photo credit: Paul Brown
A Conversation with Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and Slipknot
Mike Ragogna: How are you, Corey?
Corey Taylor: I am freezing.
MR: Freezing? Why's that?
CT: Well, it's not cold outside, but it is on this bus. I don't know why they have to keep it at refrigerator levels, but what do I know...
MR: Perhaps it's for preservation?
CT: It is. I feel cryogenically better, and it's almost like being in a Tupperware bowl.
MR: Well, you're talking to Fairfield, Iowa, Mr. Des Moines.
CT: Oh, right on. I like it.
MR: I think everyone out there knows by now that you are an Iowa home boy.
CT: Oh, absolutely. I still live in Des Moines, my whole family is still there, and it's just cool, you know? I like being able to come home and have it feel like a home.
MR: So, you're on tour right now, where are you going on said tour?
CT: Kind of all over the place, man. We're in Tulsa tonight, and we drive to Dallas after the show. It's pretty much nationwide right now. Then, after this tour is done, we go overseas, so everything it shaping up really well right now.
MR: Now, you have a new album, Audio Secrecy. This is your third album, right?
CT: Yeah, it's the third album, and the third time's a charm, hopefully. It just came out, and we're all pretty ecstatic, we're pretty stoked.
MR: Yeah, I heard that this thing is charting pretty well.
CT: Yeah, it's a bit of a slow burner, but I think it's going to be great. This is just a phenomenal album, top to bottom. People are really digging it, and everything has been really good.
MR: Your last album had a number one hit on it, "Through Glass." How did that feel?
CT: It was weird, man. Honestly, it was like, "Really?" We knew that "Through Glass" was a special tune, and that it was going to do well, but we had no idea that it was going to go to number one. So, when it did, we were all just like, "Wow, really? That's awesome." It's just proof positive that you can never underestimate this band. Just when you think you've got us figured out, we come up with something spectacular, and this new album is no different. It's got a lot of killer tunes on it, and it's looking like it's going to be even bigger than the last album.
MR: People know you from Stone Sour and Slipknot, obviously, but they also know you from your version of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."
CT: Yeah, we did a cover of that about three years ago, and we put it on the special edition. People really, really dug it. It's a great cover and one of my favorite songs, actually.
MR: I read that you recorded this Audio Secrecy under strange circumstances, in Nashville at the time of the flood.
CT: Yeah, we were there. The flood happened, basically, right in the middle of the recording process. We had already been there for a couple of months, and it was just one of those things that kind of came out of nowhere. Honestly, it was kind of good because we didn't really get hit by the flood very much; our house wasn't affected and the studio wasn't affected. At the same time, I tried to go out of my way to make sure that we could get the word out that there were different organizations trying to help people that were affected by the flood. So, in that way, we were kind of trying to just pitch in and help out since we were sort of living there at the time. There's still a lot to be done, but it's looking like things are starting to get a little better down there.
MR: What's unfortunate is that Nashville's flooding was virtually an ignored story.
CT: Yeah, basically. You have to realize that it happened right around the same time as the Gulf oil spill happened, and it really kind of got swept under the carpet. So, it was important to me to get the word out, and make sure that people knew what was going on and that they could help.
MR: While we're on this subject, remember Katrina and all the ineptitude and lack of initial concern there was by Cheney's...sorry, Bush's administration?
CT: Exactly, and if that didn't really drive home the point that our president was an idiot, what else was going to? You've got this guy, Michael Brown, heading FEMA, and he has no idea what he's doing. It took five days to get water to the Superdome. What does that tell you? Nobody was at the wheel as far as I was concerned.
MR: And speaking of that facility, remember Barbara Bush's comment that the displaced victims who fled to the Superdome were living in better accommodations than they had been living in before?
CT: Yeah, completely surprised that there are still poor people in this country. It was like, "What? Are you insane?"
MR: And it was excessively heartless. How does anyone say something like that no matter how rich or arrogant you are in the face of such tragedy.
CT: I couldn't believe it. Just the fact that that was even something that could happen to this day gets my blood going, you know?
MR: I know, but people better get their blood going again because come November, it's going to be a slaughter for the Democrats. My feeling is that since people perceive things are not happening fast enough--at least as far as a solid economic recovery from the disaster Obama and the rest of us were left with--they're going to take it out on Democrats and we're going to lose a lot of good representatives with the bad.
CT: Yeah, I agree. The only thing that I can hope for is that people have common sense at the end of the day. The Democrats need a huge push PR-wise to kind of tell people that things are going a lot better than they think, and if they had a half-a-brain between them, they would get out there and start calling Republicans on their BS.
I'm a natural liberal for the most part, and just the fact that we have no one in that party who is really kind of a pit bull and is the guy that goes in and calls "foul" on some of these people really upsets me. It's like they need to man up. I really wish that the president would do that, just go, "Look, I'm the leader, and you need to figure that out." That's one thing that you'd have to respect about George Bush. He was at least the guy that said, "You know what? It stops here, and that's the way it is," You may not agree with a lot of the things that he did, which I don't, but at the same time, at least he had the cajones to just get things done, and that's what the Democrats don't have right now. They can say all day that they're too good for that or that they're better than that, but that's bogus. They need a pit bull to lead the charge, and until we have that, this whole weird teeter-totter thing is going to keep going on, and the country is going to stay in a state of flux.
MR: Yeah, that's my fear too. Why doesn't the Democratic party look at poor, wimpy Harry Reid and realize that he doesn't have an image or personality that commands any kind of authority and needs to go away. This party needs a few pugilists front and center like Tip O'Neill.
CT: The thing that really bothers me is that no one in that party has stepped up and been like, "Look, here are the facts--the Democratic party constantly has to come in and fix the things the Republican party is allowed to do over four to eight years, constantly." It happened with Clinton, it's happening with Obama, it's constantly happening. The fact that the American public has the memory of a gnat really helps them, and that's why the Democrats need to just be coming out and killing us with facts and statistics. Tell the people why you deserve to be in office, and don't take any guff about it, you know? But they're not doing it, and it's almost like they deserve to fail.
MR: Yeah, but the alternative isn't very good.
CT: No, it's not, but at the same time, until somebody mans up and figures it out, it's going to continue to happen. I mean, it's just ridiculous.
MR: What do you think of when I say "Arizona?"
CT: Oh, God. Well, these days, you've got to think about SB 1070, you've got to think about Jan Brewer, and you've got to think about the fact that the Republicans down there have gone totally off the deep end. This is coming from somebody who gets it. I get the fact that there is an immigration problem, but when you're legislating fascism to try and stem this... There are a good amount of American citizens there who are Latino, and who are going to get hassled by this law. So, all you're doing is, basically, "scaring the straights," as Bill Maher is prone to say. It's unfortunate that we've gotten to this point, you know? And let's not forget the fact that Jan Brewer was not elected, but she basically inherited the job because the original governor, being a Democrat, was nominated to the presidential cabinet. So, she comes in and starts running riot with all this gnarly, gnarly stuff. It's unbelievable, and to me, it's almost an insult to what we're trying to do, politically, in the first place. We're trying to make things better, and those people are just making it worse.
MR: Right. Well, the amazing thing is that there hasn't been the kind of pushback you'd think there would be. You also have a faction of people that are like, "Well, what do you do about immigration?" though it should be obvious this is not the solution.
CT: Here's the thing that I love about it--the hypocrisy. You've got a Republican governor criticizing the President because the he isn't doing enough, yet the Republican party is all about smaller government and trying to put the power back into State's hands. So, what are you complaining about? You obviously have things under control, so why are you complaining about something that, politically, you shouldn't be complaining about. It amazes me that this still goes on, but that comes right down to the guff of the Republican party. Pound for pound, probably the most hypocrites in office, no doubt about it.
MR: Well they've got the lingo jingo, they've got people like Luntz.
CT: Oh yeah. Between (Frank) Luntz and (John) Boehner, I don't know who is worse. They're both too busy worrying about their tan, it's just terrible.
MR: Well, let's talk about something a little more pleasant. Let's talk about Iowa since you're an Iowa boy.
CT: Love it.
MR: What are some of your recollections about growing up here?
CT: I don't have a lot of good ones. It's not about Iowa itself, it's just about the kind of stuff that I went through when I was growing up. But there's something special, not only about Iowa, but Des Moines, in general, for me. It was the first place that really felt like home to me. Even though I was born there, we moved around a lot when I was younger, and every time we would come back to Des Moines, it just felt like home. I've still got the same friends that I grew up with, I still go to the same places that I used to go to when I was younger, and it's just a very special place to me. I'm still very proud to call Iowa home.
MR: Nice. Are you a Hawkeyes fan?
CT: Yes, by family, I have to be! My grandmother is a huge Hawkeyes fan, so I, by proxy, have to be one. I'm more of a professional sports fan, and I've never been a huge college fan, but because of my grandmother, I've gotten into a lot of really good Hawkeye games. So, because I'm a good grandson, I'm a Hawkeye fan.
MR: Do you hear that, grandma? By the way, do you have any thoughts on solar power?
CT: Well, I think if people pulled their heads out of their asses, we could figure this out, but that's just me.
MR: You're on tour with Stone Sour promoting Audio Secrecy, but what's the future for a solo release and other stuff?
CT: You know what? It's really all about Stone Sour right now. People ask me when I'm going to put out a solo album, and I just don't have the time. Honestly, a solo album is something that I can wait for, you know? That's something that I don't have to do now. My philosophy has always been to strike while the iron is hot, and right now, Stone Sour is really hot. We've got a great new album, and fans all over the world are really starting to embrace it. It just makes more sense to me to put the work in with Stone Sour than to worry about a solo album or anything like that; it's something that I've got my whole life to do. You never know what's going to happen, and to me, it just makes the most sense to go with your gut, and go with what you feel is the biggest. So, right now, everything is going great, and I've put everything on hold to work on this right now.
MR: What advice do you have for kids coming into music right now?
CT: Just get all the practice you can in, and I don't mean in the basement or the garage or whatever. I mean go out and play live. Go out and cut your teeth and learn your craft. Don't be afraid to write music that may not seem like it could be popular. You've got to write songs to know what you want to do, and I think too many people paint themselves into a corner musically because they think that's the only thing they can do. To me, it makes more sense to write different songs, and to play different kinds of music, and to find your own voice. But no matter what, get out and play for people. Get out and learn, and do everything that you can, you know?
Playing live is a lost art, and you don't see a lot of bands that go out and play the way the older bands do. It's a celebration, and a lot of people treat it like a commercial or a distraction. For me, that's one of the things that I look forward to the most--getting in front of an audience, stirring them up into a frenzy, and then just kicking a lot of ass with them. So, if you're going to get into music, learn your craft and don't half ass anything but go for it. Do everything you can at eleven, and don't be embarrassed to do anything. If you're going to succeed you've got to have the will to do it, and that's just the way it is.
1. Audio Secrecy
2. Mission Statement
3. Digital (Did You Tell)
4. Say You'll Haunt Me
6. Let's Be Honest
9. Nylon 6/6
12. The Bitter End
15. Hate Not Gone
17. Home Again
1. 45 Minute in-studio documentary on the MAKING OF AUDIO SECRECY
2. Made of Scars - Live from the Download Festival 2010
3. Hell and Consequences - Live from the Download Festival 2010
4. Mission Statement - Live from the Download Festival 2010
(transcribed by Ryan Gaffney)
A Conversation with The Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown
Mike Ragogna: Hello, Chuck Brown, you're doing well?
CB: Yes sir, I'm doing great, I'm happy to be seventy-four. I just had my seventy-fourth birthday, and I'm happy, happy, happy. Everything makes me happy.
MR: Congratulations on your recent birthday.
CB: Thank you, sir. I'm just happy to be living, and still be able to get up on stage, and mover around a little bit, and make a little noise.
MR: (laughs) And you make a little noise on your new album We Got This. It contains a studio CD, a live CD, and a live DVD. So, you get the whole shebang.
MR: What was the thought behind doing a package as complete as this?
CB: Well, I wanted to give people something more than what they had been getting from us, you know? I thought this was a good idea, my manager thought it was a good idea, and whatever he thinks is fine with me because he's always on top of it. I realized this was something different, and I don't think many people have done this before. I feel that it was a good idea. We've got studio cuts on there, and we have a live DVD on there, and that's giving people more than what they had before from us.
MR: It brings everybody up to date on your career because you've got familiar material on the live disc in addition to some new fun things. Plus you've got all sorts of guests on here too. Was this one live concert or is it an amalgam of several shows?
CB: This is just one live concert. The Jill Scott thing? I'm so happy to have her on my CD, and I'm happy to have Ledisi on my CD. These are the artists that I've always admired. I've admired Jill Scott ever since she came out with that tune called "Love," with the go-go groove. I knew then that this young lady had been listening to go-go, and I sure wanted to meet her, man. I had the opportunity to do a couple of shows with her down in Constitution Hall, and I was so honored that she consented to be on my album. It's also a great honor to have Ledisi on the album. I haven't done anything with a lady since Eva Cassidy. I did a jazz ballad album with Eva Cassidy way back.
MR: Beautiful. That was your duet album?
CB: That was called The Other Side. Then, I did the next one by myself. I didn't want to be caught with anybody else after we lost her. My wife named all the albums, by the way, including The Other Side. I came out with another one right after that called Timeless. That's the one I did by myself.
MR: You are the Godfather of Go-Go, no?
CB: That's the title they gave me.
MR: Why did they do that?
CB: At first, when I started my band up in '66, I was going to call myself The Soul Searcher because I was looking for guys that had soul. Then I thought about it and said, "The musicians might think there is a little ego thing involved." So, I decided to name the whole band The Soul Searchers. Then later on they started calling me Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers. Then when I created this go-go sound, they called me the Godfather of Go-Go. I didn't do that, these fans did that.
MR: Most people have heard your playing on quite a few classic records, right?
MR: Can you give a little history lesson from The Soul Searchers and on?
CB: Sure. First of all, when I first started playing in different places, I played in people backyards for cookouts and things, and they used to give me food and all the whiskey I wanted to drink. This was back in the day a lot of years ago. People kept advising me to get in a band, so I said, "Okay." So, then I got a band, and I called it Earls of Rhythm. I stayed with them for about a year and a half, then I got with another band called Los Latinos with guys that I grew up with. A couple of these guys were Latin, but I didn't know they were Latin because they were just regular playmates to me, you know what I mean? But these guys were great Latin dancers and percussionists and singers.
When I decided to put my own band together in '66, I decided to take some of that groove with me, and that particular drumbeat came out of a church that used to go to when I was a kid. I decided to take that beat that had a spiritual feel to it and slow it down and lock in some Top 40 with it. I would break it down, do the call and response, and just keep going, going, and going. We didn't break down to do slow tunes no more, you see? We'd just keep going and going, and that's why we called it go-go. It's just another form of funk, that's all it is.
MR: I remember that you had a pretty popular album in '86 called Go-Go Swing Live.
CB: Yes. That particular jazz feel that I had there I decided to put in a go-go groove.
MR: That was right before the Eva Cassidy record, right?
CB: Absolutely. When they called on me, I was very happy about that. Her fiancé, Chris Biondo owned a studio and he put a record of her on, and I heard that sweet voice coming out of those speakers and said, "Man, who is that?" and he said, "That's my artist. She's going to be out there." I said, "I would love to do a tune with her." Because I was inspired by listening to her and it took me back to the days of Louis Armstrong and all those great artists, that's how we got into it. We just collaborated and decided to put something together and it worked.
MR: What a sweet voice. You know, we're lucky that she left behind so many recordings. She's the only obscure, hitless artist that I can think of that became famous posthumously. Jim Croce doesn't count because he'd had hits.
CB: Yes, and her music is still playing all over everywhere.
MR: What is your take on what's going on in music right now? One of the songs on your album is called, "Rappaz R. N. Dainja," and I think, in some respects, they might be.
CB: Well, I don't know about that. Rappers have been doing good ever since I've known them. A lot of Howard University students used to come down to shows, and they became rappers. People like Puff Daddy and Queen Latifah would come down to shows when they were students there, and that was way before rappers came out. In the days before that, of course, it was disco.
There was also jazz and blues, and I love jazz and blues, but when I put that go-go together, it really took off, and I didn't have any desire to do anymore jazz and blues at that time unless I was putting it in a go-go beat, you know? People didn't come and sit down anymore. When they had tables and chairs in the places, they would come in with their mink coats on, and their suits and ties, and they didn't get up until they got a little tipsy. But when that go-go beat hit, they were right on the floor right away. People would even be all over the tables and everything, so they had to take the tables out of places where we played. They came through the door dancing.
MR: Most people don't realize they're listening to go-go because it hasn't been as religiously stereotyped or classified as such.
CB: Like go-go is D.C. culture. You mention D.C. and you think go-go. That's how we're identified. Go-go music is going all over the world. It's still happening, and I'm happy to say that at my age, I can still get on stage and shake the people up a little bit, you know?
MR: We all need to be shaken up. Do you think go-go has contributed in other ways to our culture?
CB: A lot of young guys became musicians when go-go started because they were inspired to get off the street and do something productive, you know? I'm happy to know that go-go music has helped a lot of people. You don't have to be a great musician to play go-go, you learn as you go. The experience is what it's about, you see?
MR: What do you have, as far as advice, for young people getting involved in music...maybe go-go...right now?
CB: Well, I think it's a great thing, you know? Some of them may get into go-go, and some of them won't play any go-go, but they'll play jazz or blues or whatever they play. Everybody has their own, original style, and if they're doing go-go, they do it their way.
MR: Any last thoughts on go-go by The Godfather of Go-Go?
CB: Like I said, you mention go-go, you think D.C. You say D.C., you think of go-go because it's ours. It was created here, and it caught on in '76. I tried to start it in '72 with "We The People," and then I put out another tune called "Blow Your Whistle" because that's when all the kids were riding their bicycles and blowing their whistles, you know? A lot of people that came to my show even walked through the door with tambourines. It was a lot of fun, man. It's been well over thirty years now, but '76 is when it really caught on. There are even new groups, coming out now, that are taking it to a whole new level.
MR: Chuck, when you look at where music is right now, are you proud?
CB: I'm proud, very proud. I mean, in go-go music, I'm proud. Some of it doesn't have enough music incorporated with it, but it's all good as far as I'm concerned. I have no complaints whatsoever--I love what the young groups are doing, and I love what the pioneers are doing.
1. All for You
2. Funky Stuff
3. Jingle Jangle
1. Wind Me Up!
2. Rappaz R. N. Dainja
3. We the People
4. Funky Beat
5. I'm Your Man
6. It Don't Mean a Thing
7. Midnight Sun
8. Moody's Mood for Love
9. Woody Woodpecker
10. Give the Bass Player Some
11. Harlem Nocturne
13. Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)
14. Run Joe
15. Give It Up For Little Benny
16. Do You Know What Time It Is?
17. Cat in the Hat
19. One on One
20. Lock It
21. Chuck Baby
22. Bustin' Loose
(transcribed by Ryan Gaffney)