Corey Taylor knows what makes a good rock song. After all, the singer and guitarist has topped the charts in not one but two blockbuster bands: masked metallers Slipknot and melodic rockers Stone Sour.
Stone Tour’s fourth studio album, House of Gold & Bones Part 1, dropped last year, and House of Gold & Bones Part 2 will reach stores and online outlets on April 9. The two make up the band’s epic concept album: a collection of ambitious hard rock songs that present a harrowing story from the standpoint of colorful characters.
Gibson.com caught up with Taylor before a tour stop in Saint Paul, Minn., to talk about Stone Sour’s latest musical concoctions, his time working with Dave Grohl on the Sound City documentary and why 98% of the guitars he writes on are Gibsons.
For more on Stone Sour, including upcoming tour dates, visit www.StoneSour.com.
When did you start playing guitar?
I started teaching myself when I was 12. My cousin had an acoustic that he had gotten for his birthday and barley touched, and I started messing around with it and borrowed it from him from time to time, and eventually my grandmother bought me an old Hohner. I tuned it to an open chord, and I don’t even know what chord it was, and I learned to play with one finger. I got into traditional tuning and started going from there and watching how people played and the positions their finger and what they were doing. I really taught myself how to play by ear. I knew that if I wanted to be in music, I wanted to write songs, so it started from there.
How do you use the guitar as a songwriting tool?
I’m the kind of guy that when I write a song in my head, I tend to get the melody going, and I start matching chords to the progressions and get a melody stuck in my head. Now, if I’m sitting down and tooling around coming up with cool riff, and I can also go from there, and luckily, I’m in two bands where the guitar players are really good and can make them much better! [Laughs] I keep both feet in both worlds. A lot of the stuff I write is very chord-based and has a big chorus vibe to it.
What guitars do you use for songwriting?
Ninety-eight percent of them are Gibsons. Everything from old J-200s to Hummingbirds to all the Les Pauls I have. When it comes to writing the rock stuff, I use Les Pauls, because I love the beefy tone to them.
What’s it like switching between the dynamics of more melodic music with Stone Sour and heavier stuff with Slipknot?
It’s a lot more natural than people would think. To me, it’s two different types of music and bands. It’s two different types of approaches when it comes to making music and what is expected from each band. For me, going back to Slipknot is like putting on gloves you’ve been wearing forever and that have been worn to the point when it feels natural when slip them on your hands. With Stone Sour, the challenge is to balance the heavier side with the more melodic side and push the envelope musically.
Stone Sour has this double concept album coming out last year and into this year, House of Gold & Bones – Part 1 and 2. Did you set out to do two albums, or did it just kind of happen?
We knew we wanted to do a double album, and more we talked about it, it became apparent we wanted to release it as two separate albums rather than one big package, both for creative reasons and pragmatic reasons. Creatively, we could do different things with packaging and crate excitement for Par 2, almost like a sequel to a movie. We knew could do cool things and, by word of mouth, drive what was going on. Pragmatically, double albums are really expensive, and in this day and age when most people don’t even like to buy CDs, we wanted to make sure our fans had the incentive to buy them. Instead of charging something 30 bucks, we decided to split it up and make it more affordable for people.
Tell me about your recent work with Dave Grohl for the Sound City documentary.
It was an absolute pleasure from day one. I can remember Dave telling me about it over a year ago before, they even shot anything, and I thought it was a great idea. When they wanted me to be a part of it, it was a no brainer. To be a piece of that history, I was really stoked about it and really looking forward to talking about it. The icing on the cake recording a song with Dave. Even so, it wasn’t until I saw the movie all together that it hit me that, Wow, this is really a love story not just for that studio but for something that’s been lost because of technology. It’s one thing to use technology for your benefit, but it’s another thing to use it to cover up a lack of talent.
This movie is designed specifically to inspire to people to throw away the technology. Don’t let it cover up your mistakes. Get out and learn your mistakes and learn your craft and be a better artist. Be a better performer. Be a better musician.
So, you saw the Sound City documentary at Sundance? That must have been surreal.
Yeah, I got to see it and was stoked about it. Even if I wasn’t in the movie, I would love the movie, just because I’m a fan of documentaries. I’m a huge fan of music history. I’ve read up on so many genres over so many, and watching the movie, you really get caught up in it and understand what an impact that studio had on music, whether it was nirvana and first Rage Against the Machine album or Fleetwood Mac and Rick Springfield. That board really allowed people to put their character into the music, and I’m just glad it’s still going to be put to use at 606.
Check back for Part 2 of our interview with Taylor in the coming weeks.