Exclusive Interview: Slipknot/Stone Sour Vocalist Corey Taylor
Editor’s Note: This interview was not originally conducted specifically for MetalSucks.
The last time I interviewed Corey Taylor was about six months or so after the death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray. At the time, he was understandably frustrated by the pressure from fans to make a call on Slipknot’s future:
“It’s like the more we try to explain it, no-one hears the answer. It’s like they’re waiting for the answer they want to hear. We go out of our way to make sure our fans know everything, but at the end of the day, the fans have got to trust us. The worse it gets, the more we want to push away – we’re still dealing with the fact that our brother is dead. It can get hectic when all that people want to know about is when we’re getting back together. Don’t they realize that we’re never, really, ever going to get back together? One of our founding members is gone. It’ll never be the same, y’know? People don’t understand it. I try not to be bitter and lash out, but it’s getting harder and harder. Brutal, man.”
A lot of things have changed since then. Not least of which is that Corey’s other band, Stone Sour, have a new record out, House of Gold & Bones – Part 1 — the first chapter in a proposed double concept album. What’s more, even for those who might feel some of the Iowa heavy rockers’ past catalogue leant a little too far towards “sports metal,” Gold & Bones is pretty damn cool. Boasting Taylor’s chesty, begravelled melodies and the roid-heavy riffage of guitarists Jim Root and Josh Rand, there’s plenty of cracking rock tunes.
So for our second interview, Taylor iss in a much better mood. Which is fortunate, because I only had silly questions for him. Here’s what he had to say…
Hey, man. What’s up?
Anything exciting happening right now?
Oh well, you know… Not much, no. It’s getting close to ten o’clock over here and I just put my son to bed. And now I’m just trying to clean up the bizarre mess he seems to make every day.
Wow, the hedonistic life of a rock star. You’re a domesticated animal these days…
I still have my bursts… [laughs]. It’s like, when I’m not making fun of the Pope or Jesus Christ, I like to put my son to bed so I can get him up for school in the morning. Good times, y’know.
I’m assuming you’ve already done a shit-ton of press for your new opus?
So what’s the stupidest question you’ve had so far? Y’know, the real eye-roller.
Oh man! I tell you what, the crazy thing is, with each new album, there’s always a whole new batch of questions that start out as the ones I’ve never heard before, and then slowly morph into the ones you’re just asked to death. But the one that’s really chafing my ball-sack right now is… [adopts a pseudo-interested tone] “Can you describe the concept behind the album?” And I’m like, “Jesus, do some fucking research. I could cite twenty websites just off the top of my head right now that have, pretty much word for word, how I’ve already described the record’s concept.” It’s just one of those things where you try and find new ways to try and answer the same question or whatever. And it’s not that they’re dumb questions, it’s just the repetition of it starts to beat you down after a while. But, y’know they’re also always seem to be the ones that get asked when you’re in a bad mood [laughs].
Right. So, can you describe the concept behind the album for us?
Oh man, you son of a bitch! You were just waiting for that, weren’t you? [laughs] You set me up and knocked me down…
Well, just a head’s up, there’s a few more stupid questions pending. You cool to roll with that?
Awesome. That’s cool. Trust me, I love that shit.
Great. Just quickly, though… last time we spoke, I don’t know if you remember, but I told you the story of how Stone Sour’s drummer, Roy Mayorga, and I once sat in a darkened mini-theatre at a Big Day Out after-party and were confronted by two performance artists, who painted eyes on their buttock cheeks, lipstick on their sphincters, and did a little show where they “talked” and “ate,” including shoving hamburgers up their anuses and guzzling from beer bottles with their buttholes.
Oh shit, I do remember that! [laughs] Sounds like real high-class stuff.
Did you ever end up asking Roy about it?
Oh no, I didn’t… I never got a chance too. I’m so sorry, man.
That’s okay. I was just wondering if it was as seared into his memory for life as it was mine.
I’m a real bad singer… I apologise. I’ll definitely mention it.
Moving on, why embark on a self-indulgent double album – is this a case of the band experiencing a kind of Guns N Roses’ Use Your Illusion brain-explosion?
[laughs] No! Not really. I mean, when I sat the guys down and told them I had this idea for a concept album, we ended up with all this great material. And instead of trying to wade through it and try and find the best way to kind of encapsulate it, I was like, “Screw it – we’ll use all of it!” So we went into the studio with twenty-four killer songs, and even though we ended up only doing twenty-three [of those songs], it’s still killer material, y’know? It made sense to us. We wanted to approach this as an atypical concept album. Make it like an event. Make it something that people anticipated, like a movie and its sequel, y’know? Kind of challenge people’s creativity and imagination. So for us, it was really about going into the studio with the best material we could and seeing what would happen, and then make it as important as we could.
And then you go and call it the House of Golden Boners, is that right?
Umm… close. [chuckles] Very, very close, man…
Isn’t that a bit rude of a subject for a concept album? And do people really keep dildos made from precious metal about their home, or is that a luxury for millionaire rock stars like yourself?
Well, obviously… we wanted to have a stiff proposition. We wanted to poke at people’s pysches and what-not. Try and vibrate different concepts out of their cerebral cortexes… or is that cortexi? I dunno, I might have to look that one up… [laughs]
Is there really a comic book coming out with the album?
Well, it won’t come out with the album – it’s a completely autonomous project. But the first issue comes out first of April next year, and I’m actually working on the script right now. Hammering it out. Having never worked on a comic script before, luckily, I’m working with a really great company that’s gonna hold my hand during the process and ensure I don’t fuck it up to the best of my ability.
Is this really just some excuse for all you Stone Sour guys to finally one day be represented in spandex superhero outfits?
A little cosplay action, is that what you’re getting at? [laughs] Maybe… although, I did rock up to New York’s Comic Con the other day and I totally forgot to wear my Sailor Moon outfit. I was going to… but then I was like, “What if people stare? Far be it from me to make people star at me…” So I wore my civvies instead.
What a shame. Given every comic has a movie adaptation nowadays, I’m assuming you’re already in negotiations with Ryan Reynolds for the part of your character?
Yes, but I’ve asked him to stop manscaping for a while. I told him, “Ryan, if you’re gonna play the main part, you’ve gotta be a little hirsute. A little more hairy. I can’t have you looking as good as you are, you’re gonna embarrass the rest of us and that’s not the point of this whole thing. I need you to look more earthen and ungroomed.” Unfortunately he stopped replying to me on Twitter, so I don’t know if he’s taken that advice onboard.
Smashing Pumpkins, White Zombie, Coal Chamber and A Perfect Circle have all had female bassplayers – is that what made you want get some chick called Rachel to play bass on the record?
[laughs] Well, before you go any further, I know it’s a very thin line sometimes, but Rachel Bolan is a man. He only sounds like a woman…
Well, he also looks like one – have you seen those old Skid Row photos?
You’re right. He kinda did… [laughs] But in all seriousness, Rachel was amazing. He came in and handled everything that we threw at him. And being a Skid Row fan, it was awesome to watch him jam. And he has used the same bass on everything that he’s ever recorded – so the same bass that was on Slave to the Grind and Subhuman Race and what-not was played on our album, so I was pretty fucking stoked, man.
Is he still sporting the ol’ nose-to-ear chain?
No, he didn’t have it! I was totally bummed – we were all gonna put them on, so that when he showed up at the studio, we’d all have them on. And we totally forgot to. I was so bummed, man [laughs].
How practical is one of those things when taking off a sweater?
[laughs] I would think not that practical at all. Rachel actually said he took it out after someone hit it with a guitar once. And I also used to have a nose ring and I managed to rip it out once with a microphone – probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. I also did with a nipple ring. So I’ve just stopped piercing things – it was just too fucking dangerous, man. I don’t want no chains or rings hanging from my shit anymore.
Did Rachel share any cool or particularly obnoxious Sebastian Bach stories with you?
[laughs] He didn’t need to! I know Sebastian. I’ve hung out with him on many an occasion, so I probably could’ve told Rachel quite a few stories myself. The second night I met Sebastian – and by the way, he’s a super-cool dude but he’s a total cartoon – he came down to the mansion where Slipknot were recording Volume 3, and we had this massive barbecue, and I’ll never forget it… there were all these people there, surrounding me, Sebastian Bach, B Real from Cypress Hill, and this group of little people dressed up as KISS called Mini-KISS. Anyway, I had an acoustic guitar and we were all jamming. It was the most bizarre impromptu jam that I’ve ever been apart of. It was pretty ridiculous, man.
With Rachel aboard, why weren’t you tempted to pull off any Sebastian-esque screams in the studio?
Oh dude, I haven’t been able to hit those notes since about ’92. Ever since my balls dropped, there’s no way. Trust me. But I used to be able to – there’s some old Stone Sour stuff floating around where my range is way up there, but luckily my tool bag got a little slower on the belt, if you’re getting my vernacular there, and I dropped like a whole step in my range. Which is fine with me – I don’t think I want that whole high-pitched thing going on. So no, I was not trying to hit any ball-killer notes. [laughs]
Right… So, given your voice is getting lower and lower, are you worried you’ll eventually morph into Phil Anselmo?
Umm… not really, no. I can walk upright, so I’m fine. I think Phil has a lot more problems than a deep voice, let’s put it that way. But my voice has been the same timbre for 15 years, so I’m not worried. Plus, I don’t drink any more – I don’t smoke any less, but I don’t drink anymore, so I’m trying to stay as healthy as I can.
So how come Shawn Economaki left the band? Was he no longer Economical?
Oh well… [laughs awkwardly]… that’s actually, yeah… I don’t really like talking about that. That was kind of a bum-out in a lot of ways. But I will say it was just time for us to part ways.
Oh. So you’re not still mates, then?
No, actually. It sucks, man. We were friends for a long time, and he just had one way of life and we had the other, and it was just time, y’know… No regrets.
You recorded with David Botrill, most famous for recording Tool. Does this mean we’re going to have to wait seven years for next Stone Sour record?
[laughs] Well, we’re putting it on the books now. We’re hoping to record the follow-up in 2020, and we’re actually gonna do a jam session with Def Leppard and the remaining members of Boston, and just see if we can put it off as long as possible soon.
And I’m guessing you also have plans to open a winery in ButtFuck Nowhere as well?
[laughs] No, but I do have a grape-juice stand that I’m hoping to open on the side of one of the major interstate highways here. Which, y’know – a quarter for one glass, 35 cents for two – I think it encourages fiscal growth in America. It’s probably a question I could have submitted to the presidential debate tonight. But nobody ever asks singers their opinions, goddammit…
Now that you’ve got ex-Soulfly drummer Roy Mayorga and Cavalera Conspiracy bassist Tony Chow in the band now, how long before Max Cavalera steps up and replaces you, Corey?
[laughs] Well, he’ll at least jump up on a tune with us, hopefully… Y’know, I never really thought about that, but you’re right – it’s like, slowly but surely, our band’s morphing into Soulfly 2: Electric Boogaloo. But worse things have happened, right? [laughs]
I notice you played piano on the new album. Just curious, whilst recording late one night, did anyone in the band push in your stool?
Ah, well… yeah. Y’know, when you get backed-up like that, you’ve really gotta put your trust in people who are “behind you.” You get what I’m saying there? That’s the thing about playing an organ – as a pianist, you should always be prepared to have your stool pushed in. Especially if you’re throwing yourself at it. You don’t wanna be throwing yourself all over the place.
So, would you call yourself a big pianist?
Oh well, not really. I’m more a regular-size pianist. But it’s all how you work it. As long as he knows his way around it, I don’t think the size of a pianist should ever be an issue.
In my extensive research for this interview, I discovered when you type the name “Corey” into Google, you come up fourth against Corey Haim, Corey Worthington, and Corey Feldman… That’s gotta sting a little?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say yes, it does a bit… But I’m okay. I know I’m the number-one Corey in the two per cent of the hearts of America. And that’s good. It’s a nice round number.
If it’s any consolation, you’re still beating Corey Glover from Living Colour, so that’s a bonus, right?
[laughs] Yeah, but that’s a bum-out! He’s awesome. He was in Platoon! I wasn’t in Platoon. How the hell does that happen?
I don’t think you were even born then…
Oh bullshit! [laughs]
I presume your new autobiographical book, Seven Deadly Sins, is series of theological essays? Or is it more of a cooking book?
[laughs] Yes, it came out last year!
Oops… like I said, I limit my research to Wikipedia . It’s a principle thing.
[laughs] But yes, you’re right. The book is a collection of my favourite spicy fillet recipes. But yeah, it came out last year and was a rousing success. It’s since been reprinted in seven different languages.
[laughs] No, no… but in all seriousness, it’s done really well.
So I can buy it in Australia?
Yeah, but only in paperback. It came out this summer in paperback, and I actually added a new chapter to it. So there you go – another incentive to purchase a copy. I mean, obviously I’m just a whore who wants money, so you should do it.
Can I count on lots of pictures? And is there at least one car-chase sequence?
Oh well, not to get you even more tantalised about it, but there are up to seven pictures in that book! I mean, it’s pretty fantastic [laughs].
A while back, you put out a joke song, X-M@$, all about hating Christmas, and you donated the proceeds to Teenagers With Cancer. But really, is it wise to tell kids with cancer that Santa Claus isn’t real?
[laughs] I think if you’re a teenager and you still believe in Santa Claus, you need to put the bong down. But honestly, we we’re able to raise a lot of money for that cause, and every Christmas we sell a little more, so I’m pretty proud of it. Especially for a song that you really shouldn’t take seriously. And that’s really just me saying the Christmas isn’t always about presents – it can be about dealing with some of these people who wreck your day no matter what. I never got any flak for it. But when I was giving shit to Scott Weiland for putting out his Christmas album, some people were like, “Oh, but you did a Christmas song, Corey…” And I’m like, “Yeah, but I didn’t slick my fucking hair back and do a bunch of Christmas traditionals – I did a punk song about Christmas with healthy doses of the word ‘fuckk’.” There’s a huge fucking difference!
Seeing you brought up Weiland, what did happen with the whole Velvet Revolver thing? I mean, last time I spoke to you, you almost had the gig… but then you didn’t.
I think it was more doubt about the band itself than me, to be honest. I know all those guys and I’m really good friends with them. So it was just a case of them being more interested in doing their own thing, if that make sense. Obviously Slash has his solo thing, Duff has Loaded and other projects, Matt’s doing stuff, Dave’s doing stuff – so I think they weren’t interested in doing Velvet Revolver as a whole. But word got out before anyone could talk to me, and so Slash sent me this email saying, “Look, I apologize – I didn’t want you to find out like that.” I totally understood, man. And at the end of the day, I still got to jam with some people I grew up worshipping. So if that’s the worst thing that happens to me in life, I’m doing alright.
Given the crossover potential of this new album, how long before some wide-eyed American Idol contestant covers one of the songs?
Ah, shit… [laughs] I think we’ll be okay on that score. If I heard some kid on X-Factor or American Idol singing RU846 I’d probably shit purple turds. It’d be pretty fucking sweet. There was one dude, in one of the older seasons, who during the try-out segment, y’know – when they show all the rejects and mentally ill where everybody watches just to see how bad some of these dudes really are – who launched into Come What)Ever) May… It was brutal. Like really bad. And I’m like, “Woah, that’s unfortunate, right there.” [Laughs] It was hilarious and tragic at the same time. And one time, they did ask permission to use Through Glass, but I don’t think they ever used it. And I’m like, “Good!” But we don’t get a lot of control over that. Sometimes our publishing company will come back to us like, “Oh yeah, by the way, we let them use your song for this…” And we’re like, “What? Excuse me? How about saying no or asking us first, you f**king idiot!” [laughs] But it is what it is, and there’s some people who would make the argument that you’re getting to a wider audience. But at the end of the day, who gives a shit? I’m doing really well, I’ve got a great fan-base – so I’m not trying to go for the soccer moms, I’m going for the people who wanna come to a show and have a really kick-arse time. And that’s one of the reasons why I’ve never tried to put on a lily-white front and try and be everything to everbody. It’s just so f**king boring. There’s just so much politics in trying to “cross over”. Fuck that.
Speaking of politics – what did you think when Tom Morello kicked up such stink over how Republican vice-presidential runner Paul Ryan strutted out on stage during a rally to the stirring strains of Killing in the Name Of? And have Mitt Romney’s people approached you about using a Slipknot ditty as a walk-on track yet?
[laughs] No! Oh my god, that would be so awesome [laughs]. Although, can you imagine the look on people’s faces if he came out like that, and really wore his true political standings on his sleeve and came out to “People = Shit”? I would have an orgasm, dude. It would be so fucking fantastic! But y’know, nobody would touch me with a ten-foot-fucking pole when it comes to politics. And I’m fine with that. I mean, I back Obama, but I never really subscribe to one party or the other because, to be honest, nobody is speaking for the middle – and that bothers me. The parties really only give a shit about their hot-button topics, they don’t really wanna talk to real people about what’s going on in their lives. They throw about abortion and taxes and gas, and that’s really fucking it. It’s boring, man.
So when you hear the sage-like political ruminations of a fellow peer in metal like, say, Dave Mustaine, how do you feel? Does that ruin listening to Rust In Peace for you?
Oh man… you know what? The thing that bothers me is no-one should ever put a microphone in front of Dave Mustaine’s face unless he’s on stage. Every time he says something, I cringe. People have asked me – there was this big thing on Twitter where people we’re going, “Dave Mustaine makes me ashamed to be a metalhead,” and I’m like, “Screw that! For every Mustaine, there’s a Hetfield. They’re his beliefs, let him talk shit all he wants, and don’t let him discourage you.” Just because there’s one guy who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, doesn’t mean there aren’t twenty more who do know.
Last time, I spoke to you, I asked you about whether Sarah Palin was hot or not and you said this: “Palin is what we call ‘tour-hot’. Tour-hot is like it’s the end of the night, the road crew’s packing up, the bar is emptying, you’re in a pinch, and it’s like, ‘Well, she doesn’t look too terrifying …’ From a MILF standpoint, I’ve seen worse. But all she has to do is open her mouth, and I’m like, ‘Oh shut the fuck up.’” So now how do you feel about her?
The same. Except, I’m a little leery about saying anything about her now given how well-armed she is. She might take somebody for a moose someday and shoot one of her constituents. And I thought Dick Cheney was bad – Cheney once shot someone in the face once and they lived, but Sarah Palin won’t miss, dude. She’ll get you right in the centre-mass of your chest, and then you’re fucked.
On the upside, at least you’ll be well-dressed afterwards.
There you go. And then she’ll serve you with stuffing. [laughs]
You’ve said you’d like to make a cameo on Metalocalypse – Kirk from Metallica voiced Toki Wartooth’s animated penis, so what appendage would you like to narrate? Has Brendon Small called offering you a voice-cover gig yet?
Oh, dude, I’d love to! That’s like my favourite show. It’s fucking brilliant. But no, not yet. I’m not holding my breath. But I have been asked to do a new cartoon gig, so hopefully if that pans out, I’ll be able to do that.
What is it?
It’s by the same people who work at Adult Swim and they’re putting together this thing called The Executioner. It’s basically about this Middle-Ages executioner who unfortunately gets blasted into the future, where he walks about with no shirt, a hood over his head and a giant axe, and he sets himself up as a door-to-door executioner… [laughs] I’m not doing it any justice with that description but they want me to be the voice of the guy. I read the script and it’s fucking ridiculous and very, very funny, and I’m like, “I’m so in!”
Can you pull off a decent ye olde accent?
I can get there. My thing, would be every ten seconds, going… [dons quasi Old English voice] “My liege….” And getting really weird with it. I think I could handle all the “thus”es and “thou”s.
More seriously now… how closely do you personally identify with the Juggalo movement?
[laughs] Umm, not at all… I honestly don’t know anything about the culture or the bands. I’ve always been more maggot than juggalo, let’s put it that way. [laughs] Nothing against them, I’m just more of a metal fan and it’s just not my cup of tea.
Have you ever worn your Slipknot mask in the sack?
[laughs] Out of respect for my wife, I decline to answer that question. [laughs] I’m a good husband, I’ve learnt from my mistakes.
Slipknot once tried to sue Burger King. Why?
That was all about how they had this mock band singing this stupid chicken fries song, and there were so many similarities with them and us, that we were like… “No, no way, that’s too much.” Slipknot have our likenesses copyrighted so it was clearly infringement.
Were the fries yummy?
I hate to say it, the chicken fries were delicious. But it was a weird time, all these people were trying to capitalize on our popularity, and the same time, all these kids were committing crimes and wearing masks, and telling people we told them to do it. It was fucked up, dude.
You once tried to jump out a hotel room balcony – you know you got that wrong? Rock stars are meant to throw televisions out of windows not themselves.
Well, y’know I just wanted to make sure somebody could watch TV after I left the room. I didn’t want to be a complete dick. I was being considerate. [laughs] But that just tells you the state of mind I was in at the time, ha ha! I wasn’t thinking very clearly. Yeah… that was kind of like the perfect storm of bad. The culmination of my drinking getting out of hand, my misery kicking in… it was a bad night. Luckily, I haven’t felt like that since.
Most guys would look at you and think you have the perfect life: play music for a living, tours the world, has millions of fans, groupies everywhere… and you want to kill himself? Why?
Problems come in every size. What a lot of people don’t understand is that it takes a lot of work to do two bands, write books, write songs – it takes a lot of time… and time away from family. You give up a lot. Sometimes it’s a case of be careful what you wish for. But I don’t regret anything. The reasons why I was unhappy had nothing to do with music – they were personal issues. And I consider myself very lucky that I get to do this, and I’m very grateful that I have a lot of fans that still allow me to. But at the end of the day, I’m human. I don’t want to be put up on a pedestal. I’m no better than anyone else. More money, more problems, right?
Do you have a funny story for me?
Oh god, yes. I was at Comic Con, doing some signings for Dark Horse Comics who are doing the comic book with me. And it was life, every ten feet I walked, somebody was like, “Hey, you look just like that guy from Stone Sour!” And I’m like, “Really?” And they’re like, “You ARE that guy from Stone Sour!” Anyway, so I was standing in line for the bathroom, and this guy starts to come out who’s dressed like Gambit from the X-Men comics, with the staff and everything, and he walks past me, and goes, “Dude, great Corey Taylor outfit!” I’m in like a fedora and jeans, and I go, “Yeah? Thanks man!” And he goes in this brutal New York accent, “Woah, woah, are you fucking kidding me? Can I get a picture?” And I’m like, “Can I take a piss first? I’ve been waiting in this line for twenty minutes – I’m not going to lose my spot in line now!” So I took a piss, washed my hands, came out and Gambit was still there. It was so funny, man. I thought I was going to be able to roll amongst these people so fucking anonymous and, seriously, dude, I would be in like this crazy line between the walkways and there’d be another line beside us, and people were like fighting like salmon to get into my line so they could find me. It was so weird.
Out of curiousity, what is the protocol for urinal conversation with a celebrity?
I think, so long as you’re staring at a tile that is at least ten inches above the urinal, then you can strike up some friendly banter. But when you get into eye contact or anything other than that, I think that’s bad cricket. You’ve really gotta focus on that one tile – find that one spot to zone in on. Usually, it’s a booger. I’m going to be really f**king honest here but guys’ bathrooms are f**king septic and between the pubic hair and the boogers on the way, I’m like, “Are you people fucking kidding me? Do you sleep and eat your own shit? What the hell is going on here?”
Thanks Corey. You’ve been a great sport and congrats again on the album.
Oh thanks man, I appreciate that. And you’re welcome. It’s been all good. I’ll see you soon!