Corey Taylor: my top 5 not-so-guilty pleasures of all time
Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor acknowledges that writers and even fans tend to regionalize music, and that as it pertains to his own output, he's often relegated to the heavy metal/hard rock files. But when it comes to labeling his personal listening habits, he refuses to draw lines or pick sides.
“I have very diverse tastes in music," he says, "and I don’t like make distinctions between what I can’t and can’t listen to. In fact, I could never understand why anybody would do that in the first place." Expounding on the point, he quickly adds, “My attitude is, ‘I can’t make music if I don’t like music.’ You can tell the people who really don’t like music when you see what they listen to. It can be pretty fucked up."
On the luminous, ambitious new Stone Sour album House Of Gold & Bones Part 2 (the follow-up to last year's Part 1), Taylor and company continue to spread the waters of metal and mainstream rock. Taylor notes that the record's broad reach is influenced by his all-inclusive iPod playlist. “All of the music that I listen to affects me and comes out in my music in some way," he says. "I never want to copy or emulate, but I think that having a natural ear for hooks allows me to go wherever I want."
Over the course of his career, Taylor has encountered metal fans who take a dim view of other musical styles, and he has pointed words those who insist that only one genre is valid. "I always tell the fans, ‘Screw it! Like what you like. Listen to what you want,'" he says. "Insisting that one type of music is better than the next is snobbery, and I have no time for that. Check out all the music that’s out there. There’s great stuff you’re probably missing.”
On the following pages, Taylor runs down his top five not-so-guilty pleasures (arranged alphabetically by artist). You might not hear these albums as the warm-up jams before a Slipknot show, but here's a dirty little secret: the band's frontman is checking them out backstage.
Beck - Midnite Vultures (1999)
“What a great record. Beck himself is really kind of a mad genius. I remember discovering him in the mid-‘90s, when a friend of mine came to me his acoustic EP, before the whole Loser thing. I thought, ‘Man, this guy is gifted.’
“And then when Loser came out, it was like, ‘Whoa, what the hell is this?’ It was so brilliant and so catchy. You could just tell that there was so much more to this guy that meets the eye.
“Midnight Vultures is definitely his most accomplished, most satirical, most tongue-in-cheek and most evolved work. You have everything on this album, from early ‘80s hip-hop to flat-out, sexual ‘70s revolution funk. Each song spoke to me. And to be honest, my least-favorite song is the single, Sexx Laws, which, ironically, was the whole reason I bought the record.
“Midnite Vultures is one of those albums I come back to every year, and I’ll listen to it for about two months straight. I’ll be cleaning house, and I’ll just start singing Milk & Honey. My wife will look at me like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ [Laughs] It’s just so good. One of my favorite albums, by far.”
Bee Gees - Their Greatest Hits: The Record (2001)
“Here’s the thing about the Bee Gees that most people don’t know: they wrote their own music. These are classic, classic songs, and they weren’t written by other people so that the Bee Gees could put their voices on them. These guys did it all.
“I Started A Joke is a fantastic song. Massachusetts, To Love Somebody – there’s so many. These guys were almost like the Australian Beatles. I could listen to this shit all day long!
“And everything from Saturday Night Fever was unbelievable. Jive Talkin’, You Should Be Dancing – who gives a shit if it’s disco? If you’re afraid to shake your ass, I don’t want to be your friend. There’s times when I’m cleaning the kitchen, and while I’m doing that I’m singing and air guitaring with a broom to You Should Be Dancing. More Than A Woman is another great one. The modulations in that song alone should’ve won these guys an Oscar.
“Some people have a thing about the Bee Gees, and I think it’s because of the vocals. Same thing with Rush. I can understand that, because it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve had an appreciation for Rush. I couldn’t get past the vocals at first. The Bee Gees didn’t do the falsetto thing on the early records, but there was a shaky kind of nasal thing. They definitely had a unique approach to singing.
“But whatever your taste in vocals might be, these are damn good songs. That much can’t be denied.”
Ray LaMontagne - Trouble (2004)
“This might not shock a lot of people, but the more I talk about it, the more people discover it, so that’s cool. Ray LaMontagne’s first album, Trouble, is so brilliant. It’s basically an album of songs that I really wish I’d written.
“I got turned on to this album by some buddies of mine, and I think I listened to it for three months straight. It was the only album that I wanted to hear.
“There’s so much soul on the record. The songwriting is incredible, and the lyrics are unbelievably poignant, almost visceral. You can tell that Ray lived this shit. He was in the depths. You listen to him singing the song Jolene: ‘I found myself face down in the ditch/ booze in my hair, blood on my lips.’ It’s like, ‘Fuck, I remember those mornings.’ That stuff takes you to another level. And there’s melodies and hooks that just stay with you, too.
“This is probably one of my top five favorite albums full stop. Whether it’s heavy metal, hard rock, pop, no matter what – this is right up there. To this day, I’ll start singing a Ray LaMontagne song before a show just to warm my voice up and see what’s going on there. It never ceases to amaze me how good this album is.”
Les Miserables - 10th Anniversary Concert (2004)
“This is basically an all-star cast recording. They got all of the people who were amazing in their roles over the years, and they formed a supergroup. I have two DVDs of this, so I’m a big, big fan. They had two stages – one was for the performers, the other for what was happening in the musical. So you had people acting it out while the all-star people were singing. They’re doing it large.
“To this day, this is my favorite musical, and I am a fan of musicals – I don’t care who knows it. I’ve seen everything from Wicked to The Book Of Mormon, and I don’t make any bones of the fact that I love both.
“But Les Miz is not only my favorite musical, but it’s also my favorite story. I love the book, which I read as a kid, and I identified so much with Jean Valjean. The struggle to find out who you are, to come out of darkness and strive to be a better person – that’s what the last 10 years of my life has been about.
“To this day, I can listen to this special album and get so lost in it. There are songs on it that make me bawl my eyes out. This was years before Susan Boyle came out and did her version of I Dreamed A Dream. If you really want to feel some serious shit, listen to the version that’s on this album. If you don’t end up in tears, you don’t have a soul.”
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - Confessions Of A Knife… (1990)
“Some people might understand this choice; others won’t. I love this album because it reminds me of one of the best times in my life. It’s a record that I keep coming back to, and more and more and more I hear its influence on a lot of people today. I don’t hear it necessarily in dubstep, but it’s there in the remix stuff – and, obviously, in White Zombie and Nine Inch Nails.
“The band kind of gets swept under the rug, which is unfortunate because they’re so great. Check out something like The Days Of Swine And Roses – fantastic. I drive really fast to that song. I’ve probably gotten four speeding tickets because of that song being in my CD player.
“The album reminds me of the time right before I got really serious about music and playing music, probably about two years before. I was part of the Misfits’ club and went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show and stuff like that. I was young, and that’s when you’re supposed to do it, going out and getting bombed. This album was my soundtrack.
“I had a chance to see the band play with Ministry on the Land Of Rape And Honey tour, but I didn’t have enough money for a ticket, so I missed them. I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life, but that’s one of them.
“There’s a bit of this band in Slipknot, actually, in that we’ve used the electronic elements to our advantage. Thrill Kill Kult did this, too, using little elements even though they were a full-on band that went for it. To me, that was an influence that I took away from it, that Joey took away from it – it was this wonderful barrage of noise with all of these crazy samples. Definitely a subliminal influence on Slipknot.”