When Joel Ekman fell off his drum riser last week in Toledo, Ohio, the onstage slip up left him with a fractured wrist but did nothing to break the spirit of his band, Stone Sour.
"We carried through; we weren't going to let anything stop us from playing for these kids," singer Corey Taylor said. "That's the only reason I get up in the morning, because I know there's going to be a show. We've got a bunch of kids depending on us, and I will try like hell not to let them down."
Without much hesitation, the band called former Megadeth drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, who drove immediately to a record store for a copy of Stone Sour's self-titled debut and listened to it almost constantly until he touched down in Hartford, Connecticut, and met up with the band. They performed together the following day.
Although the transition was relatively smooth, the unexpected swap was still disheartening, Taylor said. "When this is your first tour, and you're really trying to do something different and break out of a shell that was put around you from the beginning, you always want your people with you."
The shell he refers to is the constant comparisons to Slipknot — the principle band of members Taylor and guitarist Jim Root. The two, who were in Stone Sour before ever joining Slipknot, are the only parallels that can be drawn between the two bands. Where Slipknot strive for mounting rage through chaotic noise, Stone Sour project a broader emotional range with songs that touch on pain, injustice and loneliness.
It's not surprising that a lot of the people catching the band on tour are Slipknot fans. What's interesting, though, is that the many of them — even the ones who love to mosh to Slipknot numbers like "People = Sh--" — are appreciating the more melodic songs.
"We've gotten a really good response," Taylor said. "I've had kids come up and tell us that this is much better than Slipknot. I've had them come up and tell us that this is the best live show that they've ever seen."
While Taylor uses Stone Sour to show there's more than unbridled fury beneath his Slipknot mask, Root simply uses the side project to show off.
"I get to play guitar again," he explained. "In Slipknot, it's very one-sided guitar playing. With Stone Sour, I'm learning my fret board again and [how to] really put some emotion into it and experience the guitar a little more. ... Plus, there's more room for improvisation and my effect-pedal board."
No song breaks Slipknot's ties like the LP's single, "Bother," which also appeared on the "Spider-Man" soundtrack. Immediate notions of what a Taylor-sung tune should sound like are shucked as soon as he opens his heart and croons with macabre effect, "Wish I was too dead to cry/ My self-affliction fades."
That's not to say that Taylor, Root, Ekman, guitarist Josh Rand and bassist Sean Economaki haven't caught their share of flack for flipping the script on what was once Taylor's time-honored sound.
"We had this one heckler," Taylor recalled. "As soon as I walked out onstage, we do the first couple of songs, and this kid goes, 'Corey, don't play "Bother," man.' I looked at him and said a few well-placed expletives and basically told him to shut up because nobody's going to tell me what set to do.
"Then when I played 'Bother,' " Taylor continued, "he was the one right up there going, 'Yeah! Yeah!' "
It's this power to broaden horizons that motivates Stone Sour.
"We've opened these kids' minds to songs like that," Taylor said. "A kid that would never listen to a song like 'Bother' now embraces it. It's like, 'This is cool, let me check out some other bands like that.' "
"These kids take so much emotion from [bands like Slipknot], but they are only getting one emotion," Root added. "Music can give you so many more emotions. Explore all those different things."
Following the tour with Chevelle and Sinch, Taylor is likely to begin co-directing a video for the album's next single, "Inhale," with director Gregory Dark, whom he also collaborated with on the "Bother" clip (see "Slipknot's Taylor Reveals Two Faces For Stone Sour's 'Bother' ").
Work on a new Slipknot effort is expected to begin soon after, and while few details are definite, Slipknot percussionist Clown has been talking with producer Rick Rubin, who attended the band's last few shows.
Stone Sour tour dates, according to Roadrunner Records:
- 10/16 - Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
- 10/18 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Coral Sky Amphitheatre
- 10/19 - Tampa, FL @ The Masquerade
- 10/20 - Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
- 10/22 - Dallas, TX @ Deep Ellum Live
- 10/23 - San Antonio, TX @ Sunset Station
- 10/24 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
- 10/25 - Tulsa, OK @ The Other Side
- 10/27 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theatre
- 10/28 - Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
- 10/29 - Salt Lake City, UT @ X-Scape
- 10/30 - Sparks, NV @ New Oasis
- 11/1 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox
- 11/2 - Portland, OR @ B Complex
- 11/5 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
- 11/6 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
- 11/8 - West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
- 11/9 - Scottsdale, AZ @ Cajun House
- 11/10 - Tucson, AZ @ The Rialto