Patrick Douglas of The Culture Shock recently conducted an interview with former AUDIOSLAVE/SOUNDGARDEN frontman Chris Cornell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
The Culture Shock: I saw you with AUDIOSLAVE a couple of times and the last one was during the leg where you were incorporating some SOUNDGARDEN songs into it. How invigorating is it for you to be able to go into a set list now and, like you said, go into any point in your career and say "I'm gonna pull this song out tonight?"
Cornell: It's pretty great. The only constraints have literally been time. We were just in New York and we were doing a lot of shows that were festivals and we didn't have soundchecks and I like to do long soundchecks. I don't care. Like two hours sometimes. That's kind of where we'll get to literally go in and start learning songs from my back catalog. And we haven't had a lot of that. We haven't actually been able to add songs as quickly as I would like to. I keep going online and getting collections of all the song titles from all the records and I just go through them because there's so many of them ‘cause I forget songs and fans will sometimes say "I wish you would play that," and I'm like "Yeah, that'd be great." And we don't know it yet. Soundchecks have become rehearsals where we have to rehearse … because we know so many songs now, we have to rehearse some of them that we haven't played in awhile so we don't forget them. Then we have to dig up some new things and get through those and then we have new songs to perform. Part of me feels like I could go out on a tour and do something … I've seen ELVIS COSTELLO do this sort of ATTRACTIONS-type tour where he would go out and play nothing but songs from the first two albums, which is pretty much stripped down, punk rock ELVIS COSTELLO and then I've seen him on tours where it's literally the opposite of that. I have the ability to totally do that. I'm not doing that now. Now, it's just kind of from beginning to end, it's just incorporating as much as I can of the different fields of songs that I've done over the years and trying to make that fit into two hours and make some sense.
The Culture Shock: People are starting to look back at the early '90s rock movement the way people looked back at the '70s bands back then. In the movie "Singles", Cliff is venting and saying, "Where is the 'Smoke on the Water'? Where is the 'Misty Mountain Hop'?" It's kind of ironic because the next great movement was actually happening around him, literally. How do you look back and reflect on those days when you were in SOUNDGARDEN and the world's rock and roll eyes became transfixed on you and your band?
Cornell: I think of it as being really exciting, really chaotic, kind of terrifying. There's a lot, I think, that we had to prove. That I had to prove, especially. From the time SOUNDGARDEN started, we got this type of encouragement that included "You guys can be the future of rock music. You guys can be, ten years from now, the kind of band that's selling out stadiums. You guys can be the future of rock." We didn't assemble as a band to do that. So it was sort of like this new idea and suddenly it became, not just SOUNDGARDEN, but all of our friends and their bands too. Then suddenly, it was sort of accepted worldwide, which is an insane thing because it all happened to us simultaneously. But then it was also sort of cynically possible that really it's all happening because you're all doing it at the same time. It's all happening because you're all together and you're all from the same place. Not because you're a great band or because you can write great songs and can make great records. As much as it was an exciting period, it was also a really huge proving ground where we had to go in and make great records and prove that it wasn't that we were just part of a fad and that's why people buy our records. It's because we're talented songwriters and a great rock band. And we did that. I think a lot of people think that if you're successful as a recording artist, it's over. You've achieved what you've spent your whole life to do, but really it's kind of a beginning. I look at that period as being pretty stressful, pretty crazy, but also pretty exciting.
Read the entire interview at www.thecultureshock.com.