And now, a valid and reasonable idea that isn't communicated enough: the Flaming Lips and Insane Clown Posse are spiritual brothers from different mothers. Granted, they sound nothing alike and one is largely reviled, but both are headline-worthy outfits who rose to fame in the 1990s and have amassed substantial, enduring fan bases. Thanks to constant activity, crafty experiments/stunts, a constant flow of releases and tours, and the generally fascinating quality of their personas, both remain compelling in 2013. While Wayne Coyne and company are breaking Guinness records, distributing music via chocolate hearts, and collaborating with Ke$ha, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are suing the FBI, continuing to helm the indie empire known as Psychopathic Records, and collaborating with Jack White. Before ICP hit Oakland Metro Operahouse tonight for the second of their two Bay Area shows (8 p.m., $25), we spoke to ICP's Shaggy (a.k.a. Joseph Utsler) about the group's haters, its soda preferences, and how long they can keep this whole thing up.
This is a big question: Why do you do this? You've been at it with ICP for so long, so what do you still get out of the project?
[What] we got out of it back in the day. There's nothing like painting up, getting on that stage. There's nothing like getting in the studio recording a record. There's nothing like meeting Juggalos and shit, you know what I'm saying? So many singers and musicians say that if you're about to go on stage and you're not nervous, you're doing something wrong. I can't even count how many shows we've done -- thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands -- but right before you go out there, you still get the butterflies. You're still doing your little stretches and jumps and shit like that 'til you get out there and start getting comfortable and connecting with whatever city/crowd you're in, feeding off them and they're feeding off you. It's just the greatest natural high ever.
We don't do anything half-assed. We give one hundred thousand percent, down to the guys that put the Faygo into the Faygo bins on stage. There's no error for fuckups. Kids are not only buying tickets, but they're driving from whoever knows where, paying gas and paying babysitters for that night. It's our job to get out there and put on the best fucking show we possibly can [and] have them going home like 'That was the fucking shit.'
You mentioned Faygo. What are your guys' favorite flavors?
I get that question a lot. It fluctuates just like anything you drink. If you drink too much coffee, you might switch to a frappucino. I used to love Cola, then I switched to Cherry Cola, then Rock & Rye. Right now, mainly when I drink pop, it'll be Orange Pop or if I drink a little bit too much of that, I'll switch to Grape for a little bit and go back to Orange. I'm a simple fella. I keep to the basic fruits.
You guys have been around for a while and have a very deep fan base, but in the last few years, there's been this huge surge of interest in the group, with cover stories in the Village Voice, and Saturday Night Live parodying you. There's all this stuff out there all over the place starting around 2010 or 2011.
It's a great honor to be getting that type of respect [and] exposure over that. I think it's a combination of different stuff. I mean, we've been in this motherfucker for over 20 years now. Don't get me wrong: There's still mad people out there that fucking hate us and wish we were dead, but it's undeniable. We're still running 20 years later just as hard as we were back in the day and coming up with new shit, doing the same shit -- just keeping the wagon moving. That's one aspect of it. Another aspect is back in the day, there were kids that were Juggalos that were young. Now, they're [grown] up and they're in positions of -- I guess you could say -- power.
You're in such an interesting position because there are some bands out there who are really hated but also don't have the flip side of that, which is a loyal fan base that loves them as much as your fans do.
Yeah, there are a lot of bands out there that are hated. That hate level I don't think comes close in comparison [to] the way people hate us. They want to shut us down. They-want-us-dead-type hate, not just like, 'Aw, they suck' and [writing] us off. Then, they go on the Internet. These professional people [are] doing hour-long video clips about the morality [of our music], how shitty we are, all this and that. It's nuts, but to me, that's dope. This fucking doctor is making a fucking hour-long video about us. [Laughs] Go ahead. Hate on, hater. It just makes us bigger players.
You have so many side hustles: your pro wrestling organization, events promoting, merchandise. Do you always see music being the main thing or do you think you're ever going to transition away from that?
When we're doing a record or anything musically, we just totally shut everything out and concentrate on that. Once we're finished with that, we'll do other side projects or whatever we gotta do, but any time it's time to record something, all that shit just gets shut the fuck down because music is our number one, and that's the bottom line.
Once ICP is all said and done for whatever reason, what do you see happening to the Juggalo culture?
I think it'll carry on. I mean, number one, we ain't going nowhere forever. We're going to roll 'til the wheels fall off this motherfucker. We'll be fucking 85, 90 out there in wheelchairs doing this shit. That's not even a thought in our minds, of shit simmering. But I think Juggalos are such a strong force that there's more to Juggalos than just ICP music. Juggalos love mad different underground shit: horrorcore -- whatever people call it -- and wicked shit and all that. A lot of times, we feel like we're just the background music for Juggalo parties. Lord forbid, if one of us got in a car crash or both did at the same time and died, Juggalos would still carry on.