July 31, 2018 Interview – Roy Mayorga of Stone Sour
When compiling a list of some of the more consistent, successful, and memorable Hard Rock/Metal bands to emerge over the past fifteen years, Stone Sour is a name that immediately comes to mind. Founded by Corey Taylor, pre-Slipknot, Stone Sour would arrive on the mainstream international stage with their 2002 self-titled album. A debut which caught many by surprise, all these years later, they have built a career that is both impressive and vital with six studio albums, a ton of touring, and a list of accolades which includes three Grammy nominations.
Heavy, melodic, and at times melancholy, Stone Sour continue to blaze a path with the forthcoming deluxe edition release of their internationally praised 2017 album, Hydrograd. Additionally, they are out on tour late summer into fall, on their own, as well as supporting the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, for six weeks on what is to be his final world tour. Gearing up for a busy time for the band, longtime Drummer Roy Mayorga sat down to chat about his tenure in Stone Sour, what he has learned from his three decade long career, the work behind Hydrograd, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in Rock and Metal professionally for over three decades now. From Nausea to Soulfly and Stone Sour, briefly tell us, how would you describe your career in music?
Roy Mayorga – Well, there’s many different sides to it. Thirty years ago, I started in the more underground Punk scene playing drums in bands and evolved from there. I found my way into more Industrial/Electronic music in the ’90s and then found my way into more Metal when I joined with Max Cavalera and Soulfly. I have done many different projects, sessions, and found my way here to Stone Sour. There are a lot of details involved, there are a lot of things that I have done in between that would take me forever to explain. (Laughs) I think that’s the best way to put it together.
CrypticRock.com – You certainly have done a lot through the years. You joined up with Stone Sour back in 2006 and have been a part of five studio records and heavy touring. What has your time in Stone Sour been like?
Roy Mayorga – It’s been great! It’s probably the longest I’ve been with any band and definitely one of the most successful bands I have been a part of in my career. Being able to get out there and connect with the guys in the band, really play stuff from the heart, and really give it everything you’ve got, it’s been hard to find that kind of group for the longest time. I finally I found that thirteen years ago, and here we are.
CrypticRock.com – It is great that you found a place you can call home. The band is actually set to release a deluxe edition of the 2017’s Hydrograd coming out on August 31st which includes B-sides, acoustic versions, plus more. This is a record that was very well-received by fans and critics alike. What was the writing and recording like this go around?
Roy Mayorga – It was great. Obviously there was a lineup change in the last couple of years so this was a really good way of everyone getting together and getting to know each other musically. Prior to that, we were doing those covers EPs and I think that is what really set it off for us to do this record in this fashion of recording live together – that is how we did the demos and covers EPs. We approached that the same way in the studio for Hydrograd. It gave us a more natural, organic kind of life to the music that we are making right now.
It was a great experience, I haven’t made a record like that in a really long time. The last time I made a record like that was on the first Soulfly record where everybody was live in the room. We made several takes of the song, went with one master take, and built on top of that. That’s how they used to make records back in the day and that is basically what we did with Hydrograd. I am pretty proud that we achieved that.
CrypticRock.com – That is an intangible that gives a life to an album. You can feel it when the album sounds more live. The band has some shows coming up in August including a list of shows with Ozzy Osbourne. How excited are you for the forthcoming run of shows?
Roy Mayorga – I can’t even describe how excited I am, it’s going to be great! To watch Ozzy everyday for six weeks, it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s definitely an honor to be opening up for him for his last farewell tour. I am pretty stoked, everybody is, everyone’s a fan of Ozzy and Black Sabbath. It’s the best thing for us ever.
CrypticRock.com – It should be a great run. Stone Sour has been very prolific through the years releasing albums, EPs, etc. What do you think has been the key to the band’s consistent inspiration?
Roy Mayorga – Everyone’s an individual in this band, everyone has their own inspirations. For me personally, my inspiration is I just love to play music, I love to play drums. When I hear music, whether it’s Classic, Opera, soundtrack music, or newer bands coming out, that always keeps me going.
CrypticRock.com – You have actually worked in film scoring in the past. Have you considered doing more of that in the future?
Roy Mayorga – Absolutely. I am going to be working on some stuff once Stone Sour has stopped touring. I am going to be basically knee deep in that world. I am also going to be working on a solo record of just that type of cinematic music that is more modular, analog, synth-driven with drums and just instrumental. A nice 40-minute piece of music that has a lot hills and valleys. I am currently working on a lot of that stuff now on our break.
I’ve written a lot of sketches through the last couple of years on the road, on my break, and kind of put them on the shelf. I was going to get back to those, pull them back off the hard drive and start working on them when I have some time. I’m going to be dabbling in that big time.
CrypticRock.com – That is something to look forward to. It is something different.
Roy Mayorga – I’m looking also to perform this stuff live eventually as well.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool! As mentioned, you have worked with various other bands through the years. Everyone has their own style and process. What do you think are some of the most important things you have learned from your varied experiences?
Roy Mayorga – I have definitely learned to be the time keeper in the band – not to overplay or be too flashy. Not to step on certain parts of music that are really important in letting vocals shine, just filling in holes where they need to be filled. Always listen to the producer, always listen to your band, keep your ego at the door. I’m always learning, there is always something for me to learn, there is always room for improvement. Just play the game, there is no I in team, just be a part of the team.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that makes for the best music when everyone works together. As a drummer, your work has always stuck out in the recordings. Working on albums, do you work with engineers on the sound of the drums?
Roy Mayorga – I think the sound comes more from the person hitting the drums. Everybody sounds different behind a drum kit. What’s cool, the producers and engineers, basically throw the mics up, I hit them until they feel it sounds right. They drive the mic preamps how they want to drive them, and that is basically the core of the sound right there – how you tune them, how you hit them. It definitely comes from the individual, the sound comes more from who’s playing the instrument. Every instrument is expressive and it’s part of the person’s personality.
CrypticRock.com – Most certainly, and you can hear that with each recording. Last question. CrypticRock also covers Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?
Roy Mayorga – I’m a huge fan of Science Fiction and Horror. My favorites? If I had to pick, that’s a hard one, because I love so many different Horror films and soundtracks. I can pick two, The Shining (1980) and John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980).
For Science Fiction, I really love Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack to Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982). Blade Runner is my ultimate favorite soundtrack as well, I love anything Vangelis has done after that as well.
CrypticRock.com – Some good selections. Did you happen to see Blade Runner 2049 which came out in 2017?
Roy Mayorga – I did and I loved it! As a hardcore Blade Runner fan from the get go, I can say I loved everything about it. I loved the story, the soundtrack, everything about it. Nothing stuck out in it to me whatsoever, I thought it was a perfectly made movie.
CrypticRock.com – They did a good job, it stands alone on its own and it fits well. It was a great follow-up too. Carpenter’s The Fog is an interesting pick, a good one no less. What did you think of The Thing (1982)?
Roy Mayorga – The reason why I picked The Fog, because that is the soundtrack that stuck out to me first because it was something he did. I love The Thing, that was Ennio Morricone, an amazing soundtrack too. I love The Thing, but there is something about The Fog that I had more admiration for. It was one of the first Carpenter films I saw in the theaters when I was a kid, that made a huge impact on me. Both that and The Shining.
I was lucky enough to see them at that time and pretty much started my obsession to become a film composer in the future and collect synthesizers. I pretty much have all hardware synthesizers, I don’t use any software at all. I use pretty much all hardware.