TV

A Lovely Chat With Slipknot’s Corey Taylor About Comic Books, ‘The Boys’ TV Series, And His New Mask

Getty Image / Uproxx

Lead Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor and the rest of the band recently made a music video for their soul-shredding new single, “Solway Firth” (off their upcoming album, We Are Not Your Kind), in collaboration with Uproxx and Amazon Studios’ The Boys. The TV series, based upon Garth Ennis’ comic book series of the same name, skewers superheroes in a wickedly enjoyable way. Taylor counts himself as a massive Ennis fan, so he’s thrilled to have contributed the heavy-metal anthem in lockstep with the show’s July 26 debut.

We’ve already spoken with Ennis (Preacher) about his comic and the series, which landed a second-season renewal from Amazon before it premiered. Naturally, we also wanted to talk to Taylor, who was gracious enough to oblige and geek out with us in a discussion about his intense love for comic books. Seriously, he stashes his treasured collection in a temperature-controlled room that he has lovingly referred to as “the vault,” so you know his fandom runs deep. We also chatted about the video and his newest Slipknot mask.

Corey Mother F*cking Taylor. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.

Well finally, someone’s using my full name.

I know, right? I think it should be legal at this point.

I mean, it has to be. I think the law is that if enough people believe it, it’s true. Apparently, that’s the way it is in government these days.

Yes, but you know we’re not here to talk politics.

Thank god, I’m over that shit.

Yup, we’re doing comics. You started reading them as a kid because your mom had a bunch of Marvel titles. Which were your favorites back then?

Honestly, Cap and Spidey were two of my favorites, but I also loved a lot of the horror comics like Doctor Strange, and obviously, [Tomb of] Dracula and shit like that. Those were some of my favorites just because they were dark and scary as hell. It was one of those things where you would go like into a five-and-dime, a Walgreens or something, and they would have back issues, like three for a buck in plastic. You could see what two of them were, but there was one in the middle, you usually didn’t know what that was gonna be, and it was usually a pooch. So I had a lot of Marvel, a lot of DC, there were just a bunch of them, but I gravitated more to the Marvel ones because the art was a little edgier, the stories were a little darker, more adventurous, it felt more like there was more energy to them.

It’s weird how that perception has shifted. DC has had the dark imprints, and people think of some of the recent movies as darker.

Yeah, and that’s not what the majority of people wanted when it came to DC movies. You know, it is weird because it was so off-brand, like DC had its dark characters, there was no reason to make these other characters darker. Like, who the fuck wants a dark Superman unless you’re doing an Elseworlds movie? Sure, fine, do it, but if you’re trying to put that into the canon, that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. To this day, it’s one of the biggest problems. I thought Henry Cavill was amazing: he looked the part, he was great, he was built. You could tell that there was more that he wanted to bring to it, but then he was chained to this darker version of Zack Snyder trying to prove himself again when people didn’t praise Watchmen as the greatest comic book movie ever. There was so much wrong with that. [With] DC comics, as I got older, I started to appreciate those characters more. And it was great because every character had their own shade, their own energy. Obviously, Batman, very dark, but Superman was the antithesis to that, which was why that yin-and-yang worked, and the movie did not.

You are a prolific author, and I first read about your comic book fixation in the 2011 Seven Deadly Sins book, in which you filed your interests under Greed and Gluttony. Do you still feel like those labels are accurate?

Oh, very much so. I will always be a collector at heart. I still collect trades and graphics, but it’s so few and far between right now because of my travel and shit, and it’s hard. And I’m a guy who likes the hunt. I don’t want to go online and find the back issues I’m missing. That’s when you gotta wet the thumb and get in the boxes and stuff. But just because I stopped collecting as much as I try to doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped collecting, period. Actually, for a brief moment, I was collecting vintage movie posters and real-deal ones that you’d see in the marquee, and it got to the point where I ran out of wall space, so I kind of had to stop collecting those because I was getting them framed and uber-geek shit. Everything from the vintage 1963 marquee Godzilla Vs. King Kong to all three of the original Star Wars trilogy, including Revenge Of The Jedi, complete with the reverse lightsaber. I either go all-in or all-out.

Some folks make a distinction as far as being an obsessive collector or a curator or an investor and so on. Does that enter your thought process?

Oh, that’s just a nice way of pretty-ing it up. People need to fucking figure their shit out.

And some people are too purist to touch graphic novels and insist upon single comic book issues.

And some people are snobby, too. To me, if I read a graphic and love the story, I’ll then go out and get the individual issues. That’s what I did with the original run of the Venom Saga back in the 1990s. I picked up the graphics and loved them so much that I went out and got the individual issues. That was kind of leaning into the Maximum Carnage miniseries that spanned like six different comics, for god’s sake. One of the first of its kind to really have that [pull], and I bought every issue of those, but then I went and bought the graphic because I loved the story as well. So I basically do both. There was a time when I was really trying to keep up with all the Walking Dead comics.

Good luck with that, right?

It got to the point where I was missing huge pieces of the story, so I was buying the graphics, but I still go out and get the individual issues.

Now that The Walking Dead comic is done, you might be able to catch up now if you haven’t.

Yeah, I haven’t read the last couple years, actually, just because it’s been so nuts. But now that it’s come to an end, I’m gonna go out and really dial in that last run, so I can catch up on it.

You met Garth Ennis in 2012 at New York Comic-Con. On camera, you stated, “I don’t even have time to tell you how amazing he is.” Do you want to take a brief crack at elaborating on that now?

Oh, man. Even just scratching the surface, between him and Warren Ellis, they both were really responsible for my resurgence into getting back into reading comics. For a while, I was really tapped out. I was worried about my career and just kind-of concentrating on that. It wasn’t until somebody told me about Preacher that I started reading comics again. And then Transmetropolitan was how I really got into reading Ellis, and I recognized his name from the work he did on Hellstorm. [With] Garth, you can tell just from reading his writing and all of the elements that he brings to things like Preacher, you can feel his appreciation not only for comics but for amazing writing and for all of the things that he grew up reading or watching. Like, his love for WWII is completely right there on the page, whether it’s the Preacher comic or the work he did with Judge Dredd or The Punisher. I mean, that shit just jumps off the page, and when you can feel someone’s personality in the stories, that’s when you really get a glimpse of just how wonderful these comics can be. And Garth can bounce in and out of the absurd, the poignant, the hilarious, the violent. There is just no arena that he’s uncomfortable in, and I was an instant fan. To this day, Preacher and Transmet are my two favorite comics, full-stop.

If someone would have told you back then at Comic-Con that Slipknot would craft a collaborative music video in conjunction with The Boys, what would you have said?

Oh, I would have shit. I would have totally shit because The Boys was one of those titles that I stumbled on. I didn’t even realize that it was out there until I was in my local shop, and saw a new Ennis title. And then I picked it up and was like, “This is fucking amazing.” Then I followed it until its end, and to this day, it’s one of my favorite stories that he did. I love the capitulation that comes with a group of, like a dark cell, a super CIA that keeps the superheroes in check, man. There’s something so right about that. Because that’s a part of comics that nobody really liked to hint at for awhile, how absolute power could corrupt, absolutely. And that there would be a faction that would come in and clean house if need be and then how that power could get corrupted as well because of the adversity and the backstory. It’s fantastic to read, and in the middle of that, you’ve got Hughie, who’s basically the audience but also a participant, trying to make sense of this world where superheroes are actually fucking douchebags. And then the people who have to keep them in check are even worse sometimes. So it’s really a hell of a story, and I loved it. You know, there were elements of this that Ennis hinted at in Hitman that you can feel come in later on, especially with Butcher, really getting into the gore of it all.

Like, The Boys righteously skewers superheroes, but it’s also obviously an allegory for celebrity and politics.

Right.

And it feels so timely.

Oh very.

Garth wrote the story almost fifteen years ago. Isn’t that kind-of wild?

No, because you can definitely see how this would happen. The cool thing about Garth is that this obviously wasn’t a new concept because we had things like this that popped up in Watchmen and Rising Stars. You saw these hints of this type of story popping up through comics in the last fifteen years. It took Garth’s imagination to really fucking take it somewhere twisted and to really show — I’ve heard horror stories about celebrities who dip their toes into crazy shit — and we’re also in the age where some of our idols are being pulled down. Their statues are being destroyed and pulled off of the pedestals that we put them on, and they revealed themselves to not only be human but subhuman at best. So [the comic is] really almost prescient in that it would see a surgent in the fact that our idols are not perfect. In fact, because of the power that we’ve given them, they’ve been twisted into people who are at the absolute bidding of their bid. And it’s destroying them, destroying their humanity. Now imagine that happening to Superman, for god’s sake, and that’s what you get.

So, the “Solway Firth” lyrics include the line, “I won’t show you my allegory.” How does that fit in with the whole allegory of The Boys?

The fantastic thing is that I really never even thought of that song being lent to anything, let alone a TV show. That song is so brutally open, and pissed, and the vitriol is just dripping from it. It’s interesting now to listen to that song or watch that video and have those little snippets from the show in there and realize that there’s definitely some, almost like some, mirrored haunting going on. Especially with Butcher’s character in there, the catastrophe that happens with him, the catastrophe that happens with Hughie, the fact that there is a real hatred that develops for the abusers, towards the abusers. And that’s reflected in that song. It is your moment to spit back in the face of the people who have taken advantage of you and abused you and harmed you and controlled you. And if you’d have told me in a million years that the song would have been connected with a comic-book TV show, I’d have fuckin’ told you that you were nuts. And yet, here it is, and it resonates almost perfectly. It’s almost creepy.

In the video, people also get a good look at your new mask, which is customary for a new Slipknot album. This one is particularly unsettling. Is it true that horror FX icon Tom Savini designed this mask?

Yeah, he helped me design it. We sat down together to make something that is disturbing. And it’s been fascinating to watch the reactions from people, especially how divisive it is. Honestly, I love it. To me, the worst thing that could happen is if people were dismissive about it, like “whatever.” People have a very strong opinion either way about how that mask looks and whatnot. To me, that was the best thing about it. It’s supposed to cause a discussion. It’s supposed to make you make a decision, and that’s what I described to Tom, like I want[ed] this to look like something that was made for me, not for anybody else. It’s a very personal thing, and it’s to represent a host of different things. And the fact that it pisses so many people off is icing on the cake.

Somehow I got this far without making a “People = Shit” joke [about one of Slipknot’s most embraced songs], and I’m disappointed in myself.

Haha! Oh man.

Let’s close with a pretty serious question, though. You broke your neck years ago without realizing it, and you recently had surgery on both of your knees. You doing alright now?

Oh yeah! I was cleaning up the scar tissue in my knees and whatnot, but I started going back to the gym. My neck is okay, as far as I know, I get checkups pretty regularly to make sure that everything is connected up there. You know, I’m not twenty anymore, and as hard as I try to go, sometimes the machinery doesn’t wanna fucking do what it’s told.

You let loose and jump all over onstage, so I can see how it happened.

You know what? I’ve always said that the second that I can’t do this is when I stop doing it. So as long as I can, that’s the key. Like, the second you don’t see me onstage, you know that, physically, I just can’t do it anymore. Or at least in this capacity, knock on some wood that’s next to me, we’ll see how the next couple of years ago. You know me, when the adrenaline gets going, you write off the pain, and you take the mask off, and you go, “Oh yeah, that fucking hurts, doesn’t it?” But the people walk away with a good show, and you walk away going, “I did it one more time.” If I get to do it another time, that’s a blessing.

Amazon Studios ‘The Boys’ is currently streaming on Prime, and Slipknot’s upcoming album, ‘We Are Not Your Kind,’ arrives on August 9.

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