[Interview] Corey Taylor Talks Stone Sour, Slipknot, Fans, And Music Rebellion

stonesourhouseofgoldandbonespart1cover

Tomorrow sees the release of House Of Gold And Bones: Part 1 (stream the album here), the latest album from hard rock/metal band Stone Sour. In anticipation of this release, Bloody-Disgusting is excited to bring you an exclusive interview with singer Corey Taylor. In it, we discuss Corey’s history with music, his views on the music scene today, Slipknot and Stone Sour fans, and much more! Check it all out below!

You can pre-order HOGAB:P1 here. Make sure to read Sammy Key’s editorial on Music And Rebellion.

Bloody-Disgusting: Hey Corey, how you doing?

CT Taylor: I’m good, man, I’m good! Just workin’ on the demos for the next Stone Sour.

BD: Oh, cool! I’m really excited to hear that, how are they turning out?

CT: Oh, dude. (laughs). I’m telling you right now it’s gonna piss a lot of people off.

BD: You know what, then you’re doing your job right!

CT: (laughs) Yes, exactly.

BD: Well Corey, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about what’s going on. I have a contributor who’s writing a piece about how teenagers use music and also touching on rebellion and how rebellion has changed, and I thought this was something you would have a lot of insight about. It seems like something you would have a lot to say about.

CT: I’m ready!

BD: When did you start to feel that music was becoming a significant part of your own life?

CT: Uhh, I guess it really started to come together at probably about ten or eleven. Really early on. I started to find that music was something that really brought a lot of joy into my life, and it was sort of cool because I discovered that I had a gift for it, too. So the stuff I would listen to I could play along, I could sing along. I tell this story about singing “Separate Ways” by Journey in front of my family. I was forced to do that, actually (laughs). I was like nine or ten and my cousin Lisa just shoved me into the corner and was like “Do it, do it!”. So I sang this song in front of my aunts and uncles and they were just like “Jesus Christ!” You know? So that was kind of like my first performance. From there it just got to be more and more, to the point where if I couldn’t do something musically, I would force myself to learn how to play it. So yeah, from a really early stand point in my life, music has been very, very important.

BD: So what’s your take on the musical styles of today versus the styles 5 years ago, 10 years ago, maybe even further than that?

CT: It’s kind of depressing, man. (laughs) It really is. There’s so much that’s just glossed over these days. It’s almost like this weird cross between the 60s and the 80s. It’s like singles were very big in the 60s. And then all the really weird, crappy, forced upon pop music of the 80s. So now you’ve got people who don’t really have the skills, because technology hides it, going out and putting these crappy singles out, and because that’s all there really is, people basically eat it like hamburgers. It’s become very, very commercialized. Which wouldn’t bother me as much if people actually had talent. When I listen to something and the first thing I notice is that it’s been turned into crap, I shut it off and throw it out the window of my car. Like it’s the most offensive thing to me. I was just having this conversation last night because the Grammy’s were on, and I would say 3 out of 4 people nominated were all autotune artists. At that point, you shouldn’t be allowed to be nominated in anything that has a vocal category. You should be nominated in an instrumental category because the computer did all the work for you. If you sound more like a keyboard than a human being, you shouldn’t be allowed to walk away with one of those trophies. Of course I’m in the minority when it comes to that, which pisses me off even further.

BD: I actually wrote a rant about that on Bloody Disgusting where I said that it’s wonderful that Adele won all these awards, but rather than celebrating her victories, we should be mourning that she was basically our only choice. And that there wasn’t anything else.

CT: Absolutely. I was really happy when they honored her, because she deserves it. I mean, she’s such a huge fucking talent. I don’t care who you are, when she sings it’s just gets all into you. But I completely agree! It’s like you’re hoisting them up because it’s like, in a sea of shit, you look for the one person who’s got a life preserver, you know?

BD: Yup. And then there was the acceptance speech by Dave Grohl, which I thought was fantastic, where he said, “Winning this award proves that it’s people with talent and that it’s okay to make the mistakes as long as you’ve got it in your heart and in your head and you show your talent and you show your worth, that’s where awards should be given.” But then at the same time, later in the show, he played with David Guetta and DeadMau5 and there was a lot of computerized music, a lot of autotune going on right at that movie.

CT: Well, with something like that, that’s kind of what Mau5 is known for. He takes shit and he shreds it up. He’s kinda like Skrillex in that where you kind of expect that to happen. But for me it’s more about the pop stars, these quote unquote pop stars. The American Idol War Machine is what I call it. Because they keep cranking out this mediocre fuck heads, shoving them in the studio for 10 seconds and then they basically autocorrect everything. With something like what he did with DeadMau5, because I didn’t see that part, because I shut it off after a while like, “Jesus”, when they started with the tribute to Whitney Houston. I mean, what did you expect? She smoked fucking crack. Okay? When you smoke crack, you’re going to die! I’m a cynical fuck. But to me, I think that with something like that [Foo Fighters and DeadMau5] that’s trying to show that there’s some kind of unity in music. I think that’s him trying to do something where it bridges the gap. But you’re absolutely right. It’s kinda sad that you put somebody up there like that.

BD: So, do you feel that today’s teenage generation is lazy or easily persuaded and how to do you think that bodes for the future of the industry and the future of music itself?

CT: I think you’re always gonna have half the generation that’s lazy. But I think it makes the other half work that much harder. I think this generation that’s growing up really enjoying this pop music is gonna be the same as the people who grew up really liking Rick Astley. It’s passing fancy, as far as music goes. But I think because technology is so badly ruining music, it just breeds a generation that’s going to be completely 180 from that. I think the hungrier generation is just going to completely destroy any thought of trying that. I think we’re gonna have a lot more home grown rock n roll coming out soon. I’m hoping. Between the autotune pop and all these fucking hipster indie bands who are on every commercial, it’s kind of depressing in music right now. But, I think it’s kind of like me. When I was growing up in the 80s, a lot of that pop shit was just like, “What IS this?” And then I found my music in the thrash scene, in the hardcore punk scene, so I had that background and that made me want to make the sort of music I make today. So I think that half of the generation is going to come to the surface in the next five years.

BD: Okay. So how has the work that you’ve done with Slipknot and Stone Sour reflected what music means to you?

CT: I guess it’s reflected in the fact that I can still do it. If I hit a flat note, you’re gonna hear it. I’m really proud of the fact that anywhere, at any time, I can make music. A lot of people can’t do that. I just did a tour where it was basically just me and a guitar, and if I fucked up, I totally knew. And I let the audience know. I think the human side is reflected in the music I make, both with Skipknot and Stone Sour. You have to have that. For all the machines out there you have to have a soul. You have to have some place to come back. And I know there’s a lot of metal bands that use technology to hide shit because 9 times out of 10 you can’t tell one band from another because of it’s mixed, because of how the drums are being portrayed, because of how stock the guitars sound. So I know it’s a problem that really infects every facet of the industry. But for every 9 of those bands, there’s a band like Slipknot or Stone Sour that really tries to stand apart. If it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. So for me, the way I make music is just a reflection of how I think music should be made. Where you sit in a studio, and you make music, and you use technology to your advantage, not to hide all the blaring mistakes.

BD: Myself, I know when I hear those little errors on a CD it makes me love it that much more, because there is that humanity in it.

CT: Yeah, yeah! It’s one thing to hope for perfection, because you can get really close, and still have that human spot, and it’s a masterpiece. It’s another thing entirely to expect a song that is completely fucking homogenized and just canned and tuned and lifeless. I think at this point the music is pushing us closer to AI than any of the technology Apple is putting out.

BD: Do you feel that your fans are responding to music in a different way than fans of other music might respond?

CT: I would hope so. We put a lot of pride into what we do, I mean we don’t even try to hide shit. There are moments of brilliance on a Slipknot or a Stone Sour album that’s followed by just this, flub that felt great. I think the fans expect that because we’ve sort of trained them to expect it. We’ve shown them that, “Look, we’re gonna throw you for a loop on every album. But you need to know that it’s us. It’s not some engineer typing coordinates into a fucking computer screen. It’s us!” I think they expect that level. Because I think they know that when we put that much effort into it, our potential for excellence grows a thousand fold. I think that’s why people still get excited for Slipknot albums, because they know they’re going to see more of us than they will of any other artist. I mean when you’re looking for a house, you’re not looking for a house that’s perfect. You’re looking for that house to have character. And I think it’s those little bits of humanity they come from the music. That’s what the music brings out when you have that, it brings out the character of a song. You go back and listen to 30, 40 years of music, and all the great, great songs that we’ve had in our lives, they all have that character. They have that human nudge, they all have that human relation. You can relate to it. When you listen to a song like, I don’t know, “Ready Steady Go” by Generation X, you think, “Man, I could do that. That sounds great, that sounds fun,” You listen to it, you’re having fun, it’s making fun of the generation before it but it’s embracing the generation that’s coming after it. You don’t get that feel these days. No matter how hard the record industry or any of these canned artists try to shove it down our throats, you don’t get that sense of continuity. It’s more of a fucking factory at this point.

BD: Now, in your mind do you think music and rebellion go hand and hand, or do you think it takes the musician and the listener to form the relationship between the two?

CT: I think it’s both, honestly. I think it has to be both. Because you can be the angriest fucker in your basement, your whole life, and nobody is gonna give a shit. You need that response from the fan to fuel your sense of musical rebellion. It’s a cycle. I’ve always seen it as a cycle. Especially in a live sense. If you’re at a Slipknot show, and you’re feeding that energy to the audience, they then give it right back to us. So it’s very symbiotic, it’s very cyclic in a way. You can’t have one without the other. So I think the rebellion is reflected in the audience, but at the same time, the artist has to have that passion too. And I think once you’re a fan for life, you feed each other’s sense of passion and rage and whatnot. You really can’t have one without the other.

BD: I know you said that the new Stone Sour is gonna piss a lot of people off. For me, a lot of times it begins with the musician, but the moment that message hits the fans, they take it and go with it and make something new. It’s almost like you’ve raised a child, they’ve gone their own way, and now you just nurture them along.

CT: Yeah, yeah. People try to make the argument for being a role model and not being a role model. With me I walk a very thin line with that. On one hand, the stuff I write is, for me, to kind of get out, but I also know that people are going to interpret things in different ways, so I always try to make sure there’s a positive edge to what I’m saying. Whether it’s a song like “Heretic Anthem” or a song like “True Blast”, I try to make sure it’s a positive thing. You know, rage can be a positive thing. Feeling something like that can really not only empower you, but it can also let you let go of shit. I always try to put some sort of happy ending in there. Because I know that people are going to listen to this music, and if it’s too bleak, then what’s the fucking point? There’s a certain amount of responsibility there but there’s a point where if I feel like I’m catering to a certain kind of person then I’m not gonna get what I need out. So it’s really sort of like throwing something at a wall and hoping it sticks. With the new Stone Sour, it’s a concept album that deals with a person’s past, trying to move on in his life. He’s at that cross roads in his life where he either stays where he’s at, stagnates, doesn’t evolve at all becomes one of these perpetual adolescents. Or, he moves on to evolve into whatever he wants, a parent, a good person, a mature human being. There are those stages in life where you’re almost terrified to jettison the engines, you know? But you have to get to the next level, or you’re gonna get stuck where you are for the rest of your life. And that’s really what these CDs are gonna be. And the shit that I’m saying is gonna piss a lot of people off, because I think a lot of people are comfortable staying where they are in life. I’m saying, “Fuck that.” I’m challenging you to find the rest of your life, and to be a better person and move on.

Got any thoughts/questions/concerns for Jonathan Barkan? Shoot him a message on Twitter or on Bloody-Disgusting!

 
  • djblack1313

    awesome album cover! i love it.

    • Melissa

      The art work looks like it’s right out of the pages of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark series. My personal opinion, he had the best artwork ever for creepiness factor!

      • JonathanBarkan

        LOVE the artwork in those books! I still have the full treasury and pull it out every once in a while to admire the pictures.

      • evenscarier

        I was trying to remember the name of the book! Yes! That popped into my head right away!

        • Melissa

          I have the treasure too! Some of the stories, especially in the first one, are really creepy. Those pictures could really stick in your head as a kid!

  • DBZEROGRAVITY

    This new album is amazing to say the least. Come What(ever) May is still my favorite but this is in close 2nd. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them snag a Grammy for it

  • violentdope

    Got to meet Stone Sour in 2002 and are really cool dudes.Paul#2 was chillin backstage and got to meet him.Good times!!RIP#2

  • J-SiN

    Great interview. Corey has always seemed like one of those guys you could talk to forever. Terrific artwork on the album as well.

  • Ulalume

    Corey Taylor speaks like an elitist who desperately wants to preserve his niche in contemporary music. Despite all of the pseudo-academic jargon and intellectualization on creativity and technology if you strip away the veneer of what Mr. Taylor is suggesting his thesis sounds more like paranoia. We can hear and assess his concern over the growth and expansion of technology, but the irrational vitriol towards the competition is what drives the crux of his dissatisfaction. Slipknot has always marketed themselves as subversive and anti-establishment, but something happens to musicians when they reach millionaire status and they are no longer a band in the typical sense but a brand. Corey Taylor’s statement is on par with musical purists involved with classical music who perceive all new musical developments as a threat to their establishment, sphere of influence, finances, and livelihood.

    Does anyone remember how Lars Ulrich flipped out because he felt that Napster was directly affecting his livelihood? It is the same in the case of Cory Taylor with Auto-Tune. These musicians have attained super millionaire status their true dissatisfaction is not Auto-Tune per se, but rather the fear of competition. These musicians have designed a world that is uniquely theirs and they do not want to share it with a young teen with a computer. This new up-and-coming generation does not relate to the music of Slipknot no more than Slipknot could relate to musicians like Bon Iver, Adele, Skrillex, or Justin Bieber. The music game has changed and Slipknot has become passé. In the 70s, everyone wanted to capture the sound of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd—in the 80s, it was Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. Nowadays everyone wants to capture the sounds of Radiohead, Aphex Twin, or Skrillex the same cannot be said in the case of Slipknot.

    Examine a band like Radiohead that makes good use of their financial capital by utilizing rare electronic instruments: Buchla synthesizers and the Ondes Martenot. Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead an advocate of the Ondes Martenot has single-handedly generated tremendous world-round interest in an instrument that hardly anyone the world over knew existed except for a very select few composers, connoisseurs, and musicians. Johnny Greenwood even spearheaded the creation of “Analogue Systems French Connection” an Ondes Martenot inspired instrument. Both Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have made the avant-garde accessible and intriguing without becoming redundant. What has Slipknot done in comparisons to a group like Radiohead—except to feather their own pockets financially, gripe, and moan about the influx of popular musical technology? You would have never found Vangelis in the 1980s saying, “Oh this Yamaha CS-80 sounds artificial I think I’ll use a banjo instead.”

    The rise of competition is dramatically affecting the atmosphere of the music industry as we know it. Corey Taylor rightly so wants to keep his money and status. However, his attack on musicians who use Auto-Tune and who utilize technology is absurd. Just because someone uses Auto-Tune does not make them an inferior artist. The music industry and top-earning artists are currently fighting a paradigm shift where independent artists and studios who are skilled artisans and savvy businessmen can make a fortune. You had better believe that is a threat to the musical elite and their immediate livelihood and the luxuries they enjoy. Because now a young rapper or singer can use Auto-Tune and the Internet and gain a massive following, garner wealth, fans, and fame—where in the case of Slipknot their rise to success was gradual. The issue of Auto-Tune like the issue of Napster a decade ago is in part an issue of artistry, but is mostly fueled by self-interest and economics.

  • Ulalume

    Corey Taylor’s interview reveals a man who claims to value artistic integrity and truth yet is unable to give his fellow artists representing the ‘A to Zed’ of the music spectrum the respect that he garners for himself and musicians like him. Corey Taylor claims not to care for the homogenous noise that dominates the music industry, but how is he any different in regards to his music, associations, and general outlook that would make him an artistic innovator and true individualist? His argument presents a parochial either/or dichotomy that in his effort to not conform he has conformed to non-conformity and the dictates of a subculture which affords him status, relevance, and luxury. Corey Taylor is catering to his core audience, but is also instructing them on how to think which seems anti-thetical to the anti-establishment ethos he has created via Slipknot, which he uses to question and ridicule authority—now he is the authority—how ironic. The problem with Punk like Heavy Metal is in its psychology of which anyone who is not part of that culture is a conformist, phony, or a sellout. Instead of revelling in his artistic niche he is threatened by musicians and artists who he perceives as less—who garner more prestige, wealth, and accolades for their efforts than he does for his own material. Annoyed by the success of what he perceives as ‘inferior artists’ he finds himself the odd man out—a victim—a martyr only he’s not that humble. Just read what Corey has to say about his fellows in the music industry. His concessions to Deadmau5 and Skrillex are halfhearted.

    Read how he sings Adele’s praises for her unmistakable talent then read how he references the late Whitney Houston who was equally and supremely vocally talented without Auto-Tune or pitch correction of any kind. Corey Taylor turns Whitney Houston’s life into a cheap anecdote, a statistic, a joke something he would not wish on himself or his friend and bandmate Paul Gray who died of an overdose. Corey Taylor has a set of rules for himself and one for everyone else no matter how contradictory they may be. Corey Taylor while griping about the lack of ‘real talent’ in the music industry acknowledges Adele for her talent, but not Whitney Houston for hers. Corey Taylor’s comments are absurd, pretentious, and condescending and represent a wealthy music mogul who is profiting off the gullibility of his audience who genuinely believes that he is invested in their struggle and their life and represents them. How does one genuinely rebel when even rebellion has become a commodity? What struggles or obstacles is he faced up against daily? This man is a crafty businessmen more than anything else. He knows that for angry, disgruntled, marginalized people ages 16 to 45 he can capitalize on their misery with his special brand of nihilism and call it art. In the interview, he states he always tries to interject some positivity into his work. Since when has Slipknot’s iconography ever been positive? Since when is playing with Nazi-esque imagery positive? His rant about Auto-Tune is hilarious given that his diehard fans will never listen to an Auto-Tune artist making it all a moot point.

    What Corey Taylor takes seriously is the influx of artists from all different genres who he views as inferior gaining an advantage over him. This man does not really give a hoot about Auto-Tune, technology, and computers except that now the competition generated by these other artists is raining on his parade. Far be it from Corey Taylor to forgo having his albums digitally mastered by studio professionals to wing it à la Daniel Johnston tape recorder style. Technology is good for something after all is it not? This man truly has no reason to be disgruntled or angry he has his wealth, success, and loyal fans why worry about what other artists do if you are truly confident in your own artistic vision and message. A great man knows his greatness without bragging about it just as a rich man does not have to flaunt his wealth to know that he is wealthy. Insecurity and paranoia seems to dominate his thesis on modern music. Forget that this is a wonderful era where an artist can compose whatever he or she feels and find an audience that will listen as Corey is totally obsessed in his ranting with the grievances of what he perceives as the downfall of real music. When synthesizers were coming about in the 50s and 60s it did not destroy music it enhanced it—and traditional music and acoustical instruments have not disappeared because of it either. If anything, such innovations have given musicians more choice. Just because Auto-Tune exists does not mean the human singing voice will disappear. Nor for that matter will the existence of Auto-Tune compel every artist to utilize its capabilities.

  • williamgraant

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