In an exclusive interview arranged by ARTISTdirect, actor John Cusack and SLIPKNOT / STONE SOUR frontman COREY TAYLOR met up to discuss their respective passions, Cusack’s latest film The Raven, when they each discovered Edgar Allan Poe, wearing masks and so much more. Check out an extract from that interview below:
Corey Taylor: For me, it’s always better to write it down and let it loose so I can come back and feel normal. When you repress that stuff and never give it a voice, it ends up coming out unconsciously. It can be devastating in a lot of ways.
John Cusack: I think that’s right. The other thing is—as a songwriter I’m sure and sometimes for me as an actor and writer—Poe was using the language of the subconscious. If you think about it, your dreams are violent, perverse, jagged, and brutal. Maybe they can be sexual. Maybe they can be confusing. They can be all of these things, but that’s what happens in your dreams. You’re unconscious. Poe was using that language. A lot of other people do too. What’s down there beneath the surface in the underworld is valuable, but we don’t know how to interpret what those symbols or conflicting images of our subconscious are supposed to mean. It’s part of what makes us human. It’s part of what makes us alive. It’s not the light and the exclusion of the dark. It’s the synthesis of the two that makes us human and gives us all of our creativity, power, and vision. Nobody has got any vision who hasn’t peered into the abyss. I’m sorry. I haven’t met anybody who does.
Corey Taylor: That’s very true.
John Cusack: You need to get your ass kicked and get your ego put in check. The only way you do that is by taking a beating. I think Poe was also into that realm of pioneering. Musicians do it all the time, and they do it at the purest level because they give it song and put it into verse with bursts of energy.
When did you first discover Edgar Allan Poe?
John Cusack: I remember learning about him in high school. They’d teach you about The Fall of the House of Usher. I read The Masque of the Red Death in English class. That was my first introduction. Around Halloween, there would be Poe stuff everywhere.
Corey Taylor: When I was a kid, I can remember watching the old Hammer films. There was a channel in Iowa that would show The Fall of the House of Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, and everything with Vincent Price. I think it was on Sundays. I was always mesmerized by the colors in those movies.
John Cusack: Technicolor!
Corey Taylor: Exactly! It was so crazy. That led me to search out and read all of Poe’s works. I’m such a fan of language, and the way people write. I loved the way he would use the language almost against the person who was reading it. You’d read it, and you’d be like, “Whoa, this is intensely dark!”
John Cusack: And aggressive…I like how you said he was using it against the reader [Laughs].
John, you wear a mask during the ball scene of The Raven, and Corey, masks are an integral element of the Slipknot ethos and experience. What is it like to emote under a mask?
Corey Taylor: For me, there are so many different emotions going on during a Slipknot show that you can always use it to tap into that unbridled id and cross back and forth between scream therapy and pure emotion. I’ve always thought I’m showing more than I’m hiding by wearing that mask, jumping out on that stage, and doing that stuff. It’s almost like showing the audience that pressure valve and being able to let it blow wide open and go for it.
John Cusack: Yeah, the idea with the mask is by losing yourself you get to show more of yourself.
Corey Taylor: I completely agree.
John Cusack: You become an everyman of sorts. In James McTeigue’s movie, V for Vendetta, Anonymous is using the Anonymous mask. You can’t really see the eyes in that. The key to a mask is it frees you up almost from the bondage of being yourself to be the pure spirit. Then, you animate the mask. When I worked in the theater with masks, that was always the deal. It’s great fun. The idea is we wear a lot of masks all day. We pretend to be this way or have this face on for these people. By wearing a mask, you’re admitting to the fact you have different personalities and guises. I think it’s cool. I love masks.
Read the full interview by clicking here – it makes for a great read!