Corey Taylor Shares Lust for Books, His Favorite Tomes + More
Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame is a full-fledged author at this point, issuing his second book, ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven (Or, How I Made Peace With the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics In the Process),’ which chronicles his quest to understand the paranormal experiences he has had. It follows his first tome, ‘The Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good,’ which was more of a memoir. He’s also written a comic book in conjunction with Stone Sour’s popular ‘House of Gold & Bones’ double album.
Clearly, he likes long titles, but the singer is as voracious a reader as he is a writer, so Noisecreep spoke to him about his literary lust and more. Yes, he gave us an update on his musical projects, as well, because, how could he not?
First things first. What is the biggest difference between your first book and this new one? And what tales do you tell here in your second book?
I loved the format of my first book. It was not only fun to do but it was easy. I could look at it as a whole instead of approaching one chapter at a time. I mapped it out and jumped from chapter to chapter, striking while the iron was hot, creatively. I loved that. With the first book, I knew I’d have seven chapters because of the sins. I began filling in the blanks and supplementing. With this book, I wanted that same framework, but it was different. I sat back and was like, ‘I have always had all these crazy experiences, these ghost stories and paranormal experiences.’ The juxtaposition here is how can I believe someone telling me a ghost story while never being a religious person? It was me starting that conversation but finding a unique explanation why they are here — if they are in fact there. I could just be weird and f—end up. I have had these experiences and never felt satisfied with the explanation from books or TV or experts. So I found a novel and unique approach to explaining these. It got the book going, and it has a middle, beginning and end. Again, it was easier to do since I could see the overview. It was more work and I had to do scientific research, but I cut my teeth.
Will this appeal to fans beyond paranormal chaser types, beyond an occult audience or even beyond Corey Taylor, Slipknot or Stone Sour fans?
Maybe. When I write a book … it’s the same essential approach to music as with books. It has to be something I want to hear or read. Hopefully the audience comes along, since that’s the only way you can write righteously. I have to ask, ‘What do I want to hear?’ not ‘What do people want to hear?’ I had to take that and do it in a way that has never been done, hopefully, or that seems unique. I am hoping that not only will my fans enjoy it but someone who doesn’t know d— about what I do will like it and and think it’s an interesting read. That seemed to be the case with ‘Seven Deadly Sins.’ I got a lot of people, interestingly enough — who had never given a chance to music I had done — into the music, because of the book. It all feeds each other. I never would have thought it was possible but it’s a happy accident.
You’ve done graphic novels, memoirs and this. Would you consider writing full time if and when you hang up your mic?
I don’t know if I want to. I want to do it right now since I have all these other things going on. When I am too old, I won’t go the way of certain singers, who can’t do it anymore but still do it for the money … who will remain nameless for this point. That’s how much it means to me. I won’t be the guy who gets onstage to get that initial pop and then it’s just … okay. I love taking it to the absolute limit when performing live. When I drop the tuning to hit certain notes, screw that. When I physically can’t do it anymore, I will perform in one way or another. I can do acoustic gigs. Writing is something I have always done, whether it’s lyrics, columns for magazines and now books. It is something I can continue to do and it won’t kick my ass like the other s— does.
Who is your idol in terms of authors, writing and literature?
I have several. I read a lot while growing up. It was the one thing besides music. I grew up poor in a crappy situations … various crappy situations. What kept me sane was reading and music. I had so many different literary tastes growing up, be it fiction like Stephen King or Piers Anthony or non-fiction like reading Hunter S. Thompson essays or reading the Beats. I was a huge fan of the Beat movement. Those were the things I gravitated towards.
As I got older, my tastes developed, and I read about history and music history. I really love to read a good book. I can tell if it is a good book in the first pages. If it didn’t reel me in, I threw it away. I was a book snob in ways. I never lost that natural curiosity.
What are your most recent new reads and recommendations?
I just read a book ‘A Curious Man,’ which is about Robert Ripley, of ‘Believe It or Not.’ His life was as crazy and interesting as what he talked about on the show. He was a skinny, weird cartoonist from small town outside of San Francisco that turned one little cartoon into a massive empire. He was the original multi-brander back in the day. That was a great book. You know, I still, to this day, read voraciously.
You are a better writer when you are a good reader.
Exactly. And I adopt that same approach with music. I have that love for music, when you are finding either old gems that you never heard or newer stuff that perks your ear. It keeps you trying to look for new stuff to write about it. You don’t spin your wheels. I take that same approach to music and books.
What are you favorite books or tomes of all time?
My favorite of all time? There are several. It’s like good movies. I have several books I can read over and over. With fiction, it’s ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King, which is my favorite all time. I read that at least once a year, the version which has 100,000 extra words, which is like the director’s cut and unabridged. I love the story. I love the social connotation to it. In the beginning, the lines or good and evil are clear, but in the middle, it gets so ambiguous. The ending is so ambiguous.
On the non-fiction side of things, a book that came out not too long ago, maybe five or six years ago, is ‘Team of Rivals,’ which is about the Lincoln administration and how he assembled his cabinet using rivals he wanted to win the party nomination against. It shows so much background behind these people I had never heard of as a history freak, like Edward Bates or Salmon P. Chase or William Seward, who was a huge political figure. He was the shoe-in before Lincoln got his nomination. It’s fascinating, that era and that president is one of my favorite times in history, since it was the crossroads for where are today.
It is a thick tome as well. It’s gigantic. I am like, ‘You have to be s—ting me!’ Can I just be into pamphlets or something? This one takes like three months to read the index.
We have to ask for a mini update on Stone Sour + Slipknot …
We’re taking rest of the year off. There will be a couple of Slipknot shows in October, but nothing on the books for Stone Sour because we have been going since ‘Audio Secrecy.’ We’ve been going for three to four years straight and it’s been gnarly. Next year, we will work on new Slipknot music. What happens after that, I am not sure.