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the vice interview

The VICE Interview: Corey Taylor

The Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman talks death, drugs, and Sandra Bullock.

This is the VICE Interview. Each week we ask a different famous and/or interesting person the same set of questions in a bid to peek deep into his or her psyche.

Corey Taylor has a hectic schedule. When he hangs up the Slipknot mask, he fronts his "other" band, Stone Sour (who just released their new, sixth album, Hydrograd) and writes books (his upcoming fourth book, America 51, is in the works). That's before he knackered his back last year, resulting in spinal surgery. In the interim, he and his Slipknot bandmates put together a live film, Day of the Gusano, which is out next month. When we speak, he's on surprisingly bright and breezy form given all he's been up to over the last few weeks. Joking about how he's been forced to work on his one day off this month, he's ready to open up on everything from sobriety to the sesh, jazz to pissing in the shower, death to Sandra Bullock and "racist pricks" masquerading as patriots.


VICE: You're a busy man. When was the last time you said "no" to something?
Corey Taylor: Last week? I get asked to do a lot of shit – a lot of guest spots. If it feels like I'm doing something that I've already done before, I'm gonna pass. I've definitely been down to do some dance shit. Something that's a little darker. I'd kill to work with Trent [Reznor, Nine Inch Nails]. I'm also dipping back into more of the laid back, contemplative stuff – I'd love to do something on a jazz vibe. If nobody hits me up, I might just start my own jazz quintet and go in and record a cool, dark fucking six-song EP.

Is there anyone, apart from your partner, who you're comfortable being naked around?
No! Well, I can't say that because I've been naked onstage quite a few times, so I guess it's my partner and the whole fucking world. Maybe it's the sheer volume of people that makes it OK. Maybe that's the voyeur in me, the adventurist in me – maybe I secretly just want to be part of some German nudist colony. If it was one other person I'd try to cover up and show some modicum of concern for it.

Do you have an outfit that you think you look fittest in?
I've been told that I look really good in a suit – a proper suit, dressed to the nines. Not just, "Oh, I found this on the floor and it doesn't smell too bad." But I dunno. I have a hard time with self-image anyway, and sometimes tend to put more stock in people's opinions than I should. When I'm in a suit, unless I've picked it out and it's the right fit and everything, I always just feel like I'm wearing my uncle's clothes, without fucking sounding weird. For me, the shit that I'm most comfortable in is a cool pair of jeans and a T-shirt that doesn't make me look like a piece of shit.


Corey Taylor (Portrait by Travis Shinn)

Tone shift – would you like to experience death, if it could be guaranteed that you'd be brought back to life?
No, because I wouldn't want to feel that comfortable with death. When the time did come, when I was ready, I wouldn't want to be brought back from it. I love life so much that I just want to fight for it, every fucking second that I have. If there absolutely is another level to go to, I want to look back on this and know that I experienced everything there is to experience, and know that I did it the right way.

How do you think you will die?
When you become a family man, you tend to let go of the shit that may have taken some of the years off. I put different importance on different things now. I've really started to look after my own health, and pay attention to the needs of my kids, as opposed to what I need. I guess, for me, the way I'd like to go is with one of my kids holding my hand in old age. Slipping away, so they don't have to watch it.

If you were cast out into space, how long do you think you'd last?
Oh, probably as long as the oxygen allowed me. I'd be desperately screaming my tits off, because I wouldn't know what to do. Are we talking a Gravity sort of situation, or are we talking what's-his-name from Mission to Mars, who's slowly falling towards the surface of the planet?

Let's say Gravity. You're way out there.
I don't know if my brain could handle it. I would hope that my brain would be able to settle down for a second and stop panicking. I'm still not convinced that Sandra Bullock made it back to the planet, man! That fucking whole movie is such a fucking head-fuck for me! It's brilliant, but there's no fucking way! Really? Really, really? Come on. But then, if anyone could do it, Sandra Bullock can.


Do you pee in the shower, yes or no?
Oh, fuck yeah. I'm a guy. I've watched women pee in the shower – it's weird. They have to assume a different position. Or they just let it go, which is also weird. With guys, it's the difference between a faucet and a tear in a plastic bag. That's the difference between men and women peeing in the shower – you know where the faucet's gonna go; you tear that plastic bag, you've got no fucking idea. What the fuck is happening?! It's the chaos theory of women peeing in the shower that scares the shit out of me.

Too erratic?
You can't chart it! And if I can't chart it, I don't trust it.

How many people do you think have been in love with you throughout the years?
Truly in love with me? Three, maybe. Sometimes the people who truly love you, you don't even realise. It depends on what kind of love we're talking about, to be honest – there's so many kinds these days, and sometimes hate is another form of fucking love. You never know. Love takes dedication, and it takes a certain kind of person to keep up that dedication. It's a slippery slope.

Corey Taylor with Slipknot (Photo by José Goulão via Wiki)

What's the closest you've ever come to having a stalker?
Oh, I've had many. This is no bullshit – I've noticed that my singing and my lyrics bring out a certain type of schizophrenia that makes certain people stop taking their meds, and they hyper-focus on me. It gets really weird. I've had a handful over the years – luckily nothing too intense.


How do you handle that?
The only thing I can do is report it. I make sure that everything is done by the book, but I also try to get them the help that they need. That's the key element – making sure that they get the help they need. The couple of stalkers that I've had that weren't affected by that end of the mental illness spectrum were much more of a Catfish kinda thing; a social media thing. They were creating a bunch of different profiles that would attack me, but then defend me. It was really fucking weird. It's actually still going on. It comes and goes, and I haven't been able to find out who it is. It's tough to deal with, and it makes me close ranks a little more, which is hard to do in this fucking day and age, when part of what I do is so tied to social media. You just gotta do what you do.

Do you think drugs can make people happy?
I guess it depends on the drug. Cocaine made me happy the first time, and then it just made me a gnarly, crazy person. But then again, I was 15 at the time, so who fucking knows. I can say that one of the happiest times I've ever had was taking mushrooms. Ugh! That was like pure bliss. I think if you're not happy in general, drugs aren't going to make you happy. The problem is not many people take drugs any more just to have a good time. They take it because they're filling in some kind of empty space. They fill that space with all the bullshit, and that's when you stop becoming a personality and you become more of a tragedy, really. It's the classic case of human over-consumption. Human beings don't know how to do anything – we over-do everything. It's a shame, because there are some really good drugs out there, but because we don't really understand what moderation is, we will never truly be able to enjoy them.


What's the grossest injury you've ever had?
I guess it'd have to be my spinal injury that I had surgery for last year. That was a fucking wake up call that I was not expecting. Because I was young enough when it happened, when you fall off-stage and fall five feet and land on the top of your head, there's gonna be some fucking damage. I was 24 at the time, like, 'Fuck it, here we go!' It didn't even occur to me to go to the doctor. I was like, 'Well, I can move my fingers and toes!' Over the years, all the headbanging, all the jumping around, all the beating the shit out of myself, it just exacerbated the injury and got it to the point where, when I was 42, I had no strength on my right side, my balance was off, my bladder control was fucked up. It's amazing all the things that are connected to your spine. To find out that, because of that injury, the bone had started growing into my spine, to the point where I now have a bruise that you can actually see on fucking x-rays. That is a fucking wake up call of biblical proportions. It's only in the last six months that I've actually started to feel normal again.

Has that made you more aware of your limitations?
No, because it's me and I'm such an asshole. It's like, 'Oh I feel great now, let's fucking push it 'til I'm 80!' I've started headbanging onstage again, which is great. But now my neck hurts after a show and I'm like, 'Oh, fuck, what did I do?' It just makes you almost hyper-critical of everything you do. But I can't live my fucking life like that – that's how you end up driving yourself into the grave, with worry and bullshit like that. For me, it's just about being aware, going to the doctor.


Just to wrap up – how often do you lie in interviews?
Honestly, I'm the worst fucking liar on the planet. You can totally tell when I'm lying, and anybody who knows me knows that. I really try hard not to lie. Even on the most basic level, like the social lies where you're like, "Oh yeah, I'd love to see you, please come on over!" I really have tried desperately to just be honest. It's so much more freeing to just fucking be honest. I guess the only time I really lie is by omission. If I don't bring it up I'm technically not lying, but that's not really true, is it? That's maybe something I need to work on, in myself.

Is that something you're looking to get better at then?
I think we all have something that we need to work on in ourselves, no matter how old we are. It's like chipping away the plaster over the marble to see what's underneath. You don't know until you do – you don't really get an idea of what shape you're in. I don't feel like there's ever such a thing as too late.


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