Corey Taylor is truly a man that needs no introduction. Fronting not one but two wildly successful bands in Stone Sour and Slipknot, so far has his musical influence reached that the image of a masked Taylor out the front of his nine band-mates in Slipknot is burned into the cultural psyche of musical pop-culture, a reference point for many that metal is ‘evil’ and ‘satanic’.
However, despite what the naysayers may think, there can be no denying the wealth of creative material produced by Taylor, with his enormous success in no way making him complacent.
From multiple books, to speaking tours, to essays and a sustained run of incredibly powerful albums with his projects (the latest Slipknot LP We Are Not Your Kind is arguably on par with the band's best, Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses), Taylor’s work ethic is undeniable.
However, despite his significant influence on metal and broader pop culture - a Corey Taylor quote will always be the top news story of the day in our world - the famed ‘solo record’ has never appeared until today, with the release of CMFT.
“When I was growing up a lot of the time the solo artists I listened to - I had no idea that they fronted these other awesome bands, so that was a huge side of it”, Taylor tells us when we catch up to chat about the release.
“Like, I loved Ozzy Osbourne, and after I heard him I was like ‘Whoah, he has this band called Black Sabbath?’
“It was the same with Dio, it was the same with Iggy Pop - those solo records reveal this entire new creative side to those artists.”
While CMFT certainly reveals a new side to Taylor, trading in dark metal anthems for party rock and roll (think Andrew W. K) and the occasional ballad, the enigmatic vocalist reveals that this side of him isn't one that's new - rather, it just hasn’t had a chance to express itself in the past.
“These songs, some of them have been kicking around since I was in fucking high school man,” he exclaims.
“I’ve always had this rock and roll party side of me, and that can kind of be expressed through what I do with Stone Sour - but still, I had this collection of songs that simply didn’t fit for what I was doing there, and definitely not with my work with Slipknot.
“I actually wrote a bunch of these tunes for other artists as well, but they simply didn’t want them! It was so strange to me, because i thought that the songs where really cool, so I figured ‘hey, it’s time to use these under my own name and really bring them to life’, because they hit right on the mark of this entire musical world that I love, so it made sense to not let them slip away.”
There’s no denying that a casual Slipknot fan wanting to hear 'Solway Firth 2.0' will get a nasty shock then they here the southern blues influence of 'HWY 666,' but it’s not hard to appreciate the knack for a hook and melody that Taylor possess - made especially clear on the piano-led album highlight 'Home'.
“That song I actually wrote for my wife which I performed for her on our wedding day - and that was the first time I had ever performed on a piano in front of people. I was so fucking nervous man, but I practised a heap in the lead up, and it just felt magical,” he says.
“I just wanted to leave maximum room for melody. I think it’s so magical when those strings just subtly enter and add that little bit of texture to it all - that’s all it needs. It’s so tempting to take the skeleton of a song and try to build a city over it - but with Home, I needed to get out of my own way and just let that song speak for itself.”
Getting out of one’s way is a term often thrown around by artists - and as Taylor explains, that meant allowing the songs to organically bloom in a studio environment, and not agonizing over the details.
“Just having the sense that thing’s where being created and captured was really important to us while we were in the studio. We took three weeks to record 20 songs!
“You know on some of those old jazz records, by legends like John Coltrane, Theolonius Monk and Charlie Parker, you can feel the air moving around the studio - on those records they’re capturing things in the moment that become immortalised!
“With this album, I really wanted there to be a similar sense of things falling into place organically and almost coming to life on the spot with the tape on. Like I said, most of it was already written - but at the same time, when you pull in your best friends to play on it, that’s when you get to really experience it for the first time, you know?”
Hearing Taylor speak so passionately about the process of creating organic music is invigorating, so it makes sense to touch upon a very known piece that he conducted with Metal Hammer Magazine in 2018, where he took aim at over-produced ‘computer bands’ of the modern age.
It would seem that the sentiment is certainly one that has stuck around for Taylor.
“Fuck man, there’s no fucking soul in the music when you have bands that do that,” he says, beginning to wind up into peak Taylor-rant mode.
“Like, it’s 2020, there is so much inspirational stuff out there in the world. Why the fuck would you want to sound like everyone else? It’s so fucking boring.
“Like, I get it, you look at acts that are doing a certain sound and pulling crowds and you want to copy it. But that’s signing your own fucking death warrant - people move on after two seconds nowadays, so why the fuck would you be stupid enough to just try and play it safe and fit in with the crowd?”
If CMFT is anything to go by, staying in his lane and being a crowd pleaser is the furthest thing from this man’s mind. Love it or hate it, Corey Taylor can’t be, and won’t be stopped.
Corey Taylor’s new album CMFT is out today on Roadrunner Records.