So, How Was Your Decade is a series in which the decade’s most innovative musicians answer our questionnaire about the music, culture and memorable moments that shaped their decade. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.
Ever since Slipknot broke out in the late Nineties, frontman Corey Taylor has become one of the most outspoken men in metal. And he has only become more omnipresent in the last 10 years. “Prepare yourself for anything I say to get reposted on a million different social media news sites,” he says before he even starts looking back at the 2010s. “It’s gonna be stupid.”
That’s because he has a lot to talk about. The last decade for Taylor has been filled with highs and lows; it started with the death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray in 2010 and eventually the departure of founding drummer Joey Jordison. Yet the masked marauders put out two Number One albums this decade, 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter and this year’s We Are Not Your Kind, and Taylor also released four more albums and a few EPs with his other group Stone Sour. Then there’s the four books of social commentary, an appearance in his bandmate Shawn “Clown” Crahan’s film Officer Downe and numerous spoken word and acoustic shows as a solo artist.
But looking back on the decade, he’s most concerned about his status as a metal loudmouth. When we’re done talking, he says, “Let me know if you get in trouble for half the shit I said. At this point, I think it was pretty tame.” When Rolling Stone offers him one last chance to rail against everything he hates now that he has the mic, he laughs. “Homie, I’ve always got the mic, whether I like it or not,” he says.
My favorite album of the 2010s was: It’s probably Pressure and Time by the Rival Sons. That album contains everything they do great. They dabble in so many different styles and they make it work so well, and they’re such an organic band. They’re probably my favorite band of the last 10 years … or the last 15, really.
Everybody gives people props to these really derivative bands — and I’m not gonna mention any names, but you know exactly who I’m talking about — but Rival Sons, their creativity, their songwriting, their musicianship, their style, their talent is off the charts. And that album, specifically to me, is so goddamn good. You can listen to it from top to bottom and it’s just fantastic.
My favorite song of the 2010s was: “Elektra” by Refused. As someone who waited a long time for them to come back, that song set the tone. That album has got amazing tunes on it. It was kind of a tossup between that and “War on the Palaces,” but “Elektra” is just three minutes of pure Refused. It’s an off-time riff that you never think is going to resolve the way it’s going to, and the delivery is just so fucking frenetic and awesome. That same riff can be played six different times in a different way and it never gets old. It’s really fucking cool.
The artist who had the best decade was: This is gonna make me sound like such a whore, but I’m gonna say us — Slipknot. That’s because the decade started with the lowest of lows and ended with, after 20 years, two Number One albums, massive sold-out tours all over the world, our own festival [and] our own whiskey. We’re bigger than we’ve ever been and in so many ways that we never even realized that we could be. I can’t think of anybody who’s gone from where we started this decade with to where we’re ending it with.
The craziest thing that happened to me in the 2010s was: Becoming a meme. I didn’t even realize that was a thing until about two years ago. I didn’t realize that having an opinion was such a polarizing thing [Laughs]. But the whole “But what does Corey Taylor think?” thing is really fucking funny. For a while, it really pissed me off. I was like, “What the hell does that mean?” Just the normal ego shit. But then I realized it’s because I’m constantly speaking my mind.
It’s not like I have a weekly State of the Union address, where I just go, “This sucks” and “Fuck this” and now I’m out. This stuff comes up in interviews. I don’t go out of my way to state my opinion. I’m gonna get a T-shirt made that says it.
My least favorite trend in music this decade was: Pretty much the same thing from the Aughties: Crappy pop and hip-hop. I’m not gonna name any names because I’m not gonna give them any free fucking press. But these are the same people that get propped up as geniuses and it’s the same three hooks and the same three types of fucking songs that get written in those genres, and it’s getting to the point where I’m just looking around, going, “Do you people realize what the fuck you’re listening to?”
Then again, I think about it, and I go, “Maybe that’s just the way people listen to music.” Most normal people can only take three types of song. Whereas a snob like myself, I look for diversity; I look for change; I look for that deeper connection. So it’s like, “Hey, if you want that McDonald’s shit, go ahead.” But I can’t deal with it, and I’m certainly not going to fucking respect it.
The TV show I couldn’t stop streaming in the 2010s was: I pretty much loved all of the Marvel Netflix series, but Daredevil was just so good. I’m praying to God that those characters make it into the bigger universe or at least they get rebooted on Disney+. Those first three seasons were just so goddamn good, and Charlie [Cox] was so good in the role. It was so perfectly cast, man, that I just couldn’t stop watching it. The first two seasons alone, the fight scenes were crazy destructive. It was just beautiful. And then [Jon] Bernthal as the Punisher, man, the back-and-forth between those two was so awesome. I’m always surprised at how geeky I get at times. Between the movies and the shows, I’m constantly reminded why I’m still a comic fan after 40 years.
The best new slang term of the decade was: I don’t know if it’s from the past 10 years, but the only one I could really think of is “gunt.” It’s a lot like a “FUPA.” FUPA stands for “fatty, upper pelvic area.” If you apply that to “gunt” … It is such a trigger word for me. I laugh my tits off every time I hear it. I don’t even care. It’s so offensive, yet I love it [Laughs loudly]. I find ways to use it in conversation all the time. It’s probably pissing my friends off.
The best live show I saw in the 2010s was: Guns N’ Roses, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, 2016, when the trio first got back together. I was like, “This is never gonna happen.” I was probably one of the most vocal people about that. And then we got three of the five. To this day it’s one of the best fucking live shows I’ve ever seen. It made me a Guns N’ Roses fan again. Even though Axl’s ankle was broken — he was doing the show from the Grohl throne — he was still fuckin’ amazing. I left before the end and they had already played two-and-a-half hours.
And now there are hints that there may be new music, and I can tell why because the dynamic between those three — even just between those three, and Duff and Slash are friends of mine and I know how creative they are — and then the rest of the band is fucking amazing. I’m excited. It’s one of things that when that album comes out, I’m definitely going to buy it.
The most surprising encounter I had with a fellow artist this decade was: At Rock in Rio in 2015, I got a chance to hang out and talk to Johnny Depp who was there for a Hollywood Vampires show for about five, 10 minutes. And honestly, in that time, it really wasn’t enough for me to geek out on him about loving his music, but we geeked out on playing live in front of tens of thousands of people, and it was really cool. We have mutual friends, but we never met each other. A buddy of mine actually got me a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas signed by Johnny for my birthday, like, 10 years ago. It was fucking dope, right? But we had never met. So to hang out and the fact that we recognized each other and were able to talk music and geek on music for a second and playing live was one of those surreal moments I still think about. Like, “Man, that was fucking dope, man.”
The best book I read this decade was: Probably the last Jim Butcher book from the Dresden Files, Peace Talks. I love the Dresden Files books. They’re about this crazy warrior wizard named Harry Dresden. He’s like the John McClain of the wizardry world. He’s constantly trying to do the right thing, but he’s just kind of getting his ass handed to him daily. It’s crazy. All of the books are really well-written and you just never know what is gonna happen to him. I’m actually waiting patiently for the new one to come out.
Something cool I did this decade that nobody noticed was: It’s hard to say, because it seems like everybody notices everything that I do. Stepping away from social media probably. Actually, that got noticed by everybody. But you can only deal with that much toxic [stuff] for so long before you’re like, “You know what? There’s no real good reason for me to be here.” I just can’t watch people be ugly to each other all day every day. And I’m not going to provide a platform for people to be ugly on stuff that I post. The lack of any sort of social niceties or social empathy is disturbing. And I decided that I wasn’t gonna be a part of it. So I pulled myself out of my personal accounts. Now I just post things that are purely to promote. I won’t do it anymore. I certainly won’t provide anybody with a platform to do it. It was tough because there was some cool things that I liked doing on there but I won’t do it. So I removed myself from it. I don’t know if anybody noticed that it’s not me doing it personally anymore but that was enough.
The strangest thing someone said about me in the media this decade was: Jesus. What haven’t they said really? Probably people questioning my sobriety. And that’s fine. At the end of the day, I know. At the end of the day, I don’t need anybody to know that I’m sober. I don’t need anybody to know that some days are harder than others. But I think that’s one of the reasons my fans have my back.
The most “2010s” moment of the 2010s was: All these pop and hip-hop people coming out as Slipknot fans. It’s fuckin’ funny [Laughs]. Everybody from Gaga to Sheeran to Rihanna. It’s insane. I’m like, really? That’s some 2010s shit. Let’s put it that way. Who’d have thought? I’d certainly like to know what they get from us. That’s a conversation I would love to fuckin’ have.
My biggest hope for the 2020s is: Man, I’ve got a lot of shit I want to do. I’m actually working on a movie right now. I finished a script and I’m aggressively looking for investors and producers. I’ve got all this stuff that I still want to get out of my system. Maybe write another book. Maybe finally write that novel that I’ve been dicking around with for the last couple years.
I’m doing a solo run after we’re done with Slipknot. I have a bunch of songs; about 26 songs written now. I’ve got a band put together with friends of mine; people who have been a part of my solo gigs for the past 10 years. And we’re just walking through arrangements of stuff right now so once the time comes we can just run right in the studio and record a bunch of music and get it out there. So I guess the next decade will start with me seeing where the road goes from there. It’s something I always said I wasn’t gonna do, but as time has gone on, it’s kept coming back. Like, what would it sound like? What would it be? And I’m pretty into it. So we’ll see what happens.