As Detroit’s Insane Clown Posse prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the ol’ clowns have learned some new tricks.
Violent J (ne Joseph Bruce) says the macabre rap duo he formed with Shaggy 2 Dope (Joe Utsler) no longer chases big prizes like hit singles and platinum and gold records — though they have two of the former and three of the latter, as well as career sales of 6.5 million albums. But these days ICP works a bit slower, releases projects less frequently and focuses its energies on pleasing its fans — the Juggalos — rather than rattling the marketplace.
“There are so many ways to succeed without a Top 10 radio hit — we’re proof of that,” explains J, 36, who resides with his wife and two young children in a secluded Farmington Hills subdivision, where he says neighbors are interested in, but a bit wary of, his macabre music persona.
“We’re still underground, you know? It’s an underground movement. We’re trying to cross over into legendary status, so we’re not working on a schedule anymore. We’re working on our own schedule so we can take our time and do what we want to do, the right way.”
ICP has a whole enterprise, Novi-based Psychopathic Records, to support its mission. Started in 1991, the homegrown company employs 30 full-time staffers and works out of a 25,000-square-foot warehouse space that has a recording studio and offices where the Psychopathic crew oversees an extensive line of merchandise, ICP’s JCW wrestling league and record labels, including the new Hatchet House Records, that are home to not only ICP but also Twiztid, Boondox, Blaze and others.
ICP — which was briefly on the major labels Jive, Hollywood and Island during the mid and late ’90s — holds an annual Gathering in the summer that this year drew about 7,000 in Columbus, Ohio. It also posts a Weekly Freekly weekly news update on YouTube to keep Juggalos appraised of ICP and Psychopathic activities. And the duo is preparing to make its second film, “Big Money Rustlas,” a prequel to the 2000 low-budget romp “Big Money Hustla$.”
“The movie’s got over a $1 million budget; it’s a big project for us,” J says, adding that the new film will be set in the 19th century American West and focus on the ancestors of the characters in “Big Money Hustla$.” “With (‘Big Money Hustla$’) we didn’t have time to set out and do that; we just shot this little, low-budget movie and did it real quick between making the albums and doing the tours.
“This one we’re doing in real big deal style, no shortcuts. It’s not gonna look like a cheap ... movie. It’s gonna look great.”
Paul Andresen will direct the film, which will cast in November and start shooting in January in Los Angeles. ICP is exploring a theatrical release, as well as taking the film on “tour” once it’s finished.
“Big Money Rustlas” will, however, delay any plans for the next ICP album, the follow-up to 2007’s “The Tempest” and the subsequent “Eye of the Storm” EP. But the duo doesn’t view that as a bad thing. “When we work on a record now, we want to put everything in our heart and soul into that record and really take our time to do something new,” J explains. “That’s a challenge; because we’ve done so much, it takes longer to record an album now. We can take three years, and during those three years when great ideas come along, we grab them and throw ’em in the bag and save it for that next record.
“That way when we go do the album we have a couple, three years’ worth of great ideas.”
ICP feels the same way about touring, J adds.
“We don’t want to tour like we’re a new band trying to make a name for ourselves,” he says. “We believe we have a name, and now we want it to mean more. So we don’t play out as much, but when we do it’s a big deal.”
Detroit juggalos can rest assured, however, that ICP’s Hallowicked Halloween show will remain an annual rite.
“It’s tradition, and we don’t break that,” J promises. “That’s always one of our favorite shows, ‘cause Hallowicked isn’t to promote any particular album or anything. So we can go back to the entire catalog and look at songs we haven’t played in a long time, or ever. We try to bring a whole new look and whole new flavor every year and surprise ourselves as well as the (fans).”
Insane Clown Posse’s Hallowicked, also featuring ABK, Blaze, Boondox and AMB, takes place at 7 p.m. Friday (Oct. 31) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $30. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.live nation.com. A Hallowicked After-Party with J-Reno, Mars and JCW Wrestling takes place Friday (Oct. 31) at the Majestic Theater, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 10:30. Tickets are $15. Call (313) 833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.
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