Shortly after Slipknot bassist Paul Gray's untimely death in 2010, the surviving members of the group talked to us about their fallen bandmate. You can read the resulting piece here. And shortly after Slipknot's 2011 Memorial World Tour, we connected with them again. In that interview, Shawn "Clown" Crahan spoke to us about the effigy of Paul Gray — featuring his original "Pig" mask, coveralls and bass guitar — that the band had onstage with them during those comeback shows.
"I had to have something of Paul there besides a memory. Besides a thought. I wanted something obtainable for the kids. Instead of all of us thinking in our minds the same thing, and pretty much trying to admit to yourself, Yeah, I bet they're thinking this and we're thinking this. Let's put a factor. Let's put some symbolism on the thought. Let's go the extra step.
"I know Paul's younger brother, Tony. He's a very close friend of mine. He has worked for Slipknot. He's been around since the beginning, when I owned my bar. I got the bar [where Slipknot would play because other local venues were afraid to book them] to help get the band signed, and we got signed out of that bar. He helped me run it. He was my partner. His brother, Paul, had given him his original Pig mask, and he also gave Tony his original bass. And both of those things are very significant things in Paul's life, especially if you knew him. 1) His first mask. Who he was from the beginning. So that relic was obtainable. And the same with his bass. Anyone who jammed with Paul or knew him from the old days, he had this one particular bass, and it was in all the bands that he had jammed with until we got to the area where we could get more basses. [Before then] he had one particular bass, and it really represented him.
"Then, spiritually, all good ideas come together if they're true. And one of my mentors, his name is Stefan Seskis, he took the very first two album covers of Slipknot's albums. The self-titled one and Iowa. He's, like, my mentor in photography, and I used to take him out on the road with us to take pictures and to help teach me to get into my world of photography. Well, we went to an employee Christmas party. He works for a gentleman who is married to a woman who is my wife's boss. And both companies, her company and his company, throw a Christmas party. So we all went to this Christmas party and we all know each other, and Stefan grabbed me. He goes, 'Hey, I've got to talk to you in private.' He said, 'I was cleaning my house when I moved and I found a bag and I opened up the bag and there were a couple pair of coveralls in this bag. And one of them is Paul's.' And I said, 'Are they red?' And he said, 'Yes.' And I said, 'I can't fucking believe it.' I was asking the appropriate parties if they had any awareness of these red coveralls, meaning the actual original red coveralls that were on the [self-titled album] cover. And nobody really knew if they were around. And sure enough, probably what happened was Shawn Economaki, who plays [bass] in Stone Sour, he worked for the band. He's, like, the longest living employee of Slipknot. He used to live with Stefan, and he must have helped Paul and someone else in an interview or something, but somehow he had this bag and probably had to pick it up or get it together or bring it home. And it just sat there for whatever reason. And Stefan found it and was like, 'Man, I have to give it to you, Clown. I know you'll do what's right.' I was like, 'You're not gonna believe this, man. I want to take out Paul's mask and his bass [with us on tour], and I can't believe you have the coveralls!'
"So I had this stand made, and the mask went to the top, the coveralls draped over it, and the bass went on the side. And it was a very eerie, almost scary image that will be burned, imprinted into many people's lives for years to come. And I say 'eerie' because he was there but he wasn't there, and that's what brought up the idea of, 'Where is he? He's here but he's not here.' And it was beautiful, in the sense of what Slipknot creates. It was absolutely perfect."