It’s almost 20 years since Corey Taylor – he of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame – opined ‘People = Shit’. Two decades on, the 46-year-old Iowa native finds himself navigating a year where his assessment has repeatedly been proved pretty much correct.
Into this climate he’s chosen to release his first solo album, ‘CMFT’, coming out on October 2, the same day Taylor and his band celebrate with a globally streamed, pay-per-view show at The Forum in Los Angeles. We got him on the phone to talk pyro, sushi, cancel culture and, er, My Little Pony.
Hello Corey. A solo album, why now?
“It’s something I’ve been threatening to do for a long time, going back about 10 years. It was something I just kept putting off. But I was getting asked about it a lot by fans, journalists and whatnot and I just started thinking, ‘Well, shit, maybe it’s time’. I had accumulated all these songs over the years that didn’t fit with either Slipknot or Stone Sour, and if you put them all together, it creates a record that is such a personal reflection of who I am musically.”
How far back were some of these songs written?
“At least 20 years. The first song on the album [‘HWY 666’] started life in a notebook I had in 10th grade, so it goes all the way back to high school. It wasn’t until I found that notebook a couple of years ago that I decided to take what I had and finish it. There was that and songs like ‘Kansas’ and ‘Samantha’s Gone’. They’re pretty old. But I was writing songs up until eight months ago. I actually wrote the song ‘Meine Lux’ on the last Slipknot European tour.”
Do you think there’s anything on the record that either Slipknot or Stone Sour will hear and think, ‘Hey, why didn’t you save that for us?’
“Probably not. There’s a couple of songs on there that I actually tried to offer to Stone Sour and for whatever reason they just weren’t feeling it. There’s really not a lot of Slipknot on there. The only one might have been ‘European Tour Bus Bathroom Song’, just because it sort of has an ‘Eeyore’ or ‘Get This’ kind of vibe, but it’s still probably a little too jolly for Slipknot. I wrote that 10 years ago. I thought it was such a funny idea to write a song that was a rhythmic cadence of words on a sign in a European tour bus bathroom. It was kind of a challenge to myself.”
Do you find writing songs easy or hard?
“Yeah, normally the former. The hardest thing is where I’ve tried to write something specific, that’s when I get stuck. I tend to let stuff come to me, you know. Ever since I’ve taught myself how to play, I’ve been writing a lot of piano stuff. Every time I sit down, I tend to come up with something that turns into either an idea for a melody line or a guitar thing or even a full piano thing.”
You live in Las Vegas. How’s it been during COVID?
“Well, our mayor [Carolyn Goodman] is a fucking maniac. At the end of lockdown she made this video of her driving around the city screaming, “We’ve got the keys! We’re opening back up!” and then as soon as places started trying to get back to normal, we had another upswing in COVID-like instances. All these jackasses were going to the casinos and not wearing masks. Like, what do you think was going to happen you fucking morons? I was just blown away by the ignorance of people.”
How have you found this strange year personally?
“I mean, it’s been an adjustment. The hardest thing has been walking my daughter through it. All of a sudden she doesn’t know why she can’t play with certain friends. Or why she can’t go to dance class. It’s been tough trying to explain the severity of it to her. Six-year-olds don’t understand things like fucking respiratory infections. Also, for a six-year-old, 10 minutes is an eternity. Try extrapolating that for six months. She’s been bouncing off the walls.”
We’ll be honest, we now have images of Corey Taylor on his hands and knees playing with dolls…
“She won’t let me play with her toys! She’s got all the My Little Ponies and I’ll be like, ‘Why can’t I have a pony?’ but she just says, ‘Because you’re a grown up’”.
Just warning you, ‘Corey Taylor: Why can’t I have a pony?’ is probably going to be the headline of this piece.
“I fucking dare you.”
Crumbs. Tell us something we might not know about what you got up to during lockdown?
“I was vegan for a little bit, but I’m pescatarian now. I eat fish. I eat eggs. But other than that, I don’t do any dairy. I haven’t eaten real meat for God knows how long. I did it for health reasons. My cholesterol was really high. My good cholesterol was really low and my bad cholesterol was really high. As soon as I cut out meat it dropped eight points, which was fucking crazy. It did make me think, ‘There really is something in this’. But I love fish too much to give it up. I cannot ever imagine not eating sushi.”
We saw you doing a skit on Adult Swim about how important it is to wear a mask during COVID…
“That was a thrill. I’ve been a fan of Adult Swim forever. ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’, what a show! But on the masks issue, seriously, people need to stop fucking whining. It’s like, people worrying about their rights being fucking stepped on. Are you kidding? You didn’t say shit when they fucking told you to wear a seat belt. You’re going to complain about wearing a mask for five to 10 minutes in the grocery store? Get the fuck out. If I can wear a mask for a two hour Slipknot show, you can wear one for five minutes. It’s such fucking idiotic garbage.”
Something else that happened during lockdown was the anniversary of Slipknot member Paul Gray’s passing on May 24, 10 years ago. Did you all connect?
“We all reached out to each other. We obviously couldn’t meet up because nobody can really travel. It was tough. All of a sudden you look up and it’s been a decade. I’d give anything for Paul to be here. Paul was always the one who got us all on the same page. His excitement was infectious. When the day came, we just tried to be there for each other.”
There’s a song on the solo record called ‘Culture Head’. I believe it’s about ‘cancel culture’. Tell us about that…
“Well, it’s about social media, and the state of politics and what’s happening across the world. The toxicity. The way people speak to each other. It’s just so rampant and so ferocious and I don’t, for the first time in my life, see a way out. I don’t see a way of things getting better. And I really wish I could. I try not to let it get me down, but how can you not?”
Can you give me an example of where you think ‘cancel culture’ has gone too far?
“It’s not just ‘cancel culture’ – it’s a case of the young generation, the more progressive generation, thinking that they’ve got to figure it all out by taking one extreme to another. But what they’re doing is they’re taking out the easy targets. If they really wanted to engage in cancel culture, there’s so many people that are way more deserving than many who are on the end of it. First of which would be the fucking president of my goddamn country. They’re just picking people off on the fringe.”
Have you had an incident where you’ve been on the end of it?
“Well, there’s a great antithesis to it all, which is just to go, ‘fuck you’. You don’t get to cancel me. Do you think you and your hordes can cancel me? Fuck off. You know, it’s the egotism of a horde that thinks that they can just absolutely cancel someone and destroy their livelihood. It’s a case of the medicine not fitting the illness. I mean, hold these people accountable to what they’ve done. If you don’t want to give them attention, fine. But cancelation isn’t solving the problem. In a way you’re making the problem worse. That’s where this ‘progressive generation’ doesn’t fucking understand because it’s more complicated than something they can read on a phone.”
It’s hard to deny that some behaviour deserves to be critiqued – but it does feel like empathy and an understanding of people being works in progress is at an all time low.
“Big time. Everything is in extremes. Our communication on the internet is completely extreme. There is no conflict, no real conversation, all we’re doing is just screaming and throwing rocks at each other and hoping that those rocks get enough likes. It’s insane. There’s no communication. It’s all just devastation.”
On a lighter note, tell us about your forthcoming streamed show, ‘Forum Or Against Em’ which takes place at The Forum in Los Angeles on October 2. Specifically, was that your pun?
“Oh man, I wish it was. But we had a plan to do a big show and stream it and because that pun had come up when the band were goofing around with each other, I did ask my manager if he could get us in at The Forum, just so that pun wouldn’t go to waste.”
Beez from the excellent YouTube channel ‘Mosh Talks’ tells us that you’ve spent ‘a shit tonne on pyro…’
“Oh, we’ve gone full production on it. Full pyro. Full lights. I’m playing piano on a few songs, we’re playing for almost two hours, we’re doing ‘CMFT’ in its entirety, some songs I wrote for Slipknot and Stone Sour, a bunch of covers we love playing… I wish so fucking hard that things were different and we could play for people. I have a feeling that by this time next year, we’re – everybody’s – gonna be back on the road. I have a feeling that everything will be slowly getting back to normal by the beginning of next summer. But right now, we have to be creative in how we can connect with people. People need music.”
‘CMFT’ is released October 2, when ‘Forum Or Against ‘Em’ also streams. Tickets are available from watch.thecoreytaylor.com