It’s really hard to compete with the likes of Stone Sour in 2017. Though we’ve had a jam-fucking-packed year of decade-defining albums, the Iowans just go and drop their first record in four years, simply eliminating the competition with its megaton impact on the metal world. Cheers for that, guys!
Their sixth album Hydrograd is a return to form in many ways for rambunctious vocalist Corey Taylor and crew, considering it’s the first album to not feature longstanding guitarist Jim Root after his rather secretive and controversial departure from the band back in 2014. Since a single fuck couldn’t be found at the scene, we can conclude that Stone Sour are doing just fine as they are. Sticking their middle-finger up to the past, they’re more than ready to kick all of our collective arses leading into 2018.
Only weeks before they come over and stomp the UK and Europe into oblivion on their rampageous world tour, RAMzine’s Hywel Davies had a quick chinwag with drummer Roy Mayorga, as they discuss the world’s reaction to the album and what we can expect when they arrive on our doorstep next month…
Hey there, Roy! We’ve been quite curious to hear about how Hydrograd’s been doing since it dropped this year? All’s well we hope?
Given that it’s been a few years since the last album, was it hard getting back into the swing of things?
RM: Well on the off time, Christian [Martucci, guitars] and Johny Chow [bass] and the rest of us got together here and there putting these songs together while Corey was off doing Slipknot. Corey would come in every four or five months and spend the week at my house and track vocals to whatever we recorded. We did a group of songs at a time, like four or five at a time. In a year, we had a ton of tunes that we all did at my house. We’d pick the best ones, take those to the actual recording studio and record them.
I actually didn’t mind the break. It gives us more time to really hone in on writing stuff and not being pressured into immediately writing another record. To me, I think when a record is rushed, it sounds like shit and you can tell. We definitely had time to live with these songs after we wrote them and had time to really focus on structuring them better, even before we went into the studio.
The great thing about this whole experience was that we recorded these songs live. We thought about doing it for a while. We were like, ‘Why don’t we just record it like this?’ and I was like, ‘Great, let’s do it the old-school way!’ To me, that’s the only way a rock band should be recorded, and that’s to be recorded live. We elaborated on those ideas and built on top of that.
How well have these new songs translated live?
RM: Wanting to play these songs live definitely had a big hand in the writing process. Having a killer producer like Jay Ruston was great and he understood that. He’s pretty straightforward in his style. He just puts a mic on the instrument, added a little top; a little bottom; and that’s it. Let the band do the work, know what I mean? It was a great combination working with him and I definitely think we’ll be working with him more in the future. We really loved how it all came together.
We’ve been slowly putting these songs into the set. We have about five new ones in there… maybe six. The crowds are responding really great to all of them, especially when we get to the end with ‘Fabuless’. We added ‘Knevel Has Landed’ and that’s been going over great live. I think that’s a good one live. We’ve been playing ‘Song #3’ and ‘Roses Red…’ and it’s only now that we’re seeing these songs really coming into their own.
In your own words, where does this album fit in context with Stone Sours’ back catalogue?
RM: Sonically it sounds different to the rest of the records. Obviously, it’s a little bit different because of those other members in the band that were in before, like Shawn [Economaki, ex-bassist from 1992-2012] and Jim had a different sound they brought to the table. But I think now it’s more melodic and has more rock to it. Christian and Johny brought in more of that and kicked the songs into gear.
The whole thing definitely took on a life of its own. We didn’t really set out and say, ‘We’re going to make it sound like this,’ or, ‘We’re going to write this kind of song.’ They manifested naturally on their own. We just wrote what we wanted and whatever came out; came out. If it feels right, we go with it. There was nothing contrived on any of this record, which I’m really happy to say. It was very natural how it all came together.
Your UK and European tour is coming up soon. What are you most excited for on that tour?
RM: Well to start with, I’m just really excited to be playing over there ha, ha! I mean, any chance to come over and play the UK and Europe is great for us; we love it there. It’s pretty much become our second home at this point. For me personally, I actually have such an admiration for the UK and European crowds. Those crowds have really amazing energy and I can really feel the love for the music. There’s always a great exchange of energy between the crowd and the band. I mean, people are definitely a lot more versed with the music over there – I can tell. To me, that’s a beautiful thing because we are too.
Is there anything particular about UK crowds and playing the UK that’s different to the rest of the world?
RM: The UK has got a hell of a lot of passion. Definitely a lot more than some of the places I’ve been to in the world. I feel like that’s part of the lifestyle of the people there when it comes to bands. They’re not afraid to show their emotions and that’s great because the flow of energy we exchange is stronger because we have that same admiration and love of music. So, it’s good to see crowds feel the same way we do.
Beautifully said, Roy! And finally, we’re so stoked to have you guys over here! What can we expect from the tour?
RM: …A really shit show! An awful show; an absolutely fucking horrible show! Ha, ha, ha!
…Great, can’t wait ha, ha!
RM: Ha, ha! Nah, you can expect a big rock show, dude! It’s going to be really in your face, man! We’re not going to be holding back. That’s what you can expect.
Hydrograd is out now via Roadrunner.
Stone Sour hit the UK from Nov 29 to Dec 8.