SKILLET w/, Red Gazelle & RedHook Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney Thursday 15th November, 2018 …
The excitement before a chat with Corey Taylor can induce some crazy behaviour—like locking yourself out of your house.
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Such stupidity is made worth it for the opportunity to talk with the famed Stone Sour and Slipknot frontman about his long-awaited return to Australian festivals, when his hard rock heroes in Stone Sour will co-headline this year’s inaugural Good Things.
Word on the street is Taylor is the nicest guy in rock. Once he’s set aside his laughter at this writer’s dilemma, he begins talking about Stone Sour’s visit this December, proving the word right; Taylor is beyond excited. “It feels so good,” Taylor says with an unabashed sincerity. “Honestly, we were trying to find ways to come back down after the success we had there and the fact we got this offer, it blew our minds, man! We are so chuffed to get down there, we are so excited.”
Since the release of their #2 ARIA charting album Hydrograd in 2017, Stone Sour will have some material to play out here that deviates a little from their discography. In trying a little more of a country style with the song St. Marie, Taylor executed an experiment he felt was successful, realising a vision he wasn’t worried his more hardcore fans wouldn’t share. “It’s almost like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it’s done or not,” he says. “If it sticks, you know, whatever, if it falls, you know what, there’s always going to be another album.
“For us, especially for me, writing that song was almost a tip of the hat to growing up in Iowa. I was surrounded by country music, most of my family [are] ferocious country-western fans. I like the older stuff, the stuff you can feel, that was genuine.
“It wasn’t the Midwestern yodelling, it came from the heart, you could really relate to it, and that was what this song was about. It was really about looking upwards and asking someone who may or may not exist to touch you on the forehead and let you know it’s okay to be who you are, it’s okay to mess up sometimes and to know that at some point people love you for who you are and not the other way around.”
One of his favourite songs on the album, St. Marie boasts a sentiment and longing Taylor believes is pivotal to good music. Fans responded to it, he says, for better or for worse, but as long as people have an opinion, meaning they’ve heard it, Taylor is happy with that. There’s a very particular connective experience to be said of country music, and being from a country state, with Hydrograd soul and sentiment was absolutely something Taylor wanted to tap into and to connect with again, saying, “The thing that people don’t realise is that I write stuff like that all the time, they’ve just never heard it.
“For House Of Gold & Bones – Part 1, Taciturn was actually a completely different song and I’d written it in a certain style—it was actually a lot closer to St. Marie than what it became, which was a darker, more minor, almost [Led] Zeppelin vibe to it.
“The guys, they didn’t responds to it in that form and I loved the lyrics. What I did was rework it and give it a more minor feel, but the original version of Taciturn was very country, and that’s what inspired me to dust off St. Marie and see with what we could do with it.”
That for me, that’s what the spirit of music should be. To be able to break something down to its absolute barest minimum and have the same emotion, the same reaction.
Country often ties in well with an acoustic performance and lately, Taylor has had acoustic performances spouting from him like a drinking fountain. Though well-received, Taylor has no current plans to release an acoustic album of new material, but he does feel acoustic performances are an opportunity to really expose what it is he loves and feels should be experienced from music. “To me, being a music snob – because let’s face it, that’s what I am – I love the purity of it.
Taylor adopts a profound manner, the love he has for the craft evident and true. “I love the fact I can get up there with an acoustic guitar and sing certain songs. I don’t need a DJ booth, I don’t need headphones, this or that. All I need is this guitar. My voice. And I can touch thousands of people.
“That for me, that’s what the spirit of music should be. To be able to break something down to its absolute barest minimum and have the same emotion, the same reaction.”
An acoustic performance is a chance for Taylor to bare his soul. By putting himself in such a vulnerable position, he wants to be sure any acoustic album in future is well-rounded and well thought out. “If you’re not baring something when you’re making music,” he says, “I feel like you mist as well be listening to a wall.
“You don’t have to break, but you have to bend. You have to allow the audience to feel what you’re feeling, you have to allow them to see some of the shit you’ve seen, some of the stuff you’ve gone through. You have to kind of take them by the hand and take them to where they need to be to be able to witness what happened.
“It doesn’t mean that they’re gonna see the same thing you’ve gone through, but it does mean in some way it’s gonna trigger that thing inside them that’s gonna help them relate to it, and it may completely redefine what that song means for them, but it’s gonna hit that same trigger, and that’s what music is supposed to do.”
Such is Taylor’s profound outlook on the spirit and beauty of true music, triggering people in the same way at a big festival stage won’t pose a challenge. “It’s all about the way you perform.
“If you’re performing from the heart, if you’re giving everything you’ve got then the audience can feel that. The audience can tell when they’re being put on, they can also tell when you’re not feeling it. So when you’re in that moment and you’re going for it, you have to take them with you.
“It can get hundreds of thousands of people going or it can get just a hundred people going, as long as you’re coming from the same standpoint, I think it’s about making sure everybody walks away from that gig going, ‘God, that was the best fucking show I’ve ever seen!’