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‘The US hasn’t been this divided since the 60s’: Slipknot’s Corey Taylor on how to save America

For his new book, America 51, the Slipknot frontman has been examining the sicknesses at the heart of US culture and from Donald Trump to modern dating; here’s his exclusive guide to navigating them.

Corey Taylor

 

Don’t fear Donald Trump

He is so ineffectual. Everyone was worried about the crazy things he’d do, but there’s nothing that he’s done that can’t be changed in another administration, like the Paris agreement. There’s no need to panic. Too many I don’t want to say liberal lambasts are hitting the panic button too quickly, instead of bringing up issues and talking about them. For me it’s really a case of: what’s going on with the senators, what’s going on on a local level?

Sure, Trump is the firebrand, and everyone wants to talk about the return of Nuremburg after that Boy Scout rally, but whatever. People forget: he hasn’t done shit. He really hasn’t. Even with his party in control of both houses, nothing has happened. He hasn’t fulfilled one promise.

So what am I scared of? I think people need to calm down, and keep fighting the illogical with logic. He won by the smallest of margins. And honestly, he only got in on a technicality. It’s shit like that you have to keep reminding yourself of, because they will try and paint a completely different picture. Rhetoric is swirling around. If only there was an interconnected device to look back in time to see what the truth and the reality was! I say that with all the sarcasm in the world.

Donald Trump

He hasn’t fulfilled one promise… Donald Trump. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Toxic masculinity has been in America forever

It’s only because of this presidency that we are getting a really good taste of it. In a misogynistic culture, there’s this misconception that doing good things for people, and trying to take care of them, is a pussy move. The result is a bunch of people pumping their chests up, and talking shit on women, talking shit on gay people, talking shit about everyone. They feel threatened; their way of life feels threatened.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that the liberal and LGBT community is coming at them fast and loose with concepts they are not used to; they’re not part of their culture, and yet they are being forced to accept them. There’s liberal fascism in response to the conservative fascism, and it’s keeping good people in the middle scratching their heads and thinking: “I don’t know what to believe.” And part of that reaction is this pumped-up masculine middle finger going: You don’t tell me how to live my life. It’s their mind balking at the fact that they may have to accept something when they haven’t had the chance to understand what it is.

For so many years they have been in control of what is culturally accepted, and the whole LGBT community is trying to override that, because they’re tired of being marginalised, they’re tired of being treated like a perversion. It’s very much a war. I lived through the Reagan years and I grew up during the gas shortage, I grew up seeing some serious shit go down. But I dont think the country has been this divided since the 1960s.

Kid Rock

I’m about as qualified for senate as he is, i.e. not at all … Kid Rock. Photograph: Getty

Celebrities: stop running for senate

Kid Rock is for running for senate, and I’m about as qualified as he is, i.e. not at all. It’s the same as the Rock; I love the idea of him saying he wants to run for president but they’re just another pair of voices saying that they can get it done, and look where that’s got us.

There are still so many cabinet positions that have not been filled in this administration, because Trump is completely overwhelmed. And that’s a guy who reportedly knows how to run a business. So what the hell is Kid Rock going to do? It’s the biggest form of ego I have ever heard in my life. Please go ahead. Drive a car with a blindfold on and see how far it gets you.

Modern dating is gross

It brings out this crazy psychosis in all of us. At least on a blind date you have to kind of be yourself; they’re going to see the sweat, and see you’re struggling. But dating sites and apps put you at ease, and so all the little gnarly quirks and perversions come out. Hey, if it brings freaks together, who am I to judge? I think everyone has someone out there, and I would like to see people get together. But are you really trying to meet the love of your life on Grindr?

Romance isn’t dead, though. As long as there are hopeless romantics like myself, I don’t think it will die. We will just see an evolution of what romance means. There are still people who love selfless acts. And if its something as weird as a very heartfelt post on Twitter, to some people that’s huge. To some people that’s the ultimate act of romance.

Corey Taylor

I’m the worst hypocrite… Corey Taylor in his civvies.

We’re addicted to our phones

I’m the worst hypocrite because I bitch about it, but Im just as bad as everyone else. I wander around with this tiny little tablet in my hand, and I look up and see that someone has asked me a question. It’s so embarrassing. These devices are bringing out all the dopamine that I had wasted for years on smoking and drinking and drugs, and I’m waiting for what the hangover is going to feel like. I don’t know what the repercussions are going to be, but maybe we’re starting to see the end of face-to-face relationships, and more and more people being comfortable with long distance relationships. Why do I need to touch anyone? All I need is my phone and this contact and that’s all I need.

Don’t worry about the environment

My contribution to being eco-friendly is quitting smoking. I recycle. I do this and that. But all you can really worry about is your own side of things. If you start to think about it on a huge scale then you get overwhelmed. At the same time, I’d like to think we’re trying to do the right thing and we are trying to get this planet on the right track; not because of the planet, but because of us. George Carlin nailed this 25 years ago. He said: the planet is fine, the people are fucked!

The planet is going to be here long after we are gone. Don’t try and bullshit me that we are saving the planet we are saving ourselves. We put so much emphasis on the planet and not on the people, because we feel it’s more selfless, but if people were more honest maybe we would get more done with climate change. I’m not trying to save shit. I don’t give a fuck about the planet; I just want to keep my kids alive.

The music industry is like the wild west

The industry is trying to make peace with streaming; they’re finding out how to monetise it, but they’re still screwing over the artists. It’s sad because I’m seeing a lot of bands get out because they can’t make a living. How are you supposed to make a living when it’s completely taken out of your hands?

I’m in a unique situation because I’m in the old system, but I’m actually able to make a pretty decent living with the new system. I find it hard to bite the hand that feeds me. But at the same time I see all these other bands who can’t get a break. I don’t know what the answer is to be honest. I’m stoked for people like Ed Sheeran; that kid worked his ass off, so why shouldn’t he get the recognition? But at the same time when his songs dominated [the charts] because of streaming, where is the fairness? What about the other artists who worked their asses off, but maybe didn’t have a million streams?

DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper and Ed Sheeran

DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper and Ed Sheeran… Corey Taylor is a fan of one of these men the others, not so much. Photograph: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Hip-hop has dethroned rock’n’roll as America’s music

I could have told you this 20 years ago. The thing that bothers me is that people differentiate pop and hip-hop but they’re the same thing. I hate most new hip-hop. It’s all the same mush-mouthed bullshit, and it doesn’t say anything except I want to get fucked and drink champagne. It’s pathetic. The hip-hop I grew up with had a message. There’s a reason Chuck D is my hero, let me put it that way.

Artificial intelligence is taking over the world

A lot of people are upset because too many manufacturing jobs are gone, but there are so many companies coming up that need a workforce. There’s a reason the market is doing well in America even though the presidency is shit, because the prior presidency actually left behind a healthy infrastructure with growth happening. Trump’s going to try and take credit for that, but there’s always a two or four year hangover. The problem comes when you start to see deregulation happening on a federal level when it comes to big business; that’s when the machines come in, that’s when the outsourcing comes in.

But all of these insurance companies are hiring, all of these tech companies are hiring. People look at those industries and go: “I’m not intelligent or pretentious enough.” But if you want to feed your family, then a job is a job. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and go with what you have to do. Follow where the work is. If industries want to keep outsourcing and replacing people with programs, then stop buying those products. Hit them where it hurts. That’s what it comes down to.

Corey Talyor on stage with Slipknot

Corey Taylor on stage with Slipknot. Photograph: Raphael Dias/Getty Images

Everyone is appropriating metal culture

You’re seeing grandmas in Slipknot shirts. It’s really weird. It makes it easier for me to blend in, which I am completely happy to do; you get tired of the stares after a while. But punk and metallers take fascist imagery like shaved heads and black clothing and divorce it from racism and nationalism, to make a statement about disaffection; you’re now seeing people like Richard Spencer who are not only appropriating the imagery of nationalism, but also the rhetoric. The anger, the racism of it. It worries me. Oh, but Justin Bieber’s line in pseudo-metal T-shirts? He can kiss my ass.

  • Corey Taylor was speaking to Harriet Gibsone. America 51 is out now, published by Da Capo. His new album with Stone Sour, Hydrograd, is out now on Roadrunner; the bands UK tour begins at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena on 29 November. The Slipknot documentary Day of the Gusano will screen nationwide on 6 September.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/06/slipknot-corey-taylor-how-to-save-america-donald-trump

Patti Smith falters in Stockholm tribute to an absent Bob Dylan

Representing the Nobel laureate at the prize-giving, the US singer admitted nerves in performance at Swedish academy.

A very nervous Patti Smith initially stumbled through A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall in Stockholm on Saturday in a performance given to mark Bob Dylans Nobel prize for literature.

Making the award, Horace Engdahl, a Swedish literary historian and critic and member of the Swedish academy that awards the prize, responded to international criticism of the choice of a popular lyricist as recipient.

Engdahl said that when Dylan’s songs were heard first in the 1960s, all of a sudden much of the bookish poetry in our world felt anaemic.

The academy’s choice of Dylan, Engdahl said in Swedish, seemed daring only beforehand and already seems obvious.

And it was an unconventional prize-giving night in more ways than one. Dylan’s failure to attend the August gathering in Stockholm meant that Smith, the American singer most famous for her 1975 album, Horses, and the hit song Because the Night, was attending as his proxy.

The occasion proved too much for the singer, 69, who faltered after a few verses. Forgetting the lyric ‘I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin,’ she apologised quietly but profusely to the jewel-bedecked audience and asked if she could start that section of the song again. “I am so nervous,” she explained.

Smith was encouraged by applause from the gathered dignatories and members of the Swedish royal family.

Her performance followed Engdahl’s justificatory speech, which opened with the question: “What brings about the great shifts in the world of literature? Often it is when someone seizes upon a simple, overlooked form, discounted as art in the high sense, and makes it mutate.”

In this way, Engdahl argued, the novel had once emerged from anecdote and letters, while drama had eventually derived from games and performance.

“In the distant past all poetry was sung or tunefully recited,” he said. “Dylan had dedicated himself to music played for ordinary people and tried to copy it.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/10/patti-smith-falters-in-stockholm-tribute-to-an-absent-bob-dylan

Stephen King attacks Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize knockers

Guitar-playing horror legend speaks out against literary authors such as Gary Shteyngart and Irvine Welsh who have scorned the singer’s award.

Stephen King has come to the defence of Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize for literature, accusing those who oppose the award of sour grapes.

According to King, no other musician has had such an impact on popular culture or remained so influential for so long as Dylan. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the horror writer defended the songwriter against his detractors, particularly the authors who had rubbished Dylan’s win: “People complaining about his Nobel either don’t understand or it’s just a plain old case of sour grapes.”

Levelling his gaze directly at novelist Gary Shteyngart, he added: “I’ve seen several literary writers who have turned their noses up at the Dylan thing, like Gary Shteyngart. Well, I’ve got news for you, Gary. There are a lot of deserving writers who have never gotten the Nobel prize. And Gary Shteyngart will probably be one of them.”

When the news of the award broke, Shteyngart tweeted: “I totally get the Nobel committee. Reading books is hard.” He was not alone in the literary world; a legion of authors were disappointed with the decision, including Hari Kunzru and Irvine Welsh, the latter writing that Dylan’s win was ill-conceived nostalgia award bestowed by senile, gibbering hippies. Chocolat author Joanne Harris tweeted: “Is this the first time that a back catalogue of song lyrics has been judged eligible for a literary prize?”

Axe
Axe man Stephen King playing alongside Amy Tan in the Rock Bottom Remainders in 1998. Photograph: Michael C York/AP

King said the musician, whose laureateship was announced in October, had opened the door for a lot of people. I would argue that without Dylan, Paul Simon maybe ends up in the Brill Building, writing songs like Hey Schoolgirl like he did in the beginning, he told the magazine.

Though King who has himself been a singer and guitarist in the writers band Rock Bottom Remainders admitted he had never met the Blowin in the Wind writer, he said his friend John Mellencamp had told him Dylan wouldn’t even turn up at the dentist when he had a toothache. He said that Bob was at his house once and he was complaining about a toothache. “I guess he doesn’t go to the doctor or anything.” He said, “Man, John, I got this terrible toothache. It’s killing me.” John said, “Well, I’ve got some Advil.” And Bob gave him this long look and said, “You trying to get me hooked?”

Dylan has seemed as embarrassed by the accolade as some of his detractors. After the announcement, the Nobel committee was unable to contact him to invite him to the award ceremony in Sweden on 10 December. He finally emerged to say thank you at the end of October after Per Wstberg, a member of the Swedish Academy, told Swedish TV that Dylans attitude had been impolite and arrogant.

He broke his silence with a call to the academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, to say: “I appreciate the honour so much.” The news about the Nobel prize left me speechless. But though grateful, he said he was unable to make the ceremony and sent a speech to be read out by a member of the academy, after singer Patti Smith performs a specially arranged version of the singer’s 1963 track A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.

King said that Dylan’s writing had influenced him from the moment he heard it at the age of 14, while in the back of a car on the way home from a movie. “There was a guy on WBZ radio out of Boston; he played Subterranean Homesick Blues. Hearing it was like being electrified. It was like this pressurised dump of lyrics and images.”

His love of the singer has filtered down three generations of the King family, he added: “My kids listen to Dylan, and so do my grandkids. That’s three generations. That’s real longevity and quality. Most people in pop music are like moths around a bug light; they circle for a while and then there’s a bright flash and they’re gone. Not Dylan.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/08/stephen-king-attacks-bob-dylans-nobel-prize-knockers

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