Corey Taylor is one of those unstoppable juggernauts of the rock and metal world. The kind of guy who pulls double-duty in two top bands - Slipknot and Stone Sour - and still finds time to occasionally act, write books, make guest appearances and generally just be a creative powerhouse. The guy never stops, and he seems born into the role of frontman. But while many of those ‘born lead singer’ dudes are as shallow as they are in-your-face, Taylor is a thoughtful, intelligent guy who puts a lot of consideration behind what he’s putting out there. Stone Sour’s new album Hydrograd is a great example. While their last three records have exhibited a level of heaviness almost on a par with Slipknot, Hydrograd is a rockier, looser affair. It’s an album that appreciates that, while metal is cathartic, rock and roll is fun.
“We’ve always had a really strong foot in rock,” Taylor says. “I’ve said for years that people have a misconception about Stone Sour where they think we’re a metal band that sometimes plays rock. That’s not the case. We’re a rock band that plays everything. That’s really at the core of what we’ve been for years, and with this album we’re putting our money back where the mouth is. We’re really starting to get back to where we wanted to be in the first place, which is a really kickarse hard rock band.
“There are some great elements of hard rock all through this album. There are elements of straight-out rock n’ roll, there’s hard rock, there’s punk, there’s California fucking country on here,” he says. “I mean there’s all kinds of elements that really are just us not only strengthening what we’ve been doing for 15 years but also expanding the musical dialogue that we’ve been trying to make in that time as well. When people hear it they’ll understand. It’s like trying to explain why a foot can’t go where a hand does. You just have to see it to figure it out. That’s what this album is.”
The lead single ‘Fabuless’ is an example of the eclectic nature of the album.
“That song came together from Tooch [guitarist Christian Martucci] and Roy [Magora, drums] jamming together,” says Taylor. “When we heard the demo we were like ‘holy shit’. It took a little arranging because it originally had a different feel to it, but the riffs themselves all had a great vibe. I took it and did my magic on it and worked it in with the lyrics that were going on in my head and it came together really quickly. It was a matter of arranging the puzzle so that the song figured itself out.”
This is the first album of original Stone Sour material to feature Martucci on guitar alongside Josh Rand, after Jim Root parted ways with the band to put his songwriting focus on Slipknot. It’s also the first original record with Johnny Chow on bass.
“Working with those two was so effortless,” says Taylor. “The great thing is it all starts with us just getting along. Really getting along. We all love hanging out and talking shit and joking, and we’re all such dorks that it’s just fun. So writing together is the same thing. We just love what we do so much that we get excited when we hear what we’re doing with the music. When I send something to the guys I know it’s going to feel the same but it’s going to be different. That’s the way we work. Especially with Christian and Chow, the stuff they brought in was different, but it fit so well with what we were writing that we didn’t even miss a step. It was great, man. We’ve all contributed musically in the past anyway, so we didn’t lose any time creatively.”
The album was recorded as live as possible in the studio with producer Jay Ruston, who has been involved in some great records lately, including the last two Anthrax albums and The Winery Dogs. It was an easy choice for the band.
“We wanted to capture the energy we’ve always wanted, and make something really special,” Taylor says. “And dude, we laughed every day. It was so awesome. Jay’s just like us - total dork, total rock-head, a gear-head. Any time people would start talking about pedals or heads one of us in the background would just yell ‘neeeeeeerd’. To me Jay is the best in the business right now. His ears, his taste, his track record speaks for itself but with this album he’s really going to show the world how great he is. We put together, for me, the best rock album of the last ten years.”