An interview with Josh Rand of Stone Sour
by Al Brzostowski
Josh Rand of Stone Sour
photo by Tricia Starr - Tstarr Photography
Stone Sour, with April’s release of “Hydrograd Acoustic Sessions” is a vinyl EP of acoustic versions of STONE SOUR’s 2017 album, “Hydrograd”. The effort, made available on solid silver vinyl accompanied by digital download at select record stores, is just a prelude of the raw, diverse, in your face, musicianship that they carry to every show. The journeymen from Iowa infuses elements of punk and thrash metal, with frontman Corey Taylor often switching between his guttural screams and melody. Incorporating sarcasm into their music, “Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)”, they can also have a distinctly dark side.
Stone Sour will support Ozzy Osbourne on the initial North American leg of the legendary vocalist’s “No More Tours 2” tour, which kicks off August 30 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
At the show at the Orpheum Theater, I had a chance to talk to Josh Rand, Guitarist of Stone Sour:
MI: Your acoustic sessions ep dropped last month. How’s the feedback from it so far?
JR: The feedback is great. But honestly, a lot of people were upset. They felt like we didn’t print enough copies, because the stores sold out quickly. We only printed like 2500 copies, being that it was for Record Store Day, we wanted to make it special. Eventually, we’ll put them out digitally. But we look at it, or I do, especially being a collector, keeping that short number, and keeping it a collector piece unfortunately. Because it is dealt with RSD directly, because it’s an exclusive through them, it’s a distribution through them. It’s up to them who gets copies and how many, and we don’t have control of that. And unfortunately, some places don’t get copies, but that’s on them.
MI: Your polka dot guitars are your trademark. Is there any meaning behind it?
JR: Well, the original one, actually was made for me as kind of a joke. I bought a hot pink RG (Ibanez). Roy and I went to Guitar Center in 2012, and it was around the very beginning. We were playing in Minneapolis at the Myth. I just wanted a cheap guitar that I could have on the bus to beat on a bit. And honestly, nothing caught my eye, until when we were leaving there. And then, I saw this GLOW, (laughs) from the corner, and I was like, WHAT IS THAT! I wanted it, I didn’t even touch it. I was like, I need this guitar. I brought it back, and everyone gave me shit about it. Everyone said I would never play it on stage. So, I played it on stage, and what we didn’t know about the fluorescent color and the lights, IT GLOWED. It was like blinding. So it kinda became my trademark. It became this fun guitar. Everytime I brought it out, the crowd would just go crazy. And then on the next tour, i wanted to step it up and do something different. And then, once again, it became like another bet. I must have made a couple hundred dollars on this guitar. But polka-dotting it. I used to work for a sign company, and I could polka dot it, and just use vinyl. I can take it to the shop, and that’s what we did. And over the years, it became this trademark thing for me. And then, at Shiprocked, I wasn’t at my best, mentally, at that point. And the guitar was a couple hundred dollar guitar. It was a beginner guitar. We were constantly fighting it to make it playable. And since I wasn’t really at my best at Shiprocked, as many people know, I ended up destroying that guitar. That was pretty much the last note was me smashing that guitar, before I would go home and get treatment and help. I went home for these past couple of months, and everybody was in shock; the fans were like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe it.”. I had the most views of me smashing this guitar, than everything else put together. (Laughs). Who would have thought this catastrophic event, you know, I was like, it’s a three hundred dollar guitar with vinyl stickers on it. But I was thinking it meant a lot to people so I will have a really good one. So it was a custom job, from Dan Lawrence, who painted it, who is legendary. He’s done a ton of Ibanez and JAckson stuff back in the heyday for them. To have him paint it, was awesome when it came out. It was amazing. Now have have one that’s stable, that we don’t have to freak out everyday like, oh my god, the damn thing won’t stay in tune and the frets are popping out. The crap that we really had problems with were the bridge and the tremolo. We couldn’t replace the tremolo with anything, because the way it was built. It had to stay.
MI: Starting off on bass and transitioning to guitar. What made that change happen?
JR: For me, it was several things. For one, I was into all the technical players. Like Paul Gilbert. But, before that, on bass, it was weird, because I learned all these Mr; Big songs on bass. I spent this whole time trying to play everything I could like Billy Sheehan. Obviously he’s on a whole nother level. But by trying to do all this stuff, it made my hands extremely strong. And then, one day, what it came down to, was the tapping part on Addicted to that Rush. I just picked up a guitar, and I played that whole intro. I was like, this is a joke on the guitar; I’ve been trying to learn this on bass, then to play it on guitar, it was easy. And then the final nail on the coffin was when I heard Racer X. I was like HOLY SHIT!!! I heard of Yngwie obviously, and Paul come from that same type of style, to a degree. But there’s something about it. With Yngwie, it’s classical; harmonic minor. Paul’s got the same shredding, alternate picking, but it was more Rock N Roll. He’s literally the fastest I’ve ever heard play.
I still do a ton of writing on bass. A lot of the songs I wrote for Stone Sour were first written on bass. It’s a different process writing on bass than guitar. When I write on guitar, it’s very riff driven. And it’s all strength in the riff. When I write on bass, it’s about the groove, the bounce, it’s just way different for me.
MI: What’s your favorite song you play in Stone Sour?
JR: That’s a good question; for me, I think 30/30-150, still. Ten years later, there’s an energy with it, it’s fun to play. The audience goes crazy no matter where we’re playing. So I would have to say that.
MI: You’re back on tour, how’s the tour going?
JR: It’s going great. The tour is awesome. The break for me, gave me a new, appreciation, to coming back. So, for me right now, I’m having a blast.I’m kind of taking control back over it, because, with a lot of musicians, on tour, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. And once you start down that spiral, it’s HARD to climb out. TRUST ME. It was hard for me. I was in the airport in Canada, and I just hit a wall. The rest of the band had already checked in, and I felt, if I go, it’s not going to be good, That morning for me, Shiprocked, was a nightmare. I was outta control.
MI: What new music are you listening to?
JR: I’m into this Jack White phase right now. I think a big part of it right now, is because as a record collector, I love all the little detail things that he does. As far as releases, and everything he does with Third Man. As an artist, regardless if you like him or not, you have to appreciate Third Man. I don’t see how you can appreciate, being a musician, or be in music and not appreciate what Third Man is. I love all the little things he does, even from a collector’s standpoint. Hell, he gets this idea that, I’m going to get this record, and tie balloons to it, and send them up. And let people find them, When they pop, let them fall, it’s crazy. One went for like six hundred dollars on Ebay, and you couldn’t play it because it was cracked. I just saw him three weeks ago. He gauges it by the audience. I’m in this White Stripes, Jack White Phase.
MI: There’s wind of possible new releases coming out?
JR: We do have a couple of upcoming releases coming out; a deluxe edition of HYDROGRAD, maybe in August, I can’t remember exactly. Which will be awesome. There will be nine songs that’s on the deluxe edition, which the acoustic is a part of; that haven’t been basically released. So, there’s the acoustic songs, there’s the four original songs in the session that we haven’t released; the three covers that we did release. We’ll have Outshined, Bombtrack and Unchained, and a couple of live songs. We made it very worthwhile for putting it out because we wanted to make sure that it was worth putting it out. We didn’t want to say, “ Hey we have a deluxe edition out”, and there’s two songs and by the way, it’s live stuff. I proud of myself, once again, being a collector, that we make sure we do one really cool thing and make it exciting. Where people want to purchase it.
And at the end of the year, for Record Store Day and Black Friday, we’re re-releasing the first album on white vinyl, remastered and the bonus for that, for one, it will have b-sides for it, so it will be complete. An entire session. And the bonus will be, our first show, from December 8th, 2001, will be included.
MI: Would you rather…
Play naked at a birthday party singing I’m so pretty? Or…...
Tell Corey that he needs to try to sing stone sour songs as showtunes?
JR: Oh easy! Tell Corey to sing showtunes! I’ll tell him that right now! (Laughs)
MI: Would you rather…
Only be able to whisper everything? Or….
Only be able to shout everything?
JR: Whisper. Half the time no one hears me. Everyone says I talk with a whisper anyways. (Laughs)
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CD: Hydrograd Record Label: Roadrunner Records
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