Intervju med Josh Rand och Corey Taylor i Stone Sour.
Stone Sour har knåpat ihop ett projekt som bara verkar växa och växa. Två album, serietidningar, miniserie, ny paketering mm. Om det kommer att funka får vi se.
Jag mötte upp Josh och Corey på ett hotell i Stockholm för en vecka sedan. Det blev ett längre snack med gitarristen Josh och ett kortare samtal med huvudpersonen och hjärnan bakom allt, Corey Taylor.
First off. The whole idea of doing such a huge project? Did it start off like that or was it something that just grew bigger?
Josh Rand: Initially, last year Corey recorded some tracks and I went over to his house and he explained the idea and I immediately got excited. For me, right now music´s in a weird place because the music industry is in such a downward spiral. The things that made me really excited and intrigued me, was us really focusing on a full record and not necessarily one song and then we´ll throw on fucking whatever. We didn´t want any throwaways and we wanted people to have to listen from track one through to track eleven or twelve, in its entirety. Everything got the same amount of attention. It wasn´t like the record company thinks “This is the single and fuck the rest of these song because we´re gonna focus on this!”. It was like “We´re focusing on this big, grand picture and we´re just gonna go for it:”. In some ways it´s a big “Fuck you!” to the industry, (laughs) I guess, if you wanna put it that way. But as I said, everybody… I loved the risqué of it and maybe that´s what got me excited. It´s like “You know what, nobody else would do this right now. A double concept record in a world that´s all about just the single. This is fucking awesome!”. It brought this enthusiasm and excitement to the band and everybody bought into it, so that´s why we did it basically.
So it is in a way forcing the listener to go through the whole album and not just pick pieces of it, like kids do today. What´s the thought behind releasing the first part now and the second part next year?
JR: There were several reasons why. One from a packaging stand point. We´re gonna do something really special how they´re gonna fit together. I don´t wanna get into it because it´s gonna be really cool and nobody´s done it before, so I don´t wanna give too much away. Also two, we looked at it almost like a movie, like sequences. This one´s gonna set up the characters and it leaves you on a cliffhanger with the last of the reel of what is about to happen and then everybody´s gonna have to wait (laughs) to get the rest of the story. That was the other idea and then three, we were told that in certain territories it´s actually more expensive to have a double disc made than two separate discs, which we couldn´t wrap our heads around. “That doesn´t make any sense. How does that work?”. So it was about making sure that it was affordable, both the first part and the second part. We´re gonna do all this cool stuff like we´re gonna do a comic book next year, or comic books and the live show will evolve too as disc two comes out. We´re doing more than just putting out a singleand do the same shit that we´ve always done.
In the press release it said something about videos and online stuff. Are there plans of turning it into some kinda long form movie or video?
JR: Yeah, that´s actually the main plan or the end game, if you wanna put it like that, is to see it go into a movie when it´s all said and done. That´s more of Corey´s world. He has an idea of who he´d like to see produce it and actors and stuff like that. That´s the plan and going into this was that we wanted to do all this crazy stuff and really just go for it.
I also read that you tried to go for a more organic sound in this day and age of ProTools and what not. I talked to Wes Borland recently and he said the same thing. Was that the idea, to keep it more… alive, I guess you could say?
JR: Yeah, that´s what we wanted to achieve. We felt in the past we´d done the polished records with “Come what (ever) may” and “Audio secrecy”. They´re very produced and cleaned up. We felt we´re a very good band live and we take pride in not having backtracks and this and that. This is what we are and this is what you´re gonna get and we felt that we hadn´t captured that, so when we went into it, we wanted to capture that along with having all those organic sounds. Drums are like 90-95% a real drumkit, no samples, which is like unheard of these days basically. That´s why everything sounds the same, because everybody uses the same five drums samples on everything. Guitar wise, Jim and myself, which we´ve done since “Come what (ever) may”, we track all the rhythms together at the same time and it´s all about creating that musical sound more than being gridded and being perfect. Like if one of just recorded it and then the other would have to match that, so we are not necessarily perfect but you can tell there are two different players. That´s what we sound like live and that´s how we really are. I think, as great as ProTools is, at the same time it can make everything sterile. Now, I think, people are more focused seeing stuff with their eyes than actually listening to shit, where it´s “Ok, that´s tenth of a second off, it must not be right?” and it´s like “What?”. It´s about having those characteristics back and having that human element and capturing that live feel.
There´s a lot of songs. How do you make all those songs worth the time and not having one or two as being just throwaways? How many songs did you write?
JR: Actually there were several ideas that didn´t even evolve into the initial 24. The 24th song was an instrumental and we just couldn´t get it to where we wanted to and honestly we just ran out of time. The goal with this… for one, everybody contributed musically which gives us the peaks and valleys and all the different musical styles, so you have to go into it with the approach of not necessarily “Nah, I don´t dig this.”. You go in with the approach “What can I do to make it better?” and really push it and that´s what we did. I´m sure, to be honest with you, if you asked each one of us individually, I´m sure all of us would give a different song that might not have been vibing. The great thing with this band is that it´s always been about the big picture and not necessarily everybody just trying to do the best work on each track they possibly could do and going “I´m not vibing this track.”. It´s respect to the other writers. That´s what makes us us.
Are you and Corey the main song writers and the main guys when it comes to arranging them and so on?
JR: I wouldn´t say that. Jim´s brought stuff to the table and so has Roy. I mean, I guess if you really broke it down to who´s done what it probably would be more just the two of us, but everybody brings their own thing to the table. For instance Jim. Jim brings a lot of that layering and that texture guitar stuff that´s really part of our sound and that´s what he brings to the table. He might not write this track but it´s his layering and everything that makes Stone Sour sound like Stone Sour. Same thing with Roy, it´s the way he approaches drums. We don´t look at it as necessarily who does what, because we feel like to sound like us, it still takes all of us to make it sound like that. We´ve never looked at it as “I wrote this and that.”, so that´s how we work.
What was it like working with Rachel Bolan?
JR: It was crazy! We were discussing who would play bass on the record and it was more discussed of a style than people first. You know, “I hear this bass being like this and this.” and one night we were at Corey´s and I was like “What if we got Rachel Bolan?”. At first, to be honest, I didn´t know how everybody´s reaction was gonna be. I´m a huge fan of “Slave to the grind” and it´s like one of my favorite records from start to finish. I just blurted it out and everybody bought into it. At first there was this hesitation and then it was like “Yes, it makes sense.”. A lot of people, when you say rachel Bolan or Skid Row, everybody´s mind goes to “I remember you” or to “18 and life” and it´s like “Slave to the grind” and even “Subhuman race”, they´re fucking heavy records! And he´s a phenomenal writer on top of being a phenomenal bass player and he brought this style into it that we felt hade been lacking. Instead of following the guitars, he actually plays bass and it elevated all of the songs to a whole new level. He came in, a super cool guy and did all 24 songs in five days. It was insane! I don´t think people realize how great of a player he is. It was just insane to watch him knock these songs out. With him coming in and doing that, it just added another level of energy to the whole project and he took a lot of the songs to a different level.
Will he be part of the live show?
JR: Unfortunately not. We asked if he could do it but with his schedule with Skid Row he just couldn´t take that break for a year and a half, two years, because that´s what it´s looking like this is gonna last for us. We´re gonna have a friend of ours, Johny Chow, play bass.
So, did you tell Rachel to let bygones be bygones and get back together with Sebastian?
JR: Honestly, I never said one Skid Row thing to him for the entire time he was there. That´s kinda their thing. You know, in some ways we´re kinda dealing with it ourselves and that´s the reason he´s brought into the picture. (laughs) It´s not my place… I wasn´t gonna push the issue and go “Just suck it up! What the hell´s the fucking problem? Why can´t you guys play together?”. It just didn´t make sense, so we didn´t touch base on it.
Touring then? Are you heading out this year?
JR: We start in a month. We´ve got South America and then we go home for a week and then we´re coming to Europe. We come here on the 27th of November but I don´t think we play until the 29th and we´re here in Sweden on the 19th of December.
Cool! Right before Christmas.
JR: Yeah! Actually, it´s our last show before we go back to the States.
Alright. After this promotion run then?
JR: We shoot a video for “Gone sovereign” and “Absolute zero” when we get back and it´s like “Are you guys tired and jetlagged? Guess what? We´ve got two videos to shoot.”. (laughs)
Now it´s part of the whole story, but are videos usually a necessary evil? Is it gonna be more fun now?
JR: I´m curious with how this is gonna be. We´re doing a live one where we send out a casting call for fans to be part of “Gone sovereign”, which I think is gonna be fun. We haven´t done a live video since “Get inside” 10 years ago and then there´s gonna be more of a storyline with “Absolute zero”. It sounds like it´ll be shot in front of a green screen. Videos for me… maybe it is a necessary evil, I guess. They can be very cool but at the same time they can be… it´s hard. People don´t understand that it´s really hard to have energy when you´re listening to a boom box, there´s 20 people working there to record it and it´s like “We want you to feel like you´re playing in front of 10 000 people. What I would like to see this time is for us to actually physically play “Gone sovereign” with the playback but for real. We wanna capture that live vibe and I really hope we can make that happen and “Absolute zero”, you know, it´ll be us in front of a green screen. (laughs) What else can I say? (laughs)
Are you bringing in a hot shot director?
JR: We have Paul Brown coming in who we´ve worked with in the past, so we´re very familiar with him. That´s the great part of it, at least there will be someone I can be comfortable with which makes it a little bit easier.
If you were given an ultimatum or if this thing with Stone Sour just explodes, could you leave one band for the other?
Corey Taylor: I don´t know. I´d have to kick my own ass. I mean, that´s a good question. If I was made to choose, I´d quit both before I´d have to give up one, essentially. I would never allow myself to be put in that situation. It´s me not being able to decide my own fate, not being in charge of my own reality. I would remove myself before I allowed anyone to dictate where I was going. But having said that, it´s been fairly easy to kinda balance both. Essentially it´s about the focus and if I can focus on one and give all my energy to that one and then there´s still some left for the other one when it comes times. It means I´m never bored. (laughs) I´m always on the fucking road. I think the problems will come when there´s nobody around, you know, so I´ll take it while I can get it.
This whole concept album, is that something that came after you wrote your book? Was the book anything that sparked something?
CT: Maybe. I´ve had the idea for the concept for a few years actually, but I´ve never given myself the time to really flesh it out and see it clearly. It was right about the time when we did the Sonisphere shows that for some reason “Boom!”, it fucking hit me! I saw it as clear as day, beginning, middle and end. I knew the characters, I knew the world that I wanted to create, I knew what I wanted to do. Honestly, while I was sketching it out on this piece of paper, getting the names down, getting the conflict in there, the fucking music just (makes exploding sound). While I was on that tour, I wrote at least seven or eight songs. Then I came back home and I demoed 11, so it was fucking insane. Right there I knew, this had the potential for something amazing. Luckily the guys really got behind it and really embraced it and we were able to make something fucking monumental.
These comic books? What´s the deal there?
CT: I´m actually adapting the short story that I wrote to a comic script which I´m then gonna have an artist draw, because I am not an artist when it comes to that end of the spectrum. I fuck up stick fingers. (laughs) That´s exciting to. Essentially I wanna do a four part miniseries and have them come out next year after part one has had a few months to live and what not and people are getting excited about part two… “Oh fuck, here´s this comic!”. I just wanna make it bigger than anything that´s out there for anybody. I just want it to be an event again, you know. I think a lot of the reasons that people don´t buy albums anymore, is that they don´t look at it the right way. It´s just a fucking collection of songs based around that single that´s just gotta be a fucking hit. “We gotta sell our hamburgers!”. Like “You gotta be fucking kidding me?”. It´s me reminding people of how much you can do with music and really setting it up as a very special piece or art. I think we´re really on the verge of something that has the potential of being bigger than we are.
This has to involve a lot of people?
CT: It does. Honestly, if the label didn´t believe in it, we wouldn´t have been able to do it, to be honest. They gave us the time to really do it. They kinda stacked on us because we had essentially to do two albums in the time it takes most bands just to do one, but when they heard it, top to bottom and just a rough mix with still a lot of stuff missing, they were fucking truly blown away. I remember standing there watching their faces and you could see it, you know. I knew we were on the right track with that and then they immediately threw their support behind it so we´ve been very fortunate.
Cool. I´m really looking forward to it.
CT: Yeah, I´m really stoked.