Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic recently conducted an interview with SOUNDGARDEN/ex-AUDIOSLAVE singer Chris Cornell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Arizona Republic: What inspired you to reinvent these songs acoustically [Cornell‘s current tour sees him recasting songs from his career in stripped-down, unplugged treatments, as captured on the recently released live album “Songbook”.]
Cornell: I’ve written a lot of songs on acoustic and done a lot of demos that were just that, really. “Seasons” (from the Cameron Crowe film “Singles”) was the first time I had done that where a lot of people heard it, but even previous to SOUNDGARDEN releasing anything, I had acoustic songs that were kind of psychedelic in nature that would get played on KCMU, the local college station. I recorded them on four-track, and I knew some of the DJs. Kim Thayil was a DJ there for a while. But SOUNDGARDEN is what I was concentrating on, and SOUNDGARDEN wasn’t a band that was going to embrace acoustic songs.
The Arizona Republic: So how did you decide to do a full tour that way?
Cornell: When I was in AUDIOSLAVE, I started out doing one or two acoustic songs in the middle of the set, and it ended up being five or six. I like that feeling, in the middle of a rock show, to be able to strip it down to one guy and a guitar. And I started doing that on my solo tours even when I had a band out with me. I would do a long acoustic set in the middle. Then, I did this show in Stockholm a few years back that was recorded, and when I got back to the U.S., some of it was being played on the radio. And at that point, I just felt like, OK, people obviously want to hear me do this. So I did a few shows in Los Angeles over the last couple years, and they were great. But it was still not me taking it out on the road and discovering what it could be. So at some point I thought I’m just gonna book a 25-date tour and see what this becomes. And that’s what “Songbook” was.
The Arizona Republic: What brought you back around to SOUNDGARDEN?
Cornell: It seemed to reveal itself that our music was lasting, it was aging well, and we were actually getting new fans and still had the old fans, but no one was really servicing the legacy. At all. And it kind of occurred to us that that was gonna have to be our responsibility. Having young children, I would go into a store with baby clothes and I would see RAMONES T-shirts, and I would think, “That’s so great. I can buy RAMONES T-shirts for my children.” But there’s no SOUNDGARDEN T-shirts (laughs). So we started taking meetings, trying to figure out what were the different things that we would want to try to do, which led to conversations of maybe playing a show. And once we were playing together, we started working on ideas for new music. It was also fun because we were going back and relearning arrangements from songs that were written and recorded so long ago. I hadn’t really listened to some of that in years, and I suddenly became really proud of us and the decisions that we made, of who we were and what we’d done. Some of the vocal performances were a little embarrassing to me because I was a 23-year-old kid and I wouldn’t make those same decisions now. But in terms of the songwriting and song arrangements and production, I felt like we did great.
Read the entire interview from The Arizona Republic.