What does it mean to be an adult? When do you become one? Everyone will have their own answers to those questions. Corey Taylor’s opinion on the matter is the main theme of the two-part concept album Stone Sour will release in two stages – a first for the band.
We talked to Taylor about this newfound maturity and naturally launched into a conversation about the idea of band maturity, regarding Stone Sour, whose latest work he sees as an accomplishment, as well as Slipknot, which he considers “more dangerous” than ever nowadays. Speaking of Slipknot, Taylor mentioned the next album, which will probably be the darkest of their career, due to Paul Gray’s demise.
Among other subjects, the very nice and open vocalist also told us how, without the pressure Roadrunner put on Slipknot for a new album, he could have taken part in Anthrax’s Worship Music.
Radio Metal: House Of Gold & Bones is a concept album wich has two parts. This is the first time Stone Sour does that. How did this concept change the writing process? It really looks like the album was written as a whole piece and not just as a bunch of songs, since we can hear some themes that are repeated throughout the album.
Corey Taylor (vocals) : Yes. On one hand, there were songs inspired by the concept but on the other hand, we had written others songs that just fell seamlessly with everything we wanted to do musically, so it was wonderful to find that common ground between both approaches. Each song complemented each other to create powerful music.
Was the concept the starting point of the record or were the songs already written when you decided to come up with this whole story ?
I’ve had the concept in me for a few years actually, but I’ve never taken the time to flesh it out and really embellish it, but last year, for some reason, I started to see the whole story with its beginning, middle and its end. As I was sketching out the concept and the story, all the music just came out of me. But as I’ve said, the concept came first: it inspired the music.
The two albums tell the story of a young man facing the choice of staying a teenager or becoming an adult. Every boy wishes to never grow up. Is this what this album is about ?
Well, a little. It’s more from an adult point of view, essentially. Everyone, when they get older, are confronted to choices and to what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. You know, there’s a lot of adults these days who refuse to grow up and they make the same mistakes that they did when they were younger although they’ve come to a point in their lives where they should have things figured out. For me, this concept was a way to tell the story of a man, probably in his late twenties or early thirties, looking at the rest of his life and trying to figure out who he was going to be : was he going to be a better man or was he going to stagnate emotionally? But he does that without realising his own potential. This man is basically in the middle of his life.
What would be the difference for you between a teenager and an adult ? When do we become adults ?
That’s a good question. The answer, I think, is different for a lot of people. For me, it essentially comes down to the choices you make. I really think that I hit my stride as an adult when I stopped thinking about myself first and started thinking more about the people whom I cared about. This is what essentially happens, for me, when you become an adult. I don’t mean to put your self last, but to put more emphasis and more action on taking charge and helping the ones you love before you worry about yourself. There’s a selflessness that comes when becoming an adult, whereas when you’re younger, you’re expected to be selfish and to make stupid mistakes. Once you get older, there comes a point where you say: “All right, I’ve got all that shit out of my system, I have to start doing the right things now”. It’s for the essential difference between a young person and an adult.
Is there a part of you which is still the one of a child ?
Well, you never loose that kind of young approach to things. I still like things that I loved doing when I was a kid : I love music, comic books and movies for instance. However, my approach to life is completely different. If I look at it as a spectrum, when I was young, I was more concerned about making myself happy. But as I grew older, I realised that all I was bringing me was a lot of pain and depression. Then, I started to take control of my life by putting a focus on my family and my work. If you do that, you leave yourself room to enjoy yourself and embrace the things that make you happy. My main concern now is being sure that my family is being taken care of.
It is often said that the death of a relative or a friend brings you some responsibilities. Do you think that Paul’s death did that to you? [note: Paul Gray, Slipknot’s bass player, died in 2010]
No. I had responsibilities long before Paul died. When you loose someone who you love like that, it puts things in perspective, and it certainly did that for me too. I started looking back at things or the relations that I took for granted: it’s all about letting the people you care about know that you care about them and never letting these opportunities go by. Before Paul died, I had a family of my own, children I was taking care of, but I was also fighting some demons in me, like alcohol, for example. At the end of the day, it’s all about prioritizing things and making sure that your main priority in life is dedicated to the ones you love.
Do you think that maybe you didn’t have the time to show this love to Paul?
No. That’s not one of my regrets because we spent a lot of time together, you know and especially the last tour. We rode the same bus together and hung out a lot. I was lucky enough to share that time with him and be able to not only share the music but also the ups and downs together. I just really miss my friend.
What can we expect of House Of Gold & Bones’ second part? Will the atmosphere be different of the first?
It’s still dark, but musically, there are some very different styles of music that we’re playing with. It’s going to be interesting to see people’s reaction. Some stuff is very orchestral and there are some strong musical identities in Part Two. We had a lot of fun doing this. Part Two is a wonderful difference from Part One: it wasn’t just getting together and re-recording some stuff on Part One. I’m really excited about it: the songs we’ve written are above the best stuff we’ve ever made and can’t wait for people to hear it all put together.
Actually, you did say the same thing for the last album: is it your enthusiasm that’s speaking right now ?
No, not really. When we put out Audio Secrecy, we hadn’t even thought about this new music. At the time, Audio Secrecy was a departure from what we had done before but was right in line with what we wanted to do: try new stuff and explore new musical styles. If we hadn’t done the first three records, we wouldn’t have been able to put out these two parts. It’s an extension of what we’re trying to do musically, but at the same time, we’re so confident in our artistic expression and writing that we know we’ve been above all what we have done before. The songs are better, the performance is better, the overall mix is better: that’s the reason why these two parts are the best thing we’ve ever done.
Is it a sort of an accomplishment for Stone Sour?
In a way, yes. Definitively. This record was a very big project and required a lot of attention to a lot of details. To be honest, this album will set the tone for the rest of our career.
Why did Shawn [note: Shawn Economaki, Stone Sour’s former bass player] leave the band?
Honestly, it was one of those moments when our paths were going in different directions. It was just time to do it : that’s all I can say about it.
Rachel Bolan [note: Skid Row’s bass player] is the studio replacement for Shawn. Will he become a fulltime member of the band or do you have someone else in mind ?
Actually, we talked to him about coming out and touring with us. Unfortunately, his schedule conflicted with ours. But at the same time, we were very lucky to have him : his enthusiasm and his playing really took the music to a whole different level. It improved everything a thousand fold and gave a new dynamic to what we were trying to accomplish.
In Stone Sour, there has always been a search for balance between aggressive parts and more soft moments, between fast and slower songs. Actually, that balance is also what defines the latest Slipknot album. Has your work in Stone Sour somehow inspired your way of writing in Slipknot?
I think they both inspire each other. I got more confident in my skills with every album: it changed my approach to writing songs. But both bands are still very different musically and creatively. I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do : playing in two bands that are incredibly popular and having no limits to the music I want to write is great. Because of Stone Sour and Slipknot, I’ve been able to step out of the bonds of holding myself back in a way. I love having one and the other and doing what I can do.
You recently confirmed that Slipknot has been “putting together demos” for the fifth album. What can we expect musically?
Honestly, there’s nothing substantial yet. I’ve been putting some things here and there but I’m unable to see it as a whole project yet. Nobody else too, neither. A few years will pass before we get back into the studio but I can guarantee you it’ll probably be the darkest music we’ll have made as we’ve been dealing musically with Paul’s death. We all have something to say but until we’ll be able to say it, it’ll be a while before recording a new record.
Actually, Slipknot has become less violent than it was in the past. Do you still feel close to the “old” Slipknot?
I think we’re more emotional, and also more crazy now because we’re more mature. Our shows still are aggressive and have a lot of energy, but we approach them from a completely different standpoint. When we were younger, we were just these balls of fury whereas now, we’re more focused : when people are more focused, they’re more dangerous.
You were involved in the recording of Anthrax’s album, Worship Music, but the sessions remain unreleased. Do you think these sessions will see the light of day someday?
Well, I didn’t record anything with Anthrax, actually. It’s one of those things that I would have loved to do, but never had the chance to do it. When they sent me some riffs and some music they had done, I thought it would be fun, not only as a friend but as a fan too, to see where the demos could go after my involvement. But my label forced me out of this project so I wasn’t able to do it. Then, I went to do All Hope Is Gone and Anthrax called Joey Belladonna back : after hearing Worship Music, I really think it’s their best record. Although I didn’t record anything with them, I told them that I would love to help them in writing stuff in the future.
Why did your label force you out?
They wanted a new Slipknot album. When I was talking about doing this, I was at the end of the “May Come Whatever Tour” and we still hadn’t been putting demos together for Slipknot. So, when I was all set to fly to Chicago and work with Anthrax, the label told me that they wouldn’t let me do it. At first, I was really mad about it, but I let it go after a while. But it would have been interesting to see what Anthrax and I could have done, for sure.
You did a spoken-word tour for the release of your first book : will we be able to see you one day maybe as a stand-up comic?
It was fun. I did it to promote my book and it was a chance for me to talk about a lot of shit ! (laughs) If this opportunity comes back up again, I will certainly do the same. But as I have a lot of work with Stone Sour now, it’ll be a while before doing this again. I’m working on my second book now, so never say never !
Haven’t you had any problems with Scott Weiland after what you said in one of these public meetings? (laughs)
No, because I doubt he even listens to anything I say! (laughs) That’s one of the coolest things about being me: I don’t give a shit about what people think of me.
Interview conducted on September, 18, 2012 by phone
Transcription: Jean Martinez – Traduction(s) Net
Album House Of Gold And Bones Part. 1, released on October, 12th via Roadrunner Records
This post is also available in: French