Corey Taylor from Slipknot / Stone Sour
We catch up with the Slipknot / Stone Sour vocalist to find out what's next for the mask-wearing metallers, what was behind his choice of Teenage Cancer Trust for his Christmas single and what it's like to be Corey Taylor. Plus, we let a few Teenage Cancer Trust patients put their questions to the frontman...
Slipknot have just headlined the final night at this year’s Sonisphere festival at Knebworth. The whole tour was obviously a very important one for the band. How do you think it went and do you have plans to carry on? “I think it went really well. The audiences... I mean, we could have come out and played the Pechanga [Resort & Casino, Temecula] and they would have been really into it. It was very emotional. I know a lot of us in the band feel really well about how it went but there are a lot of steps that we have to take before we can carry on and make new music. It’s definitely opened the door to maybe doing some more shows in America, Australia, places like that. We’re taking it slow – the tour was really emotional but we came together as a band and it felt really, really good so, you know, never say never.”
Taking you back a little, tell us about your Christmas single ‘X-M@$’ and what it was that drew you to Teenage Cancer Trust... “It’s one of those charities that, well, it is two things that I’m very passionate about. Obviously, teenagers make up the majority of my fan base and I get very worried about them as a performer, as a singer... I can still remember what it was like to be a teenager so I really do my best to speak to them and to listen. I worry about what they’re going through; I know it can be very brutal as a teenager. If you walk on either side of the ‘normal’ fence it can be very hard so I really do my best to let them know that there are people who do understand and that everything is temporary – any situation can be temporary as long as you have the strength to get through it. The other thing, cancer... my grandmother, we went through a cancer scare that really made me aware of how it can just come out of nowhere. She is one of the healthiest women I know, not a smoker, not a drinker or any of those things but she still had a cancer scare. Luckily she got through it and she’s fine now but that made me very passionate about wanting to raise awareness – it’s not just the older generation affected by cancer, it’s people across the board. Every little bit that I can do is gold.”
Do you have any plans to release more solo music at all? “Yeah, I’ve been threatening to for a very long time – ‘threatening’ being the appropriate word! Everybody asks me whether I’m going to do a solo album but my answer is always like, ‘That is something I can do anytime’, you know? The stuff that I write, well it’s kind of universal. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything; I’m just trying to make good music. As long as I have the energy and the interest, I have two amazing bands to go to and make music with so maybe some time in the future. I’m definitely down to do little one-off things here and there that will help people – we were able to make some good money with the Christmas single – never say never.”
How do you balance your projects? You can do solo stuff for you, but Slipknot and Stone Sour are both huge bands that take up a lot of time. You’ve also somehow fitted in working with artists like Steel Panther, Travis Barker and Velvet Revolver recently. Where do you get the time from? “You make the time. I’m very surprised that I’ve been able to do the amount that I’ve done. I was running the list just the other day and I was like, ‘Jesus Christ! I’ve done a lot of things!’ It takes nothing to go down [to the studio] on an afternoon and do a song, though. It’s all about using your time right, basically. The thing I go back to – which relates my book [Seven Deadly Sins] – I wrote my book when I was not in the studio recording [Stone Sour’s] ‘Audio Secrecy’, so it was like I was doing two jobs at once. I knew that they didn’t necessarily have to come out at the same time so it was about using my time to the best of my ability... and making sure I got proper sleep, vitamins, spinach – all that good stuff! As long as I’m available to do it I’ll do it, but for as much stuff as I’ve done there’s so much that I’ve turned down because I don’t have the time or it just doesn’t make sense. You’d be amazed by some of the people who’ve asked me to guest on their albums where I’ve been like, ‘Um, no... I’m not going to do that, it doesn’t make any sense’, but as the same time I never limit myself. You take a song like the one with Travis Barker [‘On My Own’], we framed ourselves up, got ready to go and recorded it that day, then the next day I went back in and did the lyrics and the vocals – it was a two-day process. Travis’ album was very hip-hop, it kind of stood out like a sore thumb, but that’s why I did it. I knew it would be something that could stand on its own and really shine. As long as it makes sense and as long as I’m into it then I’ll do whatever I can.”
Everything you do is either musical or influenced by music, so what do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a musician? “Ha! Well, funnily enough I did a speaking engagement at the Oxford Union and what I said was that I wanted to be a history teacher when I was a kid. I was very passionate about history but I wasn’t built for school. I probably could have taught kids but I don’t know if I’d have had the patience to be a teacher... I definitely didn’t have the patience for school, I’m a self-educated guy. I hope that I’d be a writer of some kind, I’m very artistic but I could never been a painter or anything like that. I would probably write in some form or another and hope that people would read it and appreciate it.”
We’re here today because you’ve just released your first book, Seven Deadly Sins. What made you decide to tell your story? “I guess it is half stories of growing up and being on the road, and half making a point. I didn’t want to put out the same tired diatribe; I wanted to take a fresh spin on something. It’s basically me playing Devil’s Advocate, which I love doing – if people are so much on one side I always tend to take the other. It was something that excited me. I knew I wanted to write a book, put it out there and let people judge it for what it is. I think it could’ve been worse! I was threatening to do a philosophy book and, thankfully, my literary agent talked me out of it. We went back and forth for a while and finally settled on the seven deadly sins idea. I didn’t want to do a tell-all or the life story; I’m 37 and there’s so much more I want to do, my story’s not done yet! Tim Tebow [American football player], he’s 23 years old and he’s just released a tell-all. What did he do in 23 years?! It’s amazing to me! I wanted to do something that would be interesting across the board, something that maybe someone who’s not a music fan could pick up and go, ‘This could be interesting’. I wanted to write a book that could tease the mind and get people to think and I’m really proud of it and happy people are digging it.”
A lot of musicians and celebrities who’ve written a book have said how therapeutic it is. Do you agree? “It was especially therapeutic seeing as I wrote it myself. I think it was good to let go of a lot of baggage that I didn’t realise I was carrying because that kind of baggage can fill you with guilt, anger, regret and bitterness. It was good to punch it out and put it out there, I feel a lot lighter. It’s all been so special because writing it was a lot like writing music but at the same time it was different. With music you have such a narrow angle to get your story across because you’re really involved in a structure, but with the book it was literally [Corey does a typing action] I could get it all out, a lot like writing my column in Rock Sound. I could basically spew into my computer and now it’s turned into this book. It felt really good and once I was done I took a deep breath and said, ‘Alright, now what?’”
What’s your proudest Corey Taylor moment, either as a member of Slipknot, Stone Sour or as an individual? “There are a handful of moments that I’m very, very proud of. The one that comes to mind the quickest is the other day at Sonisphere. We observed two minutes of silence for Paul [Gray, Slipknot bassist who passed away last year] at 2pm. You could have heard a pin drop. The silence was on every stage, throughout the entire grounds – it was almost deafening. That was as much for the music that I’m very honoured to have helped make, as it was for Paul. The music was such a big part of who he was. I was very proud of our fans and the music fans there in general, they really showed that respect. At the same time I’m proud of everything I’ve done with Stone Sour, and as a father I’m very proud of my son. He’s a very sweet, honest, crazy kid. Hopefully I can continue to teach him in the right way, whichever way that is.”
What influenced you to form Slipknot? Lewie Hughes, 16, Southampton “You’d have to ask Clown that, I joined the band after it was already together. It was actually Clown and Paul who formed Slipknot. I know from an outside point of view that the beautiful thing about Slipknot both then and now is that the emotion is so palpable. It is thick, visceral... you go to a Slipknot show and it’s an event, something you’re going to walk away from going, ‘Jesus Christ, they did it again!’ I was a fan before I was even a member and when I joined it was such a new experience for me because I’d never done anything that heavy and I’d never done anything that was so over the line. I took it and I lived it, breathed it. Being a member of Slipknot is such a big part of my life and such a big responsibility. I look back now and I’m really, really proud that I am a part of it. I didn’t start the band but I can say that the mentality was, ‘Make music and don’t give a shit’.”
What was behind the decision to wear masks? Stephen Woods, 23, Leigh “That, again, not my decision. The masks really came from a negative reaction that we had looking at the music around us, watching the bands we liked going different ways and starting to very much become less function, more fashion. We were like, ‘Screw that. The music should be the most important thing’. It was almost like removing ourselves to be just a part of the collective, part of the cooperative and be the music, live the music, wear the music. The masks were a way to wear the art, music... everything. It was all about throwing it out there and it was very, very effective.” JW
Fancy getting your hands on a signed copy of the exact book Corey is holding in the photo above as well as some other Corey-related items? Keep checking back for details of an auction we'll be running to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust soon!
Click here to buy music from Corey Taylor.