» Contact Us
» Advertise With Us
» Newspaper Ads
ICP stands strong, with busy year ahead
The latest album might be called "The Mighty Death Pop!," but Insane Clown Posse is very much alive -- and plans to prove it this year.
In the wake of a battle with the FBI, which has classified the Detroit rap duo's Juggalo fans as a gang, ICP is getting ready for an extensive road trek, its 14th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos summer festival, a steady stream of videos for "The Mighty Death Pop's" songs and "a huge project" that the group's Violent J promises will "shock the world" -- which, of course, is about all he'll say about it.
But, he adds, ICP will be packing plenty of surprises when it hits the road May 1 in Rochester, N.Y., with plans to stay out until its annual Hallowicked show on Halloween night in Detroit.
"We're going to...pound the pavement this summer," promises Violent J (real name Joe Bruce), 40, who had surgery to repair a torn Meniscus in his knee earlier this month. "This next tour is going to be a brand-new show -- not just the Clowns and the zombies and the Faygo, but a lot of new stuff going on and a bunch of songs we don't normally do in concert.
"We're going into the catalog and are gonna stop doing the same batch of songs that we always do every tour because they're the concert hits. We're going to do a lot of songs we've never done in concert. We'll get back to doing the regular stuff that we know everybody loves, but for 'The Mighty Death Pop' tour we're going into the crates to do some new stuff and try some new tactics."
Violent J and his partner Shaggy 2 Dope (Joe Utsler), who formed ICP during 1989, telegraphed this move at last year's Gathering, and the reasoning behind it is simple.
"Y'know, most people that come to see us have been coming for years and seen ICP, like, 12 times or something," Violent J explains. "We still get a lot of new people, a lot of young faces. But the majority of the crowd has seen us multiple times, so we want to give them something really different and fresh this time.
"So we're gonna open some new doors, kick some new flavor and show we don't have to rely on our regular bag of tricks. We're looking forward to the challenge and providing something new and innovative and unexpected. We can't wait for people to come and think they're gonna see the same old thing and then, boom!, the death pop."
ICP's latest tour, of course, comes amidst the specter of its battle with the FBI, which began last year when the agency announced its gang designation for the Juggalos. That led partly to ICP's ouster from the Royal Oak Music Theatre for last year's Hallowicked show and has resulted in other booking challenges as well as negatively impacting on the group's merchandise sales. The Bloomfield Hills-based law firm Hertz Schram PC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of ICP and its Psychopathic Records company seeking documents related to the gang classification (a trial date is set for March of 2014). It's also been talking to Juggalos who feel their civil rights have been infringed upon due to the designation in preparation for another suit asking for the fans to be removed from the list.
"The whole thing is absurd," says attorney Howard Hertz, who says the firm has "gotten thousands of responses" from Juggalos and is currently "weeding through them to come up with a handful of plaintiffs" to move the second suit forward. "We're not ready to file yet," Hertz says, "but it's getting close."
For his part, Violent J says he tries " to keep my mind of it, honestly. It bums me out, and I get winded when I think of the challenge. But we're fighting it. They're gonna have to do their researching in trying to prove the Juggalos are a gang, but that scares me, what they're going to find to say. I don't know what to expect."
Nevertheless, he's buoyed by the support ICP has received. "People are on our side, especially the clubs and places we've been coming for years," Violent J says. "They know that's (wrong). It's so ridiculously stupid. I expect (the FBI) to say something like, 'You misunderstood what we mean. We're just saying (the Juggalos) behave LIKE gangs...but to make you happy we'll take your name off the list.' They'll try to talk their way out of it like that.
"It's so dumb and ridiculous and untrue that they're gonna have to do something like that."
While the legal wrangling continues, the duo is staying focused on its music. "The Mighty Death Pop," which was released in three different versions last August, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top Independent Albums chart. ICP plans to make videos for at least 10 of the album's tracks and recently released the fifth -- for "Where's God?," a lament that's self-evident from the title.
"I"m sure everyone will say God has a plan, but tell that to someone who just lost a loved one to some unfair tragedy," says Violent J, who has two adolescent children. "God has a plan? F*** that plan if it involves losing your daughter or something. Everybody, unfortunately, feels that way at some point, just...where's God, y'know?"
The video, interestingly, depicts Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope in monks' robes, carrying large crosses past scenes of death, drug use, poverty and other tragedies. Their religious beliefs have always factored into their music, but the "What's God" clip is the most explicit expression of faith they've made to date.
"I personally believe in God. God gives people hope," says Violent J, who was raised Catholic. "People seem to make a big deal out of the fact that we're religious; some people say we're far more religious than we really are. So with everybody pointing the religious finger at us, we figured we might as well address it and put it front and center.
"It's something else different to do at this stage of the game. We don't have all the answers. We're not educated in religion. We can't sit her like a priest or a preacher; I haven't read the bible myself. But we believe in God, yes. We say it in the song -- we still believe and we need him here and all that. But we can't explain why he's not there to help."
ICP has filmed its next video, for "When I'm Clownin'," and Violent J says the rest of the album's songs will follow in due course. "Our plan is to release 10 music videos," he confirms. "Making a video today is like releasing a single. More and more people want to have that visual look along with the song. It's just a different industry now." Meanwhile, the group will soon be announcing details about this year's Gathering, Aug. 7-11 at Cave-in Rock, Ill., which Violent J says will be themed The Rise of the Underground and concentrate "less on stuff that was huge commercial hits and more on independent, underground stuff."
Then there's the next ICP album, which by the band's timetable should most likely roll out in 2014. "We're starting to think about it now, just recently, and I'm excited," Violent J says. "I'm trying to see what's gonna pop into my head as far as a name or an image. Once we settle on that, then it'll be full speed ahead."
Send your thoughts and comments to