STONE SOUR bassist Johny Chow has described the band's upcoming disc, "Hydrograd", as "a straight rock and roll album," explaining that it's "a little bit of a departure from previous STONE SOUR" releases.
"Hydrograd" is tentatively due in June via Roadrunner Records. The disc was recorded at Sphere Studios in North Hollywood, California with producer Jay Ruston, who has previously worked with ANTHRAX and STEEL PANTHER.
Speaking to Meltdown of the WRIF radio station in Detroit, Michigan, Chow stated about the "Hydrograd" songwriting process (hear audio below): "[STONE SOUR singer] Corey's [Taylor] been out doing SLIPKNOT, so the whole time while he was out doing that, we'd all get together every six months or so and record about six songs over at Roy's [Mayorga, drums] studio, and came up with eighteen songs, and we recorded all of 'em."
He continued: "Everybody in the band wrote on this album. People would have their song ideas kind of in demo form, and we'd all exchange them, learn them, and then when we would meet up at Roy's, we would work 'em out and lay 'em down. Then Corey would come in and lay down his vocals. There was a couple of songs on there that were just acoustic guitar and him singing that turned into full-band songs."
When time came to lay down the songs in the studio, "We recorded the whole album live," Chow explained. "We didn't do it piece by piece in Pro Tools and chop it up. We wanted to not have a sterile feeling; we wanted the energy to translate from our demos onto this album, and we really were able to capture that raw, aggressive feel and tone. Roy would get a click, and then the click would be pulled out after we started, and that way, it gives it a little bit of room to breathe and adds some life to it. We had three days in rehearsal, and went right in there, and, man, we were doing about a song every day, day and a half for a little bit. We really had a great momentum going there, and it was a great experience doing it that way, man. In the years that passed, everything's just cookie cutter, chopped up, put to the grid, perfectly played, and you go over and punch in a million times over, where most of the drums and the bass were recorded live and the guitars, obviously — solos and stuff — would have to be overdubbed."
According to Chow, "Hydrograd" will contain "about fourteen songs, fifteen tracks, being that we wrote an intro as well. But that's kind of up to the record label. But we're hoping for fourteen songs. We don't wanna go less, just because we don't wanna shortchange our fans on waiting for as long as they have and just throw 'em ten songs. We don't think that'd be fair."
Regarding the musical direction of "Hydrograd", Chow said that "this album is just a straight rock and roll album. There's some kind of FOO FIGHTERS-meets-CHEAP TRICK, but there's also groove-heavy stuff. It's not heavy in the way of SLAYER; it's more heavy in the way of [BLACK] SABBATH — not sounding like SABBATH, but not that super-heavy, super metally. It's just very groove-oriented, very melodic [with] big choruses. We've got some mellower songs on there too, which are equally just as amazing and have a lot of groove to them."
He added: "This album is a little bit of a departure from previous STONE SOUR albums. We think it's the best one yet."
Chow was a bit less clear about the origin of the "Hydrograd" album title, explaining that "that's more of a Corey question. It was his idea to name it 'Hydrograd'." But, he added, "it has to do something with him being in an airport, going to the wrong gate, but the gate he thought he saw said 'Hydrograd,' and it just always stuck with him for some reason — that word 'hydrograd.' So I don't know if it's an actual true word or not."
The bassist also confirmed that "Hydrograd" will once again feature special packaging, although details have not yet been finalized. "Corey's got this [artist] that we work with that drew up a few different ideas for us, and there's one that's sticking right now, and I really can't say much about it, but it's pretty cool, man, it's pretty cool," Chow said. "It'll be different.
Taylor recently told The Pulse Of Radio that the new STONE SOUR disc is a natural progression from the band's last studio efforts. "All the promise that we showed on the 'House Of Gold & Bones' albums, we are really trying to kind of push even further with this, and it's exciting, man," he said. "Style-wise, it'll feel like it's kind of all over the map, but it'll be very, very unifying when everybody hears it. I'm really excited."
STONE SOUR's last full set of new material was the "House Of Gold & Bones" double album, which was released in two parts in 2012 and 2013. The band also released two EPs of cover songs in the last couple of years, "Meanwhile In Burbank..." and "Straight Out Of Burbank".
Taylor returned to the STONE SOUR fold this year after his other band, SLIPKNOT, completed the touring cycle for its 2014 album, ".5: The Gray Chapter".