Rock Lit is where Hive discusses the intersection of literature and music.
“I always told myself I would write a book.” This is how Corey Taylor’s debut volume, a non-fiction narrative called Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, opens. The musician, who fronts heavy rock bands Slipknot and Stone Sour, released the tome this past July. A collection of anecdotal essays based on his own life written while Stone Sour was recording 2010’s Audio Secrecy, it’s not the singer’s first attempt at prose — Taylor has been penning a monthly column for U.K. magazine Rock Sound for nearly a decade. In Seven Deadly Sins, though, he has created a cohesive whole from his non-musical writing. Taylor, as it turns out, is a born comedian (not that you’d know it from listening to his bands), and has spent much of the past month on a solo tour, pairing readings from his book with acoustic tunes. We spoke to Taylor about this marriage of music and literature, how he became a voracious reader and why you shouldn’t challenge other metal vocalists to reading contests.
When you were growing up did you have an entry point into reading?
Well, the first book that I ever read — the first real novel that I can remember reading — was Jaws by Peter Benchley. The irony being that I’m completely terrified of sharks and have been since I was a kid. My mom took me to see [the movie] Jaws when I was four and it scarred me for life. I remember reading the book and I hadn’t seen the movie in a while and that was the first time I really saw the difference between a book and a movie adaptation. To this day I can’t watch that movie without seeing the giant holes in the story.
What sorts of books followed that one?
I was raised on a lot of Stephen King. I was a huge fan of Piers Anthony and the Xanth novels. I loved those when I was growing up. Later in life I got really seriously into the gothic novels like Anne Rice. I got really into Christopher Golden for short time. Then I discovered the Harry Potter books. It was a race between me and [Anthrax guitarist] Scott Ian to see who could read the books the fastest as they came out. The last [Harry Potter] book I literally finished in ten hours. I stayed up all night reading it.
Do you find that these things you read make their way into your songs?
Yeah, every once in a while. I love little phrases that I can turn and use as a metaphor here and there. If you’re quick, you can pick up on it. For the most part I’m one of those guys where I really try to keep everything pure. I like to believe that I have very original ideas—which I probably don’t. It’s a good challenge. I get turned on by writing really good lyrics.
Can you think an example of a lyric you’ve borrowed from a book?
Not specifically. I’m sure as soon as I hang the phone up I’ll think “Oh yeah, there was that and that!” I pepper a lot of lyrics with nods towards stuff in popular culture. In [Slipknot’s] “Wait and Bleed” there’s a [1959 Richard Condon novel] The Manchurian Candidate reference. Which a lot of people had to look up. I thought it was common knowledge. It’s little stuff like that. I don’t take whole passages, but I definitely try to throw in little references here and there to paint a better picture.
Have the Harry Potter books ever been used as an influence in your songwriting?
No. That’s a little too Dungeon and Dragons for me. I can’t do it. I’m sure I could write a song like that but it would have to be for a very specific type of band…
What’s it been like playing music and reading from your book together on tour?
In a lot of ways I’m getting out my inner stand-up comedian. It’s two things I love to do — talk smack and play acoustic songs. It’s gotten me in trouble though. I should change my name to “Google alert.”
How do each of those aspects of your performance influence the other?
I think it’s definitely helped me develop what I’ve been building towards as a frontman. I love writing and I love creating, but there’s a huge part of my personality that loves to entertain. I like to make people laugh and get them to sing along. People have seen glimpses of that over the years, especially with Stone Sour.
Did people know you were funny before you released this book?
I think so. I think they had an inkling. Maybe people knew because of interviews and obviously because of my column, but I think this is showing them the whole package. Just who I am. There’s that section of me that’s very dark and very bent on trying to work out some serious issues, and there’s the other side that just enjoys laughing and having a good time and entertaining.
What’s next for you?
Stone Sour is working on a very big, very grand album that I think is going to blow people away. If I have my way it’s going to be the biggest thing that we’ve done with our career. The music is fantastic. It’s some of the best we’ve ever written. It’s very dark. It’s got little elements of things we’ve done on the first three albums. It will be a two-disc concept album. We’re looking to go into the studio to record that next March.
Do you see yourself writing more books?
Oh yeah! I’ve already basically put the plan together for book number two. I’m going to start working on that next year too. I’ve definitely got the idea in my head. It will be the same format as Seven Deadly Sins, just not the same topic. A little bit opinion, a little bit story. I really want to start branching out and trying different things with it.
Any novels in your future?
Maybe. I’m sure I’ve got a weird, twisted little tale in my head somewhere. But I’m a firm believer in not forcing it. If you let it come to you, you’ll achieve anything you’ve ever wanted in your life.