COREY TAYLOR: PRESIDENT BUSH Is 'A Talking Head With A Lot Of Smart, Devious People Behind Him'

MSO PR has issued the following question-and-answer session with SLIPKNOT/STONE SOUR frontman Corey Taylor:

Q: Let's start with "Through Glass", the first single from "Come What(ever) May". What inspired that one? Where were you when you wrote it, if you can remember?

Corey: I remember exactly where I was. It was 2004 and I was on tour with SLIPKNOT. I was sitting in a European hotel room watching a music video channel, seeing act after act after act of this inane, innocuous, plastic music. They were plastic, bubbly, gossamer-thin groups where it was really more about the clothes they wore and the length of their cheekbones than it was about the content of the song they were singing.

It really made me mad. I was like, "Is this it? Have we just gone full circle? Did the singer/songwriter revolution never happen?" Is it just the same drivel from the same replicant over and over again? "Through Glass" is really a very angry song. It's me basically calling "bullshit" on pretty much everyone involved with the "American Idol"-type shows. It has its place, but when you're basically cornering the market and making it very hard for anyone who actually writes their own music to get ahead, then it's wrong and that's really why I wrote this song.

Q: The video for "Through Glass" takes place in the most plastic of scenarios: the cliché, vacant, Hollywoodesque party…

Corey: Which I've been to a few of, and I find them incredibly boring. There's just nothing going on. They're really much more of a meet-and-greet than a party. You've got people working the room, promoting themselves, and nobody's really having a good time.

I remember the first time I ever went to a Hollywood party in 1998. I just remember looking around at these people. We were wandering around like outsiders thinking, "This is it? This is what we heard about and this is what we dreamed of doing and this is it?" It was really banal. It was almost horrifying. It really hammered home to me that I would rather be in Iowa. I'd rather be in Iowa at a real party where people don't have all the stuff that the east coast or the west coast has. So when we have a party, we throw down. We really go for it, because who knows when you're going to have another opportunity?

Q: We're seeing all these plastic people. We're seeing celebrity culture and consumer culture magnified in a way that distracts people from thinking about what they should be thinking about. Talk a little bit about that.

Corey: Absolutely. It's subterfuge. People are realizing now — a little too late — that they let the administration get away with things that are unconstitutional, including pardoning their white-collar crime friends. A brain can only take so much before you say, "Good God, I need to wrap my head around something that I can deal with." So they go to these innocuous magazines that show the glamorous life.

I think that's one of the things that hurt Kerry, the fact that so many celebrities came out to speak against Bush. At the end of the day, people want to see celebrities as glamorous. They want to see their lifestyle, they don't want to know what celebrities think. People don't want celebrities to be socially conscious, because then they have to realize that there is a problem.

They look to these magazines because it's the "wish list." Everybody wants the fancy car, the fancy house, the fancy lifestyle, the shopping sprees, the furs. They get that. They can turn on the television and see it 24-7. They can pick up a magazine and read it cover to cover. If you live on either coast, you can go anywhere and see it in real life. It's almost like a play. We're making celebrities out of people that have very very little talent.

Paris Hilton is one of the dumbest people I've ever seen. Everything about her screams "empty," and it's pathetic. But people are amazed by it…I think people feel so trapped in their lives by the Republican administration, that all they can do is envy other people who don't really live in their world. They feel like they're getting in on something because the celebrities know something that we don't. It's pathetic. It's really disheartening in a way.

Q: In the song "Come What(ever) May", there's that line, "You're still the rapist of an entire generation." What brought you to write that particular song? I can imagine that's calling out Bush.

Corey: Absolutely. In the strongest sense. It has nothing to do with troops, it has nothing to do with the supporters. It has to do with the administration and the things that they've gotten away with, and the upper 1% of America who have supported him in making these insane decisions. Basically it was a backlash. I was really mad that not enough people were calling "bullshit." Even though his approval rating is insanely low, people still are supporting him on these issues and it's insane. Everything that he's done…trying to roll back every civil right we have. When a dude comes out and says the Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper, there's something very, very wrong there. He's not the brightest fucking crayon in the box. All you have to do is listen to one goddamn speech to realize that. He's a talking head, with a lot of really smart, really devious people behind him.

Q: We're not dealing with the visible administration, we're dealing with the shadow government.

Corey: The shadow government, exactly. The special interest lobbyist. Dick Cheney — the fact that he is vice president should scare everyone to death. They pulled back the curtain. The fourth wall came down and nobody cared. I think it's because of 9/11. 9/11 scared a lot of people into obedience. Back when Bush was elected, there was a TV show on Comedy Central called "That's My Bush". And it was hilarious. Then 9/11 happened and everything got real serious. That show went away, and we put our faith in this guy who couldn't run a baseball team, let alone a goddamn oil company.

Q: You bring up 9/11 — there are books, there are films like "Loose Change" that suggest that the U.S. was even complicit in letting it happen…

Corey: Or had a hand in it. Everybody wants to talk about conspiracy theories. Look at the film! You show me a hundred yard trench that leads up to the Pentagon. You show me the wreckage. Show me and I'll be like, all right, I was wrong. You can't see it. If a plane that size had flown into the goddamn Pentagon, there would have been so much damage. There would have been hazmat people there protecting against jet fuel. You would have seen the wings for Christ's sake. You would have seen something. A plane that big does not vaporize.

There are too many questions and not enough answers. At the time, I understand why nobody asked questions, because we were all paralyzed. But if the government is lying to them about other shit, is it so out of the question that they're lying to you about this? Rumsfeld will lie to your fucking face and he'll make you smile about it.

Q: Another great track is "Socio" — a lot of teeth in that song. There's that lyric in there "Freedom in a cage/No sun and too much rage." What's the background on this song? What brought you to this one?

Corey: That song is much more about a medical condition than it is about any social commentary. It's actually about social anxiety attacks, which I didn't experience until I got sober 3 years ago. At the time, my system was completely weak and I was in all of these social situations, and all of a sudden, I was light-headed, tunnel vision, couldn't breathe, my chest felt like someone was stabbing me, and I'd never felt that before.

It's a paralyzing thing. It's one of those things that when you feel it, you know you've got it. When I was writing the lyrics for that song, I was like, "You know what? I'm really onto something with this subject matter." Because of the fact that a) it's something I've experienced, so I know what I'm talking about, b) I know a lot of people who have dealt with it. But at the same time, it's something that worries me. In the last 6 or 7 years, more people are having these attacks and more people are having these medical conditions out of nowhere. They haven't had them their whole life, and then all of a sudden, 6 years, 5 years, 4 years ago they start having them. And it almost makes me like, "What the hell is going on here?"

Q: In the lyrics to "30/30-150", you say, "They called us a dead generation/They told us that we wouldn't survive/They left us alone in the maelstrom/As you can see/We're all clearly alive." What inspired that song?

Corey: About 10 years ago, I'd seen this television show where they were talking about my generation. How we were all slackers, and we were just kind of sloughing off societal responsibilities. And yeah, a lot of us were. But there were a lot of people who were trying to do something, whether it was with social groups — your PETAs, your Green Peaces — or it was people who were actually trying to build a better life for themselves.

When I was writing the lyrics for that song, for some reason I kept coming back to that. Nobody's really spoken for us. There's never been a rebuttal for those accusations and those searing commentaries. And I figured why not just let loose? I've gotten to the point where I'd rather speak up than sit down. That's really where it came from. We're the generation that's going to take us to the next dawn. And we're still here. We didn't go anywhere. No matter now much you wanted to marginalize us, we're still here. And we're the ones who are going try to right the wrongs that you tried to push on us.

Q: Elaborate a bit about the musical decisions that are made in STONE SOUR. Obviously people know you not only from STONE SOUR, but from SLIPKNOT. What makes STONE SOUR a different entity musically?

Corey: What makes STONE SOUR so different is that we do the basics. Nobody does the basics anymore. By basics, I mean we have an old-school thought process when it comes to music, and it's this: If we write something and we like it, we're going to play it. We're going to record it, and we're going to put it out there.

Nobody thinks like that anymore. Everybody is so burdened by specifics, so burdened by genres. If you can't put it in a box then nobody wants to talk about it. People are so afraid to be dismissed that they limit themselves. They really do. They consciously limit themselves by being this, that or the other. And we don't really care. We never have. If we write something, and we all dig it, then we're going to play it. We're going to record it. Regardless if people think it sounds like it belongs on the same album. I had a lot of people that heard the advance copy come up and ask me, "Why are you so disjointed?" It's not disjointed, it's diverse. There's a difference. And if you look back 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, that's the way people wrote. People wrote the stuff that they wanted to hear, they wrote the stuff that they wanted to play. Never sounded the same.

Q: In that era, radio was supporting artists' diversity, where now, everything's rigid and the audience gets dumbed down in the process.

Corey: Exactly. And we refuse to be a part of that. I think it's because we're really good at what we do that we get away with it. I think if people took a chance and started writing from the heart, instead of writing from the bottom line, it would be completely different.

Q: What musical figures from the past or even now do you identify with?

Corey: I probably identify the most with people like Dave Grohl, who is such a cool dude, so down to earth and probably one of the funniest cats on the planet. He's just so approachable and yet has done so much. I really, really dig that. I also identify with people like Henry Rollins, who works tirelessly and who is so passionate about what he does and what he says, and he really backs up his beliefs and his work ethic. There are people like that that give me hope about this business. It really bolsters me and makes me feel good about what I'm doing.

Q: Is there something about Corey Taylor that we don't know?

Corey: I collect comics. I'm a total comic geek. I collect DVDs. I've got a huge DVD collection. I used to collect action figures heavily. I've kind of stopped that, though. I'm looking for the next thing and I haven't really found it yet. I still collect comics and I read them voraciously, though. My collection is so big I have to keep it in a storage space now. I have separate storage units for my action figures and my comics.

Q: Which comics would you recommend?

Corey: I've been a Spiderman fan since I was a little kid. Ever since I was five years old I've been a Spiderman fan. I grew up a Marvel kid. I love Batman obviously, but for the most part I grew up a Marvel fan, and it was really cool because I got the tail end of the '70s, the beginning of the '80s, and I was there when the comics renaissance happened in the early '90s.

Now there are great writers out there like Garth Ennis. His series "Preacher" is amazing. He does the Punisher comics, which are just so sick. The thing with Garth Ennis is he's funny, he's disgusting, he's violent, he's smart. And those are the four things I look for in comics. I love the darker, more cynical, more adult comics now. I look for that in my movies as well. If it's smart, funny and crazy-violent and gross, those are my comics.

Q: This summer you're doing the "Family Values" tour. STONE SOUR, KORN, DEFTONES — these are free-thinking bands that have always done what they wanted to do. What's your anticipation level, being on this tour?

Corey: I'm excited about the competition with the other tours that are going to be out there. I'm excited that we've made a $10 lawn ticket, which is not only competitive, but at the same time it's saying that we care enough about the fans to make a low ticket price so people can come to the shows. It's gotten to the point where kids can't even afford tickets anymore. They can afford one ticket for one show the entire summer. By doing a lower ticket price, we're basically saying that we care enough that we're going to make this affordable for you because we know that you want to go see shows this summer, and we're going to make it possible for you to come and see this great show.

Q: It's great what you're doing. Even though the kids on the lawn will be far from the main stage, it still gives them a chance to come out and be part of the community, and that's what will keep the spirit alive.

Corey: I think that's what's severely lacking in the music industry: spirit. A lot of people think about the bottom line and they don't think about the freedom of it. The kids do. I do. A lot of my friends in bands do. I think we're the soul that keeps everything going. We're the little burr in the side of the music industry that keeps people from becoming completely complacent. It's awesome. I love it. I love the fact that we're the black sheep but we're also the blood that keeps everything running. It's reflected in the decisions that we make and the fact that we care enough to make a show like this available.

Q: What else are you working on right now?

Corey: I've started my own record label out of Des Moines called Great Big Mouth Records. It's basically for the bands around town that I produce. The first release is the new FACECAGE album, "Facecage III". They're a band from here that we're trying to put in the national spotlight.

Basically we're just trying to unify the scene and really bring more attention to the Midwest than there is right now. The record labels are so tentative about flying to the Midwest because it's really hard to get a direct flight anywhere in the area. And trust me, coming home from many tours, I know the pain — but at the same time there are a lot of great bands here that deserve the attention, deserve the shot. That's what we're trying to do with Great Big Mouth Records.

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