Interview: Stone Sour, In This Moment, and Hell or Highwater Talk Road to the Golden Gods Tour

By Jon Wiederhorn

This year’s Golden Gods Awards ceremony was like no other. Former-Pantera members Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown took the stage with Anthrax for a crushing version of “This Love” from Pantera’s untouchable Vulgar Display of Power; Rob Halford performed with Five Finger Death Punch and Metallica, the latter for a cover of Priest’s “Rapid Fire” from their equally important British Steel. Deftones’ Chino Moreno joined a bloodied Dillinger Escape Plan for a metallized rendition of Depeche Mode’s “Behind the Wheel.” Members of Slipknot appeared with Stone Sour as they cranked out Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave.” And David Draiman, of Disturbed and Device, took the stage with Halestorm for a version of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Whole Lotta Love” from Led Zeppelin II. You can watch footage of all the madness right here.

For most musicians at the event, the trip to Hollywood’s Club Nokia was the culmination of a relatively short journey. But for Stone Sour, In This Moment, and Hell or Highwater, the trip to the award show began with the Road to the Golden Gods, a 13-date tour that launched in Portland, Maine’s State Theatre on April 2 and ran through April 27 in Jacksonville Metro Park.

The event was sponsored by Epiphone and the lineup was handpicked by Stone Sour, who considered various groups from different metal subgenres “We wanted to make sure the bands we brought out were not only good, but also something different,” says vocalist Corey Taylor. “There’s nothing worse than going to a show and hearing the same style of music all the way through. It’s like listening to machine gun firing constantly. But because we embrace so many styles, we wanted to make sure the other bands covered that spectrum as well.”

Stone Sour also wanted to make sure they would get along well with the other bands on the tour. Taylor knew In This Moment from years of playing festivals and radio shows together and always got along well with the band members, especially their vocalist Maria Brink. “She’s an amazing performer,” Taylor says. “She’s really creative and she gave it everything she had every night.”

“I think me and Corey have a real kinship because we’ve both been through a lot in our lives and that emotion comes across in our songs,” Brink says. “It was really great to be on the road with them and watch Stone Sour. Corey’s one of the most confident performers and he controls the crowd so naturally. I find him super-inspiring to watch.”

The love fest lasted for the whole tour, partially because Brink knows the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. “Maria got us a box of kick-ass cupcakes as a thank you present for having them on the tour,” Taylor enthuses. “I went, ‘Well, you didn’t have to do that, but I love cupcakes. I’m gonna eat 12 of these damn things.’ They were so good.”

For Hell or Highwater, which features Atreyu drummer Brandon Saller on guitar and vocals, the Road to the Golden Gods was a great opportunity to showcase a group that many metalcore fans didn’t know existed. Unlike the scream-dominated Atreyu, Hell or Highwater play vibrant, hook-laden hard rock with strong vocal harmonies, kind of like a cross between Weezer and the Foo Fighters. “This was definitely the best tour we’ve been on,” Saller says. “The crowd was really responsive. We had great shows every night and we really got close to everyone in Stone Sour.”

During a day off on the way to Florida, members of Hell or Highwater went to Stone Sour and Slipknot guitarist Jim Root’s house, ate sushi, sat around a bonfire, and played guitar. “Stuff like that doesn’t usually happen on tours, especially when you’re the opening band,” Saller says. “We made friends from day one, which was awesome.”

In addition to adding musical variety to the Road to the Golden Gods tour, Hell or Highwater introduced the Stone Sour and In This Moment camps to an addictive tour game they invented that’s kind of like rock-and-roll hot potato, where everyone tries to pass off a single hotel key card to someone else without them noticing.

“We taped hotel keys to Stone Sour’s snare drum and all kinds of stupid things,” Saller says. “There’s no point to the game, but in the end, once you get stuck with it, it’s yours.”

“That was funny as hell,” Taylor says. “I had already passed it to somebody. And somehow our monitor guy ended up with it. Then that cheeky bastard stuck it in the pick holder that was on my microphone stand. So when I walked out to do ‘Bother,’ there’s that bastard card key. I just shook my head and was like, ‘Oh, godammit. You fuckin’ nailed me. I lose.’”

 

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