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  Corey Taylor of Slipknot
Corey Taylor of Slipknot at Ozzfest 2001,
PNC Bank Arts Center, NJ, 8/11/01
Photo by Glyn Emmerson © 2001 NY Rock


Interview with Corey Taylor of Slipknot by Talia Soghomonian

Backstage at the Zenith in Paris, France, all is laid back despite the presence of a camera crew trying to capture the movements of band members 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8 for an upcoming live DVD, on which Slipknot's London show will be immortalized a few days later. But tonight, the heaviest of metal bands is getting ready to play a second successful night in the French capitol with opening band, American Head Charge, another orchestra-sized act. Frontman Corey Taylor (#8) has just returned from his pilgrimage to Jim Morrison's grave, where he and two bandmates left a Slipknot hat. Corey leads me to a little office, sits behind an executive desk and begins to unmask his thoughts....

NYROCK:

You're not doing the interview with the mask on?

COREY:

No, I never do interviews like that. Only if it was a filmed interview, that's the only time I put the mask on, for stuff like that, but this... it's just more personal like this.

NYROCK:

The masks that you've each chosen, do they reflect a certain angry aspect of each member's personality?

COREY:

Yeah, it's a little more. It's our way of becoming more intimate with the music. It's a way for us to become unconscious of who we are and what we do outside of music. It's a way for us to kind of crawl inside it and be able to use it. There's a little aspect of, I guess, our personality in them, but in a way, it's almost like wearing the music. That's the way it is for us. The music for us is so tangible that you can wrap it around yourself and feel safe. You can get inside it and explore it. You know what I mean?

NYROCK:

Is that why your set lists differ each night?

COREY:

The songs are totally different every night because we are comfortable enough to be able to just do anything we want. It's one of the best things about it.

NYROCK:

How have you evolved as artists from your first album to your second, the current release Iowa?

COREY:

I don't know if we've matured, but we've definitely become more comfortable with what we know we want to do. The first album was written when we were very young – young as musicians – and trying to do it professionally. It had all the anxiety coming from that, coming from that background.

We hadn't recorded the album yet; we hadn't gone out and toured yet; we didn't know how people were going to take us. So we'd just written the songs for us. There was really no audience until then. So we – flash forward two years later – after the last show, [were] getting ready to do the next album. And it was weird. It was a totally different mindset, because we'd done all this; we'd come so far. It was time to kind of figure out which direction we wanted to go in for our second album. We decided to go very dark, really get brutal with it, because it just needed to go that way.

NYROCK:

It needed to?

COREY:

We weren't going to take the easy route and write just a shitload of singles and be done with it. We knew how we needed to go naturally. And it was basically us standing behind every word that we'd said on paper in the media.

NYROCK:

What had you said?

COREY:

Basically, I was saying that we don't give a fuck about the media; we don't give a fuck about the record industry; we don't give a fuck about MTV, radio, any of that shit. We play this for us and for the kids who believe in us. They really got behind it.

NYROCK:

Yeah, you've got an amazing following. Your album must have had the effect of a seismic shake on Billboard.

COREY:

It's probably the heaviest album that ever hit the Top Three on Billboard. That's saying something – obviously it slipped down after that – with no radio [airplay] really; it was just us. And it's always been just us.

NYROCK:

So taking the hard route paid off.

COREY:

  Corey Taylor of Slipknot
Corey Taylor of Slipknot at Ozzfest,
PNC Bank Arts Center, NJ, 8/11/01
Photo by Glyn Emmerson
Photo © 2001 NY Rock

  
It felt right to go that way. We were more sure of ourselves, and we were taking a bigger hand in how we needed to go. So that was the difference from the first album to this one.

We never expected the [first] album or the band to blow up as big as it did then. We knew we were going to have to work at it. We knew what we wanted to do, and we just went out and did it. And then the album blew up. It got so popular that we were just like, "What the hell's goin' on?" We were asked to be on Conan O'Brien, for God's sake! I didn't understand that at all.

So on the second album, we weren't really sure what was going to happen with it. And then when it did take off, it didn't soar to the heights (in sales) that a lot of people in the record industry thought it would, which just shows you how much they just don't get what we're doing. We knew it was not going to be the eight-million-selling album. It's just not that kind of an album.

NYROCK:

What kind of an album is it?

COREY:

It's a mood album. You put it on when you're frustrated, angry, working out, you need something in life to vent. It's not an album that you just leave in your disc player and let it play all the time, like Fleetwood's Rumours. That's a great album to just put in and listen to. We knew it wasn't going to be like that. So on the second album, I wasn't very surprised at how well it did, but I know a lot of people involved with us who thought it was going to be much bigger.

NYROCK:

You said that Iowa was an album to vent your anger. Why are you so angry?

COREY:

How much tape do you got? Life is a good enough excuse to be angry. I have a lot of ideas that don't mesh well with society.

NYROCK:

Are you a tortured soul?

COREY:

I don't know. I mean, what's a tortured soul? A tortured soul to me is someone who spends a lot of time alone and doesn't go out anywhere. A "tortured artist" is someone who doesn't have a fuckin' intention. I think it's bullshit. It's one of the reasons why we put the masks on in the first place. You get what's in the music, nothing else, nothing more.

NYROCK:

What did you listen to growing up?

COREY:

I listened to old Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament.

I was 15 in 1988 when that whole scene really kicked out. You had the really good thrash metal bands and then you had all the really good glam punk rock bands that came out of L.A. before it got really saccharine.

I was there when the dangerous stuff came out, like the first L.A. Guns album, all the Mötley Crüe albums up 'til now. And that kind of pointed me in the direction. That's what I liked and how I lived.

NYROCK:

The band is sort of a little orchestra. You have percussionists, a sampler, a DJ and guitars. Heavy metal bands usually center around guitars. Why nine members?

COREY:

That was more Shawn's idea, the Clown [percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan (# 6)]. I joined the band later, and he really wanted that pounding percussion with metal feel in it. He just really dug that. A lot of this is his vision. The lyrics may be me, but a lot of this is his vision. He's a very intelligent guy, even if you don't understand what he says half the time. But he just wanted something different. He wanted something that just punched you in the chest, that was dangerous, 'cause there was no danger in music. Marilyn Manson went from being the devil to an alien with breasts. So what? There was no danger in it. All rock 'n' roll should have at least a little bit of danger, or it's just fuckin' AM radio.

That's the roots we come from – wanting to do something different no matter how many people it took, no matter how long it took trying to find it.

NYROCK:

Do you guys all get along really well or are there personality clashes?

COREY:

No, we're family. Families fight; families get along; they love each other. They may not agree with each other all the time; they may not want to hang out with them 24/7, but they're still family. And that's what this band is.

It's just life. If you love somebody all the time, then it's fake. If you get along with somebody all the time, it's fake. You can't have positive energy without negative.

NYROCK:

How is the energy in the songwriting process? Do you guys all participate in it?

COREY:

  Slipknot
It can come from anywhere. There's no real set way that we do it. We just get together and see what works. We all contribute. The only thing that really is set is that I don't write the lyrics until all the music is done, because things change so often. We're the ultimate perfectionists.

Some songs will be done in a day. Others will take us two weeks to figure out because it gets stuck. You have to get away from it and then go back to it. Once that songs plays, once everything's added, then I come in and listen to everything and write the lyrics on that. I may be doing a little arranging here and there to make it a little more like a song, more... unified.

It's a lot easier than people think. We wrote the whole second album in about three-and-a-half weeks.

You see, a lot of the lyrics are things that I write on the side, and then if I hear something, I go, "Fuck! I have something like that at home that'll fix with that." I'll go off with that and take it from there. So, yeah, it's really, really easy especially if you've got nine people doing it.

NYROCK:

In "The Heretic Anthem," you say "Everybody defamates from miles away/But face to face, they haven't got a thing to say." Is that directed at the media or a more personal target?

COREY:

It's everybody. It's all the critics, all the people in the record industry that want us to fail, all the people that we have to deal with at our record label that just don't get it and want to treat us like a product instead of artists. All the detractors. It's like, say it to my face and see what happens.

NYROCK:

And you don't have to be famous to be defamed.

COREY:

No, you don't, and I think that's why people like it. We talk about things that people can understand. There's more drama in my hometown than any soap opera on television. It's just so pathetic. It's small-town mentality. It drives people insane, because you just can't take it. You gotta get away, so I totally know what I'm talking about.

NYROCK:

You also sing, "I'm a pop-star threat."

COREY:

That's right. That's pretty much self-explanatory. If we make it, we're making it on our terms. Contrary to popular belief, we don't make a lot of money doing this. When you have a band as big as this, size-wise, it's not like having a three-piece that writes a good pop single and they're automatically millionaires. There's so much shit that goes on in the band that we just don't make enough cash. We make enough to live obviously, but we don't make nearly enough as a band half our size.

NYROCK:

You've been nominated for two NME Awards. In the Album of the Year category, you're running against the Charlatans, Muse, Radiohead and the Strokes. That's a weird combo, isn't it?

COREY:

I don't think we've ever been nominated for Album of the Year. That's a pretty big honor. Sometimes it's regulated by your peers, but I just don't see the Charlatans and the Strokes as our peers (laughs).

We're nominated for another Grammy this year. It's cool when that stuff happens, but I don't let it run my life. Just the fact that hopefully we'll fill this place again tonight is enough for me.

NYROCK:

I guess having such a fan base is a reward in itself.

COREY:

Absolutely. It kicks ass. And the great thing is, they can be fans of us and other bands too. Kids are going to like what they like. When they throw you in categories and put you against each other for awards, that's when it's just cat-and-mouse. I don't have time for that.

NYROCK:

Well, that's more of a competition between the record companies.

COREY:

Absolutely. I think it's bullshit, but that's just me.

NYROCK:

Do you feel you've put Iowa on the rock map?

COREY:

I hope so. Before we came along, the only thing rock-wise that Des Moines was known for was that it was the town where Ozzy had bitten the head off the bat. So that's my heritage.

Maybe we can leave a vision of Des Moines that has nothing to do with farmers, cows and cornfields, because that's such a small part of what it is.

NYROCK:

I know you want to help small-town bands like yourself. How did Maggot Recordings come about?

COREY:

Maggot Recordings came about because, as we were traveling the U.S. and playing all over the world, we saw that there are so many really good bands from the middle of nowhere. And they had no opportunities. So we decided that we were going to create a label and find these bands and give them an opportunity to be heard. It was just our way of saying thank you to all these people that believed in us. Coming from the middle of nowhere, we know that it's so hard not even to be seen, just to be heard.

We decided since we were on the road all the time, we were going to basically be our own PR people and find these bands and give them an opportunity.

NYROCK:

Have you signed many bands?

COREY:

No, we're still searching it out, gathering everything and trying to figure out who we can work with and who we can't.

NYROCK:

So how's the tour going?

COREY:

It's going very good. I can't say that I can't wait for it to be done, but I'm just tired. We've been touring non-stop since before the album came out, so it's time for me to go home for a while and be able to rest.

NYROCK:

How do you relax?

COREY:

You don't wanna know.

NYROCK:

Do you have a message for your fans?

COREY:

Don't stop believing. We'll always be here as long as you'll have us.

March 2002

More Slipknot:
Interview (Jan. 2000)CD Review (Iowa)Concert Review (Ozzfest)

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