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Interview: Corey Taylor of Stone Sour/Slipknot

While cruising the leisurely roads of our great land on their first Australian tour since Soundwave 2013, Stone Sour and Slipknot vocalist and all around good guy, Corey Taylor, took some time out of his busy schedule to have a chat about all things ‘Hydrograd’, disposable celebrities and the same sex marriage vote in Oz.

‘Hydrograd’ has been out for a fair while now, when you gauge the success of the album, is it as much about how fans receive it as it is chart success? 

Oh absolutely it’s about how the fans receive it! For me, that’s the longevity, you know? I think too many people put too much emphasis on that first week on the charts rather than how much further you can take the music once that word of mouth kind of catches on! When the audience starts really embracing it and running with it and telling other people, that’s the wildfire! So for me, it really is more about the way it catches on with the audience than it is about chart position.

Obviously, you’ll like it when you chart high but you can’t put all your chips on that number. Sometimes you can have a huge first week and then it drops to nothing so it’s definitely more about how the fans pick it up and go with it.

So I’ve read in other articles that, in the past, you’ve had to walk away and release Stone Sour albums without feeling like you’ve completed them. This time round, having a mix of different influences and sounds in there, does it feel like you’ve finally got a complete and well rounded album? 

Absolutely. This one really feels like we were able to capture not only what we were thinking about musically but also the way we were doing it and add the little flourishes, the bits of ear candy. For me, the worst thing I can do is listen back to an album after it’s been put out and then all of a sudden get a million different ideas about what to put instead of what I’m hearing (laughs). But I don’t have it for this album which is fantastic, I can listen to this and just enjoy it. So for me, it’s much more about feeling like we really accomplished what we set out to do and because I think in a way it was because we were so open and wide open musically so we were able to really embrace it and go for it.

A popular trend in the metal scene seems to be bands transitioning from a heavy sound to a more ‘radio friendly’ one. You guys have always stuck to your guns sonically but in your experience, is there a lot of pressure on bands to conform to what’s popular in order to make money? 

I think so, yeah I mean definitely for the younger bands that are coming up. Especially when they sign certain types of deals with record labels! The level of control that certain record labels try and assert over some of the bands these days is almost unprecedented. And for me, you know, what’s the point if you’re signing this act if you’re basically just going to change them? Making them feel like they have to feel a certain way! Obviously you saw and heard something in this band that had potential. So I think a lot of it comes down to the pressure that the labels put on the band, even the managers putting pressure on the band, to change the way they sound, to sound a certain way. Luckily I’ve always been in a position to tell all those type of people to, “toss off,” but for those other bands, maybe they just don’t feel like they can. It’s a hard business right now.

I just wanted to touch on Fabuless. The message of the song is a breath of fresh air really, given how many easy it is for people to become ‘celebrity’ these days. Seeing these nobody’s make millions for no reason, what do you think that says about us as consumers who put them on this massive pedestal? 

I think it hits on two major things really. For one, I think the public is so desperate to feel like we can relate to celebrity in a way that we’re willing to make people feel ‘famous’ because if they’re famous then maybe we can be famous. It’s almost like a reflection, if that person can be famous then I can. I think in a lot of ways people are put off now by people who are truly talented, which is so weird! We used to celebrate the fact that people were gifted and different and unique. But now, we’d much rather have these vanilla, mediocre, run of the mill, crappy, just pathetic celebrities that are really, only famous for being misunderstood or saying or doing something or just being a complete waste of flesh. So that to me is just so wrong, it’s the wrong precedent to set, it’s the wrong way to truly make people feel celebrated.

Meanwhile there are millions of super talented people who are not getting the attention all because some ‘asshat’ on the internet got a little more drunk than usual and made a stupid video where he fell through a table. Like come on man really! Is this where we’re at? Have we peaked? It’s just disappointing.

Does it frustrate you that society is neglecting so many talented people and choosing to focus on these people who would struggle to tie their own shoelaces?

Oh, severely. Severely frustrates me man (laughs). It’s one of the reasons why I try to shun a lot of so called ‘celebrities’ that are out there and I try to put my money where my mouth is you know. I try to promote bands that are really really good, promote people who are really really talented or at least from my standpoint. I try to give a little bit of spotlight to that guy. To the people who are really trying to get ahead and do something special and something cool. I think if more people did that, it wouldn’t be as big an issue as it is with the ‘disposable celebrity’.

And not too long ago you had your son, Griffin join you and the band on stage. How proud were you to see him rocking out like that?

Dude I can’t explain to you how over the moon I was, to be honest. As a Dad, you hope for moments like that with your kids and I’ve never felt that kind of pride in my life. It was so special, just to watch him absolutely come into his own! I cannot tell you how happy I was. You know, there’s a part of you that’s like, you don’t want to push them into something like this because there’s obviously that danger that they’re going to be compared to you forever. But if that’s what makes him happy then who am I to tell him what to do, if that’s what he wants to do then I’m absolutely going to support him!

You’re in Australia for a very crucial time politically with the same-sex marriage postal votes going on. Does it shock you that it is such a debate, and being American where it’s been legal for sometime, that a country like Australia has taken so long to act? 

Honestly, not really. I’ve never taken it for granted that certain cultures have it more in common with America because sometimes you just never know! But it surprises me from the standpoint of, as much as I’ve come down here, as much as I’ve been able to experience not only the culture but the people. There’s a sense of easygoing spirit that goes on here. And maybe it’s because I haven’t seen a lot more of it but everyone I’ve talked to, everyone I’ve had the pleasure to hang out with has what I call the ‘Australian spirit’ where it’s just smiles, they’re happy, they’re good, you know, they’re Australian! So I guess in that way it is kind of a surprise to experience that more conservative side down here.

But then again, maybe because of that side that I’ve seen here in Australia, maybe that’s a sign that people are going to surprise some of the conservatives by voting to legalise it. I mean, I know it certainly surprised a lot of conservatives in America that so many people are much more accepting of things like that. And it also kind of goes to stand with my theory of the majority of people that are really kind of in the middle – a little bit of conservative, a little bit of liberal on both sides, in everyone. So when you break it down on a one on one basis, more people are going to be accepting. People don’t want to hate, they don’t, they really don’t. They want to be able to accept things, so maybe, after this vote goes you’ll be able to see a shift.

And continuing on politics, your new book America 51, delves heavily into the state of the American political world, do you think there’s any chance they can find a way to ‘un-wreck’ the world or has the damage already been done? 

Oh man you know, I’d say that any damage that has been done can be undone, to be honest. I mean it’s not like this is the first time that some crazy political nonsense has gone down, especially on this level, it’s been going on for years. It takes a little bit of time but anything can be undone and anything can be fixed or evened out. What I think we’re experiencing right now is the last gasp of the extreme, trying to desperately to get control back. But we’re now seeing the ugliness of what that extreme can represent and it’s putting people off, more so than even the media can describe. All these people that thought Trump was going to be this moderate are now going, “oh my god I voted for someone I do not identify with.” I think it’s going to be a nasty wake up call for Trump, if he makes it a full term, let’s put it that way (laughS). When he thinks he can easily win reelection and all his mistakes, or all his rhetoric blows up in his face.

Stone Sour Live Dates

Festival Hall, Melbourne
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane

Written by Sam Muggleton