Interview: Corey Taylor of Slipknot & Stone Sour
Thu, 01 Oct 2009 07:55:50
Corey Taylor is the voice of a generation—whether or not most critics will admit it about the Slipknot and Stone Sour mouthpiece.
However, that fact has become even more undeniable with the genesis of the multi-platinum Grammy Award winner's latest project—The Junk Beer Kidnap Band. Alongside TJBKB, Corey pens powerful rock n' roll anthems that'll no doubt completely change the game again.
With Slipknot, he's also bridging more boundaries than ever before, infiltrating every countercultural crevice that he can. The 'Knot is set to headline both Cypress Hill's Smokeout (Saturday October 24 in San Bernardino, CA) and Fangoria's "Trinity of Terrors" (Saturday October 31 in Las Vegas, NV). Corey can do it all, because he remains metal's smartest and sharpest Renaissance man…
Corey spent some time hanging out with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino on a sunny day in the San Fernando Valley. They talked about everything from the "Trinity of Terrors" and the Smokeout to the positive power of music, Corey's favorite horror flicks and why he should star in a big screen adaptation of Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan….
It was a lot of fun to see you on stage with The Junk Beer Kidnap Band with Steel Panther. There was a real freedom to the set, and it felt like you were at home playing these songs. At the same time, the lyrics for "Kansas" are very personal. Do you feel like you've gotten more introspective with your writing?"
A little bit! A lot of people don't realize that I write a ton of that stuff anyways. I've been writing songs like "Kansas" since I was 12-years-old. It's getting to the point that I've got to get these songs out there. If I choke myself off, I'm not going to be able to live and breathe this. I can't just be the angry guy in Slipknot or the dark guy in Stone Sour. People have to hear the other music as well because it's a big part of the story. As far as the lyrics go, it's simply one of those standard, upbeat love songs. If people can't handle that, then they don't get me to begin with. I don't really worry about it. I think the lyrics are exactly what they need to be for the song. If I was playing in the same key and I was singing, "I'm dark, and I've gotta be bummed," it wouldn't come off as real [Laughs].
As you get older, does it become easier to sift through the darkness?
Oh yeah, absolutely! You can compartmentalize a little better. You don't just hone in on one thing and feel like that defines you. I know a lot of guys who get very one-dimensional because they just exist in that plane. Whereas the older you get, the more you feel like you understand yourself—you know your limits, you know your boundaries and you know how far you can take it. The darkness comes when you realize there are so many lines you can cross. That's really what it comes down to. The more you know yourself, the more you can go there. I think that's why it's gotten easier for me to do that.
With the Junk Beer Kidnap Band, people get more of you in the music. They have the opportunity to experience every facet of you—the father, the loner, the artist, the musician and everything else. Is that what you want people to take away?
Definitely…nobody is only one side. Everybody is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. I don't want to be that cardboard cutout rock star. I never have, and I never will. I want to be the guy who wants to have it all. I want to be David Bowie. I want to be Trent Reznor. Those are the things I aspire to be. At the end of the day, I merely want to be a great songwriter who has no fear when it comes to that stuff. The older I've gotten, the better my writing's gotten—the more I take risks and say more than I've ever said in the past.
I got to grow up with you guys. I was 14 when the first record came out…
Oh my God, you're killing me [Laughs].
It was always easy to feel something in every song that you wrote. Your music inspired me, and that's one reason why I have my own books out now. Is it really gratifying to see fans inspired to create because of your music?
Absolutely! I may be one of the few guys in the business that has tried to encourage the fans to be themselves and to achieve whatever they can. I know a lot of guys just want to tow the party line and say, "Yes, I'm so bummed, life sucks and buy my album." Man, screw you! You've got the audience. You've got the podium. Say something real. It would be nothing for me to go in front of a bunch of kids in a high school auditorium and say, "You can be whatever the hell you want!" I've been saying that since day one. It's positive reinforcement; it's pragmatic reinforcement. If you apply yourself, you can do anything. You're a perfect example. You applied yourself, and I'm sitting here with a copy of your book, and I couldn't be more stoked for you! You know?!
Thank you! Your message with Slipknot is extremely powerful, and kids can get something positive from everything you say and do on stage. When you can leave something behind that people can take and make their own, that's the mark of a true artist.
Well, it's the honesty. I know a lot of guys who get too hip-hip-hooray, and it comes off as real fake. My message has always been, you can be what you want, but it takes work. A man is only as strong as the failures that it's taken to get him to where he's at. For me, a failure is just a misdirected triumph. You have to learn from everything, so a failure is not a failure. You only fail if it stops you or if it stunts your growth. If you keep going, then you didn't lose anything.
That's the mentality that kids need these days. We're a generation of divorce, drug problems, alcoholism and single parents…
And unavailable parents…
Kids need something to believe in, and you've given them that with every song.
I hope, man. I just remember really wanting that when I was younger. We didn't really get a lot of that. Too many bands were too impressed with themselves, and they really wanted to make a point of saying, "Hey, this lifestyle's amazing, and I get to live in it!" Or it was the opposite end of the spectrum, and they'd say, "Oh, this lifestyle's terrible. It's so god awful. It's just bad!"
You were either David Lee Roth or Kurt Cobain.
Exactly! So I'm looking at both sides of this going, "There's got to be a middle!" Luckily, I've found it. Right out of the gate, I wasn't afraid to just say whatever. Even when people would be like, "You can't talk like that," I said, "Why not?" Nobody talks like that. Just because nobody talks like that it means I can't say it? Screw that! There's a first time for everything. For me, it's really been about trying to encourage everyone to be whatever they want to be. It's like you said—in this day and age, when "normal" parents can be as abnormal as it gets, where are you going to get that from? You're certainly not going to get it from the teachers. They clock in and clock out at will. You're not going to get it from your peers because they're just as fucked up as you are. You're not going to get it from your parents, and if you do, God bless you, but a lot of people don't. Why not be that guy? Why not come out and say, "You have the potential to be whatever!" These days, hope is just as easily lost as money. Why not just put it in there?
With your Fangoria "Trinity of Terrors" show on Halloween, you're intertwining so many different strands of culture—horror movies, heavy metal and dark art. How exciting is that?
I'm stoked! You know me. I'm such a horror geek, comic geek and action figure geek. When I saw the list of the people that Fangoria was able to get for this, I was stoked out of my mind! We've got everybody from Richard Christy from Death to Tom Savini. We've got Fairuza Balk and Malcolm McDowell! I am in geek heaven right now! There are some really great films that are going to be shown. I've been talking about The Fourth Kind for about a month and a half now. That movie looks amazing! House of the Devil is going to be really cool. Dead Air looks amazing. It's something really special, and it's something that's never been done in Vegas. It's hopefully going to be one of the biggest things that Fangoria's ever done and we've ever done. We get to play on Halloween. It's win-win all across the board.
"Trinity of Terrors" allows fans to immerse themselves in multiple facets of this culture. It shows that you can be a part of the entertainment industry in so many ways.
You can be whatever you want. I'm living proof. Just the fact that I have a career should tell you that anything is possible.
What were some of your favorite horror movies growing up?
All of the classics like Halloween and the original Night of the Living Dead…I wasn't a big fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but I went because they were cool. I love everything from the classics to the moments in certain movies that scared the crap out of me. There's a moment in The Exorcist III that seriously scared me so bad that I had to leave my friend's house.
I had to go home! I couldn't deal with it. I just flipped out. I could not hang. It was one of those things! I wasn't expecting it, so when it did happen, I seized up and left. I bailed and walked home—could not hang [Laughs]. I've always thought that horror and metal were a match made in Heaven. I could remember being at Josh Rand's house [Stone Sour guitarist]. We've known each other since we were little dudes. I was crashing on his floor because I'd gotten kicked out. He got the vinyl for Slayer's Hell Awaits. We're listening to it, and he goes, "Check this out!" You know the beginning of Hell Awaits where it's got the backwards message? We played it backwards, and it starts going, "Join us, Join us, Join us, Join us…" I'm just going, "Oh, my God." The hair on my arm just stood up thinking about it. I had to walk to the store to get cigarettes at two in the morning, and all I'm hearing is, "Join us, Join us, Join us, Join us…" I was creeped out of my brain, man! Moments like that are married to movies like, goofy or not, Trick Or Treat. I love that movie! It was such a great film. From Dusk Till Dawn is probably one of my all-time favorite movies. That's top five all across the genres! "Do they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires! Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them! I don't give a fuck how crazy they are!" [Laughs] Some of the best one-liners on the planet are in that movie.
The opening sequence at the gas station is incredible too!
Genius, man! Tom Savini is "Sex Machine." I loved it!
And Tom's going to be at "Trinity of Terrors" watching Slipknot!
I'm stoked! I can't wait. Hopefully, I get to meet him. There are so many great people that are going to be there. Chris Jericho from WWE is going to be there on Friday. I'm geektastic across the board about this. Every night I go to sleep with a little smile on my face. I can't wait!
Tell me about Cypress Hill's Smokeout, which is just the weekend prior to "Trinity of Terrors"…
The last time somebody other than Cypress did it, it was Snoop Dogg. This is kind of a new deal for us. We got the offer, and it's something different. You might not necessarily envision Slipknot at The Smokeout. We don't really have a weed-minded fan base [Laughs]. We don't scream, "Dope!" But I think it's awesome. I think it's going to bring a lot of great people together. Plus Cypress is the shit.
It's a real counter-culture event—similar to festivals in the '60s. The Smokeout and "Trinity of Terrors" aren't that different.
Exactly! I've know B Real and Sen Dog for a long time. Deftones are going to be there too, and they're going to be on that whole run with us. I'm super stoked about that! It just feels really good. It's coming back around. This is our last three weeks until next time, so we'll see what happens.
If you're life were a movie, what would it be?
[Laughs] Gummo! That's what my movie would be—at least the first fifteen years of my life would be Gummo. I can't watch that movie. I watched it for a month straight when we were making the first Slipknot album because it had just come out, and I can't watch it again. It haunts me. You don't understand how mirror-like that is from the way I fucking grew up in Waterloo, Iowa—brutal. So I can't watch it. I never shot a comatose chick in the foot with a BB gun or anything like that, but every one of those people in that movie—I know people like that or I knew people like that. Most of them are dead. It's hard for me to watch. My life now…I couldn't tell you what movie it's like. Hopefully my movie ends up like The Dark Knight, well no, not The Dark Knight [Laughs]. What's something crazy fucking awesome?
Okay, we'll back that! I'll be Ben Affleck, are you going to be J. Lo?
They've got to put you in the Preacher movie!
Oh yeah, right?! Trust me that would be it! I would love to play Cassidy—either that or shave my head and I'll be Herr Starr. I would love to be the villain because then I could have that crazy fucking glass eye. Obviously, I could wear the hats. That would be the shit! I'd love to be that dude. I could have my .357 and go, "Doom cock, doom cock!" You've got to read the comics, kids! Preacher, best comic ever!
Besides Transmetropolitan! If they ever make a Transmet movie, I want to play Spider Jerusalem [Laughs]!
—Words: Rick Florino
Photos: Corey Soria
Video of this interview is coming soon!