Stone Sour on the cover of Maximum Ink in August 2006
Consider Stone Sour the yin to Slipknot’s yang. While frontman Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root raise hell on earth with the depraved metal anthems that have become Slipknot’s trademark, in Stone Sour they opt for a more level-headed approach to the sonic spectrum. They color that spectrum brilliantly on sophomore release “Come What(ever) May,” banging with the best of them on breakneck opener “30/30-150,” and closing the album with “Zzyzx Rd,” a piano-paced introspective meltdown that bellies Bob Seger’s epic “Turn the Page” up against Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” The album is one of the year’s standout efforts, and the band – Taylor, Root, guitarist Josh Rand, bassist Shawn Economaki and drummer Roy Mayorga – will be unveiling the material on this summer’s Family Values tour, sharing a stage with Korn, the Deftones, Flyleaf and Dir En Gray. The tour stops in East Troy at the Alpine Valley Music Theater Aug. 26 – Jim Root offered Maximum Ink this exclusive interview to help pass the time…
MAXIMUM INK: You guys have really come into your own on “Come What(ever) May,” it is phenomenal. There’s a lot more divergent material on it – Something might please a Slipknot fan, but then there’s something completely rock-minded, then a mellow track…
ROOT: That’s because everyone in the band writes and we all have different writing styles. Because we don’t write as a band, that’s what you end up with. I think that’s part of the beauty of Stone Sour. Because we have so many writers, and because we are directionless, I really don’t think we have an identity – In and of itself, I think that is our identity. If we always continue to write the way that we write, we will continue to have these diverse albums. To me, it’s most about wanting my songwriting to evolve, because right now I think it’s in its infancy. I want it to evolve and grow better, and that’s really how I approach writing songs. If that ends up being diverse, great. I’d much rather have that than songs that are the same tempo, all the same vibe, all the same riffs… To me, that’s all very bland and boring.
MAX INK: Were you trying to reign it in a little more with the first record?
ROOT: That first album, honestly, is just a glorified demo. We went in in a month and recorded everything in as short an amount of time as possible, mixed everything in two weeks, and then put it out there and toured for eight months on it. There wasn’t a lot of thought that went into that first record, and this time we were lucky enough to have a little bit more time to kind of think things through a little bit more in terms of the songs, the arrangements, the layering of the songs, and even the artwork for the record.
MAX INK: It’s not often that you hear someone say that. Usually they say that they had their whole life to write their first record, then had to rush the second one.
ROOT: Corey and I, and even Josh, were writing songs for this album at the same time we were recording songs for [Slipknot’s] “The Subliminal Verses.” I remember talking to you in front of the Houdini mansion [in Hollywood, where Slipknot recorded] and there were songs on my recorder in my bedroom that are on this album. When you’ve got that much time to listen to songs and critique them, the only problem is that you tend to become married to the demo versions, and if you work with a producer, he’s going to hear things more objectively than you do and want to change things. That can become an issue, and we had our little squabbles over it, but we just got through it and did it.
MAX INK: Does your approach to Stone Sour change, depending on how thing are with Slipknot?
ROOT: It’s weird, man, there’s a lot of similarities, but there’s a lot of differences, too. I think the levels of communication in Stone Sour are a little more open and clear than they are in Slipknot. You’re gonna have that when you have nine guys, as compared to five guys [laughing]… With Stone Sour, everyone writes their songs, we bring them together, people add their flavor to it, but whoever is the composer of the song is the go-to guy when you’re recording the song. They’re the one with the vision for that song, whereas Slipknot, that gets lost in the translation sometimes.
MAX INK: What were the songs you brought in?
ROOT: I wrote “sillyworld,” the main riffs in “Come What(ever) May,” I wrote “Socio,” “Cardiff,” and without a CD in front of me, I’m not sure what else…
MAX INK: I think Corey is one of the most under-appreciated and unrecognized lyricists in music today, regardless of the genre, and that is really apparent on this album.
ROOT: I’ve always known that he’s had a talent for that. Another thing I’ve always loved about his writing is that he works in metaphors, so to speak. Even if he’s talking about one thing, anybody can pull a meaning from it. He may be touching on that, but it may be about something else altogether. The one exception to that is the song “Come What(ever) May,” which is pretty blatant and straight-forward. Other than that, he writes about life experiences. It seems like we’re starting to get a little bit more thought-provoking, and Corey’s lyrics are starting to get a little bit more profound. We’re starting to tackle lyrics that I think other people are a little more afraid to look at.
MAX INK: Is there ever an instance where you bring a song to the table, Corey brings you lyrics, and you go, “Yeah, I just don’t get it, it doesn’t fit the song…”
ROOT: Sometimes. It’s more of a like a melody line, or something like that, and he’s really open to seeing where one of us is coming from. We haven’t done this yet, but I’ve wanted to come to him and say, “I’ve got this idea in my head, this thing that I want to sing about…” and let him come up with his own story about it. That’s something I’d like to do on the next record.
MAX INK: How do you decide what songs you submit to Slipknot, and which ones are for Stone Sour?
ROOT: Anything that I was writing at the Houdini mansion could have been a Slipknot song, it just so happened that just one of the songs – one I was working on years before we did “Subliminal Verses” – ended up being on that album. It was weird, because I intended the song “Circle” [from “Verses”] to be a Stone Sour song, because I didn’t see any place for that to fit with Slipknot, especially after doing the “Iowa” record – And I wrote that while we were touring for “Iowa.” So that tells me that anything that comes out of my head, into demo form, can end up with either band, it just depends who latches on to it first, who gets it first, and who takes interest in it first, not necessarily where I want it to go.
MAX INK: I’ll hold “The Subliminal Verses” up to any classic metal album, including “Master of Puppets” and my favorite Iron Maiden records. Does the success of that album, and the reception it had, effect the way you view Stone Sour now? People questioned Slipknot’s lasting power entering the first Stone Sour release, but now you’re at the top of your game as a band.
ROOT: Honestly, I don’t even think in terms of that. Me being a part of Slipknot, it’s hard for me… I mean, what you just said sent chills up my spine, because I never really realize that that album… It’s my favorite of all our Slipknot albums, but being in the band, I can’t look at it objectively. There are still things that, in my mind, aren’t done, and there are things that are great, but it’s that way with all our records. When we’re doing Stone Sour, I don’t even think about Slipknot. It’s kind of like auto-pilot and we do what we do.
MAX INK: It seems like Stone Sour could have more lasting power than Slipknot, do you agree?
ROOT: To be honest with you, I kind of do, but now that I said that, it won’t [laughing]. The only reason I say that is because of our levels of communication and the friendships within the band. Even if I weren’t in the band, I could see myself hanging out with all the guys in Stone Sour much more than most of the guys in Slipknot, because we’ve been friends for so long that not only do we jam and make music together, but we also sit on the couch and play Madden football together, shit like that. The thing that’s different between Stone Sour and Slipknot is that if I’m on tour with Slipknot, I’m pretty much in communication with everyone from Stone Sour. But when I’m on tour with Stone Sour… I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve talked to anybody from Slipknot. Slipknot is a monster, it has nine heads, it’s chaotic.
MAX INK: Family Values is an awesome tour, but did you ever consider headlining?
ROOT: We don’t want to headline, we made that mistake the last time we toured. It’s not time for us yet, we have a lot of dues to pay. What turned me on about that tour the most is Korn, obviously, and also the Deftones, because we have a comfort level with them because we toured with them with Slipknot. It’s nice to be able to finally meet the guys from Korn, too…
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