Slipknot and Stone Sour Singer Corey Taylor Tackles Writing, Books, Ghosts, and More
Mon, 19 Aug 2013 07:08:33
Ever since Slipknot's landmark self-titled debut album, it was clear that Corey Taylor had an iron grip on the English language. He's always been able to weave words together into rapid-fire lines that not only hit hard, but told stories in the process. That writing style reaches a new apex in his second book, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven: (Or, How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process). Throughout this mind-blowing literary roller coaster, he discusses his experiences with the paranormal, offering both wisdom and wit around every haunted corner. It's another masterpiece from Taylor.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Slipknot and Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor talks A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven: (Or, How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process), the "Beat" generation, rhythm, death, and so much more.
What's your take on prose?
I think it's an amalgam of all of the things I grew up reading. That's how you develop your voice. You emulate what you know and you try to put your own spin on it. I think because I've had so many years to cut my teeth and work at, especially doing the column in Rock Sound. I've been able to develop that style of jumping in and out of the farcical and the factual, trying to make it creative, and yet still engage the reader. I think I've gotten to the point where my writing style is much more of a reflection of my personality instead of trying to simply get facts and figures down on paper.
The book is also more poetic than it is musical in terms of its delivery.
Yeah! When I was growing up, I was a huge fan of the Beats, especially "The Big Three"—William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac. The way they wrote had rhythm to it. You could hear them reading it, I hate to say it, but almost in that clichéd Beat way they would do the poetry. I remember seeing footage of Kerouac reading On The Road on The Steve Allen Show, while Steve Allen was playing the piano. The way Kerouac would read some of the passages like, "I think about Cassidy". It's like you're saying the same thing but in so many different ways. I think that subconsciously affected the way I wrote. There's a certain lilt to it. There's a beat. There's a tempo. Even if you're changing from measure to measure, it's still engaging and hopefully done in a very unique way.
It's a subconscious thing. People pick up on that tempo, but they don't realize it…
I think it takes time. It really takes time to get there. There are people who try to bite all of these different styles, whether it's all of these columnists trying to be Hunter S. Thompson, which I think is so boring because there's only one Hunter. Or, various writers trying to be the next Stephen King where they spend three chapters describing the window before anything happens. I love that, but at the same time, "That was him. It's not you". I think people get so busy emulating and copying that it's like, "You're not writing this book at this point. He is. So, what's the point?"
There are very few literary paragons left for this generation.
That's very true. I agree with that.
You take Hunter S. Thompson and Stephen King, and that's as good as you can get.
Exactly! You've got two echelons right there that are second to none.
Everyone is going to reach for those instead of falling into their own voice. It helps taking influence from other things.
The perfect example is Jim Butcher who wrote The Dresden Files books, which are fantastic. The first book is really just him trying to get the story down. With each subsequent book, he's found his voice stronger and stronger to the point where if you read the first book and last book, there's such a different vibe to them. The first one is very dry, and the last book he did is fantastic. To really see how he gets there, you have to start at the beginning and feel that journey.
From the experiences in the book, can you see some of those images even better as an adult?
Yeah, but at the same time, the burden of retrospect is your mind fills in a lot of blanks that may not have been there. I tend to hold back from too much recall. If you only see a handful of words, your mind will immediately try to put it together in a sentence. You can't do that because you're assuming or you're pre-disposing what might've happened. I purposefully didn't write it before because I wanted it to be fresh. Then, when I sat down and tried to flesh it out, I tried to make sure I wrote it as righteously as possible.
Is there anything you left out?
There were a couple of things that happened at the place we were at in Nashville. They didn't happen to me necessarily. They happened to other people in Stone Sour. One was in the room Josh was staying in. Josh is not a believer, by the way. He is not somebody who subscribes to that. There were some very weird things that happened that freaked him out and made him go, "I don't really want to stay in that room anymore." It's that gnarly. I tried to leave as much in the book and nothing on the table as possible.
You tackle one of the most important questions ever. What happens after you die?
Exactly! I have a pretty decent answer for myself. I'm not saying I have all of the answers, and I'm not saying that I've really definitively come up with the ultimate answer. I've got enough now that I'm okay with it.
Mortality is the greatest catalyst for art, movies, books, and records. It can inspire tomes.
And it has! It will continue to.
What's your favorite song from Slipknot or Stone Sour? Did you read Corey's books?