“I just want this year to be over with,” Slipknot‘s and Stone Sour’s ever-stentorian frontman Corey Taylor says of 2015. Even though the year has had its personal highs for him — two triumphant Knotfests, two Stone Sour covers EPs, a book called You’re Making Me Hate You and Teenage Time Killers’ debut LP — the lows that hit America as a whole, from terrorist attacks to Donald Trump, have him ready to put 2015 behind him. “The year is ending with a very real threat to the American way of life,” he says. “I’m nervous. I think everybody is.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s totally worried about the future. “We are working on new music for Stone Sour right now, and Slipknot is going to tour off and on for most of the year,” he says. “We’ve got some Knotfest stuff that we are lining up for next year, expanding the range of that.” He’s also got a few movie roles he’s eyeing, and he’s planning on writing another book. “Next year will probably be a building year for me,” he says. “If I’m not touring, I will probably be writing and recording and working on books. So 2016 will be the highway leading towards 2017.”
But before that begins, Taylor sat down with Rolling Stone in early December to praise 2015’s most exalted pop-culture peaks and damn its face-palming lows. Toward the end of the conversation, when asked what else was on his mind, he simply said, “Oh, Jeez. What else could get me fucking screamed at on Twitter?” Well, where to start?
Let’s begin on a positive note. What was your favorite album this year?
Faith No More’s Sol Invictus, just because I never thought it was going to happen. Then, all of a sudden, we get “Motherfucker” and “Superhero,” and I was like, “Holy shit! What the fuck is this?” Then you get the whole album, and it’s such a great, dark, moving album. It was what I wanted it to be. For them to come back with that much attitude and do it their way and not give a shit what anybody thought, it was beautiful.
What was your favorite movie?
That is a toss up between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road, to be honest. I say those only because I haven’t seen Spectre yet and [at the time of this interview] Star Wars doesn’t come out for another week. But I loved Ultron. I thought it was so well put together. There was almost an Avengers backlash when it came out, and I’m looking around going, “What the fuck are you people talking about? Let’s not forget: It’s the Avengers. It’s not Shakespeare. We’re not curing fucking cancer. This is a comic-book movie for comic-book fans. Shut the fuck up.” It really, really pissed me off like something fierce. I saw that movie fucking seven times in the theater, like I loved that flick.
Fury Road, though, caught me by surprise. I was on the road, and I didn’t have a chance to see it in the theater. I saw it on VOD and proceeded to buy it fucking 12 times; every hotel room I was in, I had to watch it again. I watched it with my son, and he hadn’t seen the other ones, so it was kind of a shock for him, like, “Holy fuck, what is this?” And I’m like, “Right? I know!” I just thought it was incredibly well-shot. The colors were incredible. The fact that [director George] Miller was able to fuse so much live action with just the smallest hints of contributive CGI, that’s the way you make an action movie.
Slipknot needs to get the flaming guitar in Fury Road.
The coolest thing that happened was when fucking Tom Hardy was promoting the movie, he said, “It was like Cirque Du Soleil meets fucking Slipknot.” I fucking fanned out like nobody’s business. I lost my shit. I was like, “Bane just fucking said some cool shit about us!” I was so stoked. I showed Clown [Crahan, Slipknot percussion], and that got his fucking head going. I took that as a huge fucking compliment.
“The Republicans need to fucking disavow Donald Trump if they want to be taken seriously at all.”
What was the worst thing you saw in pop culture this year?
I think I can speak for everyone when I say Trump running for president. That just fucking sums it up. I can remember when [former KKK Grand Wizard] David Duke ran for president, and people scoffed at him. It was a joke. Like, how do you even consider the fact that you’ve got a shot at this? And now here comes Trump. And just because he’s a fucking talking head on television, people are taking him seriously. Between that and the fact that he is appealing to some crazy fucking fear in the conservative wing of America, it is scaring me to be honest. The Republicans need to fucking disavow him if they want to be taken seriously at all — not only by middle-of-the-road America, but by the rest of the fucking world.
So are you feeling Hillary or Bernie?
Bernie’s the one who’s got my interest. Everything about Hillary seems prepackaged and planned. Obviously, I don’t know her as a person, but everything about her seems forced. Bernie Sanders, however, just doesn’t give a shit. And that is so fucking refreshing. That dude has balls the size of church bells. I think if it came down to the debate, Sanders would shred Trump. Shred him. And I think he’s got 10 years on Trump.
And Bernie seems like he believes in what he’s saying; he’s trying to bring people together instead of pull them apart. And between Paris, San Bernardino, Black Lives Matter, this country is coming apart at the seams and we don’t need someone ripping us apart. We need someone to bring us together.
You mentioned San Bernardino, where you hold Knotfest. How did watching that make you feel about gun control?
[Sighs]. Every time you talk about gun control, it’s a sticky subject. For me, I would never say that it’s time to take people’s guns away, but at the same time, something has to be done. As a father and a husband, I look around and I’m like, “Do you people not see what’s happening?” Anytime something happens like this, it’s like two fists crashing together. The conversation can’t even start. Whether it’s this pseudo-bastardization of the Second Amendment or this overly compulsive need to just completely take all the guns away. I know there are very responsible gun owners out there. It’s not their fault that this is happening. But people aren’t talking about how to fix it. If [former House Speaker] “Tip” O’Neill and Ronald Reagan can compromise, we should be able to do that. Instead, we’re clinging to the fringe because we’re all so convinced we’re right.
“I would never want my fans targeted because they went to see an ‘American band.'”
Since you mentioned Paris, how did that make you feel about playing live?
The crazy thing is, we had friends who were on the Eagles of Death Metal crew who went through that. And obviously, our thoughts went to the fans and our friends. It was a really hard feeling of powerlessness. You were just like, “Fuck.”
We have plans to go to Europe in January and February, and it’s really made us stop and think about it. Any time you’re an entertainer, you never want to feel that fear and let that in, but you have to. And as a father and husband, you have to consider all of these things. We don’t have any plans as of yet to pull out, but you look around and you see everyone from the Foo Fighters to Five Finger Death Punch shutting it down.
So right now, it’s a really, really weird time as an entertainer and, for me, I can only say this: I would never want my fans targeted because they went to see an “American band.” From what I read, that’s why the guys in Eagles were targeted, because they were an American band. And yet, French people were hurt. The next year is going to be very interesting to see what happens, because I will not put any of my kids in harm’s way. Ever.
The last serious thing I wanted to ask about was how you felt when you heard about Scott Weiland. You recently paid tribute to him.
I did, yeah. I’d met him a handful of times. He was always very nice. Obviously, people have heard the horror stories about him. And then, obviously, reading that letter that his ex-wife and his kids put together, which I thought was very profound, it’s, like, that’s the world we live in right now, where’s people make a myth out of something. So you’re getting two sides of a story.
For me, it was about showing respect to a man who helped write some of my favorite songs. I was a huge STP fan. I was a fan of Velvet Revolver. For me, it was about letting people remember why he was held up like that.
Back to fun topics. Slipknot’s nominated in the metal and rock categories at the Grammys. What do you make of that?
Yeah, it’s strange. We’ve been nominated so many times now, and we’ve won once. There’s so many opinions about the Grammys, and I go both ways. I have a hard time with the way that all of my genres are represented and the way they’re disrespected and marginalized. And yet, because of the way they handle it, when you do win, it’s a little sweeter. It’s not like we’re getting nominated across the board the way a lot of pop and hip-hop artists are. But for us, the fact that we really only had one win and now we have two categories, it’s a lot like trying to hit a needle with another needle. So it’s cool to get that acknowledgement, but at the same time, my hopes and dreams don’t rest on whether or not I’m going to take a phonograph home that I can’t even play records on.
What was your favorite pop music this year? You used to like Justin Bieber.
Yeah, until he started becoming a fucking caricature of a spoiled brat. Honestly, the only real pop music that I hear is through my kids. There was a lot of Babymetal being played in my house this year. There was a lot of 5 Seconds of Summer, who I actually got to meet not too long ago, and apparently they’re massive Slipknot fans, which I did not see coming. And they were really, really cool guys. I couldn’t name one of their songs, but I’ve heard them. I’m just so out of the loop when it comes to pop music, because it all sounds the same. It’s all the same chord progressions with the same quirky chorus, or the same hip-hop beat that took 21 people sitting in a room to come up with. It bores me.
While we’re on the topic, what do you think about the latest crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees?
Isn’t Madonna in?
The fact that Madonna got in before Deep Purple got in? Those people can kiss my ass. Like, fuck you. Stop calling it the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Stop. Because it’s obvious that you don’t give a shit about rock & roll. If you did, bands like Deep Purple and Cheap Trick would’ve been in years ago. And that’s fucking upsetting. Call it the Popular Music Hall of Fame. Call it anything other than that. Because all you do is fucking piss me off.
So if Slipknot were to get named, would you be pumped?
No. I wouldn’t even go, dude. I don’t give a shit. All of that stuff is counterproductive. It’s like, “Oh, God. I hope they like me.” That’s why you go out on tour. That’s why you try to sell albums. I don’t give a shit about a museum. Put me in a fucking museum? Are you kidding me? We’ll put our own museum together and share it with our fans.
And you did at Knotfest.
Yeah, exactly. It’s about creating something for your fans instead of trying to become fucking some part of some club that nobody gives a shit about anymore. But then again, what do I know? I am a prick.
“This pope intrigues me because he seems like he has the true heart of what religion is supposed to be about.”
The last topic I thought you could weigh in on is the pope, who put out a rock record this year. Did you listen?
I did not hear his album, though I saw some pretty great pictures of him with a microphone in a frame from Eight Mile, which I thought was fucking hilarious. This pope intrigues me because he seems like he has the true heart of what religion is supposed to be about, which is inclusion and not exclusion. It hasn’t swayed me to commit to Catholicism or anything like that, but I like the fact that he is trying to bring people together.
Right before Thanksgiving, he said that Christmas this year was a charade since the whole world is at war.
Yeah. If anybody is going to get away with it, it’s the pope, dude. He is the man. I love the fact that he speaks his mind. That is what you need; you need people cutting through the rhetoric of politics, because half the time these people are talking and they’re not fucking saying anything. And going back to Trump, I think that’s one of the reasons why people are so energized by him, because he isn’t touting anything that even resembles a party line; the problem is what he is saying. The pope is honestly the same thing, but the exact opposite. He’s trying to bring the people together by dropping the differences. And that is an inspiration.