Bassists take the spotlight at Bass Player LIVE!. The Concert & Awards show scheduled for November 9 at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles is presented by Hartke and will honor legendary Black Sabbath four-stringer Geezer Butler. Amongst a bevy of bass titans, Slipknot and Stone Sour main man Corey Taylor joins the fold for an all-star concert, serving as the evening’s centerpiece…
So, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino sat down with Corey Taylor for this exclusive interview about Black Sabbath and Geezer Butler’s impact on him, Bass Player LIVE!, and what’s next for Slipknot…
What was Geezer Butler’s impact on you?
I think one of the great things about Geezer Butler was his ear for how music could fit together. Between him and Tony Iommi, they wrote the bulk of that music. Unconsciously, growing up as a Sabbath fan, it made me realize that things didn’t just have to follow musically. Things could fit on top of each other that maybe didn’t sound like they could coexist. Then, you put them together, and you’re like, “Oh, wow!” There was such a dynamic virtue to the music. It’s one of those things you almost take for granted. It’s the difference between hearing Sabbath play live and seeing a band try to cover it because they never get it right. There’s such a nuance there that is so different that you really don’t understand it until you see the real thing. The impact for me was really about the complexity of the simplicity and making it feel unlimited with something as simple as the way the bass, the drums, and the guitar fit together, whether the singing was in it or not. I think that was a hell of a lesson for me, because it was the way I approached music as well. To hear another band do it and almost unconsciously give me that lesson, that was the one major thing about Sabbath I truly love and I think most people miss.
When was the first time you heard Black Sabbath?
The first time I heard them I was at a friend’s house in Waterloo, IA. His uncle was living in the basement. He had this massive, crazy seventies stereo. You know the ones that are made of sweet, rich mahogany and giant speakers that were always crappy [Laughs]. He was playing Sabotage. I can remember “Paranoid” coming on, and my friend’s uncle was playing along to it on guitar. Not only was it the first time I heard Sabbath, but it was the first time I heard someone playing guitar in a live sense like that. I remember going, “This is heavy as Hell! What is this?” It was really cool. For one of my birthdays, I had my grandma get me Black Sabbath’s Greatest Hits.
We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll?
It actually had this cover that was an old painting. I want to say it was a Dark Ages painting or something like that. It looked like “The Black Death”. It was famine and death, and I was fascinated. I remember looking at these images and going, “Wow!” Listening to the music was incredible. I didn’t even realize Ozzy Osbourne was the singer. I knew who he was through Diary of a Madman and Bark at the Moon. I didn’t put two and two together that he was the singer [Laughs].
Did you ever spend time dissecting Geezer’s lyrics?
They’re very visual. I think that’s one of the reasons why heavy metal lyrics on both sides of the fence, whether it’s the fantastic or the realistic, are very visual. Sabbath set the template. Whether it was describing being in front of Satan on “Black Sabbath” the song or that sense of utter disconnection with “Paranoid”, you had these very evocative lyrics that put you right in the middle of it. The great thing about Geezer’s writing was it was nothing you had ever heard before. Everything before Sabbath had that twinge of love. It was always a bastardized version of a love song. Even Led Zeppelin, a lot of their music was bluesy or love-y. It wasn’t until later that they started to get into that side of things—the more Tolkien-inspired version of things. Sabbath set the tone for metal to come taking it out of the ordinary and sticking it into the extraordinary. They were able to describe it really well. People just don’t realize that. Without Sabbath, there would be nothing as far as metal is concerned.
Do you enjoy playing these all-star shows? It’s a different mindset to randomly get up there with musicians you don’t always play with.
Essentially, it’s the difference between loving what you do and being at it for the money, really. I still have the same love for music that I’ve had since I was eleven- or twelve-years-old. Nevermind making music—just listening to it and singing and playing it. I think it’s threefold. There are three reasons. One, I love to do it. Two, I have such appreciation for the people who came before me. That’s a lost art as well. I’ll be damned if I’m not going to give respect. I know who buttered my bread. I’ll give credit where credit is due no matter what. I’m not going to be a dick stain who takes the limelight and doesn’t try to share it with the people who made me who I am. It’s a respect thing. It’s paying it forward. If some of the newer fans follow me to see this, they can get turned on to the bands I grew up listening to. It’s refolding the steel in the sword. It’s re-forging it and strengthening it to where you get that timeline.
You’ve got to show reverence for the forbearers.
Only rock and metal do that. You don’t see it in hip-hop unless somebody name checks someone for no good reason. You don’t see it in pop because they’re too busy trying to eat through each other’s assholes to get ahead. It’s fucking pathetic. For me, it’s respect. This is tradition. This is history. Just because we’re breaking new ground, it doesn’t mean the floor plan wasn’t laid out years ago. The only reason we were able to do this is because we were inspired to do it. The fact a lot of bands don’t turn around at least once and give a nod to the people who got you there is pathetic. It’s revolting. I won’t be that guy. As long as I have the mic, I’m going to fucking do it.
What’s next for you?
Honestly, Slipknot is looming on the horizon. That’s what’s next in my mind anyway. I’m writing some demos. Clown is putting some things together. Joey is doing Scar The Martyr, but he’s a fucking machine. He can write at any time. This band is just loaded with writers. We don’t have a definitive start date, which is fine. That’s okay for us now. When we’re ready to make the album, we will. That’s the mindset. Next year we’re going to get together and start putting the pieces together.
What do you think of now, when someone brings up Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses?
That album is a bit of a peek at what I think the next album will be. It’ll be a cross between Iowa and Vol. 3 in a lot of ways, while also evolving the way we always have. The stuff I’m writing right now is really dark. The stuff Clown is coming with is fucking beyond. It’s really cool. It’s going to be cool to get the alchemists in the same room and see what happens.
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