I first met Corey Taylor, frontman for Slipknot and Stone Sour, at Ozzfest in 2003. Since then we’ve remained friends and getting to interview a friend is a rare occasion for me, mainly because I don’t have many. Taylor has just released Audio Secrecy, the third album from his band Stone Sour, an album that’s been getting favorable reviews and positive word of mouth. A tough thing to come by for a band once referred to as “just a side project”.
Taylor is also currently dealing with the loss of his friend and fellow Slipknot band member Paul Gray. Gray passed away in the spring and between that and his full plate regarding Stone Sour, the future of Slipknot is at best uncertain. I spoke to Taylor and as always our conversations went awry, covering multiple topics at lightening speeds. We talked about Stone Sour, Audio Secrecy, Supernatural, Spiderman, his feelings on Paul and, of course, the future of Slipknot.
(I had been asked to call back twice for this interview because Corey was in the middle of a photo shoot—I.R.)
COREY TAYLOR: What’s up fish dick?
CRAVEONLINE: What’s up asshole, glad you could take time away from the big photo shoot to talk to me.
COREY TAYLOR: Tell me about it. I’m a man on the move, I’m in demand. What can I do? I’m too busy rock starring it up. Today was a hell day because Kerrang was in to shoot for the tour that’s coming up in the UK with Avenged Sevenfold.
CRAVEONLINE: Ohhh, say hello to Avenged for me.
COREY TAYLOR: (Laughs) Oh I will.
CRAVEONLINE: Tell them I send lots of kisses on their tight t-shirts. So where are you right now?
COREY TAYLOR: We’re at the end of the Uproar Tour. We have three more dates and then we get to drive home for eight wonderful days.
CRAVEONLINE: Then it’s off to England?
COREY TAYLOR: Well we shoot to Japan first and then England. We’re doing a little club show for MTV in England. Our official tour starts in Germany, we’re doing a headlining thing there and when we hook up with Avenged Sevenfold it’s a co-headlining thing. It’s five weeks of fantastic fun.
CRAVEONLINE: How rough is that when it comes to Griff (Corey’s son—I.R.)
COREY TAYLOR: He’s still really young so he comes to shows that are close. Plus he has school and what not; it just makes more sense for him to be at home. It also makes the time I have with him at home a lot more special.
CRAVEONLINE: So the new album, Audio Secrecy. I don’t mean this as an insult but it really feels to me like the first time the band came into its own. Do you agree?
COREY TAYLOR: Oh definitely man, I totally agree. It’s everything that we’ve been threatening to do for a long time. There are so many great musical moments on it. Not only are the songs really fucking strong but the album is just so together. That’s what I love about it; things just flow really well into each other. I just think this is a great start to the rest of our career. It was like we were getting there with the first two albums and now we’ve figured out what we want to do. So now the sky’s the limit for what we can do.
CRAVEONLINE: Yeah you don’t really hear of many bands finding their voice on their third album.
COREY TAYLOR: Not anymore anyway. (Laughs) It’s kind of indicative of what’s wrong with the music industry anyway. These days you can’t tell one fucking band from the next whether it’s the production or the songs they’re putting out there. We’re lucky enough to have the flexibility; we get away with a lot. So while that kind of feels like being on the outside looking in, at the same time we’re like fuck that. I’d rather do that and work my way in from the outside then sound like a thousand other bands who suck.
CRAVEONLINE: The album never lost focus though. Was that hard to maintain?
COREY TAYLOR: You just have to do your best on every song. I mean the parts are very important but at the same time you have to allow your style to shine through and it’s that continuity that’s maintained us. There are so many different types of songs on the album that if you were cookie cuttering it up and doing this kind of song or that kind of song without a unique style, nothing would tie together. For us our style musically and professionally is so distinct that it’s the underlying thread that let’s it all fall into place. When you hear it you immediately know it’s a Stone Sour song.
CRAVEONLINE: Plus most of your career you’ve been known as an angry singer, here you let other emotions hang out there. Any anxious nights over that decision?
COREY TAYLOR: No. You know me, I’m gonna go out on a limb. I just know what I want to do and I never let anyone pull me into any other direction. If I re-write something it’s because I’m not feeling it. My whole approach was to be as melodic and emotional as I could possibly be. I really scaled back all the aggressive singing because I wanted to show that you can show emotion through melody.
CRAVEONLINE: Melody is a lost art form in heavy music these days.
COREY TAYLOR: Well everybody feels like they have to scream to be alive and that’s horseshit. It was bad enough early in my career when nobody knew how well I could sing and it’s been a long time coming to get to a point where I can throw the gloves off and be no holds barred, you’re either with me or you’re not. The reaction has been fantastic.
CRAVEONLINE: With the band’s success is it nice to push past that whole idea that this is a Corey Taylor ego side-project?
COREY TAYLOR: Without a doubt. It’s taken a lot of work to get to that point. We literally had to get out there and play anywhere we could to be able to break through that. It might be the art of repetition or the fact that we’re really strong with the notion that we are a real band and you are going to pay attention. Now we’ve broken down the side project comments and the Corey writes everything in the band comments. We’ve made it a mission to show people that we’re a really cohesive unit, everybody brings something in and that’s why this band works. It’s really starting to show with the audience.
CRAVEONLINE: Most people are lucky to have a modicum of success in one band, you’ve managed to do it with two. Why so lucky?
COREY TAYLOR: I don’t know. (Laughs) I ask myself that question every day. I’ve never tried to be anything but me. Even with Slipknot where it can almost feel like a roll sometimes, it’s still a part of who I am. It’s a very strong and passionate part of who I am and I’m lucky enough to have an audience that is really open to what I do. Talent comes into it but at the same time you have to be brutally honest with the audience. You have to say this is who I am, this is what I’m doing, and you’re either with me or you’re not. I’ve always said if you don’t like the music, don’t listen to it, you’re not gonna break my heart. I wouldn’t put this music out there if I wasn’t happy with it first.
CRAVEONLINE: But doesn’t everybody say that?
COREY TAYLOR: The biggest difference between me and other artists out there is that they’ll put anything out to sell a record or sell a ticket. I would much rather be able to sleep at night then worry about that shit.
CRAVEONLINE: I said in my review that you guys fill a void between the angry screaming bands and the bands that are way too sad and sappy.
COREY TAYLOR: Yeah and if they do it sounds really pre-packaged like it was set up in a meeting room. That’s what we’ve been going for since day one, we want to be a hard rock band. We never wanted to be emo, we never wanted to be metal, we never wanted to be anything. We have elements of all these things but the freedom we’ve afforded ourselves, which might have bitten us in the ass at first, was that if we wrote something and we liked it we put it out there.
CRAVEONLINE: Anything on the record you’re particularly proud of?
COREY TAYLOR: I have to be honest, I think “Hesitate” is probably one of the best songs I’ve ever written and it’s a very, very emotional song.
CRAVEONLINE: What’s it about, for you?
COREY TAYLOR: The song is about, without getting specific; the ability to walk away from a situation you know is septic. So many people in the world would rather stay in a situation that’s painful but familiar because they’re comfortable with it. Not a lot of people have the strength or heart to realize when something’s not good for them and to turn around and be alone. That’s really where that song is, that crossroads in a relationship where you either shit or get off the pot.
CRAVEONLINE: Out here in Ohio I see a lot of people who are married and seem miserable. Like they just don’t have it in them to say I don’t want to be married anymore.
COREY TAYLOR: I see it in Iowa too, man. You see people who married young and didn’t have the balls to buy their way out of their bluff. It’s fucking sad and you can feel it, you don’t even have to know the person. They walk in and it’s palpable, you feel it in the fucking air. I don’t know whether to hug them or run the fuck away.
CRAVEONLINE: Change is hard I guess. It would’ve been easier for you to stay behind the Slipknot mask then come out and do this.
COREY TAYLOR: I’ve only ever been able to lead with where my heart’s going. I’ve always trusted my heart more than my head and when I’ve trusted my head I’ve gotten into fucking trouble. At the end of the day, even if this band doesn’t have the level of success Slipknot, I’m still extremely happy. It’s busted my whole world open to have the courage to do what I want. It’s allowed me to stay around this long. It’s allowed me to do this book…
CRAVEONLINE: Book? Tell me about the book.
COREY TAYLOR: It’s coming out next year, in March. I wrote it while I was recording Audio Secrecy. It’s called The Seven Deadly Sins and it’s basically my take on the seven deadly sins and how they’re not sins at all, how they’re human characteristics that we all share. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to make mistakes or learn from our mistakes. It’s basically calling bullshit on the whole sins thing.
Mistakes you can learn from, sins stay with you forever. It’s me talking a bunch of shit and balancing it out with stories from growing up, stories from the road, all kinds of crazy shit. At the end of the day I’, saying think this is outdated, I think people, with moderation, learn to be better people if they can get into these quote-unquote sins. It’s really exciting; I’m super stoked about it.
CRAVEONLINE: So totally off topic, did you finish up through season five of Supernatural?
COREY TAYLOR: I did and I even saw the season premiere for this year. I haven’t seen episode two yet.
CRAVEONLINE: What did you think? I don’t know if I’m feeling it.
COREY TAYLOR: I think it’s kind of allowing both characters to be on their own now. For the first five seasons it was the two of them together. Now they’re going to see if they’re strong enough to stand on their own. The thing I’m most intrigued with is this extended family thing. There’s something not right and I love Mitch Pileggi, he’s one of my all time favorite actors. I’m excited to see what happens next.
CRAVEONLINE: Since Stone Sour was featured on the soundtrack to the first Spider-Man movie, any feelings on the big reboot?
COREY TAYLOR: I don’t know man, after Spider=Man 3MO I got kind of weird with it and this is coming from a Raimi fan, a Tobey Maguire fan, but I didn’t like it. It’ll be interesting because it’s not just Marvel now it’s Disney. If they turn it into The Deck Life With Zack And Cody I’m gonna be fucking bummed. They could take it into that Ultimate Spiderman realm and it could be cool, if they don’t then I’m going to beat someone to death with my fists. I’m more ecstatic about the Avengers movie.
CRAVEONLINE: Really? I don’t care at all.
COREY TAYLOR: I’m fucking stoked dude. I’m even stoked about their choice for The Hulk. I think Mark Ruffalo is awesome. I don’t know, you and me have always been two sides of one coin (laughs), so I’m choosing to be very positive about it. It’ll be a great ensemble cast, it’ll be cool to watch. I’m more interested in if they go with movies with Smallville now that’s it’s ending.
CRAVEONLINE: I don’t think so, they’re really trying to get a whole new Superman movie off the ground. Anyway, back to the record
COREY TAYLOR: Why, we could geek out for hours.
CRAVEONLINE: Sure, why talk about the record when we could talk about this.
COREY TAYLOR: Yeah the whole thing could devolve into comic con talk.
CRAVEONLINE: It could. Now, outside of this Avenged Sevenfold tour (Corey laughs). Y’know, I don’t like Avenged Sevenfold at all but they have some really dedicated fans.
COREY TAYLOR: They do.
CRAVEONLINE: Those kids came after me for weeks after that review. I still get random Twitters and emails calling me a cunt about it. I mean, the band still sucks but I have to respect their fans for bringing it to me.
COREY TAYLOR: They do inspire loyalty.
CRAVEONLINE: Outside of this upcoming tour and Stone Sour, what else is going on with you?
COREY TAYLOR: It’s mostly Stone Sour but I am doing some other songwriting stuff. I don’t know if I can confirm this but I am doing to acoustic gigs with Aaron Lewis (of Staind—I.R.) towards Christmas. He’s doing an acoustic tour and now that I’m getting into that area it just made sense to go out with him and do some shows and see what happens. I don’t have any dates yet but I’m definitely looking at it. I could do that shit for days, it’s one of my first true loves. There is something else on the horizon that will take me out of my element and should be really cool.
CRAVEONLINE: That’s cool man, congrats.
COREY TAYLOR: As soon as I know for sure you’ll be the first person I tell.
CRAVEONLINE: It would be nice to have a really a big kick ass rock record these days. There really hasn’t been one since Appetite For Destruction.
COREY TAYLOR: Well “It’s So Easy” is one of the greatest rock songs ever written.
CRAVEONLINE: You can’t not get pumped hearing “Welcome To The Jungle”. It’s like when I hear “Livin’ On A Prayer”, I have to turn it up and sing along.
COREY TAYLOR: Of course man.
CRAVEONLINE: Okay man one last question. How’s the rest of Slipknot doing since Paul passed away and what’s the future of the band?
COREY TAYLOR: I’m doing okay. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve got Stone Sour to focus on and a million other things without even talking about my family. It’s day to day, it’s better than it was two months ago but it’s still weird. It’s still got me fucked up a little bit. Clown is doing a little better. Joey (Jordison) is out destroying shit as well; I haven’t really talked to the guys for a few months. From what I hear everyone is doing okay.
As far as what’s going on with Slipknot, it’s way too soon to tell. I have no idea, none of us have even gotten into a room to talk about it and to be honest I don’t want to, I really don’t want to. At this moment it doesn’t make any sense to do anything. I know a lot of people have said Paul would want us to go on and while that may be true, Paul’s not here and that’s the real heartbreak for me. He was the biggest part of this band. Whether anybody knows it or not Paul was the engine for Slipknot. If Clown was the mind and Joey and I were a couple of the arms, then Paul was the heart and soul.
I just know I don’t want to do anything right now. At the most we might do some shows but I am so not ready to write an album without him. I don’t know, what’s the old joke? The best way to make God laugh is to announce your plans out loud. It is what it is but right now nothing is on the books, nothing is happening, we haven’t talked and it might be a long, long time before we do anything. Once we do know we will dutifully let the world know. Right now we’re just missing our bro. It’s heavy duty, it’s a heavy fucking process and I’m doing my best to get through it. The fans are great, the get it, they still have the excitement for Slipknot but they’re grieving right along with us.
For more on Stone Sour check out the band’s official site.