As the singer with Iowa wrecking crew Slipknot and on-off alt.metallers Stone Sour, Corey Taylor is one of the most recognisable rock-star names of the 21st century. But despite his success, the 49-year-old remains a fanboy to his bones.
“I’ve been very fortunate in that the ratio of awesome heroes to shit heroes that I’ve met is very much in the awesome heroes’ favour,” says Taylor, who released his second solo album, CMF2, in September, and starts a solo UK tour in Leeds tomorrow (November 8). “I’m privileged to be able say that I can call so many people whose music I grew up listening to friends. That’s a big fucking deal to me.”
I’d spoken to Lemmy in passing, but never really hung out with him until I met him in the kitchenette of [guitar company] Gibson Germany. We were back there, smoking out of the window like high-schoolers, just being dicks. At one point he proceeds to tell me one of the filthiest jokes I’ve ever heard in my life.
It goes [adopts passable Lemmy voice]: “A grandson and a grandad are watching the news, and the grandad says: ‘Ach, you know the world’s going down the toilet.’ The grandson says: ‘Tell me something I don’t know.’ The grandad thinks for a second and [mimes fisting motion]: ‘Your nan can take it up the ass to me elbow.’”
To this day, it’s one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had with a famous person.
Dave Vanian (The Damned)
I was a punk kid before I got into metal. My old babysitter would come over and play punk 45s all night – Buzzcocks, the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Stranglers, The Damned. I was at the Kerrang! awards a few years ago, and Dave Vanian walked in. It’s the one time in my life I was speechless. I’m not the sort of person who goes up to people and introduces myself, but [Taylor’s PR] Michelle grabbed me and said: “You are not not going over to meet him” and marched me over.
It was very quick. I said: “You probably don’t even know who I am, but I want you to know how much your music touched me. I just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me.” And he was so lovely. He said: “Thank you, you’re welcome”, and he gave me a hug. I ended up going on stage and getting an award. And he was probably: “Okay, so he’s the dude with the mask and the hair.”
Dimebag Darrell (Pantera)
He was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. The first time we played Dallas, Dime and Vinnie [Paul, ex-Pantera drummer and Dimebag’s brother] came down with their whole posse. We ended up at [strip club-come-HQ] The Clubhouse, and they proceeded to get us so shitfaced it wasn’t even funny. They were all about doing pranks on people. Clown [Slipknot percussionist Shawn Crahan] was like: “Whatever you try, I’m not going to baulk.”
They had one of their cooks hollow out a tomato and fill it with these insanely fiery red chili peppers. Dime goes: “How much is it gonna cost to get all this down?” And Clown goes: “I don’t need your money,” and just grabs it and starts eating it like an apple.
It gets worse. We head to the bathroom, and we’re pissing at the urinal. There’s a piece of gum on one of the cakes in the urinal, and Dime looks over and goes: “Alright, Clown, how much would it take…” Before he can finish, Clown reaches down, grabs it and starts chewing. It was so fucking gross. Dime just threw his hands up. He talked about it until the day he died: “Clown, he was the one motherfucker I couldn’t get to collapse, he just fucked me up.”
The reason Slipknot got onto Ozzfest [in 1999] is because we were Jack Osbourne’s favourite band. Sharon gave us a little more leeway because of that. We did some crazy shit, but she’d be: “It’s fine, it’s Slipknot.”
The first time I met Ozzy properly, I was sitting at a table with [Osbournes] Jack and Kelly and Sharon. All of sudden, Ozzy comes bounding up: “Sharon, can you help me with my earrings?” And Sharon goes: “Ozzy, this is one of the members of Slipknot, it’s Corey, he’s the singer.” He looks at me and goes: “You’re the guys with nine members? I wanna be number ten!” I was, like [awestruck]: “Dude, you’re Ozzy, anything you want!” It was like meeting Superman.
Our first UK gig was at the Astoria in London, and Björk had come to see us. I had no idea she was there. We were all really jet-lagged and just hanging out, and then here comes Björk to say hello. I was like, what the fuck? She was very, very cool, but she was kind of socially awkward, like we were. She came up, she said: “Hi”, she hung out a little while. It was all very quick.
To this day it makes me so fucking angry that the Astoria is gone. I have so many memories of that place. I went to see Tenacious D there in 2002, and I was with Jack [Black] and Kyle [Gass] from the band in the bar downstairs. We got so wasted. We decided we’d put together the ultimate Slipknot/Tenacious D tour. We were convinced it was going to destroy. It was one of the biggest missed opportunities ever. But I’m still holding Jack to it.
I met Dave when Stone Sour were making [2006 album] Come What(ever) May. We recorded it at his studio, 606. He’d come down and kick our asses at table tennis. He’s so fucking aggressive about it. If we were up on him, he’d be banging his paddle on the table: “Come on! Shit!” He was not happy when we did beat him, let’s put it that way.
It got to the point that they ended up making me play him to get back in his good graces, because I sucked so bad at it. I’d be the one who fell on his sword to keep Dave happy at table tennis. I was thrown to the lions a lot.
Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick)
Rick is one of the nicest people on the planet. He’d come along and see Slipknot shows when we played in Chicago. This is when he had the beard – he looked like somebody who would be panning for gold. We’d be like: “Is that really him?”
I really got to know Rick through Dave Grohl. We appeared on a song on [Foo Fighters’ 2013 collaborative album] Sound City. Dave put together a few shows with people who played on the album, and one time a bunch of us were flying to one of these shows. I’m on this plane, sitting at a table with Rick Nielsen, Rick Springfield, and Pat Smear from the Foos. Rick Nielsen and Rick Springfield, they’ve both got their readers on and their iPads out, and they’re showing each other their Beatles memorabilia. Rick Nielsen played on some John Lennon albums, so he’s got some real cool shit. And Springfield’s going: “Oh, you think that’s cool, check this out…” Me and Pat Smear are looking at each other, going: “Is this real?”
The QI Elves
I’m a total Anglophile when it comes to TV and I’m a massive fan of QI. I was tweeting about the show, and the Elves got hold of me. They were like: “Would you like to be on our podcast?” I went: “Fuck yes!” One thing led to another, and I ended up being invited on the show itself.
Ross Noble was on it, Aisling Bea… I spent the majority of the show forgetting I was on it and just listening to those guys cracking jokes. Sandi Toksvig was the host. She’s such a smart person. Sadly I’ve never got to meet [original QI host] Stephen Fry. Trust me, if I’d met him I would not have shut up about it to this day.
We heard he was coming down to the studio [in Las Vegas] to check it out for some possible remix sessions, some recording sessions, and the whole band and I were stoked. Bryan Adams is one of the greatest singer/songwriters ever, and I’m a massive fan.
So there we were in the big live room, tracking a song for CMF2, when in walks Kevin [Churko, owner of the studio] and Bryan Adams himself. We all stared at him like weird fans, and he looks at me and says: “I didn’t recognise you without the mask on!” Could not have been nicer or cooler. He talked with everyone for a sec, and then he was gone. I really look forward to seeing him again. Such a great artist and guy overall
I can still see where I was when I heard Kill ’Em All for the first time – sitting in my best friend Che Schmitt’s basement. I was, like: “Wow, this is fucking incredible.” So to get to know those guys is pretty surreal. I’ve met them in so many phases of their career. The first time was when they headlined over Slipknot at a show in the early 2000s.
James and Jason invited us into their dressing room to hang out, and we were in such awe of them that the only thing we could do was raid their food and drink. Those guys were watching us, rolling their eyes and laughing. When we hung out with them the next time, James was sober. I had gotten sober myself, and he said: “If you ever need a talk, if you ever need anything, just call me.” He’s a gracious dude.
They were the first band to really accept Slipknot, not only as a band but as friends. We played with them on my birthday, December 8, 1999, in Boston. They were on before us, which was fucking weird for us, but I was watching it and loving every second of it. They get to [their version of Public Enemy’s] Bring The Noise, which is one of my favourite covers. When they started the second verse, [then-singer] John Bush threw the mic to me. What they didn’t know is that I’ve got that fucking song memorised.
So I grabbed the mic and started busting out the whole second verse. I came very close to singing on one of their albums. This was before they got Joey Belladonna back. We’d exchanged demos, I’d written lyrics. I was literally about to get on a plane to Chicago to record the album when I get a panicked call from my label: “You can record an album with Anthrax, but we will never let it get released.” They wanted a new Slipknot album. It sucks that it went down like that, but the flip-side is that they got Joey back and they’re making the best albums of their career.
Mike Patton (Faith No More)
He’s probably the main person who inspired me to do what I do. To me he’s so iconic and fearless – he’s got a tendency for saying exactly what he thinks. The first time I met him was in 2009, when Slipknot headlined Download for the first time. Faith No More had reunited to headline the day before, and we came in early specifically to see them. I was backstage, and Mike Patton was talking to some people he knew.
I wasn’t going to go over and interrupt him, but somebody I was with knew him and walked over and said: “Mike, if you wouldn’t mind, Corey Taylor would like to meet you.” And Patton swung round and went [warmly]: “Dude!” We just stood there and talked about music and weirdness for fifteen, twenty minutes. At one point I said: “Am I keeping you from anything?” And he goes: “Nah, fuck that, I don’t give a shit.” Every time I see him now, he remembers me: “Hey, Corey!”
Corey Taylor's CMF2 is out now. His UK and European tour starts this week - get tickets.