Slipknot / Stone Sour's Corey Taylor

The Exclaim! Questionnaire

BY Bradley Zorgdrager Published Jul 5, 2017

Corey Taylor has a big mouth, and we're not talking about the wound-like maw of the latest mask he wears in Slipknot — the singer simply has a lot to say. In August, he's releasing his fifth non-fiction book, America 51: A Probe into the Realities That Are Hiding Inside "The Greatest Country in the World"; a month later comes the release of Slipknot's Day of the Gusano, a documentary chronicling their first-ever show in Mexico City.
First, he's dropping the new Stone Sour album Hydrograd, which he calls "the Stone Sour album we've kind of been building towards our whole career. And we did it — 85 percent of it — live in the studio. It's going to fucking blow people away when they hear it, and I can't wait for them to hear it!"
What are you up to?
Promoting these two projects —the album and the book. So I've been on this kind of whirlwind worldwide press tour that has just been kicking the ever-living out of me. Other than just gearing up for the tour, that's really about it. And dealing with the incredible jetlag that comes from your body not knowing what goddamn part of the world you're in half the time.
What are your current fixations?
Watching online movie reviews, like Nostalgia Critic, Cinema Snob, Diamanda Hagan, stuff like that. I am almost obsessed with those. I don't even really watch TV anymore, to be honest; I watch the big movies and shit, but if I have internet, I'm usually watching reviews. Everything, from those, to a great web series called "Everything Wrong With…" that's part of the like the CinemaSins. There's this thing called Amish Trailers that is fantastic. I spend hour watching these and just giggling my little tits off, and they're just funnier now. That's kind of what I'm really, really into right now.
What about those does it for you?
They review a lot of older stuff. Cinema Snob reviews a lot of weirder stuff. Nostalgia Critic reviews a lot of stuff that I've seen in the past. And nine times out of ten, we're usually on the same page. The great thing about watching those is that, getting that outside perspective, you look at it from a different point of view and you pick up different things that maybe you didn't catch because I watch movies differently than anybody else does, so it's cool to kind of see what other people picked up or see what other people are putting out, what they took umbrage with — it's pretty cool.
Why do you live where you live?
I live in Iowa because, for all intents and purposes, I was born there, then I kind of grew up there. I live in Vegas because my wife and her family live there, and I live in Burbank because of other reasons.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.
Music, definitely. The Ray LaMontagne album Trouble [from 2004] helps me relax. That album is so — I don't want to say muted, but it is very unassuming, it's gorgeous, it is so well-written, so well-performed, and it just soothes you. I can put that album on no matter where I am and just be, you know? I can stop thinking. I can just listen to the album, and it just makes me calm.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I'd have to say the first time that Slipknot headlined [UK heavy music festival] Download, which was 2009. At that point it was our tenth anniversary. We'd been doing our own kind of shows here and there, but we hadn't really headlined any festivals, right? And Download was that festival that all of us really wanted to headline, and when we got that it was massive, like very emotional. I was visibly shook on stage because I was so happy to be there, so excited to be there, and it was insane, man. There are 85 or 90 thousand people. There was a sign up front that said, "Finally, Slipknot is headlining Download," and it just felt like coming home. It was one of the best moments of my career.
What have been your career highs and lows?
You always hope that you'll start out with the same people and the same band. It's a brotherhood; it's a unit; it's a gang; it's a friendship; it's family. And sadly, you lose people over time. People leave, you have to let people go or people die, and it slightly takes the edge off of making music, playing music, writing and playing, but at the same time when you have that love for music you kind of have to keep going, so it's bittersweet. So the lows for me are obviously letting go or losing people over the years.
The high is the fact that, after almost 20 years, I'm still going, and I don't just have one successful band, but I have two. I'm coming up on my 11th studio album between the two, and people are just as excited now as they were before, like everything's really starting to feel like it's crescendoing again, so I guess that's my highlight is the fact that every day is another opportunity to be able to do this.
It's very cool that you still appreciate that. It's not like you're jaded on the fact that you're able to do this as a career.
Yeah, man. I know a lot of people who, they hit a wall or they just kind of stop caring, and you can hear it in their music when they do; there's no vibrancy, there's no pop in it, and that bums me out, especially [when it's] people that I love. I've always said that the minute that this stops being what it was to me when I was 13, that's when I'll walk away and I'll do something else.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
That's a damn good question. There was one gig in France… you know, I don't even want to talk about that one; that one was brutal. When Stone Sour first started out, there were a lot of fans that were not into it, and some of them would come to the show and either by the end of the show they would be fans or they'd just be there to fuck with us. There were several times where I had to have people kicked out of the show because they were just in my face talking shit during the show. One time at this place in Birch Hill, NJ, this dude came over the barricade and was just standing in the middle of the stage flipping me off, and I said, "Are you not having a good time?" And he just kind of screamed at me and spat at me, so I had my manager give him 25 bucks, which was the price of admission, and I had him kicked out. I don't suffer fools lightly, and I never have, and if you're going to come at me with that bullshit, you're going to get fucking kicked out. You're not going to win, but you're definitely not going to stick around.
But you still had the respect to give him the $25. I like that, I dig that, that's a good way to deal with it.
I'm an asshole, but I'm not a fucking asshole. You just have to pick your spots.
What should everyone shut up about?
Oh, man. I'm sure people would have the same thing to say to me — a ton of things that I should shut up about. I think, especially in America, people should stop bitching about what Trump and the Republicans are doing and just start doing something about it. It's that simple. You either do something or shut the fuck up. And a lot of people would maybe disagree with that, saying that by saying something that they're raising awareness. No, not really.
What I mean is if you're going to keep talking, say something constructive. Try to find ways to get people on your side and get them to see, because there's a lot of mental blockage going on where people just don't want to hear it, because they don't trust the source. I think more people need to get on the right page and stop with the constant rhetoric, and start really constructively collecting themselves and getting themselves together and organizing and start working these fucking people out of office. That's the only way that this shit is going to stop.
It's a big part of what my book is about — trying to get people back on the same page, because I think the majority of people are more likeminded than we allow ourselves to think, but because we allow politicians and extremists to speak for us, you never hear that. We forget and we never acknowledge that. So my book is more about getting people to the middle to talk and less about standing against walls and screaming over the top of everyone.
What traits do you most like and dislike about yourself?
I like that I'm creative. I like that I have the passion to be artistic and the energy to follow through and really get to do a bunch of stuff. Outside of being a father and trying to be a good person and whatever, I think that trait is what defines me the most in a lot of ways.
I think my worst trait is that I don't know when to shut up, which is a huge problem. It comes in handy when people like you are asking me questions, but outside of that, sometimes it tends to get out of hand and I can tend to run on, and I piss a lot of people off! Sometimes it's good to agitate, sometimes it's not, and I'm trying to learn when those times are, but it's tough.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Hanging out with my kids, spending time with my family, playing acoustic guitar with friends, hanging out, just lazy, you know? I'd get some food to cook, whatever that is — whether it's like a big pasta dish or I'm grilling — and just enjoy my friends' company with my kids running around playing and shit. Just having a good, lazy day with my people. I don't get that a lot, which is a pain in the ass. It's one of the drawbacks to what I get to do for a living, so when I do get to do stuff like that, I cherish it. I try to hold onto those moments as much as possible. I try to stretch those seconds as long as possible, and I just try to live in it without living outside of it and witnessing myself enjoy it.
What advice should you have taken but did not?
That's a damn good question. I don't know. When you talk about stuff like that, you're dealing with regrets, and I don't have a lot. There are certain things that I wish I hadn't done, but at the same time, if I hadn't, I wouldn't be where I'm at today, so I guess there's none. I don't have an answer for that, I guess.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed and have you?
Problems with drugs, problems with alcohol and shitty attitudes. There's a whole other list of shit when it comes to kicking somebody out of my bed; if you're not there to have fun, don't even knock.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
It used to be Tim Hortons. I knew I was going to be able to get a 30-piece Timbits and just get down on some good coffee and awesome donuts. Now when I come to Canada I think of great shows, I think of a "holy shit!" frigid winter when we tour up there — I remember one winter, it was like negative 50 fucking degrees, and I was like "This is not weather, this is an emergency condition. Why aren't they calling the authorities?"
Why don't you do the Tim Hortons thing anymore?
Oh, I still do! It's just not the first thing when I come up to Canada. I've got some great friends that live up there, and I've played a ton of fucking good gigs, whether it's Heavy TO and Heavy MTL, just having good times up there, so I guess that's what I think of when I think of Canada: having a good time. I can't think of one bad show I've ever had in Canada, whether it's been any of the shows that we've played in all the provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, just everywhere! Not just the usual suspects like Calgary and Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, I mean ALL of those places that we've played were amazing. We had such a great time there that it gets me excited to come back up and play Canada every time, man. I'm hoping that we can get up and play some of the places in like the Northwest Territories or something, some of the deeper ones, some of the places that maybe not a lot of people go, but I would love to! I would just love to see that region and see those people and meet them.
What was the first LP, cassette, CD or 8-track you ever bought with your own money?
I bought two tapes. I got Somewhere In Time by Iron Maiden and Girls, Girls, Girls by Mötley Crüe. It was with money that I got for my birthday. I was tired of telling people what I wanted, so I just told everybody to give me money for my birthday so I can go get my own shit, and yeah, that was it. Somewhere In Time had just come out, so I was ultra-stoked to get it — or maybe it was Girls, Girls Girls that had just come out, I can't remember, but it was one of those that had just come out. It was my 14th birthday, and I was so stoked that I still had the money in my hand when I left my house to go buy them, and I was fucking ecstatic. That was back when you could get two tapes with a 20 dollar bill because of how long ago it was.
What was your most memorable day job?
The porn shop, obviously. I worked at a place called The Adult Emporium for three-and-a-half years, and it was awesome. It's fair to say that I got up to no good when I was working there, but it was also just such a great study in human behaviour and what people will try to do or experiment with when they get off on shit. It was gnarly. It was cool.
When you say you got up to no good, are there any specific examples you can say without incriminating yourself?
[Laughs] Not really. You'll have to wait for the book.
And when was that?
It was before I was in Slipknot. It was when I was doing Stone Sour for the first time. I think I worked there from '95 to '99.
How do you spoil yourself?
Good coffee. I allow myself chances to go get some comics or some action figures. Every once in a while, like today, I'll allow myself to go back to sleep. Honestly, other than that — that's it. I don't usually get that luxury. I'm usually too busy working or spoiling other people to be able to do anything for myself.
If I wasn't playing music, I would be…
When I was a kid I wanted to be a history teacher. I'm obsessed with history. I love reading about it. I really thought about getting my shit together and making sure I did good in school and went to college and everything, and then I realized I don't have any patience for children, so I was like, "You know what? This is probably not the gig for me."  But I never lost my love and my passion for history, so I don't know, if I didn't do music maybe I would go back to school and get some kind of degree and teach at some school somewhere.
What do you fear most?
Anything happening to my family. That's the real fear. I have weird irrational fears; I have a fear of sharks, even though I live in two landlocked states, so try to fucking figure that one out. But I guess my real fear is something happening to my kids. I'm a good boy, I can take care of myself. I don't usually worry about the older members of my family. I mean, if something happened to them obviously I'd be fucked up about it, but my kids are a different story. I used to really have bad issues about it, like night terrors. I would fucking wake up in the middle of the night freaking out about it. I've calmed it down a little bit, but it's still there.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Is it weird that I immediately knew how to answer it? Hips, a good ass, a beautiful face, a sense of humour, incredibly smart, funny, interesting, self-confidence — an incredible body will get you everywhere, but just self-assurance and having no fear, that's probably one of the sexiest fucking things I've ever seen.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I had a strange encounter with Judd Nelson once at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on the Sunset Strip. It was me and my buddy Jason, we were talking to some people and Judd Nelson showed up. It appeared that he was meeting Keanu Reeves — Keanu was at the bar in this crazy powder blue suit. Judd Nelson comes bounding and he's like, "Gentlemen!" My buddy Jason kind of knew him, and [Nelson] was kind of on fire — he was just lit up, ready to rock, you know? We were talking for a second, and Judd Nelson goes, "If you could pick three albums to take with you on a deserted island, what would you pick?" And before we could even answer, he goes, "I'll tell you what mine are. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin," and then there was like this uncomfortable silence. And I said, "Well what's number three?" And he goes, "THERE IS NO NUMBER THREE!" And he walked away from us. It was so random and weird that we just fucking started laughing our tits off, we couldn't even fucking handle it. I was like, "Alright, well that was Judd Nelson."
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
She loves what I do. She's very, very happy for me; she's very proud. My mom and my grandma, they both kind of raised me, so they're very proud of what I do. They don't wish anything, which is funny, like most moms wish they were fucking doctors or whatever, but this is actually more of a legitimate gig than a lawyer or a doctor, because think about all the shit that you have to put up with now being a lawyer or a doctor, you know? All the legal bullshit, all the malpractice. With doctors, it's dealing with all those fucking pharmaceutical companies who are just trying to fucking shill their bullshit that makes people even sicker. Fuck, man, who'd have thought being a singer in a heavy metal band would be more legitimate and more righteous?
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"In My Time of Dying" by Zeppelin. The whole tune, too — they've got to sit through the whole song. That thing's like seven minutes long. It's so dope, but it's also one of the best songs ever, ever recorded, ever made, ever written, ever anything because it starts out so vibe-y and then it just fucking kicks ass all the way toward the end, man. That's my shit. That's what I want played at my funeral, and I want people standing up, singing along, fucking air guitar-ing. And then I want a Viking funeral.

Latest Coverage