Corey Taylor is Iowa’s biggest geek. Here’s the proof.
(WARNING: This video contains profanity.) A comic nerd at heart, Slipknot and Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor takes a walk around Jay's CD and Hobby and shows us what he looks for when he goes shopping. Brian Powers/The Register
Corey Taylor knows his way around a comic shop.
Walking into Jay’s CD and Hobby, Des Moines’ south-side pop culture emporium known for slinging comics, action figures, records and more, he heads straight for the back of the store — to the glass case where the the most valuable action figures sit on display.
“I have an issue, dude,” he said, grinning. “Seriously.”
He looks hard at the case but passes on opening it, instead making his way for the south wall of the store, where hundreds of neatly packaged figures line the wall. Known to the masses as the visceral, energetic and often foul-mouthed frontman of iconic metal act Slipknot and head-turning hard rock outfit Stone Sour, the Des Moines native also fancies himself a collector. His stash of DVDs, comics, pop culture memorabilia and action figures easily reach the thousands; it’s grown so hearty that Taylor uses a list-keeping application on his iPhone to ensure he doesn’t buy doubles.
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Each piece Taylor scores leaves the store and heads to his West Des Moines home, to a room he appropriately named “the vault.”
“It’s a hoard,” Taylor said, laughing. “It’s not even a collection at this point. It’s taking over my living space.”
On this Monday afternoon, hours before he and rock group Stone Sour deliver an ear-splitting sold out performance at Wooly’s in the East Village, Taylor is focused on finding anything he deems cool enough to make it into the vault. Halfway down the aisle, his eyes light up. The first score of the day, a run of Evil Dead figures, has been spotted.
Handing each figure to an assistant, Taylor juxtaposes the figures as he stacks, the same way shoes come in the box. From Evil Dead he adds Frankenstein and Rocky figure to the growing pile.
"This is when you know you’ve got an issue," he said. "Because you already know how to stack ‘em."
The Grammy Award-winning songwriter and New York Times best-selling author is a regular at Jay’s, said owner Jason Shreve, 41, of Des Moines. Shreve said he aims to let one of his top collectors shop in peace.
“For the most part, he’s pretty private,” Shreve said. “When he comes in, he’ll spend a couple hours lookin’.”
Collecting for Taylor began in 1991, however, his superhero fandom started much earlier: in the 1980s with Spider-Man and the bronze age of comics. Moving frequently as a child, his mom kept a collection of self-described “crappy” comics, including variations of Peter Parker’s story.
As time passed, he commandeered the comics from his family for himself, launching what would become a full-grown appreciation of fictional worlds.
Why Spider-Man? "He was just the best, you know," he said.
In a pre-Jay’s Des Moines, Taylor found himself hunting through Toys “R” Us, KB Toys and the occasional department store for the right figures.
“(I was) setting aside money for rent and then all of (these collectibles). … Eating a lot of toast because I had to have certain action figures,” he said. “I don’t recommend it.”
Plastic toys to concrete changes
In the '90s, when Taylor and his eight Slipknot bandmates began the pilgrimage to the top of the metal world, a store like Jay's didn't exist in Des Moines. Now there are three locations in the metro, a small representation of the greater change seen across the city.
With metro growth — In May, Ankeny was named the 14th fastest growing city in the nation by the U.S. Census — comes change. Seeing snapshots of the city between extensive tours and studio stints, Taylor’s witnessed neighborhoods like the East Village shift from dilapidated commercial district to the booming, gentrified hub he performed in later that evening.
“It’s crazy, man,” he said. “Every time I come back here, something’s changed. It’s a little bigger; it’s a little more spread out. I remember when there used to be 15 minutes of nothing going to Ankeny. ... Everything’s started to fill in."
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Inside another whirlwind year
The conversation in the back of the collector's shop turns to 2017 and the impending fourth novel from Taylor, titled “America 51: A Probe into the Realities that are Hiding Inside 'The Greatest Country in the World.'”
With a description giving nod to “rotting core” of America, Taylor confirms with a booming laugh that the followup to 2015's "You're Making Me Hate You" is undoubtedly political. He keeps details close to the chest (“America 51” is set to hit shelves Aug. 8) but admits it took a political turn as President Donald Trump's administration unfolded.
“It didn’t start out (political), but then we went and did something completely stupid,” he said. “The funny thing is my editor just emailed today and was like 'I was worried about this book feeling a bit dated, (but) every day it becomes more and more relevant.'"
Taylor said he wrote a majority of “America 51” while recording the latest Stone Sour record, “Hydrograd,” which hits stores June 30 via Roadrunner Records. The album sits on the opposite end of the political spectrum, he said, taking a high road. Describing the effort as a “party album,” Taylor believes it to be the band’s best work to date.
Fans have heard two tracks from the impending effort: the head-turning thrasher “Fabuless” and sentimental “Song #3.” Coming off the dark and heavy conceptual two-part “House of Gold & Bones” record, he said the band wanted to just write a “straight up rock ‘n’ roll” album. He candidly compared the studio process to the two-time Platinum-selling debut Slipknot record that debuted in 1999.
“It was the most fun I’ve ever had making an album,” he said. “The last time I enjoyed making an album like this was the first Slipknot album. It’s got the same kind of spirit. The Slipknot album was very gnarly. This one’s got an abandon to it. There’s a passion to it and an energy to it … it feels so different yet it feels so familiar.”
Still, with a fourth book and sixth Stone Sour record in the pipe, Taylor has ambitions for new and different projects.
“I want to write a script and then see it all the way to fruition. From the moment I put the pen to paper to the second I walk the red carpet. That’s what I want to do,” he said.
Leaving talks of screenplay ambitions in the rear of the store, Shreve leads Taylor to the front of the shop, where the trip ends how it began: with Taylor eyeballing some of Jay’s top-dollar collectibles. The Jay’s staff pulled a trifecta of 24-inch figures from the classic “Alien” films for Taylor to eye.
He likes what he sees and pulls the trigger on all three (along with a re-issue of a 19-inch Shogun Godzilla figure), bringing his final bill to the $1,500 mark.
“These guys bring me here and then get me into so much (expletive) trouble,” he said. “I’m just gonna buy the house next door.”