*PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRITTNY GIFFORD, STORY COURTESY OF ROADRUNNER RECORDS*
Slipknot are releasing their first-ever compilation, Antennas to Hell, tomorrow, and we thought it was a perfect time to get frontman Corey Taylor to look back at his career as the band's singer and lyricist. His words have provided strength to so many fans of the band throughout the years—how does he feel about some of these songs, years later? Do they retain the same meaning for him that they did when he wrote them? How does it feel to perform lyrics, night after night, that were inspired by deeply painful memories from his childhood and youth? He answered all these questions and more in this exclusive interview. Enjoy!
How were the songs chosen for Antennas to Hell? Did everyone vote? Were there songs you wanted on there that didn’t make it?
It was kind of an easy jump, to be honest. We basically just looked at our set list [laughs]. At this point, we’re kind of the band that’s got the best of both worlds. We’ve got these ‘radio hits,’ and then we’ve got songs the fans have made hits, the anthems. It really took no time at all to get those together, and it’s a good problem to have. And trust me, this band shudders at the thought of calling something a ‘greatest hits’ or a ‘best of.’ To us, it was just a compilation to a, celebrate the fact that our fans have been with us since Day One, and b, to basically celebrate what we call the Paul years. To pay respect to that, to the years that we had Paul, and everything we built together. That’s why we went kind of above and beyond with the packaging, and putting the extra content in there, and just making sure that people didn’t just get another tired best-of. If Slipknot’s gonna do a compilation, we’re gonna do a Slipknot compilation.
You perform behind a mask, so do you write Slipknot lyrics as that character in some ways? Are lyrics for Slipknot qualitatively different from lyrics for Stone Sour?
That’s a good question. I don’t know, per se. First off, there’s no playing a character when you’re trying to tap into something as gnarly and unhinged as Slipknot. You’re tapping a valve that you have within you—you either feel these things, or you don’t. You’ve either lived through this pain, or you haven’t. There’s no way to make this stuff up. So for me, it’s basically letting that part of me off the leash a little bit. Cause I’ve got a very, very dark side to my history, my personality, my creativity, my infatuations, basically. AndSlipknot allows me to let those go and indulge them, but then pull them back. Stone Sour, there’s a hint of that there, but with Stone Sour, it’s much more mellow. It’s a different kind of passion. There’s definitely a little more light in Stone Sour than withSlipknot, although they both have very positive messages at the end of the day. And that’s where it becomes important. So when I put the mask on for Slipknot, it’s actually revealing that side of me that I keep in check, that I keep a little closer to the chest, because if I just let that guy go, oh, God, it’s messy. It’d be really bad. So for me, it’s a very positive way of working out some serious issues. And over the years I’ve been able to let go of a lot of stuff and figure a lot of stuff out.
What would you say is the most personal song in the Slipknot catalog, for you?
Hm. Oh, man, there’s a lot. ‘Snuff’ is up there. ‘Snuff’ is one of those songs that’s so heavy in such a different way, that’s gonna resound with a lot of people for a very long time. ‘Eyeless’ is up there, just for the fact that I was dealing with pseudo-intellectual psychiatric meddling, basically—people trying to tell me that my issues were manufactured, or it was some kind of disorder that makes me feel the way I do, and it’s like, really? There’s a lot of deep shit going on in a lot of the music, especially in the first phase of our career; the self-titled and Iowa were really just scream therapy sessions for me. But then, once we got to Vol. 3, the lyrics and the content changed. It was more about trying to figure out what’s next than trying to let go of what had happened in the past. So I think each song represents a stepping stone, getting me to where I am today. Maybe on any given day, one of the songs could mean a completely different thing. But you kind of have to take it as a whole, you can’t pick it apart.