Frontman Corey Taylor caught up with RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth to talk about the band’s 2015 reboot, much-missed buddy Paul Gray and how this could be the Des Moines band’s biggest year yet.
To read a review of the band’s Newcastle Metro Radio Arena show click here
RUSHONROCK: The scale of a Slipknot show appears made for arenas but when the band started 20 years ago did anyone have a vision for what could be achieved?
COREY TAYLOR: It’s weird. I never thought this would happen. This was all pretty low on my radar. We always kind of viewed ourselves as a club band. The most we hoped for was to be one of those bands that sells 200,000 copies of an album and can afford to go out on the road. We wanted to play bigger clubs and see what happened. I’ll be honest – that was the extent of us reaching for the stars. When we played the clubs it was a different kind of energy and we thrived on that energy. At times it was like playing a jail cell but it was a very interactive experience. It was just a different show back then. But the day our show crossed the state lines was the day it got out of our control. Nobody was more surprised than we were. I keep going back to our Astoria show in 1999 on the World Domination Tour which was one of the highlights of my life. That still feels like an unbelievable experience for me now. It was so insane and not in a bad way. It was so positive and the crowd was so into it. It was like seeing The Ramones for the first time or seeing Metallica for the first time. I’ve talked to so many people who said they were there that the Astoria must have had a 50,000 capacity back then! I have so many fond memories of that night (well I don’t have great memories of loading and loading out) it will always have a special place in my heart. But I can also remember the band playing in front of 15 people in a club in Kansas and back then I don’t think anyone had any idea how far Slipknot could go.
RUSHONROCK: Is there a danger that the music comes secondary to the show?
CT: It’s definitely the music first. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve been able to continue at this level for so long. I think you only have to look at the reaction to the new album to realize that our music is still relevant and is what makes us the band we are. The chips were definitely down when we went into the studio to record .5: The Gray Chapter and we didn’t know which way the wind was going to blow for us. When we saw that people were digging the new music and the reaction was so positive we could continue with what we were planning. The music was coming together so well. Me and Clown were so excited. The music always has to be the catalyst however big the band or the show. Bands that don’t concentrate on the music plateau. They have that moment and they don’t even keep reaching for the stars anymore. Maybe that’s the difference between us and a lot of other bands. We continue reaching for the stars and striving to be the best band we can be. We try to put n the best show because that still really matters to us – but only after we have the music. It’s not a pay check to us. It’s real life. Even if we started to rest on our laurels where the entertainment was concerned the music would always have to be at peak performance. Otherwise there’d be no point.
RUSHONROCK: Does the prospect of celebrating Slipknot’s 20th anniversary in 2015 fill you with pride?
CT: It’s pretty amazing. If anyone had told me 10 years ago that this band would have been around 10 years later to celebrate its 20th anniversary I would have laughed. It’s a powderkeg and you simply can’t find the fuse. If you do the thing might blow up in a second. But I’m very proud of the contributions I’ve made. I wasn’t in the band in the beginning but I was at their first show and feel like I’ve been part of Slipknot from the start. I’ve known most of the guys forever and we did shows together even before Slipknot was going on. We’re all brothers and that’s what makes me proud. I guess knowing that we fought really hard – and continue to fight – for what we’ve got and it’s paid off really means something. This year is the 15th anniversary of the first album! You don’t see too many bands still together to celebrate a landmark like that. Bands break up but bands like Slipknot find a way to survive. We’ve made some adjustments but we’ve come through stronger.
RUSHONROCK: How close did the band come to calling it a day when Paul passed away?
CT: There have definitely been some difficult times. The hardest time was, absolutely, when we lost Paul. That was as close as it ever got to us calling time on Slipknot and naturally so. That was like standing in the batters’ box at a baseball match and waiting for the pitch to come only for someone to hit you on the back of your head with a bat. It smacks the shit out of you. Without warning. We struggled to work out what we wanted to do next. I wasn’t sure if it all made sense without Pauly. Now we realize this band is his legacy. Once we decided to go for it – with the Sonisphere shows three years ago – we knew we were going to be able to write a new album. We sensed a groundswell of positivity from the audience at those festival shows and that’s when it felt real again. It took a long time to move on from what happened but I don’t think we ever really gave up.
RUSHONROCK: With UK arena shows and a headline slot at next summer’s Download festival could 2015 be Slipknot’s biggest year yet?
CT: I think it could. It feels that way. I thought we had peaked on All Hope Has Gone. We experienced a hard couple of years after that album. But things feel very positive for Slipknot right now and I can’t really put my finger on why. We have so many more opportunities than we’ve had in the past. It just feels like everything is coming our way again. I don’t know if that makes me more happy or if it scares the shit out of me. I’m equal parts pragmatic and optimistic. I don’t want to look too far ahead. But it definitely feels like we’re a few steps ahead in our career from where we were. Of course there’s a bittersweet taste in my mouth when I say that because Paul isn’t a part of it anymore. That’s what makes me hold back from going all ‘hip hip hooray’. But it is a good situation right now.
RUSHONROCK: How much do your fans in the UK mean to you?
CT: From a personal point of view all of the UK has always had a very special place in my heart. We’ve always experienced very special shows there. The fans are always gagging for it – it’s just insane. I think the reason that the UK will always be so special is that it’s the first place in the world where the fans really believed in us. The States kind of caught up after a while. Music in the US is so much more compartmentalized that’s it’s so hard to get that first foothold in the market. The big music companies peddle the stuff that they want the fans to buy but the UK is much more open to new music. It’s got its’ pop vibe and its radio vibe but there’s a big underground movement where new music can thrive. And there are still great magazines that publish in-depth features. It’s just a better gig in the UK all round.
Exclusive image courtesy of John Burrows @ishootgigs