by Johnny Papan
ABBOTSFORD – Stone Sour is a five-piece hard-rock group from Des Moines, Iowa originated by guitarist Josh Rand and vocalist Corey Taylor, who also famously fronts the nine-piece nu-metal juggernaut: Slipknot. In 2002 Stone Sour released their well received self-titled debut album and 15 years later, the group has now dropped their sixth record: Hydrograd, which re-explores musical techniques from their past.
“We recorded this album live as a band, with four of us in the big live room and Corey in the vocal booth,” explains Rand. “We wanted this album to breathe. We really pride ourselves in being a live band and wanted that to translate on this record. We didn’t want it to be over polished to perfection because sometimes the imperfection is what makes it perfection.”
Despite the raw take on the album, at least to modern stances, the album is still a tightly-knit rock-record with catchy tracks fit for radio airwaves. Their approach is respectable, as the constant need for to-the-grid perfection in today’s musical society is beginning to cause a singularity in sound across most artists. Rand confirms that recording Hydrograd the way they did was about capturing emotion, not science.
“All of the classic records that everybody loves and are featured in top 10 countdowns and stuff didn’t have the technology that we do now. They went in there as a band and recorded it live. It was about getting a vibe and making you feel something instead of making it perfect. Music doesn’t have to be perfect, I think for what we do that sucks the life and the energy out of it.”
With frontman Corey Taylor leapfrogging between Stone Sour and Slipknot every few years, Rand finds himself exploring his craft during the band’s off-season. He has earned a professional certificate in guitar from Berklee College of Music and is also getting his Masters, which he claims gives him opportunity to learn new tricks and come up with fresh songwriting ideas.
“I was self taught and learned by playing metal. To be able to dab into jazz and into blues and even classic rock, I knew it would help in my songwriting. It’s about growth and not repeating the same thing.” Rand continues: “I don’t wanna be a band where every album is predictable on what it’s gonna be. With us, right out of the gate we had [slow] songs like “Bother” and [heavy tracks like] “Get Inside,” we were all over the map. It allows us musical freedom to be able to do whatever we want, which I’m thankful for. I love metal as much as anybody, but I’m glad we get to be us and we’re not forced to not be able to go out and explore.”
Rand promises this upcoming tour is going to be the biggest production of Stone Sour’s career and encapsulates the best of their old and new. “We’re playing songs that people have requested for us to play for a very long time. It’s just as exciting playing some of the old songs as it is the new songs because we haven’t played them for 15 years. It’s pretty awesome.”
Stone Sour plays the Abbotsford Centre (Abbotsford) on January 27, Encana Events Centre (Dawson Creek) on January 29, Shaw Conference Centre (Edmonton) on January 31, Enmax Centre (Lethbridge) on February 1 and the Grey Eagle Casino (Calgary) on February 2.