Slipknot’s Corey Taylor on Paul Gray, the new tour, and staying in for the long haul
Four years after the death of founding member Paul Gray, Slipknot are back at the top of the charts and the top of their game. Lead singer Corey Taylor speaks to Ronan McGreevy in advance of their first Irish show in 10 years next week
You’re starting your Prepare for Hell European tour in Dublin. What can your fans expect?
I’m so stoked. We can’t wait to get over there. It’s going to be crazy. It’s been so long. I can speak for the rest of the guys when I say it’s been far too long. The last time we were there was with Metallica (June 2004).
I’m half-German, half-Irish. My mother’s family is mostly Irish with a touch of Dutch. My father is mostly German with a touch of native American. It’s a weird amalgam.
Overall, I’m half-German and half-Irish which is where I get my temper from. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot to relate to because my family life was fairly messy. I didn’t know my father until I was about 30.
Learning these things on my own made me kind of embrace that part of me that I didn’t put together on my own. Knowing about my background gave me more of a solid foundation.
Being half-Irish, I kind of look at it and think, ‘why can’t we play Ireland more’. When we mapped out the tour, we said ‘we’ve got to play Dublin at least’ and I wanted to get up into Northern Ireland and play Belfast as well, but there was only so much time and place available.
There was six years between the last Slipknot album and the present one. That’s an eternity in music yet you still managed to have a critical and commercial success with ‘.5 The Gray Chapter’?
It was the musical equivalent of letting go of that long-held breath. You’re absolutely right – six years, you might as well retire at that point. It is just not that kind of world we live in anymore.
We also knew that we weren’t just going to just run right in and make an album. We were going to wait until it felt right and the fans knew that and their patience really helped us deal with the fact that we had a lot to deal with it in terms of losing Paul (Gray) and parting ways with Joey (Jordison, the drummer who parted ways with the band in controversial circumstances in late 2013 - his departure is currently the subject of litigation).
We needed to make sure that, if we were going into the studio, we had to do it for all the right reasons.
When we did go in, we knew exactly what we wanted to do and say, but there was no guarantee that the fans were still going to be there.
For me, it was very gratifying to have the album come out and be as well received as it did and still be received as well as it is. I’m still getting hit on by people who tell me that they like this song or that song. I just love that. There are only a handful of bands in the world who can say that. Luckily, we’re one of them.
Slipknot are 20 years old this year. How has it been after two decades?
It is one of the reasons we do the things we do. We’ve never jumped on trends, we’ve never chased notoriety. We’ve never chased a certain type of success. We’ve always looked at it as the long run and the long haul. That’s how you make your mark. That’s how you do things that are great and not just fashionable.
I’m just as surprised as anyone else. This band could have gone one way or the other, but we were embraced in such a way that it gave us the confidence to try new things and really keep shaping this music to our satisfaction rather than the latest trend. That’s why we are still there and still at the top of our game. We may be the last remnant of that type of band.
It is such a different world to make music in especially if you are in a metal or a hard-rock band. There’s no guarantee if you’re starting out that you’re going to be able to catch that tail and ride it out.
I’m very proud of the fact that, this being our 20th anniversary, we are still doing things our way.
Would Slipknot have succeeded if you started out in 2015?
That’s an interesting question. I’d like to think so. We were able to capture the imagination of an entire generation really.
I’d like to think that our message would still resound as well as it did back in 1999 when we put the first album out. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t have to work for it.
I look at the newer generation of fans that we have and there are so many new kids coming to the show. I’d like to think we’d have the same type of impact today that we had when the first album came out.
We would find a way. This band is renowned for finding a way to get that message out, to get in front of the fans.
The album is in honour of Paul Gray. How important was he to Slipknot?
Paul was essential to what this band was. He was probably one of the most gifted songwriters I’ve ever met and I mean that in such a sweeping way. He had such a creative way of looking at music. You were astounded by it. We all learned so much from watching him work and watching how his mind worked when it came to coming up with music.
Not only would he write his own music, but he would take our stuff and make it better.
He could turn a thing on its ear, he could go a different way with it. He had such a creative way of writing music. For me, it was almost the college of writing music. I learned so much by working with Paul and he was the biggest lover of the band in the world.
Is it true you’re considering writing a new album already, having waited six years between albums the last time?
We’re talking about it. We don’t want to rush right in and do anything. Now that we have told this story that we wanted to tell, we’re definitely thinking about it. Time will tell. This band has a habit of touring itself into the ground and it’s not an easy show to do.
By the time we’re done touring with this, we might need some time away, but you never say never.
This album proved that we’re never at a loss for musical ideas. We’ve proved that we can do it well and still make the kind of music we want to make.
What about side project Stone Sour?
Stone Sour is on a sort of hiatus at the moment. We’ve been recording a couple of cover EPs that we’ve been talking about for a long time. We figured it would be the best time to do it. We finished the first six (songs) and we’ve got another seven that we’re working on right now. We’re doing it at a nice slow clip.
You made your acting debut in ‘Fear Clinic’. Are you interested in having a career in film?
I’d love to do more movies, but that’s me assuming I’m any good at it. Let’s see what happens when Fear Clinic comes out and, if I don’t get any calls, I’ll know that I should stick to singing.
I’ve been offered a couple of things and I’d love to try and do it. If the opportunities come my way, I’m definitely going to jump at it.
I saw on Twitter that a baby in Wales called Corey-Taylor was named after you on New Year’s Eve. What does that feel like?
I think at the last count there were about 10 Corey-Taylors in the world, poor kids. I don’t know if that is a good legacy to live up to. It’s pretty humbling. I never thought in a million years that people would be naming their kids after me. It’s kind of a crazy concept.
Slipknot play the 3Arena on January 14th, 2015, with Korn. .5 The Gray Chapter is out now on Warner Records.