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Q&A;: Corey Taylor on his ghosts and his new book

Corey Taylor, lead singer of Slipknot and Stone Sour, has written his second book, tackling the world of the paranormal.
(Chapman Baehler / Da Capo Press)

Although music fans know him as the lead singer of Slipknot and Stone Sour, Corey Taylor cracked the bestseller list last year with his book “Seven Deadly Sins: Settling The Argument Between Born Bad And Damaged Good.”

In his newly published second book, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven (Or, How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process),” Taylor tackles the world of the paranormal. “If religion were a lounge singer, then the paranormal would be a rock star,” he writes in the book’s introduction.

Drawing upon his numerous spiritual encounters – some that he pursued with friends and others that he stumbled upon accidentally – Taylor explains how he, a vocal atheist, could also believe in these ghosts. Unsatisfied with existing explanations of spirits, he also navigates through various scientific theories to share his own hypotheses.

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In a phone interview, Taylor discussed ghost children, spook hunting and whether he believes in aliens.

Taylor will be discussing and signing his new book at Book Soup in West Hollywood on Friday at 7 p.m.

Why did you decide to explore ghosts in your second book?

I realized that I’ve got all of these various experiences with hauntings and spirits and things like that, and I was like, “Well, there’s half the book right there ... what would make it different? What would make it interesting?”

I came to the conclusion that if I wrote from ... a kind of unique standpoint to figure out what that kind of energy is, while also trying to figure out why I’m so ... interested in the paranormal and yet not at all a religious person ... well that’s kind of a unique conversation to start.

Is it difficult for people to reconcile that you are an atheist who believes in ghosts?

It seems like there’s two factions.... The skeptics that [insist] there’s no such thing as ghosts, there’s no such thing as god ... there’s nothing that science can’t disprove or prove. I’ve always kind of leaned a little closer to that side of the fence.... Then you have the religious side of the fence ... whether that’s organized religion or the mythological side ... where there’s a folklore kind of vibe to the way they try to explain things.

I wasn’t satisfied with any of the answers that I was getting ... so it was me basically going, “I need to kind of figure it out because this is something I truly believe in and ... that I can’t explain.”

Do you think ghosts are malevolent?

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve only ever had one experience with a spirit that I felt was malevolent, and even to this day I’m not really sure if it was or if it wasn’t. I think spirits are confused for the most part because they are in an existence that they never really understood….

In the book I talk about the kids in my current house. Little kids’ spirits that are in my house, which immediately freaks people out.... For the most part it’s fairly innocent. They move things around. They run up behind people on the hardwood floors so that you can ... really hear it, and then you turn around and there’s nothing there.

One of the things that I try to say in the book is that unless it’s really overtly chaotic, and you’re kind of living at the epicenter of what would basically be a spiritual tornado … as long as you can kind of get a handle on it in your head and accept the fact that these things are happening, you should be able to coexist with it.

In the book you sort of assemble your friends and go ghost hunting. Do you do it regularly or was it just for the book?

I’d done it a couple of times before I wrote the book and ... when I was about halfway through the book I realized ... I want[ed] to go out on a couple of these.... My schedule really only allowed me to do one because I’d had a little bit of time at home and so I got a bunch of my friends together and we went to this schoolhouse just outside of Farrar, Iowa.... It was interesting to say the least.

People talk about the witching hour, when things really start to kind of go haywire, and man, I’m telling you right now, we were there for a few hours and we were really kind of walking though, and checking it out ... and it seemed like all hell kind of broke loose around ... 11 or midnight -- somewhere in there.

Listening back to the evidence and looking at some of the footage and whatnot, it was really weird because there were a handful of hours where just nothing was going on ... and then just all of a sudden all these things really just started happening.

The one thing that really scared the crap out of me was when the file cabinet slammed really hard. Remember we were the only people in this building.... There was only one way in that didn’t lock from the outside and we were all together in one room and then all of a sudden from a room not only a floor down but clear on the other side of the school, a file cabinet just slammed shut....

We all ran as one, freaking out. It was pretty fantastic.

Are there any other unexplained phenomena that interest you?

I do definitely believe that there is life away from this planet. I mean, we’ve kind of established that with the fact that we found bacteria on meteorites and we’ve kind of used that to backtrack and show how this Earth, this planet could have formed the ability to sustain life in the first place.

Do I believe we’re being visited? I don’t know. I love watching those shows ... and I kind of said this in the book but I’m a huge fan of “Ancient Aliens.” Just for the absurdity part of it. If you’re going to draw the alien line pretty much through all of history from Nazis to the Aztecs, that’s entertainment for me. The great thing is, the crazier the idea, the crazier the haircut is on the person who’s giving it, and I love that. You feel like you’re learning something and it’s all popcorn. You know, it’s all entertainment.

This planet is full of amazing things [and] I would rather concentrate on that than trying to shut down the fact that maybe this planet is a little more mediocre than we believe. I refuse to believe that. So am I looking for a sasquatch? No. But you know, stranger things have happened.

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