Corey Taylor Talks ‘Seven Deadly Sins,’ Future of Slipknot, Tim Tebow + More
It’s understandable if you think you know a lot about Corey Taylor. After all, the media often trumpets his outspoken comments, including those about other artists. Yet, the frontman of Slipknot and Stone Sour is much more complex than the headlines would portray.
Loudwire caught up with Taylor before one of his tour stops on his recently wrapped solo trek, and he not only told us about Stone Sour’s upcoming album (see our previous article), he also talked candidly about his solo trek, his ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ book, Slipknot, Tim Tebow, Charlie Sheen and roasting Zakk Wylde. Read our in-depth interview with Corey Taylor below:
The ‘Seven Deadly Sins‘ spoken word / music tour was a very different project for you. How did it come about?
It’s been in the works for a long time, to be honest. It was just a matter of putting the right pieces together. I knew that someday I wanted to do a spoken word tour and let out my inner stand up comedian, really, in a lot of ways. It was just a matter of the right place, the right time, and the right circumstances.
It wouldn’t have made sense if I had done it before I released the book and if I had waited too long it wouldn’t have made sense for me. I’m also really lucky and it was kind of cool that I was able to do different things that gave me the confidence to put this whole package together. I had done acoustic gigs that went really well. I had done the Oxford speech [this summer to students] that went really well. And that kind of gave me the courage to be, like, you know what? Screw it. Let’s just do a whole tour of this. The fans really seem to enjoy it.
You seemed to really joke a lot with the audience on this tour; to tease some a bit if they sing incorrect lyrics.
If I’m gonna put myself onstage for that and think I’m gonna rip into the audience just a little bit (laughs).
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I can only hope that they see it in the spirit in which it was written. Especially in this climate where everybody is putting out bios and a guy like Tim Tebow, who puts out a life story at 22. You think ‘Really? You’ve lived that much at 22, you are putting out a book now?’ I wanted people to see it for the spirit in which it was. It wasn’t an autobiography and it wasn’t ghost written by somebody else. I wanted it to be poignant. I wanted it to be smart. I wanted it to be funny and a little offensive here and there. But the main thing I wanted it to be interesting.
What do you think of the fan reaction?
When it first came out, it confused a lot of people. Even though I’d done all this press to kind of prepare people for it, they automatically assumed it was gonna be another rock bio and I was like ‘No.’ The first couple of reviews that came in were bleak because people said ‘not enough stories.’ And I was like, you know what? You are completely missing the whole point. But the longer it has been out and the more the word of mouth has gone around from the fans and the people who have come to the show that see every night has a different theme, that has made all the difference, I think.
People have really started to see the point of why I did it in the first place. Everything I do I try to make different and try to make it a step away from what the norm is. I think I accomplished it with this.
You are so down to earth. That’s something a lot of your fans must find so surprising.
It’s important. The people I respect the least are the ones that take themselves way to seriously. And you can just tell this isn’t about the creativity for them. It is about the trying to prop themselves up to feel better about themselves. I think that is sad because there are really some great, great artists out there that really come off as such tools.
I am the kind of guy who has never taken myself too seriously. I mean, I am very serious about what I do, I’m very serious about the creative process and everything but at the end of the day I am just another lucky geek who got to live out a dream, you know? I am still the guy who reads tons of comics, watch tons of movies, still loves having a great time. I never put myself up on that pedestal. When people put me up on that pedestal I do my best to knock myself off.
Are there any negative effects, though, to that kind of forthcoming approach especially in this media environment?
Maybe that is why I catch so much hell for calling out some of these people. That’s fine, man. I’ll walk the thin line between hero and villain as long as it takes but at least I’m honest. At least I’m speaking my mind instead of hiding behind a keyboard or a computer screen under a user name that nobody understands. It makes me a target, but I can live with it.
Your spoken word show seems to be an extension of that honest perspective of your life. Is that how you planned it?
Really, the only way I have been able to explain this to people is that it’s almost a glimpse into an evening in my house. I mean, just sitting in my living room with all my friends just talking smack, and s–t and shop and all that stuff and then, almost inevitably, I pick up a guitar and my friend Jason [Rappise] who is actually out with me the other one up and we play songs the rest of the night. That is really what my house is. My house has been compared to Frank Zappa’s in a way because I have all these weird people who are very creative in their own way. They are always around. These are people who I have known for years. I have the same friends I’ve had since I was a kid. It is just a lot of fun.
What’s been some of the most fun parts of this tour?
Probably the thing I always look for is the reaction when we play ‘With or Without You.’ That is one of my all time favorite songs. I love that song. And it’s so funny because it is U2 and it is such a beautiful song but I have such die-hard metal fans that come to these shows, it’s funny.
If I can pick somebody out in the audience, like, you know the dude and I see him go “Wow,” and he kind of gets excited [when we start the song] and then reins himself in a little bit. [It's almost like he's thinking] ‘I’m gonna enjoy this, but nobody is gonna see that.’ That’s precious to me. It is one of those things that I’ve really tried to kick down in my career.
Everyone one-on-one will be completely honest about the music that they listen to. But then you get into a group situation and then it’s the cool/uncool debate. I have really done my very best to reinforce the very fact that your heart knows better than your head does what you like when it comes to music and what not.
I have always been the odd man out. In my group of friends I listened to the most outlandish stuff, to them. But to me it was completely natural. It was completely natural for me to listen to both Abba and Slayer because they are both completely amazing. It was completely natural for me to listen to Green Day and Looking Glass because I can. Because I know what I like and I’m secure in the fact that I love music. And not just a genre of music. And I’ve really tried to put that out there and I’ve seen so many people kind of open up to that.
Like I had a kid ask me the other night what kind of music is your guilty pleasure? I said I don’t have any. I don’t feel guilty about the music I love. If you feel guilty about something you dig, then you should stop feeling guilty about it. One of my favorite albums to this day is the 10th anniversary ensemble cast of Les Miserables, the ultimate cast recording, and it is still something I love listening to top to bottom.
What do you see happening with Slipknot in 2012?
I think  will just be more of a strengthening year for us. [The 2010 death of bassist Paul Gray is] still very fresh for us, even though it’s been a year and a half since his death. It is still something that breaks me down every night. I just know if we try to rush in and make an album that doesn’t feel right, the audience will know. The audience will know that it doesn’t feel right and they’ll know it was forced and they’ll know it isn’t genuine. If anything we have always been as genuine with our audience as possible. That is why I have gone out of my way to say ‘Look, I’m not ready to do it.’
And I know there are guys in the band that may or may not be comfortable saying it to anyone else but I know they feel the same way because they have said so to me. I think as long as the guys know we are going to eventually going to they are OK with that. It is not that time yet. When we make the album we all know it is going to be for Paul, you know? And I don’t think any of us are ready to open up that much yet. I think we need to take the steps to strengthen ourselves as a band first. And then start making those steps.
And, plus, he was one of our major, major songwriters. There is such a huge gap because of his loss. And I feel it. And that’s why I am not comfortable. It doesn’t make sense yet. And that is one of those things that makes me a villain to a lot of kids. Me saying we aren’t going to make an album is like me saying that the band is going to break up for some people. And everyone needs to calm down. I never said that. I said it is going to be a while before we make another album. But I think the more we put ourselves out there and the more we show ourselves as a band, a solid unit, the more people calm down about that.
There are always so many rumors out there. Is there one that you’d like to set straight?
The rumor that I died has been chasing me since 1999, The first 1 ½ years we were out, I died in the press eight times. I swear to God. There were so many rumors that I died in a car crash so there were so many rumors that I wasn’t the real #8 (Taylor’s alias in Slipknot). It was fantastic. It really followed us for so long. It’s crazy. I have had this dog tailing me for the longest time and I think it is hilarious.
I guess the real rumor to put to rest, well, I am not going to be the singer for Velvet Revolver. I have really done my best to answer that as much as I can because it really didn’t start as far as the rumor until we had already agreed I was going to do it. It keeps getting picked up. That is such old news. I still get asked about it by fans. We didn’t record an album together. We did some demos but we didn’t record an album. And we did some songwriting and stuff.
Me and [Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver] went back and forth writing some stuff. It was so much fun. I got to jam with some of my heroes. How many people can say that in their lifetime? And not just jam with them but write with them. It was fantastic. But that is really I think the only thing I can dispel. I am not planning on running for any office of any kind. I keep telling people I am way too honest to be a politician. Take that anyway you want.
It’s almost like you’ve lived several lives. How do you define yourself now?
I have got to be honest, I am not as defined now as I was before just because of how honest I am in my lyrics. Obviously, when I was young I got all caught up in the whole romance of the stardom and the fame. I’m lucky I made my mistakes early and I was savvy enough to have learned from them for the most part, I guess. Now I am defined by who I aspire to be. A great father, a good husband, a good person, a good friend some crazy ranting lunatic who gets to entertain a bunch of frickin’ people. It’s really cool.
I am not defined by who people think I should be. I am my own man and that’s good. I could easily have become a Charlie Sheen or someone like that. It is almost like they are enabled to be a certain way. And in many ways, they are encouraged to behave that way because they know that kind of behavior makes headlines. And they are encouraged to be pretty much jackasses because of their “genius.” [People say] ‘It’s OK for him to be a complete a–hole to people because he’s a genius. That’s just a big cop out. That is an absolute cop out. I have met several people who are bigger and better than these quote unquote a–holes and they are some of the sweetest people I have ever met. It takes 10 seconds to have manners. Put the effort in. It takes nothing to be good to people.
So you’re going to be one of the people that roasts Zakk Wylde on Jan. 19, right?
Yeah, I am so stoked. I met Zakk on Ozzfest 2001 – it was crazy. It was right in that time getting ready to release the ‘Iowa’ album. 9/11 hadn’t happened yet so it was still pretty free, pretty open. We were all it was like almost the peak of my party days, you know how that goes. I remember hanging out with him and all the guys in Black Label and really getting to know him as a person. He was one of the nicest and craziest people I ever met in my life. And he’s huge. He’s the size of a freakin’ mountain. Basically, he dwarfs me on every level. He has a heart the size of the world. And he’s never been anything but cool to me every time I’ve seen him. It’s just a pleasure. And even in a case when I run into him and want to chat for five seconds, he’ll give me 30 minutes.
So will you agree if they want to roast you sometime?
Oh, Christ! (laughs) Probably. Just because I make fun of myself as it is. I can only imagine what would be said. It would be brutal!