INTERVIEW: Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor

Photo by Travis Shinn

Photo by Travis Shinn

If you look in the current issue of Mixdown Magazine you’ll find my interview with Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor about the band’s new album, Hydrograd (released today). We had a great chat about the band’s incredible new album Hydrograd. But we talked about a lot more than could be fit into that article, so I thought you’d like to see some other highlights from the interview.

I Heart Guitar: One moment in the single Fabuless really made me laugh: the ‘motherfucker’ in the chorus. I have a running joke where I insert unnecessary motherfuckers in songs that really don’t deserve it. Steely Dan or the Beach Boys or something. 

Corey Taylor: [Laughs] Thats funny because I do that all the time when I’m in my car, singing. I’m always adding an unnecessary motherfucker to what I’m singing along to, where it just needs a little more, y’know? I mean I’m sure they would have gotten to the motherfucker eventually but they were too busy with the notes, so people like you and me provide the motherfucker for them.

That song is so eclectic. How did it come together? 

That song came together from Tooch (guitarist Christian Martucci) and Roy (Magora, drums) jamming together. It was one of those songs where when we heard the demo we were like ‘Holy shit.’ It took a little arranging because it was all in different spots – it originally had a totally different feel to it – but the riffs themselves all had a great vibe. I took it and did my magic on it and worked it in with the lyrics that were going on in my head and different melodies and stuff, and it came together really quickly. It was a matter of arranging the puzzle so that the song fuckin’ figured itself out.

The first few times you listen to it you don’t quite know what could happen next. 

Exactly. And that’s the cool thing. I feel like a lot of music doesn’t have that feeling any more, and you can anticipate what the next part is. With a lot of bands you can almost write the fuckin’ next riff in your head before you’ve even heard the song all of the way through for the first time. With this song it keeps you guessing right up until the last minute.

HydrogradSo this is the first record written with Christian Martucci and Johnny Chow. 

Working with those two, honestly, was so effortless. The great thing is it all starts with us just getting along. Really getting along. We all hang out, we all love hanging out and talking shit and joking, and we’re all such dorks that it doesn’t really matter. So writing together is the same thing. We just love what we do so much that we get excited when we hear what we’re doing with the music.

How’s the spine coming along after your operation? Has it affected your range? I was thinking about how when Frank Zappa got pushed off the stage and broke his neck, and after he got rebuilt his voice got lower.

Yeah, that didn’t happen to me. It’s really only a physical thing for me. I’m slowly but surely starting to get my mobility back, and that’s even after a year. It’s been pretty crazy. But luckily I didn’t lose any of my range – actually I got some back because I quit smoking over a year ago, and I’m starting to get my range back because of that. God, if I’d know that would happen I’d have quit ten fuckin’ years ago. But I’m still in the process of rehabbing all that shit, and I’m slowing but surely getting my body back. It’s a fucking pain in the ass but I’m getting there.

I don’t think people realise how physical singing is – how much of your whole body goes into it. 

Oh yeah. You can lose your chops really easily. And not only lose your chops but you can let your talent go to fuckin’ shit, and it can take you years to get that shit back. About six years ago I started to really try to keep myself in shape as much as possible, and as long as it’s worth it you just keep trying, keep going for it.

What guitars are you using at the moment? 

On the road I have three guitars that I’m using, really. I have a 2008 Gibson Firebird that has a couple of Seymour Duncan pickups in it. It has a nice chunky edge to it and a really killer clean tone. Those guitars have a great clean tone. I also have a 1987 Gibson SG out with me that smells like the dude who owned it chain-smoked around it for about 45 years! It’s got the colour, but unfortunately it’s also got the smell, so I named it Keith. So I’ve got that out with me and I’ll probably bring that down with me to Australia when we get down there. And I’ve also got a Framus and I’m thinking about working some magic with those guys. I actually have a Stevie Salas Idolmaker model that I’m using right now and they’re fuckin’ pretty dope, dude. I wanna have them use that base and make a custom for me but give it more of a hollowbody vibe, and put a couple of humbuckers in it and see what happens. I think that could be really fuckin’ cool, because it plays amazingly. It’s got such fuckin’ chunk to it. It’s really great. So those three I’m kinda rotating through, just feeling them out every night.

Reverend Matt West Signature Model

mw_BLK_front_printPRESS RELEASE: TOLEDO, OH (June 14, 2017) –   Reverend Guitars and Matt West united to create a signature model just in time for Neck Deep’s Warped Tour jaunt. Based on the Jetstream platform that West loves, the guitar has a single Reverend CP90 pickup and a Wilkinson tremolo. It’s topped off with a reverse headstock and West’s wizard logo on the back. The model is available in Midnight Black and Powder Yellow, both with tortoise pickguards. The guitar will be released this Friday, June 16, 2017, in conjunction with West’s Warped Tour appearance. Read More …

EarthQuaker Day 2017

EarthQuaker Devices

PRESS RELEASE: AKRON, Ohio — Ohio-based extra special effects pedal manufacturer EarthQuaker Devices will host the second-annual EarthQuaker Day festival at their downtown Akron facility (350 W. Bowery St.) on Saturday, August 5, 2017 from 1:00pm until 8:00pm. Read More …

Drunk Mums – ‘Ode To Death’

PRESS RELEASE: Melbourne rock outfit Drunk Mums return with a new single ‘Ode To Death’ The first single of their forthcoming EP Denim.

The track continues from their recent homage of hard rock and punk heard on their latest release Leather.Taking influence from Johnny Thunders and The Stooges the band takes a step back with this one, or so it seems, considering the lyrics have a pretty bleak undertone. Don’t let that fool you though, it is still something you could probably show ya parents and hell they’d probably like it too. Read More …

NEXI Industries Phaser

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PRESS RELEASE: Amsterdam, The Netherlands (June 20, 2017) — True to its name and purpose, the Phaser pedal for electric guitar has progressed through various musical phases, and across many stages, over the past few decades. Simple in delivery, NEXI Industries’ Phaser (PSR-01) represents the next stage for this effect pedal, with a plug-‘n-play design that makes compatibility a breeze—just like the effect’s signature sweeping and swooshing. Read More …

A Sneak Peek At My New Kiesel Vader

 

Kiesel Vader

Ever since Kiesel announced the Vader headless (via a ‘one image fragment at a time’ social campaign a couple of years ago) I’ve daydreamed about owning one. At at NAMM this year checked out quite a few of them and was really impressed by the weight, balance and resonance. So, with thanks to Jeff and Manny at Kiesel, I’m about to take delivery of my dream Vader. Above is a snippet of a photo that Jeff sent me. There’s actually a very similar V7 on the Kiesel site, but mine has some key differences, and there’s a long and convoluted reason for every wood and colour choice, which I’ll get into in a full review when the guitar arrives. For now, why don’t you head on over to the Kiesel website to check out the various options on the Vader!

“Back When I Used To Listen To Music…”

“Oh yeah, I was into them back when I used to listen to music.”

“That band is still together?”

“They were the soundtrack to my teenage years.”

I’m a music journalist, and a dad in my late 30s. The ‘dad’ bit means I run into a lot of parents, some my age, most a few years older. It seems that most parents that I meet had their kids later in life than we did, and indeed a lot of my classmates are having their first kids now, while my son is 10 (and he’s into Bowie, Zappa and Devin Townsend, so woo). And the sentences quoted above are something I hear a lot when I chat with fellow parents. Eventually the question of ‘What do you do for a living?’ comes up and I find myself explaining my cool-ass job. And I inevitably hear things like those statements, and others like “I used to listen to heavier bands but I grew out of it” or “I have no time to listen to music now.” It really hit home with the passing of Chris Cornell, when a bunch of friends on Facebook posted things like “You’re my favourite, I used to listen to you all the time,” as if Euphoria Morning wasn’t fucking phenomenal, or like Audioslave didn’t exist, or King Animal wasn’t a thing. That really bummed me out because Cornell continued to make music every bit as vital as those big Soundgarden records. He never went away and his standards never slipped (well, there was that one pop album but even then, dude was following his muse).

I know I’m lucky because my job forces me to listen to new music. It’s the same as in any profession: you can’t really do it to the best of your ability if you’re relying on information that’s 20 years old. Still, it makes me sad that there are people out there who are my age and who would have been raised on the same diet of 90s alternative, industrial, metal, grunge and other now-retro-but-then-nowtro stuff, who think of music as something in their past rather than something that grows with them. The musical nostalgia industry is fuelled by the power of music to make you remember how you felt at the time you first heard it, but there’s no reason you can’t continue to bring new music into your life to serve as the soundtrack to where you are now. Hell, Spotify is like twelve bucks a month. YouTube is free and it’s loaded with new music. It’s so easy to find out what your old favourite bands are doing now or, even more importantly, to find new ones that can represent you and your feelings as they stand today.

Something I’ve been doing a lot of lately is going back and listening to things I never really had the access to check out back in the day, when in order to listen to a band you had to either buy the record, hear someone else’s copy or catch it on TV or radio. I loved the Cure songs I saw on the Australian music video show Rage, but my CD money was always spent on metal and shred. Now I’m digging further and deeper into their back catalog and more recent records, and while many of these tracks are over 30 years old and totally new to me, they’re finding a place in my heart that’s every bit as important as Dirt or Passion And Warfare or Fair Warning. So now I’m catching up on bands like The Replacements, or filling in the gaps of my knowledge of The Cure, or getting into Crowded House non-album tracks. But I’m also checking out newer artists like Between The Buried And Me, Rival Sons, St. Vincent, Northlane… and this music, all of which is new to me whether it’s new or not, has its own emotional resonance for my present-day life. I can still always put on Living Colour’s Stain or Ministry’s Psalm 69 to remember how I felt at 16, but I can also put on Ryan Adams’ Prisoner or Periphery’s The Price Is Wrong to capture how I feel today at 38.

My buddy Dean Delray, whose podcast Let There Be Talk is an essential listen, is always talking about this. He always hears folks saying “There are no great bands any more.” There are fucktonnes of them out there. But to hear them you have to own the fact that maybe the music you loved as a teenager wasn’t any more special than the music today’s teenagers are listening to: it’s just that you heard those songs at a time that was special to you, and you’ve associated the excitement of ‘first kiss, first beer, first party’ with those bands as part of one whole package of nostalgia. That’s totally cool, but see it for what it is and let yourself feel the same way about new music that can accompany new moments. Music is vast and beautiful and alive and you don’t need to stop listening to new music the moment you turn 18.