Slipknot’s Corey Taylor: ‘Our stage manager passed out, so we set his legs on fire’

The singer on old horror films, making new music and the craziest bands to tour with

Slipknot are known for wild shows. I heard that at one of your earlier gigs at Wolverhampton Civic you launched yourself from a balcony into the crowd. Someone was injured and you kindly visited them the next day in hospital to cheer them up. Is that true? And how do you feel about your early onstage antics now? citizenidiot

It’s a gag that Sid [Wilson, Slipknot’s turntablist] used to do. This is one of the reasons why he has a hard time walking now. He’d climb to the top of whatever the highest point was and just go! He’d look like a flying squirrel because his coveralls were so big. He landed on a girl and hurt her neck, and went to the hospital himself to make sure she was OK. Luckily, she was all right.

It was a lot different to the show we do now. We wanted to be bigger and crazier than everybody else but realised that can’t be sustained. It was a gnarly time for us, but it was also some of the best times of our lives. I wouldn’t change a thing – maybe my knees would.

When are we getting Knotfest in the UK? ElPidgero

We almost did it and then the damn pandemic happened. We were working with people that we’d done various great British festivals with and then, all of a sudden, it all went to shit. It’s definitely something we want to circle back to, but a lot of our plans got put by the wayside: there’s so much we have to do first to rebuild everything.

The recent “surge pricing” on tickets is a disgrace (nearly £500 for general admission tickets for Bruce Springsteen, for instance). Any ideas on how we can stop this? Is there a realistic way that artists can make a stand or do the ticket companies have too much power/control? Eelsupinsideya

It’s definitely something that bigger artists should try to control. We’ve tried to combat it as much as possible but a lot of it is out of our hands. You only have so much power in this day and age, and that mentality is not completely shared around the industry. So until we can all get on the same page and put up a united front, it’s sadly going to be that way for a lot of people.

Your other band, Stone Sour, did a great cover of Love Gun, but who is your favourite member of Kiss and why? WalkAmongUs

Paul Stanley. He was the blueprint for a lot of us as frontmen. Paul had so much charisma and sang way outside of his range for 40 years: he killed himself on stage every night for us. He’s a massive inspiration and one of the nicest men I’ve ever met.

Watch the video for The Dying Song, from the new album, The End, So Far

What’s your favourite moment from The Exorcist? ChristianMen22

If it’s the extended version, the spider walk down the stairs. In the theatrical version, my favourite moment is when the priest, Karras, walks in and first visits Regan. She’s completely possessed by this point and the first thing that she says, in that voice, is: “Undo these straps.” My arm hairs are sticking up just thinking about it.

Apart from the film Trick or Treat from 1986, what other 80s horrors do you love? avalanches

The 80s were the heyday. Every week I had a new favourite: obviously, all the Friday the 13ths and Elm Streets. I remember my friends and I watching Witchboard over and over, like: “This is so dumb and awesome!” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is so underrated as a movie because it’s so over the top. I could go on and on. Check out the In Search of Darkness series: they’re documentaries I did about 80s horror movies.

What would you consider to be the greatest song Slipknot has written? reed87

Dude, I have no idea! We’ve written so many different types of tunes. If you’re talking pure brutality, then I would say Disasterpiece. If you’re looking for a good rock single, I would say Duality. If you’re talking dark and scary, I would say Iowa. If you’re talking slow ballad-ish, I would say Snuff.

Who were the maddest band you’ve been on tour with? wozzaneill

It’s between Raging Speedhorn and American Head Charge. When we took American Head Charge out in 2001, it was fucking madness. Both bands were not sober and we were touring Europe. They put us on a party barge from Sweden to Finland. I remember waking up after passing out in a giant plate of Swedish meatballs – and this is when I had long, black hair, so I looked like Beetlejuice – and immediately going out to try to find more booze. I look up and the old guitar player from American Head Charge is on the very top of the ferry, naked. People working on the boat are trying to get him down and he is waving to the ferries coming in the other direction.

That was also the ferry ride where we set our stage manager on fire in the bar. He passed out so we just set his legs on fire. He wouldn’t wake up so we put him out, but the damage was done.

Corey Taylor on stage with Slipknot at the 2019 Download festival at Castle Donington
Corey Taylor on stage with Slipknot at the 2019 Download festival at Castle Donington. Photograph: Katja Ogrin/Redferns

What’s your musical guilty pleasure? Uncle_Paulie

I don’t feel guilty about anything I listen to. Why would you feel guilty about something you enjoy? Unless it’s illegal and gross [laughs]. I listen to Slayer and Samantha Fox, Abba and Anthrax; I have Cardi B right next to Carcass. If I like it, I like it.

I enjoyed your appearance as a guest on QI. What was the experience like? How did you end up on it? And are there any more appearances like this to come? Scroogemcgrew1

I’m a massive, massive QI fan and have been since I discovered it by watching the reruns on Dave. It was brilliant, funny, quirky and so fucking smart. I started putting it out there that I loved QI and some of the elves got a hold of me. It was absolutely brilliant! I became friends with Phill Jupitus on Twitter. We were trying to get a second appearance together but, thanks pandemic: you fucked me on that one. I’d love to do it again.

While on QI, you said Slipknot concerts regularly reach 102-3 decibels. Have you got any louder since then? GTro86

Between the stage volume and the concussions [concussion bombs, firework-style pyro] that we use because we’re crazy people, I’m sure we’ve gotten louder than that. Certain cities have a decibel regulation, so you have to keep it low, even if it’s an outdoor show. Are you fucking kidding me? We’re in a field 30 minutes away from the nearest piece of civilisation! What possible problem could the difference between 100 decibels and 102 decibels cause?

How close were you to becoming Velvet Revolver’s new vocalist? SmilinPeter

They tried out quite a few people and I think I was the closest of all of them. I had three tryouts with them. I think that band had more issues than just them parting ways with Scott [Weiland]. A lot of those guys have been together since the early 90s: sometimes they’re just going to want to do their own things.

If you could only listen to two albums for the rest of your life, one from either Slipknot or Stone Sour and one from another band, what two albums would they be? SParis17

The Slipknot album would probably be Iowa. It’s got a bit of everything: it’s heavy, it’s slow and dark, it’s droning. It’s got something for everyone, even though it’s fucking psychotic. The album by someone else would be Kaiser Chiefs’ Employment. Talk about knocking it out of the park on the first album! It’s one of my top five favourites of all time.

Where do you see Slipknot in five years’ time? msmith2020

On a break, probably [laughs]. Probably working on a new album. I know we’ve got ideas for the next one. I won’t give too much away, but it’s very complex and intricate. I’ll probably have done my solo thing again. I’ve got CMFT2 written; I’m going in to the studio in January and February to record that. I’m trying to be pragmatic but the best way to make God laugh is to announce your plans out loud.

How many masks go on tour? Surely you can’t wear the same one night after night? crodd

I have four masks but I bring two out at a time. At this point, I’m so hard on masks that I have to send them back to be repainted. I used to just cover them with makeup but that would wash off and the mask would look worse. I’ve gotten smarter as time’s gone on and I make sure that I have backups for my backups. At the end of each tour I have both of them sent to be repainted and have the other two fresh ones brought back out.

There used to be a constant emergence of subgenres that would either become the main players or inspire the next generation of metal bands (NWOBHM, thrash, industrial, nu, symphonic). What do you think will be the next one that we’re all missing? johnzandt1

Fusion is very trendy. Everybody talks about this new wave of nu metal but I don’t really hear any of that in the new shit. None of it’s as heavy as the stuff that has come out – it’s more electronic to me. The next great inspiration will be something that’s just so simple, because right now everybody’s throwing everything at the wall to see what will stick: electronic thrash polka or whatever. I think the next wave will be pure and unadulterated, like Amyl and the Sniffers in Australia. They’re so unhinged and no bullshit.

Slipknot in 2022
Masked men … Slipknot in 2022. Photograph: PR

Earlier this year you described the new Slipknot album, The End, So Far, as “darker” than previous album We Are Not Your Kind. The latter was obviously born from a very toxic and dark place on a personal level, so in what way is the inspiration behind the new one darker? blahblahstrife

There was no real unifying theme, to be honest. I went with turning my attention outwards instead of inwards this time. There are a couple songs on this album that are more introspective but, for the most part, this album is me trying to get back to the roots of my songwriting, which is more analytical. It’s me taking themes that I’ve experienced in my life, but shooting it through the prism of somebody else.

There’s a song called Heirloom, which deals with the legacy of abuse: either growing up being abused or being in a relationship that is abusive, then all of a sudden you find yourself as a parent, or in a new relationship. Are you going to pass that on because that’s what you knew? Or are you going to consciously make a difference? It’s me trying to write stories again, instead of just going off on the same, for lack of a better term, “woe is me” shit.

• The End, So Far is released by Roadrunner on 30 September


As told to Matt Mills

The GuardianTramp

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