The past several years have been challenging for Corey Taylor. The lead vocalist for Slipknot and Stone Sour had endured a rough patch in his life – which included a divorce, alcohol abuse, and an attempted suicide – to come out of it a better man with a book, a new spouse and a number one album (Slipknot’s 2008 album All Hope Is Gone). But the death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray in 2010 left Taylor, and the band, reeling. But now, after four years, the heavy metal band rose to the occasion with a new number one album in the form of .5: The Gray Chapter after a six-year hiatus. Life+Times spoke with Taylor about the band’s return to the top of the charts, how a movie trailer set him on his career path as the lead singer in a metal band known for their haunting imagery and his role in the horror film Fear Clinic alongside the man who played Freddie Kruger,
Life+Times: First of all, how does that feel after six years, for Slipknot to come back and be sitting on top of the charts?
Corey Taylor: It’s pretty rad man. Obviously there’s a kind of a bittersweet vibe to it. But, I also think that not only would Paul be proud of this album, but I think he’d be proud of the fact that we came back in a huge form and we were able to make a great album. So the fact the people are really embracing it—people are going out and they’re buying it and they’re really driving it back to a point where people wouldn’t have said that metal is dead today. That just makes me happy because it means that we’re doing something right again.
L+T: What was it like getting back in the studio to work on this project without Paul Gray?
CT: Getting back together was almost therapeutic in a way. We waited until we really felt like it was time to make the album. By the time we went in, we were excited about it. Plus we had been throwing a bunch of demo stuff at each other and getting excited about making music again. We spent a lot of time talking and a lot of time laughing. It kind of felt like Paul’s spirit was with us. It was a really enjoyable time; it’d been a long time since we’d felt anything like that.
L+T: Do you recall the first song that you guys knew that was going to make the album, and just that entire process of putting it together?
CT: The first thing that I really responded to was actually the rough demo form of “Sarcastrophe,” the first heavy song on that album. And I can remember—‘cause that was something Jim Root had put together. He sent me the demo for and I was just like, “Wow, this is really, really good. It was the first song I really wrote lyrics to. And I just laid down some dirty vocals and sent it back to him. He flipped out. After that it was just an avalanche because I had written about three songs for the project. We wrote about four or five tunes in the studio as well. So we were able to really kind of start using that catalyst for “Sarcastrophe” as a way to kind of use that as the foundation to build the rest of this album.
L+T: How’d you get involved with the movie Fear Clinic?
CT: The funny thing is I wasn’t even the original choice for my character, Bower. It was offered to Robert Trujillo from Metallica.
CT: He’s friends with the director Rob Hall. But Robert couldn’t do it but he put my name out there. Literally a week and a half after getting the call, I was on set. The great thing was that I wanted to be a supporting part. I wanted to be able to blend in the background. But the part of Bower was so creepy because, he’s kind of a jerk but he’s also got that slimy quality to him. So there are parts in the script where he has to be funny. I thought it was a perfect role for me.
L+T: I read somewhere that the Halloween trailer is what kicked off your career path and love for horror films and metal?
CT: I was about five when I saw that trailer, and it was right before the trailer for Buck Rogers. And I just remember being like, “I don’t want to see the movie that’s playing right; I want to see THIS movie.”
L+T: How did that trailer affect you?
CT: The thing I loved about it was that it didn’t need a lot. There was a natural tension there that kind of lent itself to this creepiness because it was a different type of movie. At that age I hadn’t really been exposed to anything like that. So I remember just being like, “Who is that dude in the white mask?” I think maybe psychologically, that prepared me for being in Slipknot. You can have the craziest monster on the planet with all kinds of gore and fluids flying out of its face, and it’s not merely as striking or as frightening as Michael Myers just standing there quietly staring at you. I have just goose bumps thinking about it. It’s such a powerful evocative vibe that I think people have been chasing that tail ever since.
L+T: So you see the trailer of the iconic Michael Myers as a five-year-old and then fast- forward to 2014 and you’re in movie with the man who played Freddie Kruger…
CT: Y’know after I stopped shittin’ my pants, it was kind of like “Okay, how is this gonna go?” Obviously, I was super stoked. I was excited to have the chance to do something that cool with someone like him. He’s such an interesting guy to talk to and he made it easy. We would be sitting next to each other in the makeup trailer, and he’d be telling me stories from hanging out with Guns ‘N’ Roses in 1987 at the Rainbow Bar & Grill, and I’m just sitting there like a kid like “Uh huh tell me more, tell me more.” So, I mean it was rad man. I always wanted to do a movie, and the fact that this was the movie that—even if it’s the only movie I ever get to do— is fantastic. I think if I do another movie, it might be pale in comparison.
L+T: This was a total departure from playing in a band. Were you a little star struck at first with Robert Englund?
CT: Dude, I was total fan boy. The first day I had a hard time talking to him because I was such a fan. Not just a fan of Freddy Kruger I remember watching him on V when I was younger. So, sitting next to him and being in scenes with him, I was just like, “Alright, Taylor you better get your shit together. He’s going to see right through this.” So it was hard for me to kind of balance being professional and then just sitting there going, “I’m hanging out with Robert Englund. This is so fucking rad!” He was very gracious about it. When I was done shooting, he pulled me aside and said he’d been watching some of the stuff that I had done and he said I was doing a killer job. So I mean if you need a pat on the back from anybody, he’s the guy.
L+T: Did you get a chance to play him any music from the album?
CT: I didn’t get a chance to do that. But Stone Sour contributed a cover of Metal Church’s “The Dark” for the soundtrack. We were talking about shooting a video for it with him being in it. We just didn’t have the chance to do that yet. Maybe it’s in the cards in the future.
L+T: You’ve done a lot of things in your career. Where does this rank?
CT: Even though music is the main thread through my life, the fact that I’ve been able to parlay that into writing books and comic books and just all these different little things, this is just the icing on the cake.
L+T: With all that you’ve done – movies, an author of a book, comic books, number one albums – what’s left on your bucket list?
CT: There’s still some stuff on the fringe. There’s some stuff left that I’d like to try my hand at. Actually I’m really interested in voice acting. I would also like to write a script, and see it through to its fruition. If I’m any good in this movie, then I’m definitely going to try some more acting; but maybe less creepy or maybe just more creepy. Maybe I’ll be the killer in the next one. You never know.
Fear Clinic is available now on iTunes and Xbox Live and on Blu-ray/DVD February 10th.