It’s been an acknowledged “weird year” for Corey Taylor, the frontman for the hard rock bands Stone Sour and Slipknot.
There was, of course, the sudden May death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray from an accidental drug overdose, which has left the future of that band in some degree of doubt. And, Taylor says, “a lot of weird things happened outside of that, too,” although he’s loathe to get too specific.
Nevertheless, Taylor maintains a positive countenance toward his current situation, happy with the progress Stone Sour has made on its third album, “Audio Secrecy,” excited about the upcoming publication of his first book and looking forward to “a host of different things on the horizon” — including a rumored position as the new singer for Velvet Revolver.
Taylor responds to that rumor with a hearty laugh and neither a conformation nor denial — “To be continued!” is all he says — but he mostly sounds like somebody who’s closer to the best of times than the worst.
“Everything, and Paul’s death especially, kind of shook up my perspective, and I really decided I was going to take a positive outlook on everything, even dealing with all the adversity,” explains the Iowa-born Taylor, 37. “I’ve really kinda dedicated myself to pursuing things that are very positive.
“I’m in a really good spot right now. That could change with the wind, but at this point I’m in a really good spot.”
Stone Sour, which Taylor co-founded in 1992 with Slipknot guitarist Jim Root and other Des Moines musicians, certainly keeps him on a high. Following two gold-certified predecessors, “Audio Secrecy” debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 in September, while the single “Say You’ll Haunt Me” topped the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Produced by Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush) and recorded in Nashville, it’s also the quintet’s most sophisticated set to date, still heavy but with moments that are as melodic as any the group has ever attempted.
“It’s just one more phase, one more way for us to kind of expand everything,” Taylor explains, “especially in this day and age when so many record labels and (executives) are so adamant as far as maintaining some kind of monotonous continuity with bands as far as their songs go. We are the complete 180 of that; if something doesn’t turn us on, then we’re not gonna do it.
“With this album, it had a much ... more melodic feel to it. I don’t know if that was intentional or accidental, but the songs that we were responding to were the ones that had a tone of melody to them, so we just went for it. We knew it was possibly going to be a risk, but we were OK with that. Anything worth having is worth risking for.”
The approach seems to be paying off on the album’s second single, “Hesitate,” which Taylor says has been around since Stone Sour’s sophomore album, 2006’s “Come What (ever) May.” And a third single seems likely, with “a handful” of possible tracks under consideration.
“I think the most difficult thing we’ll be trying to figure out what to go with next,” Taylor notes, “which is really a good problem to have.”
Stone Sour will be on the road well into 2011, finishing its “Nightmare After Christmas” tour with Avenged Sevenfold before heading to Australia and then coming back to the U.S. to headline the first “Avalanche Tour.” Another album could also be in the offing, according to Taylor.
“We were talking about doing that even before Paul passed away,” he says. “It’s something we’re just kind of throwing around now. It’s in its infancy, but we’ve definitely been talking about making another Stone Sour album.”
As for Slipknot, things remain uncertain. While some of the masked metal group’s members have spoken about already working on material for a new album, Taylor says he’s not part of that. He’ll perform with the group at three Sonisphere Festival shows in Europe, but he won’t predict anything beyond that.
“I go back and forth,” Taylor acknowledges. “There are moments when I’m like, ‘Let’s keep going for (Gray),’ and there are moments when I’m like, ‘It’s not the same without him.’
“Right now, my main concern is baby steps. We lost a huge piece of our band. We lost a huge member of our family — in my opinion the biggest — and it’s a different vibe now. So right now I’m just taking it step by step, and I can only hope that the other guys in the band are as well.”
Taylor has another baby on the way, meanwhile — “The Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good,” which is scheduled for a July 12 publication. It combines autobiography and philosophy, and Taylor hopes it will offer insight not only into his life but also the music he’s made in both of his bands.
“It’s my take on the seven deadly sins,” he explains, “me basically saying they’re not sins at all. They’re things we’re born with, things that we deal with and things that in the long run help us to be better people. So it’s me kind of (making fun) of the whole sin thing but also balancing it with stories from growing up, from being on the road and how I handled these ‘deadly sins’ and hopefully came out on the other side as a better person.
“It’s funny. It’s dark. It’s thought-provoking, hopefully. It was a lot of fun for me to write. I’m pretty excited. The buzz on it is pretty good right now, so I’m looking forward to getting it out there and starting the conversation.”
Stone Sour performs with Avenged Sevenfold, Hollywood Undead and Dirty Heads at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $35 and $25. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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