In the latest issue of FRONT (buy it here if you haven’t already), we spoke to Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor about meeting ghosts, refusing ghostwriters and never becoming Gene Simmons. Photo by Nicola Favaron.
Corey! How are you?
I’m subsisting on coffee. I’ve been hauling ass the last week – Stockholm, Paris, Birmingham, London… It’s been fucking insane. It’s a good problem to have, though. “Oh, fuck, people want to know about my projects”. The adage “be careful what you wish for” definitely applies.
Stone Sour are doing a double album. Lots of people (well, you, Biffy Clyro and Green Day) seem to be doing that at the moment – coincidence?
Yeah definitely, we didn’t realise how many bands were doing that until we were in the studio recording. It knocked the cherry off the top a little because I was so fucking stoked and then it was, “Oh fuck, Biffy. You’re a great band but do you have to? Can’t you just lay off for a few months? Green Day, three? Really?” But no, it’s all coincidence. If House of Gold & Bones wasn’t already very played out in my head, we wouldn’t be doing this but I could see the beginning, middle and end of a story. Once I started sketching the ideas out in a notebook, the music just started coming. For the most part, I don’t focus on other people – Taylor Swift is out the same week we are. We’ve always strived to top ourselves, so we’re only competing with ourselves. I tell you what, and this isn’t me being a dick, this is me being real – I’d put my album up against any of those fuckers right now.
Even Taylor Swift’s?
Yeah. Well, I dunno if we can compete with that underbite of hers… I’m such an asshole. If it hadn’t been for Kanye, she wouldn’t even be here right now. That made her huge. I wish someone had climbed up on my stage. I’d have punched them in the face. Actually, maybe that’s why nobody’s done that.
And you’re making the album into a comic as well?
It’s one of those things I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a huge comic fan, have been since I was a kid. I’ve got Spider-Man tattooed on my leg and the Joker on my arm. Making a comic is one of those things you put on a list and hope life one day affords you the opportunity. This project was so grand and creative that it was perfect. It’ll come out as a four-part mini-series between the first and second albums, and will give the audience that third level. I’m not drawing it, because
I can’t draw for shit, but I’m adapting the story into a script. I had a wishlist of people and I got nearly all of them so I’m shitting myself with it.
This isn’t your first foray into writing – your book was very warts-and-all.
Well, my friends knew maybe 98% of that stuff, as did some of the fans. It wasn’t about doing a tell-all, because that’s such a fucking cliché. You get 24-year-olds putting out tell-alls, and what have they fucking done? With my book I wanted something different – to start a conversation about something I feel very passionate about, where parts of human nature have been demonised, especially in my country. It’s horseshit, so I wanted to step in and be the attorney for the defence. I didn’t want it to be my name big on the cover and then a ghostwriter underneath, like every other motherfucker. Paris Hilton’s written books? Fuck that, she can’t read! My approach to everything, which is maybe a bit righteous, is that if something I do sucks, fuck it, I did it, I own it. I’ve had some good luck so far.
You wear many hats – Corey Taylor from Stone Sour, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Corey the author, Corey the solo artist…
For the most part, it depends on what project I’m doing at the time. I try to put my focus on what’s in front of me. Right now it’s all Stone Sour, but at Mayhem Festival last month it was all Slipknot. Last year, I was a bestselling author doing these acoustic gigs. Henry Rollins has done great things doing stuff like this. I look up to that so much, but I wanted to put my own spin on it, doing 90 minutes of weird spoken-word comedy, then an hour singing. So I’m a raconteur now. It’s a lot of fun. It comes down to focus, knowing you’re a little behind and going out on a limb. As long as you’re honest about that, you won’t get stretched.
Are you used to the success?
A couple of nights ago in Stockholm a radio station took us for a meal at this posh restaurant. I was looking around thinking, “Shit, even the ugly people are hotter than me”. When we were done, just standing waiting for a taxi, these two people ran up asking for pictures and going crazy. You’d think I was Sinatra back from the dead. I said yes, of course, but it catches you off-guard. It’s happening more and more in the strangest places.
You’re a very famous dude…
It was never about the fame but about creating something with the best music, the best art and giving the best lyrics and best performances. Maybe that’s held me back from being as big as I could have been, but it’s worth it. I don’t care. When you put too much emphasis on that side of it, you’re either going to become a massive asshole that people just roll their eyes at, or your art will suffer. I’d rather walk the middle ground. I’d rather be the most famous person no one’s ever heard of, than be someone like Gene Simmons, because when you get to that level you’re not you anymore. You’re playing a part. You become a caricature, and there’s nothing honest about it. You end up locked in a movie, and if you can’t be who you are life becomes very long. You need people around you to bring you back down and say ‘no’. I have a big ego, trust me, you need it in this industry, but I can rein it in.
You’ve just done Knotfest, adding festival-wrangler to your CV. is it the first of many?
I still can’t believe I’m getting away with this shit. One of the things we strive to do, with Slipknot especially, is keep pushing it. I can’t take a lot of credit for Knotfest, that was Clown’s baby. I showed up, did my part, high-fived people, sang… and went back to my bus. I was anxious about it though, because we want to take it to other countries. We’re in talks for next year, as long as we do it small and smart. There was a reason we only did two shows this year. If we’d tried to do it ten years ago, we’d have failed, because we’d have tried to do 25 giant shows with expensive flaming midgets.
Being in two bands, do you get double-booked?
We’ve never done both bands on the same day before, but we did Rock In Rio together, with Stone Sour playing the first night and Slipknot doing the second, and that was cool because I had all my bros there. I had enough time to recover, both shows kicked my ass, but being able to go back to the hotel helped. More people are trying to get us to do shows on the same day – are you masochists? Are you sadists? Fuck!
Halloween’s coming – ever had any paranormal experiences?
I’ve had several. When I was ten, me and some friends snuck out to this abandoned house. We thought we’d go at night, as you do. Long story short, we all saw something pretty fantastic that scared the living shit out of us. Just thinking about it now makes the hairs on my arms stand up. Maybe that set me up for everything else I’ve seen over the years. People who don’t believe in ghosts just haven’t seen any. I’ve seen some paralysing things, especially at the mansion in LA where we recorded Vol 3: (The Subliminal Verses). Sometimes I was asking myself why the fuck I was there. There’s never been danger, but there are higher levels of being freaked out. I’ve never been worried about my mortality. I’m the typical white asshole in the horror movie that runs towards the danger, because I just want to know. I’m like Fred from Scooby-Doo.
Stone Sour’s new album House Of Gold & Bones – Part One is out now. Buy it here.