Interview: Corey Taylor of Stone Sour
Wed, 04 Aug 2010 11:45:48
With Audio Secrecy, Stone Sour has written their Pulp Fiction.
It's a heavy, hypnotic and haunting collection of sonic stories woven together within the landscape of 2010's best hard rock album. Audio Secrecy stands as a meeting point between Jar of Flies' dark vulnerability, The Black Album's calculated crunch and the epic scope of Use Your Illusion. Instead of bringing together a cast of nutjobs in the Valley like Quentin Tarantino did, Stone Sour gives us a myriad of emotions, ghosts and thoughts, and it's quite the ride. This isn't just a band on fire, this is a band that's about to burn down the entire world around them.
In order to unearth what's behind these stories, ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino sat down for an exclusive interview with Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor. He speaks candidly about the tales within Audio Secrecy, his own journey and why he'd better be cast as Spider Jerusalem if Transmetropolitan ever hits the big screen…
Don't miss Audio Secrecy when it drops on September 7th, 2010 and catch Stone Sour on the Uproar tour!
It's easy to find something new on every listen to Audio Secrecy.
There's a lot going on. It's a deceptively straightforward album, and yet there are so many levels to it. I'm still hearing things and going, "Where the hell did that come from? Who did this and with what instrument?" It's got so many unique textures but, at the same time, the songs are so damn good. It's a powerhouse.
Audio Secrecy is genuinely boundless. In that respect, it's very reminiscent of a '60s or '70s rock album. There are no parameters to it at all.
Exactly! We went off the hook with it. They let us off the leash, and they let us do what we wanted [Laughs]. Then again, that's a reflection of what we've been trying to do anyway. We've never tried to be any kind of genre-specific band. We've always tried to simply be a hard rock band. That really does tie in with that old school way of thinking. If you write a song and it's an awesome song, why not record the damn thing? Why get all weird and ask, "Are the fans going to get it and blah, blah, blah?" Sometimes, you have to take it out of the fans' hands and say, "This is us. This is who we are. This is a part of who we are, and you're either with us or you're not." To me, that's a whole different type of courage that I think is lost in this industry. Too many people are so terrified of doing anything that will make the audience think. You've got the audience, challenge the listener! Challenge what they think about your band. Have the balls to put it out there and back it one-hundred and ten percent. I think that's the one thing that really separates us from the rest of the pack. We've never tried to cater to anyone. We've always written from the standpoint that this is our music, this is what we want to do and this is how we're going to do it. You're either with us, or you're not.
Even though it's extremely catchy, Audio Secrecy is still very dangerous record in terms of the places that you go.
Yeah, there's a whole litany of songs that we're doing on Audio Secrecy that people might not get, straight-up. They might listen to it and say, "What the hell?!" [Laughs] At the same time, risk is everything. If you're not risking everything for your art and your music, then what the hell is the point? You're spinning your wheels in the mud. I'd rather grab some traction and move forward no matter where that takes me than worry about how things are going to play out. I think people are going to hear it, and it's going to be such a shock to the system in a positive way that it's going take this band into realms that we never even imagined.
"Nylon 6/6" really stands out. It captures everything you're doing on the record. The song is angry at moments, but simultaneously strangely beautiful.
It's got so many different great moments in it. I've always likened it to our personal "Celebration Day." It's got that epic feel to it, but it's got all of these different vibes. To me, "Nylon 6/6" is such a great tune and a great melding of everything we've ever done.
Where are you coming from lyrically on that song?
It's basically the story of a friend you've had for a very long time, and the friendship has been up and down. At some point, it becomes very obvious that person is not who you used to hang out with. It's now very negative and selfish. It's really about that line you have to draw in the sand no matter how much time you've spent with that person and no matter how much seniority they have in your life. You have to figure out what's going on because this friendship is very one-sided. You've got to say, "If you can't figure it out, then we're at an impasse. I either walk away or you figure it out and we continue on." It's really about hitting that last exit before you either go or get out.
"Pieces" continues that vibe.
That song is actually more of a reflection of the world than it is of any certain individual. It's one of those songs where you're almost exhausted to the point of fracture. You're sitting there trying to find any kind of energy to become what the world wants you to be. It's really that battle of wills. You have to find the strength to do it for yourself and not fall into that trap of going through the motions because people expect you to be a certain way.
There's this cavalcade of thoughts, characters and emotions comprising this album. It's the most immersive thing you've ever done. You enter the world of Audio Secrecy when listening to it.
Definitely! It's basically the story of the last five years of my life which have seen me go through some of the biggest changes I've ever been through. There's a lot of talk about love on the album. It was just time to do that. It's the most I've ever talked about past relationships in my life. I think that's just a reflection of where I'm at, how far I've come and who I am today as opposed to who I was ten years ago. I've got to talk about the things that make sense to me. I can't keep mining the mountain to find things that affected me ten or fifteen years ago because it just doesn't make sense anymore. The only way I've ever known how to write is from the heart and from where I am. This album is very much a snapshot of where I am and where I've been in the last five years. It's closer to the heart of everything I am than anything I've ever done before.
There are certainly real ghosts within the landscape of this album. They're living and breathing entities.
You definitely get to know the people on the album without even knowing their names [Laughs]. Some of these songs can be about several different people. It's not an individual thing. It's been a long road. At the same time, it's a beautiful thing. I feel really good about where I am, who I am and how I got here. That's something I haven't necessarily been able to say over the years. I'm just really happy I'm here.
You explore love differently though. It's quite complicated, and you're able to capture that.
I don't write about things in a two-dimensional sense. I think too many people are so ready to sell themselves short. They're too ready to talk about love and whatnot in a stereotypical manner. Whereas I would rather talk about how these things affected me than try to pretty it up in a Hollywood sense. I want the scars and everything in there. I want the dirt and the rust. I want it all because that's what I went through.
Was there a special reason why you dropped "Say You'll Haunt Me" first?
That song really showed its face in the studio. It became a whole different monster when we recorded it, which really made me extremely happy because of the subject matter. The song lyrically is about my new wife and how passionate I am about her. It's a very positive song. It's got that urgency about it that she brings out of me. I love how everything came together, and it's almost like we didn't even realize we had that song. When we were demoing it, practicing it and watching it take shape, we didn't realize what we had. We went in the studio, recorded it and it became a wholly different monster. It has taken off. I'm just really happy that song has risen to where I wanted it to be musically because it's such a special and important song to me.
For writing lyrics this time around, was there anything that helped you along or was it more of a personal exorcism of sorts?
It was pretty much an exorcism. It was like letting go of those breaths that you didn't realize you were holding at the time. Sometimes you have to clean the house before you realize that you've been living in a hole basically. For me, it was very cathartic letting go of a lot of that stuff because it was really coloring my way of thinking. I think it was invariably holding me back from a lot of stuff. It really starts when you're writing the lyrics down. Once you put that down, give it a shape, a name, a point or an ending, you can move on and be your own person again. You can really move through the world. You've got that knowledge but it doesn't control you anymore. It doesn't hold you back from the things that you want to do.
"Hesitate" definitely represents all of that.
That's a very melancholy song. It's deceptively sweet, and yet it's dealing with subject matter that I don't think anyone's ever really talked about. It's about that all-consuming passion that hits you out of nowhere, but miles down the line, you realize that it's a negative passion. There's really nowhere to go from there, so you have to make a choice whether you're going to be strong, walk away, be by yourself and heal in that respect. Or, you stay in that situation and pummel and destroy yourself, which a lot of people are so quick to do. A lot of people would rather stay in a bad relationship because it's comfortable and it's what they understand. They're more scared of the unknown. They'd rather stay in that dynamic than walk away and do what's right for them at the end of the day. That song is about having the strength and courage to walk away from that and be a better person because of it.
You've grown so much as a writer in a short span of time
I'm extremely lucky. I really am. I feel like I haven't peaked yet. It's like I'm going through this crazy metamorphosis and things are just getting better and better. It's a crazy thing to think about. At the same time, I don't think I've ever felt more confident about my talent in my entire life, to be honest. To be eleven years in professionally and feel this way is such a surge of energy. It's such a boost for me. I feel like there's nothing I can't do and nowhere I won't go. I feel lucky because we have such wonderful fans that allow us to do that. We have a fan base that is so diverse and so loyal it's insane to think about. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to do this. We'd still simply be making songs for ourselves. We're blessed because of it.
As a lifelong comic book fan, which character do you identify with the most?
To be honest, I think I've connected with Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan! I feel like I'm in this crazy world that I'm just trying to make heads or tails of. All I want is the truth—no matter how dark or crazy that is. I'm not afraid to be an absolute lunatic to find it. I try to break everything down on a base level, and it gets me in trouble a lot [Laughs]. It gets me in some serious situations. Spider's probably the character I identify the most with. If there was a film adaptation of Transmetropolitan, I'd be the first in line to audition for that part! I feel like nobody else would get him more than I would because, at the end of the day, he's such a crazy out-of-control character. Yet, there's still such an innocence about him that cuts through all the cynicism and all the sarcasm where he just wants to believe. That's very much in line with who I am.
That comes across on "Let's Be Honest."
Definitely! It's one of those songs where you're basically saying to someone, "Let's cut the shit. Can we just cut through the bullshit for ten seconds and level with each other? Give me what I need, so I can give you what you need. We can be better people for it." That song especially is such zero bullshit. It's like, "Can we just fucking move on? Are we going to live in this forever? Can we get away from this negative energy and be alive for a little bit?"
Have you heard "Say You'll Haunt Me" yet? Are you excited for Audio Secrecy?
For Corey's favorite action movies click here!