Full Metal Jackie: Slipknot and Stone Sour Singer Corey Taylor Talks Lessons Learned in Music and ‘Fear Clinic’ Movie
The always busy rocker spoke about some of the lessons he's learned in music and about his participation in the upcoming film 'Fear Clinic.' If you missed Jackie’s show, here’s her full interview with Corey Taylor.
It’s Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. On the show with us once again, the one and only Corey Taylor. How are you?
I am good, how are you?
Doing well, thanks much for checking in. Obviously a million things going on with you as usual. You’ve been doing this for so long, Corey. I have to ask, how do you feel you’re most different from the kid in your twenties who recorded the first Slipknot album in 1999. Are you conscious of how you’ve changed as a performer and songwriter since then?
Well, I can do more leg-lifts, you know. I think that’s the key to staying relevant, is the amount of leg-lifts that you can do in your career, you know? Like when I first started I could only do about 15 and now I’m up to at least 96. You know, depending on the day, the weather, you know I stretch out, you know. Wait a minute, that’s not really the question, is it? No, it’s not. (Laughs) I don’t know, it’s … the great thing about being able to do something as long as I’ve been able to is that you learn from the stuff you’ve done before, and when you get away with as much as I’ve been able to, you know, you just get really used to taking risks, you know? And I don’t think a lot of artists get to do that.
I think they get pigeonholed, and it seems like they’re stuck in a rut where they have to keep writing the same stuff over and over and over. And I think with both Slipknot and with Stone Sour we set the tone where we let people know right out of the gate that don’t get used to what you’re hearing, because it’s going to change. We’ve always tried to push the boundaries and really change the style that we try and we’ve taken risks, and I think that’s paid off for the fact that after, God, what was it, 16 years, I’ve been able to do this professionally, people still keep listening. So I think it keeps everything fresh, it keeps everything relevant, so I’ve been lucky in the fact that I’ve been able to continue to take risks and try new things.
Corey, some great songwriters say the creative process is an excruciating and difficult task. Others say they’re just fortunate to be channeling some divine inspiration. Which is it for you?
Well, it’s nothing that cool (laughs), you know? I’m kind of lucky in the fact that I can take something that’s in my head and write it down or I can listen to a piece of music that somebody else has written and try to tap into what the music’s saying, and just kind of follow that, you know. I mean nine times out of 10 I’m just kind of following where the music takes me.
I think it comes down to what you want to say. I think it takes practice to really nail down the essence of what you’re trying to say. I mean I’ve been writing songs since I was 12 years old, so I’ve had a long time to really kind of cut my teeth and get to the point where when I hear something I instantly know what I want to say with it, or how I want to say it with it, and also try to make it different and make it fresh. So I don’t know if it’s channeling the inner muse, or trying to be artistic just because it’s art. As a writer, as a lyricist, you’re just trying to make sure that you’re not repeating yourself. And that’s a danger for a lot of people. So for me I just try to keep taking corners and trying to find new paths.
Corey, it’s pretty well documented, recording the second Slipknot album 'Iowa' was tumultuous. The last several years have been transitional for the band. What did you learn while making that album that will make doing this next one a good process?
Well I definitely learned that there are limits to how far you can push yourself. You know, when you go that far off the reservation and you see that there is definitely an abyss that you can stare into, it makes you pull back a little bit and go, 'Whoa, hold on a second. I go any further, that’s a permanent vacation.' So, for me -- I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, it was definitely the darkest time in my life that I was able to transition and turn into something insane and wonderful lyrics. You cannot spend a lot of time on that edge, or it gets to be something that’s a little too enticing.
I guess I learned to visit that edge, but don’t live on it. Because that’s not life. When you’re constantly walking that edge you’re just kind of just trying to figure out what side of the fence you’re going to fall on. I didn’t want to be that, I wanted to get more out of my life than just seeing how far I could push the envelope. The thing I learned the most, be able to kind of tap into that darkness but don’t live in it, don’t exist for it. There are better things in life you have to live for.
Corey, between Slipknot and Stone Sour, performing with other artists, writing books, it seems like you’re always busy. What do you do to decompress or is relaxation actually the process of working itself?
The thing I’ve learned, you kind of have to strike when you’re feeling [it]. A lot of people say strike when the iron is hot, but -- you have to wait for that to happen. For me, the real lesson that I’ve learned is that if you’re not feeling it, get away from it. I only sit down and write lyrics when I feel that inspiration coming on. It may take a little longer but it definitely feels better. I've had to really teach myself that when you’re not feeling it, you shouldn’t write anything down because you’re going to end up coming back and re-writing it later. Whereas, if you write when you’re feeling something, when you’re really in the streak, then that’s when you’re going to get your best stuff. I've had to really make myself, give myself timeouts and get away from stuff, keep myself entertained.
I either hang out with family or sit down and watch TV and kind of unplug for a bit and kind of go back to it. I think that’s the best way to be the most creative and to have the most poignant thoughts that you can get down on paper.
Corey, what can you tell us about the movie 'Fear Clinic'?
That was a blast! I was approached by Robert Trujillo. His friend Robert Hall was the director for 'Fear Clinic' and Rob had offered Robert the part. But Trujillo couldn’t do it, he was going to Antarctica with Metallica. He said, who is someone you’d love to work with? I guess Rob said Corey Taylor. So he put us in touch and within two weeks I was on the set. It was pretty sweet. I had always said I wanted to be in a movie and try my hand at it. It was kind of the perfect opportunity. I got to hang out with Robert Englund. It was a fantastic learning experience. I learned a lot just from watching everybody. I really got into it, I grew a mustache for the part so I could look extra creepy. I had a super blast with it. You always want to do something you love. I could definitely see myself doing more of that stuff in the future.
Awesome and that will be out Halloween time?
Yeah, around Halloween. I know they’re going to do some sneak previews at some of the various film festivals. But, I think they’re still in the post production stage. If it comes out half has killer as the raw footage that I saw, man, it’ll be a blast. I'm really stoked. I can’t wait for people to see it.
Awesome. Look out for that one. Corey, really appreciate you being on the show again. 'House of Golden Bones Parts I & 2' out in stores now. Go see the band on the road.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome Amon Amarth frontman Johan Hegg on her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.