Slipknot singer Corey Taylor says that the band wanted to pay tribute to its late bassist Paul Gray with the group’s fifth studio album, “.5: The Gray Chapter”, but struggled to get the right wording for the CD title. “We had a handful of [ideas] that we were kind of bandying about,” Taylor told Mistress Carrie of the Worcester/Boston, Massachusetts radio station WAAF. “And me and Clown were talking about… We just kind of got on the phone together, and it was, like, ‘Look, what do you think?’ And we went back and forth a handful of times until we both kind of hit on the title. And we both sat back and we were, like, ‘That’s it. That feels really, really good.’ ‘Cause we knew there was gonna be a dedication to Paul there. We didn’t know how to do it, we didn’t have the exact wording until we both kind of sat down and shot it back and forth and really got to the point where we knew we had the title.”
According to Taylor, the lyrics on “.5: The Gray Chapter” deal with many of the emotions, including denial and acceptance, that he and his bandmates felt in the four years since Paul Gray passed away.
“Just from a lyrical standpoint, I knew that there were gonna be a handful of songs about Paul,” Corey said. “Because we miss him, we love him. But I also knew that in order to tell this correctly, we were gonna have to come at it from a very emotional point of view, and that meant facing some of the emotions that we had dealt with over the last four years, whether it was guilt, anger… Because there is a natural progression that happens before you kind of reach that point of acceptance. And there’s nobody really there to coach you through it. And, in fact, this band, we didn’t even talk about it until we got into the studio. I mean, even on the road, we were just kind of ducking our head and getting through it and doing what we could for each other. But until we got into the studio, until some of the guys started reading what I was writing, we hadn’t talked about it, we hadn’t talked about what we had all gone through indivudally. And when we did that, it opened up so much for us that it then became music without fear. Because we all knew we had each other’s back. There’s some songs about that on there as well. ‘Cause some of the stuff was written in the studio. So there’s a lot of pain here. But at the same time, it’s because you’re going through these roller coasters of emotion and you’re trying to get a handle on them until you just, basically, kind of resign yourself to the point where you’re not gonna get a handle on it until you let yourself feel it. And that’s what it comes down to.”
Jim Root, who composed much of the music for “.5: The Gray Chapter”, told Revolver magazine that Gray influenced the songwriting process for the new CD.
“It’s weird, man,” Root said. “I’m not a very spiritual person, and the whole religion thing, I’m kind of on the fence about a lot of that stuff. So when somebody loses someone who’s close to them and says that they’re still with them, I’ve always thought that was bullshit or whatever. But I was out in the garage and working on an arrangement for a song that turned into either ‘The Devil In I’ or ‘Sarcastrophe’. Normally when I write, I throw down the first thing I come up with, then I double it, then I throw a bass on it, and then I put the drums around it. But on this arrangement, I noticed that I wasn’t just throwing the riff down — I was trying different variations on it, trying different positions on the neck, and thinking about melodies while coming up with what the chord progression was going to be…
“I suddenly realized, ‘Fuck, man! That’s what Paul used to do!’ Paul was so meticulous. He would overthink everything, even if it was just how to get from one chord to the next chord. He would explore every possibility on the fretboard, especially if he was writing it on the guitar. And it made me go, He’s here, man — he’s helping me write this shit! And it blew my fucking mind. I had to put my guitar down, and I put my head in my hands. I was like, ‘You fucker!'”
“.5: The Gray Chapter” will be released on October 21 via Roadrunner. It is Slipknot‘s first without album without Paul Gray and drummer Joey Jordison, who was fired from the band in December.