In addition to fronting two popular metal bands (Slipknot and Stone Sour), Corey Taylor has developed a serious book bug. He landed on the New York Times‘ Bestsellers list with his first-ever title, 2011’s Seven Deadly Sins, and hopes to do the same with his brand new book, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven (Or, How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process).
Released on July 16th through Da Capo Press, the book is not a thematic follow-up to the autobiographical Sins. In it, Taylor recounts his experiences with the supernatural throughout his life. . . of which he has had quite a few memorable ones. The singer/author recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the genesis of the book, Slipknot’s future, and his pick for “best film for inducing motion sickness.”
How and when did the idea come up to do a book about your experiences with the supernatural?
I was thinking about this, actually, right around the time that Seven Deadly Sins came out. I was trying to think of a way to kind of keep the same format, but not the same theme. I liked Seven Deadly Sins because it had built-in chapters, plus it allowed me to expound on a bunch of different things, and it allowed me to tell a bunch of different stories. So I figured for the second book, “You know what? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I realized that I had all of these experiences with ghosts and whatnot, in several different places that I’d lived and places that I worked. I was like, “This is kind of a built-in way to do the same thing, and have different chapters be the houses that I lived in or the places that I’ve worked.” And then just be able to expound, as well, and figure things out from a standpoint of, “What is this energy? What is this stuff? What are these things?” And it just made sense. So I had it pretty early on, but I wasn’t able to really get cooking on it until after we were done doing the Sonisphere shows with Slipknot in 2011. So it took me awhile to get started on it, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do once I really got started.
How did it affect you, going back and retelling these memories and situations?
A little bit. I didn’t realize just how much stuff I had cataloged until I sat back and was like, “Wow. This is kind of going back a long time.” And then talking to people that I’d known, when I was living in certain places – like the Mansion in L.A. is a perfect example, that we recorded Vol. 3 at. I can remember talking to [Slipknot member] Clown about it, and him hitting me up with stuff that I had forgot about. So it was cool to come back and get the memory going.
Once that got going, the flow just took care of itself. But it wasn’t as heavy as when I did Seven Deadly Sins. With Seven Deadly Sins, there was a lot of personal stuff in there that I didn’t even realize I’d been carrying around for awhile. And a lot of guilt involved, a lot of emotion, a lot of depression. Once I was done writing that book, I was able to really let go of that stuff. So this wasn’t as life-changing or life-jarring as Seven Deadly Sins. But it felt good to know that I was going to treat it with respect. I wasn’t for shock value or anything – this was just kind of making my case and making my point.
Were there any stories that you chose to leave out of the book?
No, that pretty much covered it. Between this house and my old house, and then the house I have in Vegas, there was a lot of stuff going on. Plus, the Mansion in California. The first chapter is called “Cold House,” which is all about my first experience with a house like that. There was a lot of stuff to draw on, and I knew that if I was able to do this righteously, I really had to just leave nothing on the table. And it allowed me to really flesh the book out and make sure that I was telling it and making a point. I didn’t want to come off as being pretentious about it, but at the same time, I didn’t want people to feel like there was more to tell. So that being said – because I still live here and I still have a house in Vegas – I’m learning new stuff all the time. Like, my sister-in-law put a recorder in one of the closets in the house I have in Vegas, and she was able to record about eight hours of stuff. And in that eight hours, there are like four instances where there are voices on the recorder, and there was nobody in the house really. So there’s new stuff coming in all the time. . . but I’ll just save that for the special chapter in the paperback when I write it.
Have you had any other supernatural experiences since completing the book?
Yeah, a handful. Like I said, there is some stuff that goes on in this house that’s pretty gnarly. But it’s the same kind of stuff – running up and down the stairs. It seems like every other morning when I’m making breakfast for my son, something comes running up behind me. It’s pretty spine-tingling. I’m like, “Really? It’s seven in the morning. Can you just leave me alone until I’ve had at least two cups of coffee?” It’s just ridiculous at this point. But it’s just standard stuff. Nothing gnarly yet. I guess I should knock on wood at this point.
The story about getting pushed down a flight of stairs while carrying your infant son was quite chilling.
Yeah, that was at my old house, in a different part of town. I had never felt a physical thing before. And all the stuff I had gone through, I had never felt a physical thing. The closest thing was when I had the covers pulled off in the bed at the Mansion. That was a whole other different thing, and thank god I had the presence of mind to turn and land on my back. But that freaked me out. It was one of those rare instances where I felt genuine malice from something like that. But what do you do in a situation like that? You kind of just have to calm yourself down, because you’ve got an infant in your hands, and just make sure you deal with it the way you have to deal with it.
What do you have to say to people who may read the book and not believe your recollections?
Eh, it is what it is. Like I said before, I’m not trying to convince anybody of it. I’m trying to make sense of it myself. And you’re either along for the ride or you’re not. At this point, most of the people that are going to read this book are probably pretty set in their ways, until something happens to them. And then at that point, then maybe a totally different conversation starts. But it’s me trying to figure out for myself, and maybe help other people who have seen stuff like I’ve seen, try to make sense of it for themselves. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of weird feedback from it, because I am one of those weird dichotomies, where I’m not religious whatsoever, and yet, here I am with a serious ghost fetish. So it’s kind of a weird dichotomy to find myself in. But at the same time, I invite all kinds of conversation. I invite all kinds of debates. And if it never happens, it never happens. If not, if not.
You also touch upon your views on God and religion in the book. Are you prepared for the possible controversy this may cause?
Yeah. I mean, at this point, it’s 2013. If people can’t have an open conversation about what organized religion means to them, then we might as well all start doing our hair in ducktails and listening to the Big Bopper, for Christ’s sake. If we haven’t come far enough along that we cannot have an open conversation. . . and nothing that I say is really all that wrong, to be honest. All the points that I make are very valid. And I even say in the book, this isn’t coming down on people who have true faith and lead their lives by that. This is about organized religion and what it does to people. There really is a cattle mentality that happens, when people get in large groups and subscribe to overtly horrendous trains of thought. It’s not my fault – I didn’t do this. The proof is in the goddamn pudding. We see it every day on a number of news networks. If people are going to come at me with a bunch of crap, it’s like, “Well, you just made my case for me.”
What are your thoughts on such supernatural-themed television shows as Ghost Whisperer and Supernatural and films like Poltergeist and The Blair Witch Project?
Oh, some of my favorites. Especially Supernatural. I love that show. Not only is it as creepy as hell, but it’s funnier than shit. It’s one of the few TV shows that I actually go out and watch it on iTunes before it comes out on DVD. And I go out and buy the season anyway, because I’ve got to have it. The Blair Witch Project is great for motion sickness. The first time you see it, it is extremely creepy. The first time I saw it, I saw it on a bootleg tape on a tour bus before it had even come out. It was one of the first movies I’d seen like that. I didn’t even realize it was a damn movie! I hadn’t heard anything about it. So I saw it, and I was like, “Man, this is fucked up.” And then I realized it was a movie, so I talked it up so big. I was like, “You guys got to see this!” We all went to the movie and got really, really sick. It was just all that shaky cam shit. I was like, “All right. Maybe this wasn’t one of my more brilliant ideas.” But I still remember the vibe that I got the first time I saw it. I really dug it.
That’s funny that you say that, because the first time I saw that film, I unfortunately ate some bad sushi beforehand, and the shaky camera work almost made me throw up.
Ugh. You need gas station sushi! That’s a recipe for disaster.
Any ideas or plans for future books?
Yeah. I’m really getting into it, so I’ve been thinking two books ahead now. I’ve been writing a monthly column for a magazine in England [Rock Sound] since 2001. So I’m thinking my next book will probably be a collection of columns. Some of my favorite columns from there. Because it’s really all op-ed. They give me 800 words and I can talk about absolutely anything I want to. The topics have been fairly weird, to say the least. But it’s still something that I do, so it’s fun. I’ll probably do that. And then I have an idea for a novel that I really want to work on. So if I can get the columns book together – which shouldn’t take me too long, because I’ve still got it all saved – that will allow me the time to really flesh out the idea for the novel that I’ve got, and really be able to put the time in and the work, and make sure it’s everything I want it to be.
What is the current status of Slipknot and is there talk of doing a new studio album?
We’ve been slowly but surely starting to kind of bandy that about. We’re doing a handful of shows this year in Europe, and maybe a couple at the end of the year – possibly in South America. And then next year, we’re kind of starting to get the machine together, to see what can happen. It’s finally starting to feel like it’s time. Not just for me, but for a bunch of guys in the band. We’ve all come a long way in the last couple of years. We’ve all started to get our own shit together, and we’re starting to feel like a family again, which is huge for us. As dysfunctional as this band has been in the past, we’ve always been there for each other. And we’re really starting to reflect that now. So I think since we’re all on the same page, it’s going to make it a little easier to think about going into a studio and making new music without Paul [Gray, Slipknot’s bassist who died in 2010]. And that was one of the biggest things – just not wanting to really face it. But I think it’s really starting to get close to being the right time. I think next year is finally going to be time to do that.