Stone Sour/Slipknot

Stone Sour/Slipknot

So how did you guys get together and come up with the name Stone Sour?

James Root (guitar) – Stone Sour got together in 92, it was actually Joel and Corey that started the band, and the name just came about by, for lack of anything better, they were at a bar one night and looking at the drink menu and Stone Sour is what Joel said and it kind of stuck like I said for lack of anything else better to find, and we actually tried changing the name a few times, but every time we would come up with another name it was trade marked or copy-written, or something, so we just figured call a spade a spade and keep it Stone Sour.

How would you compare Stone Sour with you and Corey’s other band Slipknot?

James – I wouldn’t compare them at all, I mean they are two totally different things. Stone Sour kind of gets heavy every once in a while, but nothing like Slipknot, I mean Slipknot, there’s so many different members with so many different influences, and it’s generally towards a speed metal or a death metal kind of vibe, and with Stone Sour, we’re everything. Corey’s kind of a balladeer, he’s an acoustic guitar guy that likes to sit and write all these songs on his own and stuff like that, and everybody in Stone Sour is kind of more blues rock oriented, so it’s still heavy, but nothing like Slipknot.

Some fans have a tendency of being very fickle, were you nervous about turning some fans off by doing something more melodic?

James – Yeah, that was definitely a big anxiety that I had, but at the same time, this is what Corey and I were doing before Slipknot, and it never really went away. Even when we were still doing Slipknot we would sneak away to a studio in Des Moinse and recorded four or five Stone Sour songs for ourselves, and when Josh and Corey got together and were doing songs for a different project, they decided to throw in a couple of Stone Sour songs when we went in to do that demo, and at that point he had Joel and Shawn playing in the project, and I was like “well shit, you can’t play these songs without me coming along,” (everyone laughs) and then there it was, right there, boom, it’s Stone Sour again.

Stone Sour/Slipknot

How has the response been so far?

James – It’s been really good, I mean I am sure there is a lot of negative stuff that I haven’t really come across or seen, you know how people are, they won’t really say anything to your face, but I’ve seen a few things on the internet like “they sold out” or “it sucks” or whatever, and I mean just because we’re not playing a million miles an hour and Corey’s not screaming at the top of his lungs doesn’t mean we’re not doing what we love, and to me doing something that you hate for money is selling out, and we’re definitely not doing that.

One song that really stands out on the album is the track “Bother,” which was also on the Spider Man soundtrack, do you think in a way besides being the amazing song that it is, that it kind of serves as a big “fuck you” to anyone that ever doubted you or Corey’s abilities because of the whole mask thing?

James – Yeah, in a way, absolutely, because that is one thing in Slipknot that people kind of overlook is the fact that we are musicians. I’ve been playing guitar for 15, almost 16 years now, and that’s like the only thing that I’ve ever been realty good at in life and I am very proud of it, and I take extra time with my guitars, I set them up with my amps, and everything I use I am very, very into it, so it’s kind of cool to finally get some recognition as a guitar player and not just some jackass that has a mask on, you know what I mean?

Yeah. Do you think people were kind of surprised when they heard it and kind of went “whoa, that’s Slipknot?”

James – Yeah, I think so, definitely. I’ve heard stories like our manager that we have now for Stone Sour, he heard the track “Bother” on the Spider Man soundtrack and he was like “well who the hell is that?” And he is really close with Roadrunner Records, and when he found out it was Corey he went “no, that’s not Corey from Slipknot, there’s no way, that guy can’t sing,” and you know. Well, surprise, yes he can.

Now one of the things that both you and Corey, as well as Joey with the Murderdolls did with your new bands here is take the off the masks, what type of response were you expecting?

James – People running and screaming (everyone laughs). No, I really didn’t know what to expect, and with Slipknot, wearing the masks has always been a live thing. When we meet fans and hanging out we never wear them, it’s only when we are on stage, and every once and a while when we do an in store signing or something like that we’ll have them on, but as far as the reaction, I think it’s been a pretty alright one. I mean nobody has said “oh Jesus, put them back on!” or anything like that, it’s been alright.

Do you think it in any way diminishes the value that they had with Slipknot now that people see you without it?

James – You know we went and did a show, went and did a series of shows in Europe, and this was after Corey and I had gone and done the Whisky Show (in Los Angeles) where we filmed “Get Inside,” and we had played two local shows in Des Moinse without as Stone Sour since Slipknot has been together, and at first I was thinking “you know what, it’s going to feel kind of weird putting the mask on again,” but the first show we had in Portugal it was just fine, it was just like getting on a bike, it didn’t feel weird at all. I don’t think it diminishes it because it’s always been a live thing. Like here we are on stage, this is kind of our anti-image, and that’s just the live portrayal or kind of beatitude of Slipknot.

As a guitarist coming from a very heavy band, do you approach things differently when you are getting ready for a show with Stone Sour?

James – Well yeah, actually I am able to play a little more, with Slipknot there are some things that are kind of technically demanding, like there are riffs in “Surfacing,” it’s like basically a picking exercise at like 250 beats per minute, but with Stone Sour everything has got to be a little more precise and a little more intricate, but at the same time, I can really get back into guitar playing, because when I was playing guitar with Stone Sour before we were playing out so much and I was playing leads and things like that, and you can improvise a lot, and it’s really helping me get back to where I was as a guitar player, because I kind of lost a lot of my chops and everything playing in Slipknot, and now I can really start flowing and learning the fret board again, so before we go on stage I’ll kind of loosen my fingers up a little more where in Slipknot I will basically just jump up and down and scream a lot and hit myself in the head and get myself mentally ready that way.

Weren’t you and Mick doing a solo album at one point?

James – We were at one point, I think, I heard today, Corey just said that Mick went off to Denver to start working on his solo project, but I’ve like axed any, anything that I am going to do solo is just going to go into Stone Sour.

Stone Sour/Slipknot

Cool, alright, so we all know the rules about being “that kid.” You know that kid, you see him at every show, he’s wearing the shirt of the band he’s going to see, which we all know is a big no-no, but here is the ultimate question, is it ok to wear a Slipknot shirt to a Stone Sour show?

James – I think it is, I mean there have been all kinds of Slipknot fans coming up to the shows wearing Slipknot stuff and I sign them and everything, you know? Just because we aren’t doing Slipknot right now doesn’t mean, I mean it’s still a huge part of us, I mean that’s, that was the getting your foot in the door, college of rock for us, that was, in Slipknot I got to do Ozzfest two times, which was a dream come true, and I got to tour the world which was a dream come true, and play heavy music, and really we’ve had so much success that we’re very lucky, so I’m not ashamed of any of that stuff, I’m very, very proud of it, so absolutely, if a kid is wearing a Slipknot shirt to the show I’ll embrace them. (Editors note: I think James misunderstood the question, which wasn’t meant to be totally serious, but it’s all good because it was a fair answer)

So how long do you guys plan on doing this and the Murderdolls before everybody gets back together and starts working on the next Slipknot album?

James – Well we talked about tentatively going back, well we were going to stop around January to start getting ready for the next album, but I think we might go ahead and extend this out through March, Slipknot, we talked about going in around March to do another record. We’ve been talking with Rick Rubin about having him produce the next third Slipknot record too, so it’s possible that we’ll go in around March, maybe a little later, but right now that’s kind of what we’re shooting for.

Now that everybody has had this time away, doing their own thing, are you kind of looking forward to what might come up?

James – Yeah absolutely, because we needed this break. “Iowa,” that record was kind of rushed I thought, and I think we’ve got a better album in us, so this would be a chance for us to kind of expand our minds and really experiment with music a little more rather then just banging out a bunch of songs.

So in the ultimate fight of the swordsman, who would win in a fight between Luke Skywalker and He-man?

James – Definitely He-man (everyone laughs). Definitely He-man.

What do you think of the whole He-man series making a come back?

James – I think it’s cool, I think it’s really cool, wait, He-man was the one with the power of Greyskull, I have the power, yeah, yeah, Skeletor, fuck yeah, absolutely (everyone laughs).osthetics.”

Are there any new bands out there you’re feeling right now?

James – You know, I keep going back to the Lost Prophets, but they’re not really that new, but the thing is I just heard their CD like six months ago, and we just played a festival show with them before we left to go out on tour and I asked them, I was like “what are you guys doing? Because we’re looking for bands to go out on tour with,” and they were like “well we’re going back to England to write another record,” and I was like “already?” and they were like “well yeah, this album has been out for three years,” you know, I had no idea that it had been out that long, but that’s one of my favorite newer bands right now.

What do you do to keep busy on the road?

James – Oh god, it’s so boring and monotonous, I sleep a lot, whenever we get a hotel room I surf the net a lot, I have a big motorcycle fetish too, like dirt bikes and street bikes, and I’m building a chopper right now. Like I am basically keeping in touch with the guy at home that’s getting all my stuff together, I’m getting Hot Match out of southern California, they’re building me a stretched out frame and everything, so that’s kind of what I do to bide the time, I’ll go out and buy Street Chopper (not sure on that one) and just see what all the parts are and stuff like that, I’m a kind of gearhead.

What keeps you motivated on the days you’re sick and just don’t feel like playing? (Editors note: at this point the tape ends and James starts to answer, but I stop him to flip sides, so we start over) Let’s pretend and do that over.

James – Um, sleep (everyone laughs), what, you said do it over! You know, we’re all getting over bronchitis right now so, when I’m sick, I never don’t want to play, even when I am sicker then a dog I still want to go up there and do it, I just love it, and that is just what pulls you through it.

Cool, and how would you sell the album to someone who has never heard of Stone Sour before?

James – Tastes great and it’s less filling (everyone laughs).

Any last comments?

James – Um, no (everyone laughs).

First off, I am a huge Slipknot fan, so getting to meet and interview James (and meet Corey) was so awesome for me. I thought I would be intimidated, but James is so down to earth and friendly it was impossible. I definitely want to thank James for taking the time out and doing the interview. Stone Sour’s self-titled debut is in stores now.