Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold are slaying audiences across the UK this week as one of the best co-headline tours for years puts the heavy back into metal. We caught up with SS/Slipknot guitar hero Jim Root.
rushonrock: The members of Stone Sour and A7X have both been touched by tragedy in the last 12 months – have the deaths of Paul Gray and The Rev brought you closer together?
Jim Root: We’ve both suffered terrible losses in the last year but it’s not something we talked about on the US tour. Both bands have hung out and become friends but what happened to Paul and The Rev has been left unsaid.
rushonrock: Stone Sour’s new album and touring schedule haven’t left too much time to grieve but has your music helped you at a difficult time?
JR: Working with Stone Sour has helped a bit in terms of trying to deal with Paul’s death. I’ve definitely been keeping busy. I found out about Paul and a day later I drove from Nashville with all of my gear. A day after that I flew to Iowa for the funeral and three days after that Stone Sour were on tour in Europe. I haven’t let it sink in yet. I can’t. I think about it every day and I have got past the point of breaking down every time I think about Paul and how it ended for him. But overall it’s something that I’m not dealing with yet and keeping busy might be my only safety net.
rushonrock: Would you now class yourself as an A7X fan?
JR: I’m more of a fan of Avenged now than I ever was. Touring with them in the States has made me realise what a great band they’ve become. I bought City Of Evil when it came out but I didn’t really like that record. I loved Bat Country but that was about it. The rest of it sounded like a poor Helloween record. That’s really cool if you like Helloween but I’d heard all of that stuff before. But watching their show every night and talking to the guys – that shit just tends to grow on you. I love what they do every night now and I wouldn’t miss it.
rushonrock: So after a couple of months on the road back home are you both on fire?
JR: Oh yeah. Both bands are in great form and it’s been a lot of fun playing together so far.
rushonrock: Do you like the idea of a co-headline tour?
JR: Yes, it seemed to make sense. Stone Sour had been away for a long time and we didn’t know what to expect in terms of whether people would want to see the band. Obviously Corey and I have been out on the road with Slipknot for a number of years and there’s a rebuilding process that has to happen with Stone Sour. We’re actually starting ahead of where we thought we’d be but we still thought it might have been too much of a gamble to go out on the road on our own. The music industry is dying and it’s better to play it safe rather than throw caution to the wind – especially when your band has been out of the public eye as long as ours has. We want to work our way back up properly. We did Download and a few other festivals in the summer but you need to do the theatre and club circuit to properly understand where your band’s at. The tour with A7X is acting as a barometer for us.
rushonrock: Do you now feel you’ve been over-cautious when you look at the reaction to the new album and the ticket sales for the tour?
JR: Well hopefully we’re doing something right! I don’t like to get too cocky about shit because that’s when you get your ass kicked. I’m just going to say that we started out not knowing where this band was at and we’ve been a bit taken aback. We didn’t expect the demand there’s been – we even started writing songs for the next record anticipating we wouldn’t be out on the road that long.
rushonrock: Audio Secrecy has been described as an album by a band with arena ambitions – is that fair comment?
JR: Well we’re certainly more of a live band and those songs take on a new life on stage. That’s where we excel. That’s where our true passion is. I love working in studios and I love making records but through playing live you get the invaluable experience of going to new places and meeting new people. On stage we throw it out – that’s just what we do. It’s our forte. Whether it’s a club or a theatre or an arena I can guarantee we’ve got it nailed down. At Download we were a little bit rusty. After so long apart we were trying to work out how to play together again. Now we’ve had a few months on the road we’re thinking ‘it’s OK, we’ve got this’.
rushonrock: Is the live show a chance to experiment?
JR: To an extent. I want our shows to be something unique for the people who see them. I want them to be special. As a fan that’s what I want and as a musician that’s how I feel it should be. There’s something magical about seeing a band play live and knowing that for one night only you and the rest of the people in that room are getting something unique. If you’re in a band that uses digital performance tools every night that must suck. And if you’re a fan it sounds exactly like it does on the record. What’s the point? The only thing to look forward to is if the digital system breaks down and you have to press a different button.
rushonrock: Are you enjoying the musical freedom Stone Sour offers you?
JR: Whether we’re talking about Slipknot or Stone Sour we’ve been lucky enough to do a lot with our music. With Slipknot we’ve been able to get all of that angst ridden shit out our systems. Now with Stone Sour we’ve been given the opportunity to experiment and from a personal point of view I do like to be able to evolve musically. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards but in Stone Sour that’s possible because we have five different guys who write. It’s a delicate balance between retaining some musical credibility and setting new standards but I think Audio Secrecy does that.
rushonrock: So are you fulfilled as a musician?
JR: There’s no doubt where I’m at right now is a nice place to be in. I’ve been very lucky with both Slipknot and Stone Sour as far as success with both bands goes. Both bands are lucky enough to be bale to do things the way they want to do them without any pressure from outside. If I look at the music I’ve been involved with in both bands there’s a whole gamut of different material there and as a musician that’s what you want – the opportunity to be diverse.