Dear Guitar Hero: Jim Root and Josh Rand

They’re named for a drink and related to a band of mask-wearing dudes from Des Moines. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is…

What were some of the ideas behind the writing and recording of the new Stone Sour album, Audio Secrecy? —Ronnie Stahl

JIM ROOT It was fueled by a little anger, a little insecurity, a little bit of God complex, like, “This is the greatest shit in the world”—along with feeling like, “I don’t know if this shit’s worth anything.” [laughs] I was kind of right on the fence with everything, so every day was a different emotion. I’m my own worst critic.

JOSH RAND It was definitely a trying process this time around. The whole idea for us was not to recreate [2006’s] Come What(ever) May. On a couple of occasions, someone submitted a song—all five of us in the group write—and the other guys would be like, “We’ve already been there, done that.” As the writer of the song, that kind of thing can make you a little angry. I would say that between writing, preproduction and recording, we experienced every emotion possible.

What were your main guitar and amp setups when recording Audio Secrecy? —Raymond Scott

ROOT We had an endless list of amps and guitars at our disposal. My main guitar for the heavy tracks was my prototype white Telecaster. For clean guitar tones, I used a Strat and my Gretsch Brian Setzer model.

My basic amp setup for heavy tones was an Orange Rockerverb 100 with a Bogner Uberschall that was modded for me. The Orange went through an Orange cabinet, and the Uberschall went through an older Marshall cabinet loaded with Greenbacks. We used a Little Labs PCP [guitar splitter] to blend my guitar’s signal with those two amps. I also used a Budda combo on a lot of stuff. For the cleaner stuff, my amps were a late-Sixties Vox AC30 combo and a Bat Cat Hot Cat.

RAND My main guitar was a candy-apple PRS and a Hughes & Kettner Triamp. That was my main guitar for recording. And it’s the same live.

Josh, since Jim also plays guitar in Slipknot, does he ever write something that you think just isn’t right for Stone Sour? —Dan C.

RAND Actually, I’m the one who brings all the heavy stuff to Stone Sour. A perfect example is the song “The Pessimist,” which hasn’t been released yet. It’s actually the heaviest, fastest song that we’ve ever done, which is sort of why it got shelved. I used the Hindu scale for the solo, and I consider it the best solo I’ve recorded. It’s probably the fastest solo I’ve ever played, and I even harmonized it in thirds. It’s pretty cool. But of course it probably will never come out. [laughs]

What is the origin of the name Stone Sour? —Kevin

RAND I wasn’t in the band at the time, but according to the story, the band had a meeting to come up with a name. The original drummer, Joel Ekman, brought a drink menu to help get some ideas going. Corey liked Stone Sour—he thought the name stuck out.

ROOT [laughs] There was a point in time where we were trying to change the name before we put out the first record. We considered all sorts of names—everything from Tarantula Bomb to Superego to Section 8. Some of them were already taken, and some of them were kind of campy sounding. So we just decided to stick with Stone Sour. After all, what’s in a name?

How do you guys split up the guitar duties in the studio? —Nicholas Zarahrias

RAND We just play. Jim likes to do all the ear candy and overlaying, and I usually play the main rhythm track. As for solos, we tend to split them up. On the first two records, whoever wrote the song played the solo, but this time around, Nick [Raskulinecz, producer] divided them up between us. I initially wasn’t going to play any solos on this record, but I was forced to. [laughs] I played the solos on “Bitter End,” “Perfect” and the first half of “Mission Statement.” I’ve already proven to myself that I can play fast, so this time out I wanted to work on some voicings and things that I needed to improve upon.

ROOT In fact, Corey [Taylor, vocalist] plays a solo on “Pieces.” Originally, I was gonna play it, but it was one of those days when I was off doing something else. Because of time constraints, Nick decided to have Corey do it. It’s a good solo—it’s pentatonic, which is the way Corey plays—and it really fits the song, and that’s all that matters.

Jim, in Slipknot you guys wear masks, but Stone Sour doesn’t. Is it weird to go from one to the other? —Robert Wilson Jr.

ROOT It’s absolutely weird, and every time we switch gears to do an album with Stone Sour, it’s something I kind of freak out about. I’m just starting to feel comfortable in my own skin without a mask onstage. When you’ve got a mask on, you’re kind of invincible. It’s almost like nobody can see you, and you can do what you want to do without consequences. But when you don’t have it on, you kind of feel naked up there. It is a bit weird.

Josh, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in the audience while playing? —Jon

RAND It would probably be the two lesbians who sat right in front of me at one of the shows on the last tour. They actually got removed, because they started taking off clothes and were just going for it. Security came and took them away. I really didn’t move very much during that show. [laughs] I was like, Wow, this is insane!

Jim, what was your fondest memory of your Slipknot bandmate Paul Gray, who recently passed away? —Lisa D.

ROOT Probably one of the greatest things about Paul was that he had so much love for everything. I know that he would have been the guy that would have listened to our record and genuinely been really into it. And he would have had a lot to say about the recording and the writing and some of the melodies. It’s his genuine love of people that I really remember.

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