven King/Worcester Mag
And J looks forward to seeing the excited throngs in Worcester again next week. “I feel really indebted to the city,” he says. “I mean, I really do. Me and Shaggy, last time we played town, it was Shaggy’s birthday, and we went out there and we stopped the show and we thanked everybody for the years of support and everything and we threw a big cake in Shaggy’s face. It was awesome, man!”
The duo, which has carved out a very successful career, including gold and platinum records (nearly 7 million sales total), a 20-year touring log, and a rabid legion of fans known as “Juggalos” and “Juggalettes,” despite maintaining a largely underground reputation, promises something new this time around for the diehards on a tour that will feature daily shows over about five weeks, spanning the country, from California to New York, Worcester to Florida, according to the singer.
“This show is an all-new show for us,” says J. “We’re doing a bunch of songs we’ve never done before in concert and we’re doing a bunch of stuff differently. At the last Gathering of the Juggalos (the band’s annual festival), during our seminar, we made the promise that the very next time we went on tour, the Mighty Death Pop Tour, we would do things differently.”
The all-new show, says J, came about, because of the particular demands of their rabidly loyal following. “That’s for the Juggalos that have seen us 15 times, 20 times, 50 times – to those Juggalos who come out to every show – which is probably a majority of the audience – people that have seen us before, we’re going to switch things up and show that we can deliver a brand new, all new show.”
Fans of the scene shouldn’t worry about losing the old with the new songs, skits, and rearrangements, J says, because “we’ll still have plenty of Faygo and the regular tactics of ICP.”
“There are songs off the new album, ‘The Mighty Death Pop,’ and there are songs out of the back catalogue that we’ve never done live before. This time we’re going to experiment. We don’t know if it’s going to be the kind of songs that go over well. We’re going to have to fi nd out live in concert. But we just wanted this one tour to do something different. We’re going to really dig into it and we’re not going to just pull out rarities and stuff that only die-hard super-fans know. We’re just going to do songs that we never thought about doing live before and figure out ways to do them live and hope it gets over.”
In addition to regular touring, a steady flow of records, film work, and a growing annual festival that has featured a long list of mostly rap acts, and more oddball celebrities than “The Surreal Life,” (Vanilla Ice, Charlie Sheen, and Cheech and Chong are just a few) Violent J is also pretty excited about the band’s new DVD set: “The Riddle Box Weekend.”
“It’s good times!” says J of the DVD that captures a weekend event in February of a live performance at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, of the band’s 1995 independently released gold record, “The Riddle Box.”
“A lot of people, it takes them back to the days of ‘The Riddle Box,’” says J. “When that album came out we were new, there was mystery to us. This is the days before YouTube and all that, and that show, that whole weekend, kind of took people back to the mid ‘90s and those days when things were more of a mystery about ICP, and every question that no one could answer was filled with an answer in their own heads, something they wanted to hear, or wanted to believe.”
“For that one weekend we went back to those times and you could feel it in the air at that show. Boy! You could cut the excitement with a knife in there, and it was so cool. The show sold out in like a day and a half, and it was the hottest ticket we’ve ever had. People wanted that ticket from all over the country, to go see that show, and it was an experiment, but it was really a success.”
The DVD set also features a disc of that weekend’s JCW (Juggalo Championship Wrestling) event. “We put on a big wrestling event and it was called ‘Oddball Brawl,’” says J, “which featured some pretty big names, guys that were formerly in the WWE, on top of JCW’s biggest stars, and that whole show was a lot of fun.” Professional wrestling figures prominently in the band’s cultural sphere; Violent J grew up a fan of wrestling and worked as a wrestler in the late 1980s before founding the Insane Clown Posse.
Violent J even sees pro wrestling as a metaphor for the ICP experience. “It’s a lot like pro wrestling: nobody believes it’s real, but they all still want to escape and get away with it and boo the bad guy and cheer the good guy.”
“I think Juggalos want to live the vigilante tales that we talk about. ICP has a lot of strong opinions against the evils of the world, like racist people and fucking pedophiles and the evils of the world, and I think Juggalos like to get caught up in the vigilante tales that our music provides.”
“I think our music reaches people with an imagination, people that maybe it takes a little more to entertain them than just a fancy song. They get lost in the stories of the music, and they get lost in the saga of the Dark Carnival,” says J. “Because we all have to live and breathe in a real world all the fucking time, and they want to go to a concert and they want to get lost in it.”
“It’s like therapy,” he adds. “It’s no different than a comic book or any movie. People of all walks of life are Juggalos. The only thing I know that they all have in common is they have a big brain with a lot of imagination.”
See Insane Clown Posse live at The Palladium on Saturday, May 4. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets $30 at thepalladium.net.