Interviewed by Knotfest’s Ryan J. Downey, in a wide-ranging conversation set-up to promote Taylor’s contribution to the star-studded The Metallica Blacklist album, the singer reveals that the lead-off single from the band’s self-titled fifth album was one of the first songs he learned on guitar.
“Because that was kind of our generation’s Stairway To Heaven or Smoke On The Water,” he declares. “It's one of those riffs that… I like to call it the Guitar Center virus. Anybody who comes in [to a Guitar Center store] is either playing …Sandman, Crazy Train, Smoke On The Water or Stairway… or Whole Lotta Love… You have those gateway riffs where you go, ‘Oh! I figured it out!’”
As Taylor sees it, a working knowledge of Metallica riffs is an essential part of any aspiring metal musician’s toolkit.
“I sat down one day, as I got better at guitar, and I went back and listened to the first four Metallica albums and just started woodshedding and learning all these riffs,” he tells Downey. “And it became a sort of language that you could speak to other musicians when you're jamming for the first time. If you kicked into Blitzkrieg or something, or if you kicked into Ride The Lightning, and just started [playing the song’s opening riff], and they kicked in with you, you knew you were off to the races, because you don't just learn that riff; you learn the whole tune and you just go for it. So it was almost like an initiation in a weird way; you knew how to do it.
“I played Metallica in almost every band that I've been in,” Taylor admits. “It’s always just been there… from my first sort-of-real band Criminal Mischief all the way up to my solo band.”
You can hear the first two parts of the four-part Knotfest interview with Taylor, and his take on Holier Than Thou, below.
Taylor returned to touring last week as Slipknot played their first show since February 2020.