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Slipknot’s Corey Taylor Talks ‘.5: The Gray Chapter,’ 2014 Knotfest + Moving Forward

Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

Slipknot are back, as they recently unleashed a pair of tracks — ‘The Negative One’ and ‘The Devil in I’ — off their upcoming ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ album. They’re also staging one of the year’s biggest concert events with Knotfest 2014. ‘Loudwire Nights’ host Full Metal Jackie recently had a chance to speak with frontman Corey Taylor about both the album and Knotfest. The vocalist also opened up about the band moving forward without two of their longtime members, including how Slipknot plan to incorporate the new members into their live show. Check out the chat below.

This is Full Metal Jackie on Loudwire Nights. Corey Taylor is on the show with us tonight. Corey, change is never easy but necessary sometimes to produce spectacular results. What was the most uncomfortable part of recording ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ and how did that discomfort affect the music in a positive way?

I don’t know if it was uncomfortable, but the big difference was that it was the first album that we were doing without Paul, without Joe, and you know when you find yourself in a situation like that you either fall back on your heels or you rise to the occasion and you ask yourself how can we kind of fill in those blanks and still make the kind of music we want to listen to? So I think that the biggest thing for us was to just fill in some really big shoes. Luckily we really rose to the occasion and really kind of went above and beyond as far as musically. I’m loving this new album. I mean just as not only as a person who’s in Slipknot but just as a fan of music like this. I really love what we’ve done on this album.

It’s been four years since Paul Gray passed away. What did you need that time to do in order to get to a place where you were ready to write and record Slipknot music?

It just took us a little time to kind of figure everything out. Even though we were doing tours here and there as a collective just trying to get back on our feet, the thing that people don’t even realize is that we hadn’t even really had a chance to talk about it. That was one of the cool things about being in the studio. We were able to kind of share and talk about what we had felt that day and the days after that and just being able to share that and realizing that we’re not the only ones in that situation and it took a long time for us to really kind of get to a point where it felt like it was time to make music again. I think because we waited we were able to kind of deal with all the feelings that go into losing someone as important as Paul was.

It’s cliche to say, but, the truth is music is cathartic — both listening to it and creating it. How did writing these new songs and making this album help all of you come together both as a band as people?

The great thing is it helped us reconnect as a unit. We really all kind of stepped up and came to the table with a lot of great ideas. Clown and Jim had done a lot of legwork as far as getting a bunch of the demos and stuff together and I had written some stuff, but it wasn’t until we kind of all got our hands on the music that we really kind of started to coalesce in a way that felt like Slipknot music again and there was just a real excitement that came from all of us getting the stuff together. It felt very positive again to be making music and not only making music but making music we were stoked about and realizing that we had an opportunity to kind of let go of a lot of the heaviness that accompanied the last four years. I mean the album is really the story of the last four years of everything that we’d had to deal with as far as losing Paul.

There were some very human emotions going on with feeling guilt for being angry and feeling guilt because you get in those very vulnerable situations where you don’t know who to blame so you blame the person that you miss the most, you blame yourself because you felt like maybe you didn’t do enough. I mean, these are real emotions that maybe not a lot of people talk about and that’s some of just a little bit of what we’re talking about on this album is just helping to deal with that and really kind of getting to a place of acceptance and moving past the tragedy of it and holding onto Paul’s memory and just remembering him as a person that we deeply loved.

Which song on the new album ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ was most difficult to get to completion and why?

As far as from an emotional standpoint, the one for me that really rung my bell was the last song on the official album, a song called ‘If Rain Is What You Want.’ That song is really a reaction to the album that people expected us to make or thought that we were going to make. Anyone who’s dealt with the kind of loss that we’ve dealt with realizes that there’s no one side to this story. There are so many different sides to it that enable you to be able to tell it honestly. You have to come at it from all these different sides and talk about some of the ugliness of losing a loved one. So, ‘If Rain Is What You Want’ is really a response and an opening up. You talk about catharsis, it was a way to let go of a lot of what we were sitting on as far as trying to get to the point where we could, I don’t want to say cry about it, but just make amends with it, really. That song is really special for that. It’s got some of my favorite lyrics in it.

Corey, you’re a KISS fan so you know they brainstormed character ideas before revealing their new drummer Eric Carr as The Fox in 1980. Has there been similar brainstorming in the Slipknot camp about creating the right onstage persona for your new drummer?

Kind of, but not really. We wanted to make something that still looked unified but still stayed with the spirit of what the band is all about. Instead of trying to find something that was individualistic, we designed — well, Clown designed a mask that the drummer and the bass player will both wear. On one hand they get a mask but at the same time, it’s not the individual mask that we in the band use. We knew that any attempt to do anything like that might be taken as disrespectful, but at the same time it’s part of the way of moving, getting past the hardest steps, which is just moving on. So, we decided that we would come up with a mask that works for both the bassist and the drummer and that’s what they’ll wear on stage.

The touring cycle for the new album kicks off with Knotfest and the lineup this year is amazing. How much is the band involved in choosing what bands to book? What criteria makes a band best suited for Knotfest?

We were very, very involved in putting this package together. The cool thing was, there was absolutely no lack of bands that were lined up to be a part of it. That was lucky for us. We were given a list of bands who were available and we went through and picked the ones that we wanted to put something together with. Then as soon as word got out that we were putting something together, we had all these bands coming out of the woodwork that wanted to be a part of this. It was the best of both worlds for us.

At the same time, it’s also a testament to the fact that we’ve been able to create something now that when we put our name on it, people understand that this isn’t something that’s put together just for show. This is quality. This is for the fans, something special, unique and it’s something that we’re always going to try and top ourselves. When bands see that we’re putting something like that together, one of the reasons why they want to be a part of it is because they know we treat it very special. We treat it in a way that maybe not a lot of other bands treat the things that they put their own name on.

Thanks to Slipknot’s Corey Taylor for the interview. Look for ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ in stores Oct. 21. It’s currently available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes. And check out Slipknot on tour this fall at these locations. For Knotfest ticketing info, check here. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie’ Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.

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