Four albums in and Iowan metal crew Slipknot are still terrorizing the mainstream. I have no idea how they ended up there: this is heavy, heavy stuff. But their latest disc, All Hope Is Gone, ended up at #1 on the Billboard charts, so they must be doing something right. With a renewed focus on his side, singer Corey Taylor is overjoyed at the album, his fans and recent victories like the aforementioned #1 and a headlining gig at Madison Square Garden. The masked men are hitting up Canada with some tour dates supporting the disc, so we took a minute to catch up with Taylor and all things knotty.
What are you up to?
I'm very, very tired. Today I got up at 6:45 because I had to take my son to school. I made breakfast and lunch for him, packed the lunch, took him to school, came home, cleaned the house, went and worked out, came back here, made myself lunch and now this is the second of two interviews I'm doing today.
That's so not rock'n'roll.
Well, neither am I. What are you going to do?
So how's everything going in Slipknot land?
It's going good, man. Everybody seems like they're in a good place, but you know how we are. That could all go away in a ten-second period. Just the fact that my phone's not blowing up with emergencies and panic attacks... I'm loving it.
Now that All Hope Is Gone has had a bit of time to sit, how are you feeling about it?
I go through these phases where I just have to put it on. At first, I would start with the front half; now I listen to the back half. It just sounds great. You know how that is, you get an album and fall in love with the first five songs and then you throw it on again and realize the last five songs are killer.
With All Hope Is Gone, you returned to a bit more of a heavier sound. Did that just feel like the right thing to do?
It just happened. We've never been the band that sits down and says, "We're going to sit down and make this kind of album." We throw shit at a wall and see what sticks, basically. With this album, everything felt dark. Everything felt really heavy.
So would you say the album comes from a good place or a bad place? It's heavy, it's aggressive, it's dark, but you sound very positive about it.
I think all great albums have that; it's all in the delivery. The lyrics I was writing were kind of both ways. I was raging on a political sense, and I've always had something against religion, but at the same time a lot of the stuff I was talking about started in a dark place but inevitably ended up in a positive place. I've always tried to put that in there, just saying, 'Yeah, shit's fucked up right now but it can be okay and this is why and this is how.' So it's just something that I think is overlooked. We catch a lot of shit for being dark and whatnot but unless you're a real fan people miss the point where we're like, 'But it's alright. It's okay to be fucked up. It doesn't have to always be that way.' On this album, it was a great balance. That's what we finally found.
And then the album goes to #1 on Billboard. What does that mean to you?
It's very weird, man. When we were in the studio, I was the first one to say, "This album's going to be #1." Kinda just talking shit, but at the same time, you hope for it. You don't want to hope too much, but it's definitely one of those things on your list of "holy shit, this would be fucking awesome." So when it did go #1, it fucking blew me away. I was so fucking excited. I was really happy; I called everybody I knew and told them. I was very proud of that. Everybody talks about how it felt to win the Grammy. But fuck the Grammy. That's seven old people sitting in a room deciding whether or not they've heard of your band. For me, it's always been more about the albums, the gold albums, the platinum albums, people showing up at your show. That's your audience coming out and saying, "We fucking love what you do. We all do." The album was the same way; our fans gave that to us. We worked hard and we earned it but our fans gave that to us just as much as fucking SoundScan did.
Speaking of the live show, you recently headlined Madison Square Garden. How did a band that sounds like you guys do that?
That's a great fucking question, man. I don't even know, to be honest. I still trip on it. Leading up to it, it wasn't that big of a deal. I was like, "It's fucking Madison Square Garden, whatever." Then you show up there and it's like, "Holy shit, it's Madison Square Garden." Seriously, when the curtain came up and we're standing there and I'm looking at the Garden and we had damn near sold it out, my jaw dropped. You couldn't see it because I was wearing a fucking mask, but it took me a second to get my shit together. I was nervous... I'm never nervous. It blew me away. When we finished the show, I came offstage, I just started balling. It was a heavy, heavy night for me. Nobody plays Madison Square Garden to make money, let's put it that way. It's very expensive to play. Someone told me it cost $50,000 just to turn the lights on in that place. So you don't really play there to make money. You play there because it's Madison Square Garden. It's a prestige gig. For me, it was just one more testament to how far we'd come.
So you get offstage at Madison Square Garden and you're balling; how come?
It was just big. I don't usually let shit like that get to me, but it was a big night, and it was a fucking great show. It was probably the best show we've ever had in New York. Everyone was just going insane. It sounded like everyone was singing every fucking word. It was just one of those golden moments. It was Maiden at Donington, it was Cheap Trick at Budokan, it was Aerosmith at the Texas Jam. It was fucking heavy. The grind of this gig can break you down and make you very cynical but there's moments like that that make you sit back and say, "I am living a dream. Are you kidding me? I get to do this for real?" So I was giddy. I was 14 in my room reading magazines, just going, "Fuck, some day." And that day was that day and it made me very happy; I went backstage and hugged all my bros. I was sick as a fucking dog that night too, that's what killed me. I had a sinus infection, I had an ear infection, a 100-degree fever and it just all went away.
So where do you go from here though? You've done Madison Square Garden...
Oh, it's gotta be downhill. Everything after this has just got to suck. [Laughs] In three years we'll be playing fucking clubs again, by my estimation. But honestly, I don't know. I definitely know where we want to go. Me and Clown have been conspiring for probably four or five months; we've got some ideas and some shit we want to do for the next album but... where do you go? You headline MSG and it's damn near sold out. Where do you go? I guess you just keep going.
Something that's always cracked me up about you guys is you have these butt-ugly masks on and you look hideous and you have all these teenage girls screaming at you...
Exactly! What the fuck is that? [Laughs] I love it, man.
You must be laughing under the masks.
You have no idea. I smirk damn near the whole time I'm wearing that fucking thing. If you could read some of the letters I get... it's un-fucking-believable some of the shit these people ask me.
When does grown men wearing masks become absurd?
I'm not sure, to be honest. We probably could ask Gene Simmons. I don't know... That's a good question. As long as it means the same to us as it always has I don't think there's a time limit on it. For us, it's not about the bullshit; it's about the content behind it. At least that's the way it is for me. For me, it's always had much more of an artistic bent than anything else. So when it starts to become Chewbacca from Star Wars it's time to walk. As long as it still feels right and it means the same and it's not hokey and not bullshit. As long as we don't jump the shark, I think it'll be okay.