Interview made by Alexandra Furnea
Stone Sour is getting ready to start its long 2018 tour with a number of shows in the U.S.A. However, the band’s path will also lead to Romania, on June 26th. All we can say is: oh, yeah! Bring it on. Of course we couldn’t miss the chance to chat to drummer and songwriter Roy Mayorga, who was kind enough to offer us his time, so that we could interview him.
Ever since 1992, when the band made its first steps onto the scene, Stone Sour has been going steady by delivering some of the best rock music out there: raw, untainted, unrestrained, and impeccable in terms of sound. Sixteen years and six albums later, in spite of the occasional trials and tribulations, the group is still at it, stronger than ever.
Its latest release, „Hydrograd”, stands testimony to the band’s unabashed love of the craft of writing and recording songs. Done the old fashioned way, with the guys playing together in the studio, no separate tracking or other modern artifice in sight, the album is everything a rock fan could ever dream of: it’s hard, it’s irreverent and it fucks you up in all the right ways.
It’s also a fine way for guitarist Christian Martucci and bassist Johnny Chow to make their „recorded” debut as full-time members of Stone Sour.
But more about „Hydrograd”, what it’s like to find your home in a certain band, and the magic of writing songs with the Stone Sour collective, from Roy Mayorga himself.
Let’s talk about your latest release, „Hydrograd”. As opposed to some of your previous records, which took a conceptual path, this one is a tongue-in-cheek, hard-hitting rock-and-roll album, that goes right back to your roots. How did you reach this formula?
It definitely evolved very organically. When we were kids, we were fans of that kind of rock-and-roll, so it was a natural progression for us to make that sort of music. When we got back together and started writing new material, this came out. We set out to write the best songs we could. Playing live together in the same room certainly led to the sound that you are talking about: raw and natural, organic.
What was it like getting the whole band together in a room and just playing in this very „analog” kind of way?
We first started working like that in my home studio, when we were just demoing the songs. Normally, in the past, we would just demo the songs and then do all of the tracks separately. I would go in first, because I play the drums, so I would perform to prerecorded guitars and click. Then we would get rid of that, and overdub to me. This time, however, we did it exactly like in my studio: we played together and decided we are going to make the whole record that way. I did my first album with Soulfly in this manner, but after that, every single studio that I got into, has had this automatic, default way of doing things. You walk in and the person in charge puts your drums to the grid. Sure you achieve this perfect sound, but it’s all quite sterile. It works great for some bands but it’s just not what we are about. We love to push and pull things, tempo-wise, and that just happens, especially when we’re playing live. So this time, we said: why not catch that feeling in the studio as well, so that when we actually play the songs to the audience, there won’t be surprises, and everything will sound just like on the record. If anything, we play even faster live because we are so excited about being up on that stage, doing what we love the most. I learned a lot from this band and I am really happy that we went for it that way, this time around. I think we are going to continue in this fashion because we are all performers, we all love to play, and I see no reason for us to track a record when we can always get together and do it like we did with „Hydrograd”. It just feels a lot better.
In a previous interview, you said that you had finally found „home” with Stone Sour. Can you expand a little on the topic?
Throughout my life as a drummer and as a musician, I have been in many different bands and a lot of them did not last for very long. Maybe the band was not meant to make it, or the people in it didn’t get along very well. Somehow I always found myself in the middle. Some of these groups had a lifespan of a year, or two, and did not really get off the ground. As a result, I was always on he path to find the right band, and the right group of people. It’s not easy, you know? It’s just as hard as finding your soulmate, or the right girlfriend or boyfriend. Then, when you finally do, you just know. You get married, live together, and grow old together. It has definitely been a long journey here, but I finally feel like I found just that: my place, my home, the right group of people, and the right band. Twelve years and five albums later, I am still here. That says a lot. I am not saying that there was something wrong with any of my previous bands, please don’t take it that way, because it is not true. I loved every single one of them, the ones that worked out, and the ones that didn’t.
How far are you involved in the songwriting process and how exactly is a Stone Sour song born?
Well, Christian Martucci (guitars) turned into the Kirk (note: referring to Kirk Hammett, the famous Metallica guitarist known for his skill of writing memorable, hit riffs)of the band, so to speak. In Stone Sour, we all come up with ideas. This time around, Corey Taylor (vocals) brought in a couple of songs, Josh Rand (guitars) brought in a couple of songs, Johnny Chow (bass) came with a few of them, and with some riffs, and I mostly brought riffs. Then, I just went back and forth with Christian who took our ideas and ran with them! I would give him two, three riffs and he would show up a few hours later with a whole, complete song. I was awestruck. Not to mention that he lives just two blocks away from my place, so it was easy to get together with him and work. Then, every few months when Corey had a break with Slipknot, he would come to my house and we would record some stuff that he had, we’d put in our two cents and help shape that into Stone Sour. We are a pretty good collective, you see. Everyone does their part and contributes, while having fun. We don’t overthink things. We love going with our instincts.
I’ve recently noticed this trend in rock music, that consists of bands adopting EDM elements in their work. How do you resist the urge?
To be honest, I am not going to fault someone for what they want to do, simply because I am not into that. Personally, I have never followed a trend, and no one in the band has ever been into „trends”. That’s why we came up with this record in the first place. We just went with our hearts and with our own inspiration. We played what we wanted to play, and hear, for everyone else to enjoy. However, we do not write music for others, we do it for ourselves, so if you get it and want to be a part of our journey, great. Welcome to our world! If not, that’s fine too. We, as a unit, have never followed any sort of trend and while I do not judge anyone who wants to do that if they think that it’s going to help them, it’s simply not what we are about.
You will perform in Romania this summer, in June, on the 26th. Do you have any expectations regarding the gig?
I am definitely looking forward to coming back. The last time that we were there, in 2010, we had a lot of fun. I visited your country with one of my older bands too: Nausea. We played some punk rock club called The Black Hole. This was a million years ago and I think that that place is gone now. I have some crazy memories from back then. Hopefully we get a day off so that we can visit some sights. You’ve got a beautiful country!
Cover photo credits: Promark Drumsticks