Stone Sour caught everybody by surprise with the success of their first record a couple of years ago. The band featuring two members of Slipknot, vocalist Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root, came in and racked up big sales based on a terrific debut disc. They came to the attention of the public at large, in no small part because of the success of the song "Bother". Not just a one-off project, the band was actually in existence pre-Slipknot. Guitarist Josh Rand and bassist Shawn Economaki were teenage friends of Taylor and they had a garage band. Drummer Joel Ekman and Root joined shortly thereafter.
The band is currently in the studio recording the follow-up to their eponymous debut. I spoke with Josh Rand to get the scoop on what was happening.
antiMUSIC: So bring us up to date on how the record is going.
Josh Rand: Right now we're in Los Angeles doing the follow-up, obviously. We've brought in Nick Raskulinecz to help produce this and help steer the ship. We've wrapped up drums and are working on guitar now. We're going to track 18 songs. Probably only 12-13 will be on the record. That's yet to be decided. They're very diverse. If you like the first record, and certainly mainly people comment on the diversity of that one….this one will be far and beyond that one. There's some really heavy stuff. There's some really melodic stuff and a new direction we've yet to go until now. It's going to be cool. I'm really excited about it.
antiMUSIC: If I understand correctly, you already had 30-40 songs to choose from prior to Christmas and were still writing.
Josh Rand: Yeah, at one point we had a ton of material but unfortunately with the time and budget, we had to scale that down. Basically take the top choices or the strongest material. Nick came in and we did the pre-production and that was pretty much done. Realistically we couldn't do 30 songs or we'd be in the studio for months. At this point in our career, we can't spend a year in the studio.
antiMUSIC: Is there a tentative release date scheduled yet?
Josh Rand: We're hoping late June, early July at this point.
antiMUSIC: What can you tell us about some of the songs you know will be on there?
Josh Rand: Yeah, one of the tracks we're all excited about is one called "Dirty Thirty-one Fifty".
antiMUSIC: What's that about?
Josh Rand: You know what? We're not going to tell anybody. Everybody is going to figure it out. I'm serious. It's going to be one of those crack the code things. (laughs)
antiMUSIC: I think I remember hearing that just after the last record was released, you were demoing new material. Do some of these songs go back to those sessions?
Josh Rand: Yeah, actually several of those songs…one of them, a song called "Born" actually I wrote on the tour bus from the last tour. We brought back two older songs from the '90s and just revamped them because we thought they were really strong songs. But for the most part, most of the material is all new.
antiMUSIC: You've secured Nick Raskulinecz for the record. What made you choose him?
Josh Rand: For me, it was just when I talked to him. I just felt comfortable with him. And for myself who's new to have somebody come in and actually like become a member of the family. I spent a lot of time demoing. I do a lot of writing. And to have somebody come in and say "Can you change this or that" is really interesting. But for some reason with him, when we were making a decision, I just felt super comfortable with him. And what he's done…his previous work. The stuff with Velvet Revolver and of course with the Foo Fighters speaks volumes, you know. So it was a no-brainer for us.
antiMUSIC: Any titles confirmed for the record?
Josh Rand: As of right now, we have a couple of ideas but I don't want to say, because I don't know. We haven't made that 100% decision on that yet.
antiMUSIC: Any songs that you're particularly attached to?
Josh Rand: My favourite one is one called "Hell and Consequences".
antiMUSIC: What is the songwriting process like in Stone Sour? Considering Corey is usually involved with other things, I would imagine you guys write on your own and bring back finished songs minus lyrics whenever you reconvene. Is that right? Or do you write together?
Josh Rand: We don't write together. The first record, I pretty much did all the music. Corey did all the vocals. On this record, however, everybody was involved in one way or another. Basically I wrote all the heavier stuff. Corey wrote all the vocals. Jim wrote several songs. Shawn wrote a song and actually one song was written off Shawn's drum beat. So everybody has contributed to this record. Everybody writes by themselves. For myself, I write all the music and what I think the arrangement should be. Then I'll turn it over to Corey. He might make some changes and then I'll bring it to the group, if I think it's good. Then it'll grow from there because everybody will add their own little thing to it.
antiMUSIC: The last record went gold. Were the other guys concerned that the public was getting the wrong impression of what the band was all about from the success of "Bother", or that it was just the Corey Taylor project?
Josh Rand: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I think that we're still misunderstood. We're a band. We're not Corey's side project. We're a functioning band. We were around before Slipknot. For Corey to step away from Slipknot…for him, it's to show a different side of him. But there's more to us. We're not, you know, just a couple of buddies getting together to jam with some other guys and tour for a month. We're a serious band. We take it very seriously. So does our record company. We're looking to do way bigger business with this record. I honestly believe this material is way better. It's more mature. We were rushed the first time around. It was basically me and Corey just jamming. We did almost all those songs basically by ourselves. It started off being just two friends together and then all of a sudden it became this other thing. The next thing you know we're signing this record contract, recording the first record and things happened really quickly. And we were unprepared…not that we were really unprepared. But a lot of us were kind of taken aback in that "Wow. This is actually happening and happening very quickly." This time around, we knew what to expect. Our expectations for this record are set very high. And the quality of the material is a hundred times better. I truly believe that. I know everyone says that but it's just that we've got to grow as a group. Instead of just being put together at the last minute and "here you go, go out and record this record". I'm excited.
antiMUSIC: The public at large is aware of Corey and Jim, but fill us in on Josh Rand. How long have you been playing and how did you join Stone Sour.
Josh Rand: I've been playing about 16 years, something like that. Actually when I first go together with Corey, I played bass. I didn't play guitar. Shawn Economaki played guitar instead of bass. And we were all like 15 years old. And we thought we were cool because we could play "Enter Sandman". It was bad too (laughs). How things have changed. The three of us go back a long time.
antiMUSIC: What do you do outside of the band?
Josh Rand: Actually I went back to work. I'm a Neon technician. All the dangerous stuff that can kill you in five seconds. I actually enjoy it, doing all the wiring and stuff. And also I like spending time with my family. I've got two girls. And then writing for this record. That's pretty much what I've done.
antiMUSIC: Now I'm assuming here, and you can correct me if I'm wrong but I would think that touring with Stone Sour was a lot different than what you had been used to in the past with your other bands. Was this an eye-opening experience for you and what memories stand out from promoting that record?
Josh Rand: You know what? I'm very spoiled. Stone Sour is all is I know. I'm very fortunate. I never had to go through playing bars and all that. For me to go out and start playing live was with this band a few years ago right out of the gate. My first show was sold out…at home. And the four shows later, I'm at the Whiskey shooting a video. So I know nothing else except how this operates. And I'm very thankful for that.
antiMUSIC: Wow. What were you thinking before the curtain opened on your first show?
Josh Rand: I was freaking out! (laughs) And I was freaking out at the Whiskey too. But those guys helped me. Corey was going nuts onstage and that helped me loosen up. Cuz I didn't want to move. I was like stone over there playing guitar. The only thing that was moving were my fingers.
antiMUSIC: What is your favourite memory or experience from the tour?
Josh Rand: For me, it was probably getting to meet Metallica. We did several shows with them. They're a huge influence on me. And so to finally meet those guys was special for me.
antiMUSIC: Who is that on the phone message at the beginning of "Blotter"?
Josh Rand: That's Shawn and Joel. They had been drinking all night (laughs). Then they got the idea of calling everybody at 7 in the morning while we were recording the first record. I remember hearing the phone ring and not getting it. I think Jim broke his phone when they decided to call that early. And Corey had the machine so he got the message.
antiMUSIC: I take it you're touring immediately following the release of the record? Do you have a schedule mapped out yet?
Josh Rand: Actually we're probably going to be going out before. We're going to do all the festivals in Europe. Download and all those. I believe we're going to start touring the last week of May. I could be wrong. Somewhere around there. And then we're going to come back home. Maybe take two weeks off and then go out in the US. It looks like we're going to headline but do really small clubs for like a month. Then we'll probably head to Japan. After that, it's up in the air. Even the headlining in the US is up in the air. But we plan to take this everywhere, compared to the first time around.
antiMUSIC: Anything else about the record or band we should know?
Josh Rand: As of right now, that's pretty much all I can report.
antiMUSIC: Thanks a lot for taking the time Josh. I can't wait to hear the record. All the best with it.
Josh Rand: Thanks for the interview. Hope to see you after the record is out.