When the Indianapolis Colts fired vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, general manager Chris Polian, a day after the regular season ended, the NFL fan community was sent spinning. That includes Slipknot/Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor, a die-hard Colts fan, who sees the move as panic.
"I know we were all thrown for a loop when the loss of one man turned a Super Bowl-caliber team into a team with the worst record in the NFL, but this takes the cake," Taylor said.
Instead, Taylor thinks it would have made sense to replace head coach Jim Caldwell, despite any locker room loyalty. And speculation that the Colts are looking long term with their No. 1 draft pick has him worried that quarterback Peyton Manning might not play another season with the team. "Quite honestly, it seems like they're cutting off their nose to spite their face. I don't care about [Andrew] Luck or [Robert Griffin III], I care about my Colts -- right now."
The Colts were 0-12 when The Life sat down with Taylor backstage at The Met Cafe in Pawtucket, R.I., several hours before his solo acoustic performance that also featured a Q&A session and the singer reading from his New York Times best-seller, "Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good."
The Life: Do you need a hug?
Taylor: I can't even believe it, dude. It's almost … [Laughs] it's almost like a movie at this point, man. Like, I'm just watching 'em, going, "How can one person's absence make that much of a difference? How can a Super Bowl-caliber team become, basically, the Lions of two years ago?" [Laughs]
The Life: Is it a case of, without Manning, you're suddenly forced to look at the inconsistency that maybe has been there all along --
Taylor: That he's covered with his talent! No, absolutely, I agree. You know, [Joseph] Addai hasn't had a good year since his first year. [Pierre] Garcon's never been that great to me, period. There's so many holes on that team that, all of a sudden, it's like, what?
It comes down to leadership. It comes down to the fact that, well, who shows up to play, you know what I'm saying? Really, at the end of the day, who shows up to play? A team like that should at least be a .500 team. There's no excuse.
The Life: The year [Tom] Brady went down on the opening drive of the first game, [Matt] Cassel stepped up and they had a winning season.
Taylor: Well, that comes down to -- there are so many people in that organization who really do their best to fill so many holes. And whether I like [Bill] Belichick or not, he's a damn good coach. He sees the overall [picture]. I think the Colts haven't had a great coach since [Tony] Dungy left, to be honest. I mean, Caldwell's a substitute teacher, at best. It's Manning that runs that team, and that just shows you, when he's not there, it's like when the substitute teacher's in the classroom: nobody gives a s---. It's sad, man. It's really sad.
The Life: Every Sunday night, on "Football Night in America," what's going through Dungy's head, especially when they ask, "Coach, what about the Colts?" He puts on the smile, he's analytical --
Taylor: Yeah, he plays it nice and loose. But yeah, he's gotta be spinning right now, dude. It's so depressing.
The crazy thing is, a couple years ago, I started getting into the Lions because my wife's family is all from Detroit. It honestly started as a ribbing kind of thing, and at the time, really all they had was [Calvin] Johnson.
And then I started watching all the things they were starting to do, and I was like, OK, they're really starting to put the pieces together. And then, of course, the year they started to really kind of step it up, my team goes 0-12. I'm like, wow, irony is a sad, vicious b----.
So yeah, it's a sad year for Mr. Taylor. And, you gotta understand, I was at the Super Bowl when they lost to the Saints. I remember watching that game, and it was so surreal, just watching it kind of fall apart in the last three, four minutes. It was like, they had a chance, then one pick and goodbye championship. But even then I couldn't feel bad 'cause it was the Saints. I will always root for the underdog. I go for the underdog any day. That game, I could walk away and be like, all right, you know what, good for them -- and they earned it. They won that game. They were such a great team that year that it was insane.
The Life: As a Colts fan, do you put any stock in "suck for Luck"?
Taylor: No, not really. Nobody really knows where Manning's at right now, except for Manning. It's like trying to guess if [Brett] Favre's gonna come back. It's like, no, he's never gonna come back, and he comes back three f---ing times. Nobody gives a s--- anymore."
The Life: But it's different with Manning because of the health issues.
Taylor: It's a little different, but at the same time, Favre played injured as well. Manning is competitive enough, and I'm sure he's watching this season unwind, going, "I at least have to come back for one season." And you don't have a guy with as much class as Manning, to give up money to get certain players, and then watch that fall apart because you couldn't play, to not go, "I'm definitely gonna come back."
The Life: Which, for you as a fan, could make for a really exciting season.
Taylor: You wanna talk about a storybook ending. Even if he's cleared to just play for one or two more seasons, oh f---, dude! I mean, you wanna talk about upping the ante, it'll be fantastic.
The Life: Because he'll have something to prove.
Taylor: Exactly. I mean, he's always kind of had that monkey on his back anyway, you know? He's got just as good numbers as Brady, but he doesn't have as many rings. They both have a [Super Bowl] loss, but he's still down two, so I'm sure he at least wants to go back one more time.
The Life: Rooting for the underdog, you can't get more underdog than going 0-12. Then, take a band like Slipknot that's very polarizing -- people either love or hate that band. Is there a parallel?
Taylor: Oh, definitely. I mean, we had so many strikes against us when we first came out. Not only were we a metal band, but we were a nine-piece metal band that wore coveralls and masks, coming from Iowa. [Laughs] How many more blotches on your record do you need before you go, is this a joke?
And a lot of people really considered it a joke at first. But because we knew we were gonna have to fight for it, we went out and fought for it, man. We worked three times as hard as any other band out there. We won fans, really. We earned 'em! Nothing was ever given to us, especially that first year and a half. And I'm very proud of that. I'm very proud of the fact that we put our money where our mouth was. We said that we were going to be one of the biggest bands in the world, and we did it! And we did it together, and we did it by building it one fan at a time.
The Life: The way you're describing it is very much the blueprint for a successful sports team.
Taylor: Yeah, yeah, it definitely is. And we have damn near as many people in the band as a starting lineup! [Laughs]
The Life: How much is putting on the jumpsuits and masks like a football player putting on the pads and a helmet? It's very much a locker room scenario.
Taylor: Oh, definitely. It's a lot like getting ready for the big game. I mean, every show is the Super Bowl for us, both bands, and I mean every show. We both come together -- Slipknot does the huddle, Stone Sour does the fist bump, basically. And we all kind of bring it together, and we stop being those individual people, and we start being one band.
The Life: Being the team.
Taylor: Exactly. Everyone does their thing, and everyone tries to do it to the best of their ability. The other side of that, though, is the funny superstitions that we have in common with football players, baseball players.
The Life: Such as?
Taylor: I refuse to wash my mask during a tour. I can't do it. It's like, I don't want to lose it, you know what I'm saying? And it's gnarly, dude. By the end of a tour cycle, my mask smells like an episode of "CSI." It gets bad. My wife won't even let 'em come in the house: "You put that thing in the garage, in the corner, under boxes. I don't want to see it, smell it -- f--- that thing."
We all do the makeup and stuff, and then I've got certain things that I have to do in a certain way or I'm f----- for the show. That just shows you how neurotic you can get, not only as a performer, but as an athlete. I can't even imagine what they go through. Just having all that crazy neurosis, and then trying to keep your body together? Oh, f--- that. I couldn't do it, man. I'd lose my s--- in a heartbeat.
The Life: Who's the most unlikely person who really likes your book, who's really into "Seven Deadly Sins"?
Taylor: You know who came to the New York show was Boomer Esiason. The next day, all he did was talk about going to the show, and the book, on his radio show. I was like, really? That's cool as s---, man!
That guy, man, he was super cool. Really cool, really down to earth -- you could tell, the big personality. You can feel that in the quarterbacks. There was a hint that he was going to come down, 'cause he's buddies with Bill -- Bill Cowher -- and Bill brought him down. Everybody was like, "Boomer's coming down? Are you f---ing serious?" People started losing their minds, man, and I was like, I know! It's awesome!
Now, mind you, Michael C. Hall was at the same show. He is actually best friends with my book editor at Da Capo. And I didn't know he was coming down, and I total fanboyed out. I felt like a 13-year-old girl, it was so amazing, dude! I was like, "Hi Mister Hall..." -- 'cause I'm a huge fan.
And the weird thing is, half of my people were so ecstatic to see Michael C. Hall, then the other half were more excited that Boomer was there. So it was like this amazing amalgam of weirdness going on. [Laughs]
The Life: The wit and humor of "Seven Deadly Sins" conveys a real vulnerability, more than you can ever touch musically. Writing it, did you realize, I'm probably a lot less vulnerable performing in front of 20,000 people?
Taylor: [Laughs] Well, it wasn't hard, to be honest, because I'm the guy who will talk myself up, then cut myself down in the same sentence. I mean, being a frontman, you have to be kind of a braggart and a preening cock, if you will. But I'm also very self-effacing, so I know what my limits are. I know what my weaknesses are. That gets me into trouble and keeps me where I kind of need to be half the time.
Some people who didn't dig the book, they said all I really do is kind of grandstand. I'm like, where did you get that? Did you not get all the small penis references? Did you miss those? So it's funny that people will read it, thinking they know who I am, and only pick out the parts that basically make their case why they don't like me. Other people read it, completely unassuming, and they'll get the whole story.
The Life: To continue the analogy of a band being like a sports team, the singer would then be the quarterback. So being the quarterback, what do you bring to the Slipknot team, the Stone Sour team, and what would you have brought to the Velvet Revolver team, had you quarterbacked it?
Taylor: Well, with Slipknot, obviously I'm the mouthpiece. Everybody's kind of doing their thing, like, everybody's a little bent -- you've got Clown and [Chris] Fehn going nuts; you've got Sid [Wilson] who's just an absolute maniac. You've got Craig [Jones] who -- he's the robot. You've got Joey [Jordison] laying it down. You've got the guitar players holding everything together. I'm the guy who slips in and out of [that] -- you know, I either stay in the pocket, or I can run. I'm never gonna pitch it in the flat, but at the same time, it's never a guarantee I'm going to go long with it. But I'm always trying to score, you know?
With Stone Sour, it's a little more of my show, and the guys in the band know that. So I go out of my way to make sure that I'm funny, I'm engaging the audience. I'm trying to get them to sing along and whatnot, so it's a lot more overt. And I wear my emotions so on my sleeve. You can tell when I'm having a good time and when I'm not.
For me, it's just being in your face, keeping the audience there, and just being a good frontman. There's a difference between just being the singer and being the frontman. I've just tried to embrace that as much as possible.
What I would have brought to Velvet Revolver would have been more of the attitude that I think they wanted from Scott [Weiland], but they got the negative side of it, you know what I'm saying? Scott, to me, has always been the guy who -- he's much more interesting when he's being a d--- to other people than he is onstage, to be honest. I mean, he does the lizard weird-thing-dance and everything, but that gets old after a while. When you need that strong frontman, he just really didn't do it because he was too busy just being into himself instead of engaging the audience.
So I would have tried to basically build a bridge between what they had with Axl [Rose] and what they had with Scott, but with a little more good time feel to it -- 'cause I can have an attitude and still smile, all f------ day. I think, in a lot of ways, they could have relaxed a little bit, knowing that they wouldn't have to worry about, What's the singer going to do? Are we going to be able to go onstage on time? Are we going to be able to play our show without a fit being thrown? Are we going to be able to play the songs the way they were written?
I am a firm believer in, give the fans what they want. Do what you do, but give the fans what they want. They're the whole reason that you are where you are, and they deserve every f------ bit that you can give them.
Roger Lotring is an author, freelance writer and radio show host based in Connecticut.