EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – SLIPKNOT “I feel like this is our first proper album in a long while.” COREY TAYLOR

Posted on by Oran

It’s been five years in the making, but the wait is finally over. Slipknot’s 6th studio opus, ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ presents a blistering collection of songs that display a band who have finally returned to the forefront of their creative abilities amidst a multitude of problems. 

Overdrive spoke to frontman Corey Taylor ahead of the album’s release to talk about the journey from ‘.5 The Grey Chapter’ to present day and everything else in between.

Talking from his hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, Corey Taylor sounds relaxed, confident and –  giving the bands hectic touring schedule – very excited about the release of ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ .

Despite the troublesome events that have plagued the band over the course of their 20 year career, this album symbolises somewhat of a new start for the (mostly) Des Moines natives and will no doubt be received with open arms from their global fan-base upon it’s release on Friday, August 9th.

© Down The Barrel Photography 2019

OD – Congratulations on the new album, it’s everything that we could have hoped for and more.”We Are Not Your Kind” has been five years in the making.

I noticed that there is a real sense of ‘thinking outside of the box’ on this opus; with regards to arrangements, it’s more in the vein of ‘Vol 3’ which to me showed people a very different side to the bands ability to craft melody’s and strong song structure.

I feel this album is a close relative in the sense that I was really taken aback by tracks like ‘A Liars Funeral”, “Spiders” any “My Pain”. Was there a conscious decision to push the boundaries on this album?

COREY – Well, yeah, I guess we started to push boundaries with ‘Vol 3‘ but on this album I feel it falls somewhere between ‘Vol 3‘ and ‘Iowa‘. There is the rage and the urgency of ‘Iowa‘ with the experimentation and exploration of ‘Vol 3‘.

We were heading that way to being with but with all the inner band peril, we really went off track over the last few albums. Everything that was happening during ‘All Hope is Gone‘ has been very well documented and ‘.5‘ was more of the approach of: “let’s see if we actually want to keep doing this“. I’m really happy that we’ve been able to get back to this creative place and show the world that we are actually doing it really well.

This album shows that we were all able to come together again and create something very special and you know what? We really need to to do that for ourselves if anything.

When it came time to lay this album down, we were so ready to do it. We were excited about making the album as we were about the content we were going to put into it. So, really the whole experience was awesome and I’m really happy with it all.

OD – You recently explained the title of the album (“We Are Not Your Kind”) with the catalyst being a general feeling that ‘we are all at odds with each other’. Constantly being judged by the way we look, what we listen to how we talk and where we come from.

From a writing perspective, you mentioned in a previous interview that you used the writing process to help you through a pretty difficult and dark time in your life. Do you feel that you achieved that with the finished product?

COREY – It definitely helped. Between making this album and my own personal therapy, I was dealing with a lot of personal damage. It was really about me getting away from a really toxic relationship that I had been trying to work for a very, very long time.

It was almost like trying to dig a hole in quicksand and finally just over two and a half years ago, I decided to get away from it and I didn’t realise the extent of the damage that it had already done to me. Long story short, I had a lot to talk about on this album, a lot to work out personally and luckily I’m in an amazing band that’s almost built for that very purpose.

Getting all of his off my chest and shedding the demons that I’d been living with, helped me heal. I don’t know if it’s helped me forget just yet, but it’s definitely helped me get past some of the hang up’s that I’ve been dealing with for a very long time. The whole thing is very fucking crazy.

It was getting very dark at times and I believe that you can really feel that in the music. You can really feel the place that I’m coming from and my hope is that people can feel that as well and it can help them in their lives and help them get out the dark places they have been or are currently experiencing.

It doesn’t have to be a relationship, we all find ourselves in dark, terrible places from time to time and hopefully this album will help to break those chains.

OD – There is no doubt that Slipknot have a huge/influential platform on a global level, when you lay down to sleep at night does the responsibility of knowing how big your audience is create any level of pressure, specifically with reference to writing the lyrics and being a public figure?

COREY – No, not really. It’s like the age-old question, what does that song mean to you? I know what it means to me. Say for example, let’s take a song like ‘Through Glass‘ (Stone Sour) I know exactly what that song is about and I’ve had hundreds of people tell me very different interpretations from looking through the glass at their new born baby in a hospital to talking to their Father in prison through the glass in the visiting room. Now, are those interpretations wrong? No, they’re not because that person has interpreted that way. Are they right? No, they’re not because they didn’t write it.

It’s a slippery situation, however the way to get around that is by allowing the ambiguity in yourself. By standing for something, meaning something, having meaning for something, fighting for things that you believe in, so there is absolutely no misrepresentation. Everybody knows that I don’t wish harm on anyone, especially my fans.

I go out of my way to make sure the kids at the shows are all okay. Some people walk a thin line, you know what I mean? In this day and age when every fucking thing I say is picked up and turned into a hundred fucking interviews. Like this interview I’m doing with Overdrive, is gonna turn into something like 16 fucking interviews. It’s fucking ridiculous.

For me, I take it very seriously. I don’t want to hand hold people through my lyrics because to be honest, some of this shit is none of their business, but also it’s not for me to make their minds up for them. I also know that in order for me not to be misrepresented; I have to absolutely be myself.

I have to know who I am, I have to know what I stand for and I have to know that there are certain things that I will absolutely stand for. And when you do that you take away peoples ability to put false definition. To me, that how you take responsibility for what you say in a public forum. That’s how you stand up for the things you have every right to express.

© Down The Barrel Photography 2019

OD – There is no question that Slipknot has become one of the worlds most popular metal bands of this generation, however, the journey has not been an easy one from what has been publicly documented to date.

When looking back on the bands conception to where you are today, it’s pretty evident that you’ve had your up’s and down’s. With everything that’s happened (the good and the bad) do you feel that this album is somewhat of a new beginning, a clean slate of sorts, going forward?

COREY – That’s a good question… (sigh) Well, I’ve never really thought about it in that way, but yes, I guess it is in a way. I feel like this is our first proper album in a long while.

‘.5’ was a really difficult album to make because we were under the shadow of a lot of things. Not least of which, were were all trying to get out our feelings about having lost Paul (Grey, former bassist who passed away in May of 2010) and that was the first opportunity we had to do that, so there was some pain involved there for sure.

Then there was ‘All Hope is Gone‘ (2008) which in my opinion, was such a fucking abysmal experience for a lot of people, that…even thought that album has some of our strongest songs on it, ironically it was just…. I think it was just soured by then due to what was going on at the time.

Trust me, I worked by fucking ass off to make that thing listenable. It was tough. FUCKING HARD! So, I think in a way, yeah this new album is kind of a re-boot of sorts. Almost like wiping the staines from glass, so we can finally see through the shit.

For me,  I really enjoyed working on this album and I know that everybody felt that way. It was really great to be able to create in that way again and you can really hear it in the way that we took so many fucking chances but you know it’s still us. It’s still Slipknot. That’s what I’m really proud of on this album and it’s also one of the reasons I back ‘Vol 3’ so much even though I didn’t enjoy making that album because of the “production”of Rick Rubin.

If it wasn’t for ‘Vol 3‘ we wouldn’t have been really able to cross over and bust through those expectations that other people were putting to us and I think that’s what this album is gonna do also.

OD – With this year being the 20th anniversary of the debut album June 29th, can you shed any light on what plans you have to celebrate this very important milestone?

COREY – Honestly I would love to talk about that but he (Shawn “Clown” Crahan) hasn’t talked to me about anything as of yet. [Laughing]

I think it’s so secret that none of us know. Honestly, I know we had hinted at doing something but because everything has been so batshit crazy, we’ve had no time to rehearse anything. I mean we’re still trying to rehearse new tracks we’re gonna be doing for the forthcoming tour and between travel and interviews, videos and all kinds of crap, it’s been tough for us to find some solid time to work on anything for the anniversary.

But I know something was in the mix for about 10 seconds and I’m not really sure it that’s even going ahead. One of the great things that we do in this band is forget great ideas. [Laughing}

OD – Prior to the general public knowing what Slipknot looked like when you first stated out, do you miss that anonymity as there are not a lot of people that have experienced the transition of becoming internationally famous as a masked persona at first and then being noticed in public when you’re just being your everyday self?

COREY – You know, it was a lot quieter that’s for sure. You have to remember though, everyone in our home town knew what we looked like. Half the time we would go on tour to just get away from the people that were bothering us.

Back when things were so much easier…

It was crazy. People were finding out where we lived and there was even a fucking guided tour of our houses in Des Moines!

OD – Are you serious?

COREY – Yeah, if was fucking insane. It was right around the time of the ‘Iowa‘ album. There was a fucking guided tour that someone was running and in fact, I remember my ex-mother-in-law at the time was taking garbage cans to the sidewalk and the next thing, this fucking van-load of tourists, most of which were Asian, gets out and didn’t really acknowledge my Mother-in-Law and started giving this monologue like; “this is the home of Corey Taylor of Slipknot...” and my Mother-in-Law is standing there going; “What the fuck is going on here?” It was just fucking insane around that time.

So, it wasn’t like we were ever bothered by people would figure out who we were based on our tattoo’s, which we’d never really thought of. But people also have to remember, it wasn’t really about the anonymity for us. It was about immersing ourselves in the actual art itself.

We figured that if we could wear the music as a uniform, this is what it would look like. Honestly, we weren’t really terribly bothered when people started really kind of catching on.

Then obviously when I came out with Stone Sour, that took the lid of some of that mystery and people started to get on my back about NOT wearing a mask! I was then thinking: “Well, why the fuck would I wear a mask in a band where we never wear them and why would I want to make comparisons to Slipknot as it’s a totally different thing?

Personally, I couldn’t care less about it all. I figured people would figure out what we looked like and who we were eventually. Most of the time I can walk around and nobody bothers me too much which is fucking fantastic. We’re not at a Beatle level and to be honest I don’t want to be.

I can still go out and eat in peace with my kids. I would say that I would get recognised about 1o times a day and I’m okay with that. I’m fine with that. It takes just 3-extra seconds to resent and be nice. All they want is to say hi, take a picture and it’s literally that quick and if that makes someone’s day then why can’t I take a couple of seconds to do that?

If I’m not really engaged with my family or my friends, or if I’m eating, stuff like that, I’m really a very approachable person.

OD – Do you ever see Slipknot phasing out the masks like KISS did with the make-up in the 80’s or is it as much part of the music?

COREY – No, it’s such a part of our art. It’s also part of the reason why we change the masks with every album. Unlike KISS, they have always used the same make-up and it never evolved. For us, we’ve changed with every album and not only the masks but also the outfits.

You can totally tell every album by the uniform. I think things like that have kept Slipknot relevant, it’s kept the music vibrant, it’s kept the live shows different and it’s kept us from stagnating.

So, no I could never see us loosing the masks. If we ever got the notion to do Slipknot unmasked, I think I’d be like; “Well…. ehh no“. We are all in our 40’s now and we still very much have a love/hate relationship with what we do but every-time we step on stage, we’re absolutely prepared to give it everything we’ve got.

So, for me personally, when that feeling stops, when we start trying to cut corners and try to make things easier, just so we can ‘get on with it‘, that’s when it’s gonna be time to call it a day.

OD – You will be kicking off the European leg of the tour in Dublin, With every Slipknot tour, the production levels get amped up even more, is the plan to take the full stage show across Europe and the rest of the world?

COREY – Yes is the short answer. That was one of the things that we made sure of right away. It’s been hard for us because we have these grandiose ideas and when we get the stage built we can only take it to half the fucking places on the world tour.

So, Clown… and this is just how awesome that man is, Clown got together with a bunch of people an literally mapped out the reasons why we couldn’t take our full production to the four-corners of the world; and it came down to inches! [Laughing]

It came down to the task of getting everything to fit together like giant puzzle. This production is specifically designed to be able to take it to the masses and get our show into every place possible…safely.

Let’s be honest here, we couldn’t put this shit into a school gymnasium like we did in Serbia. [Laughing] That was something like 8 years ago and it was literally a fucking school gymnasium! And you know what? It was one of the most craziest shows we’ve ever played in our fucking lives.

But to answer your question, as long as the stage has all of the parts that we need, we are bringing that shit everywhere we go, so everyone gets to see a full Slipknot production show.

We’ve realised that the fans don’t really notice that some stuff is missing from the stage production, they are just happy to be there. What they don’t know is that we’re disappointed that we can’t do the full show.

We get upset when not everyone is gonna get the same experience, because that’s how much we care about our fans and our shows.

At the end of the day if it wasn’t for these people, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do and we’ll never forget that. Ever.

It’s not like the industry is making record sale easier, it’s the fans that buy the records that keep the wheels turning. We need to be able to bring this show to everybody, everywhere.

OD – Considering all you’ve achieved to date, what are you most proud of with reference to your artistic legacy?

COREY – That’s another good question. I’ve been very fortunate to have had all the opportunities that have come my way. I think my greatest achievement is that it’s 20 years on and we are still doing what we want and doing it well.

In this day and age and especially the way technology has impacted this genre of music as well as punk, hardcore and extreme music, to have the mainstream glorify this pop music garbage and celebrate an artist for putting out just ONE album that sounds exactly like the same pop shit that was released the previous week, from another pop sensation who happens to be just a little bit ‘edgy’, to be able to rise above that shit and do what we do on a grand scale that gets people talking, that’s something to be very proud of.

Some other bands, they get a little success and then they taper off, not us. We stand by it all, we back up everything we’ve done and will continue to raise this beast and all we have to do right now is be the very best version of Slipknot that we can be.

Not only are Slipknot still here but we’re doing it at a level that is above and beyond so many others and we’re still on it, still hungry and still fucking fighting for our lives on stage.

Slipknot will be kicking off their European tour in Dublin, Ireland next year with a series of city dates. See the full list below and keep your eyes peeled for the dates real soon…

We Are Not Your Kind” is set for a worldwide release on Friday, August 8th. For more information please click here.

The official Irish album launch will be taking place tonight in Dublin’s, Grand Social from 7pm through 9pm with the album exclusively on sale and on rotation so you can all hear it first!

Get full details via this link.

Oran O’Beirne

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