Welcome to Part Two of Corey Taylor on Stone Sour. You can read Part One here.
It seems strange that a band of the ilk of Stone Sour would release two albums of covers material as they did with Meanwhile in Burbank (featuring songs by Alice in Chains, KISS, Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest) and Straight Outta Burbank (Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Slayer, Bad Brains, Rolling Stones), but doing things as expected is not something that vocalist Corey Taylor admits the band is very good at.
Rather than look at the releases solely as a tribute to the bands Taylor loved growing up; he reveals that they were also a way of preparing the band for their most recent release, Hydrograd.
“It helped us get there,” Taylor conceded. “Not only that but the way we recorded those albums was such a great inspiration for the way that we ended up recording Hydrograd. We recorded those songs live at Roy’s house in his little home studio – we spared no expense recording there with no air conditioning right next to the laundry room (laughs) – but we had so much fun doing it like that, and that encouraged the way we approached the demo process and putting the songs together for the album. We approached them in four different demoing sessions where we would all trade songs that we had demoed, and then we would learn them and re-record them as a band live in his garage. And that gave us the confidence to say maybe we should do this live in the studio; it triggered something man. It allowed us to capture that energy that we were searching for with the songs and make it sound like an exciting album; not just say it’s an exciting album. It sounds like one. That all stemmed from having so much fun doing the Burbank albums.”
Stone Sour was a band before Slipknot exploded onto the scene with their self-titled album in 1999, with the band taking a hiatus when Taylor decided to lend his vocal prowess to the raging Iowa nine piece. It wasn’t until after the release of Slipknot’s second album, Iowa, that Stone Sour re-emerged onto the scene showcasing a rockier edge to the aggressive vocals that had punctuated Taylor’s career until then.
“That came from Josh Rand and I doing a project together,” Taylor recalled. “Josh and I had always written and recorded together. He wasn’t an original member of the first run of Stone Sour, but he and I have known each other since we were fifteen so we’ve been best friends for a very long time, and we’ve always… Whether it was basement tapes on a four track which we did, and it all stayed like that. We were working on music together, and I was feeling unfulfilled with Slipknot because I wasn’t… I’m just not as good as writing that kind of music as they are. I’m better now, but at the time, I just couldn’t keep up with that kind of music, but I still wanted to write. It wasn’t like I wasn’t able to write music, there was just a certain type that I was more adept at so that led to Josh and me putting this project together, and then lo and behold, members of Stone Sour slowly but surely started joining and then it just happened. We didn’t originally wanna use the name ‘Stone Sour’. We had four different names, every one of which was taken. We could not escape the fate; it was insane. Finally, it got to the point where I called everyone and said look; it’s Stone Sour, guys; let’s cut the shit, it’s Stone Sour. We’re playing old Stone Sour songs in addition to the new stuff that we are writing. Nobody wants that name so let’s take it and make it what it is, and as soon as we did that, everything clicked. Everything came together, and the rest is history.”
Until that point, Taylor had lived in relative anonymity with Slipknot, his identity being shielded from his fans by his mask, but he says the fact he would lose that wasn’t a factor when thinking about bringing his original band back to life.
“No, it was never about that anyway,” he affirmed. “It was cool having that for a while, but people started to recognise me because of my tattoos. The mask for me was never about hiding anything anyway. It wasn’t like KISS where they valued their anonymity. For me, it was always more artistic than anything else: showing that person on the inside rather than flaunting that person on the outside. So for me, it was a little more of a natural byproduct that people didn’t know us and I were cool with that. The reason that I didn’t do anything to obscure my face in Stone Sour is that that’s not the way we started anyway. It was never a part of what we did in the beginning, and I wasn’t going to curtail that because of my association with Slipknot. It’s the same reason why we didn’t play Slipknot songs. We were trying to do something completely autonomous to Slipknot, so trying to do something like that where I hide my face or obscure it would immediately put that connotation of Slipknot there, and I didn’t want that. I wanted them to be two very different projects.”
Late last year, Taylor completed a two-year touring cycle with Slipknot on the back of their .5: The Gray Chapter album and he admits that making the transition from one band to another after such an arduous tour is a difficult process.
“It’s not simple, I’ll tell you that much,” he laughed. “I’ve always been able to give myself a few months to readjust and get my head together and spend some time with family and reground myself. Because I know that not only am I gonna be going into an entire cycle where you’re playing shows and writing music and giving everything you’ve got, but there’s also all the press that comes along with it. It takes a lot out of you, man. It’s one of those things where it’s a good problem to have as long as you understand the nature of it and you can try and adjust and give yourself time to catch your breath because it means that much to you. It’s difficult, but it’s so worth it too.”
It’s been fifteen years since Stone Sour released their debut self-titled album, and Taylor believes over that period the band has not only remained on the path they initially set out on, but have also managed to improve with each release to the point where they are now fully comfortable with themselves and their music.
“Oh man, I think we’re starting to come into our own,” he smiled. “We’ve established the fact that we love to play everything. There’s not a genre that we’ll shirk from, but at the same time, I think we’ve just gotten very confident as songwriters to the point where if we wanna try something we will. We’re not hesitant to try something even if it sounds a little sweeter. You take a song like ‘St Marie’ that’s on the new album, and it’s got a very cool California country vibe to it. Ten years ago, maybe we wouldn’t have had the stones to be able to do that, and now we’re like, ‘Fuck you, we’re gonna do what we want’ (laughs). It’s the strength of experience yet still having that refreshing love for music that encourages you to try new things.”
Taylor has never been one to shy away from confrontation, be it with his music, his books, or his personal life, earning himself the nickname ‘the great big mouth’ in the process. It is a fact of his life and personality that he is not ashamed of, and one which he says requires little or no censoring.
“No, not really,” he laughed when asked if he ever censors himself. “I think I’ve established that I’ve got a big ass mouth, enough for everybody. No, man; how boring would that be, holding stuff back? There are times that I keep it to myself because of the situation, the surroundings, the people. There’s a lot of stuff that my friends do that I don’t agree with. However, I’m not a total dick. I keep it to myself. But other than that, man, no. I can’t think of a fate worse than that – holding yourself back and letting it build up and then you blow and it becomes resentment or a sort of frustrated anger that is no good for anybody. Healthy opinions come from, first of all, establishing that you have an opinion, and if you hold yourself back from doing that, how the hell are you gonna be able to know what you think or who you are and how you feel about different things? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are right ways and wrong ways to do it, and maybe I’m still figuring out a way to do it (laughs). But I tell you what, I don’t shirk from it, and sometimes all it takes is hearing how I feel about certain things for other people to get behind it and maybe figure out how they feel about it and give them a little courage to figure out how they feel about it. And then the world becomes a little stronger so… no. No, fuck that (laughs).”