Apr 24, 2007

Chris Cornell - Interview

By Bob Suehs

www.rocknrollexperience.com

Chris Cornell

April 24, 2007

Ram’s Head Live

Baltimore, Maryland

Being the core of Rock N Roll Experience is an interesting “job” for sure...no one really gets that I do Rock N Roll Experience simply for the love of the music...I don’t get paid ANYTHING to do it, & the only perks are free cd’s & I get to review shows & take pics & interview bands, and before anyone thinks that I’m bitching, I’m honestly not, I LOVE this music & I support what I believe in, else wise there would be no Rock N Roll Experience. Believe me, there are times I think about just letting it go, but then when I have a night like I did at the Chris Cornell show, it makes it all worthwhile, because the world isn’t full of bad vibes, even worse, bad people, & rock n roll is not all the cliche’ that the media would have you believe, I mean you can buy into that hype & think it’s more than it is, BUT, when I covered the Chris Cornell show on 4/24/07 in Baltimore, I will tell you that Mr. Cornell had NO attitudes, he’s super lax & more down to earth than you could ever believe, & even the crowd was mellow & was surprised that there were no mosh pits, no fighting, & as much as I hate to say it, the grunge crowd from the 90’s kinda got older, mellowed out & became almost hippie like!

As I was escorted in to the backstage area to do my sit down interview with Chris Cornell, I was a little nervous at first, because I didn’t know if he was going to be an arrogant rock star prick, or if he was going to be short with me, or if he would even give me a good interview & treat me decent since I am younger than alot of people who probably interview him, but I have to tell you, upon entire his dressing room, Chris was setting on a leather couch, watching a baseball game, & my first thought was, Holy shit, this is the “man” & he’s just setting here, calm, cool, collected, & after shaking his hand I realized that this was going to be a great interview, because Chris Cornell comes off very warm, friendly & insightful, which is rare for a rockstar of his caliper! Ok, so this is what me & Chris talked about:

Rock N Roll Experience: “How did you get Yogi from Buckcherry as a member in your current touring band?”

Chris: Just the normal audition process...he was actually the last guy that I chose, like I kinda needed a second guy & he was like out of town & I didn’t know him or know anything about him but I had heard “oh, I think this guy will be really great for you & your band” so then, I don’t think he had slept...he came back from some place he was hanging out & he hadn’t slept & he didn’t talk much, he just sorta came in & played & he played “Like A Stone” & there’s that solo where like alot of different people I had auditioned were all trying to play it like Tom Morello plays it with the red whammy pedal & he just fucking blew this solo over & it was really great & I just thought, I like him, I want him to be in my band.

Rock N Roll Experience: “So you didn’t know Yogi from his work with Buckcherry?”

Chris: No, I didn’t know anyone from Buckcherry

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Rock N Roll Experience: Do you feel that Yogi adds alot to the band?

Chris: Yeah, infact, I think I’m really fortunate..this band is great. It’s hard to even know what to say, because when you go out on the road with this solo thing & you bring your band, especially with this 20 year history, I’m as excited about this band as I was when I started with Audioslave...to me, it’s no different..it’s like playing with people...great musicians that I’ve never met before & that’s what Audioslave was. I have this constant kinda want, to go up onstage & be like, this is a fucking amazing band & the audience really is kinda responding like that to these guys & there’s probably some haters & some people who think these guys are a hired band, but that’s bullshit really, because it’s not like that, it’s not like somebody else put them together, it was a group of people that really got & understood my songs from as far back as 1990 to all the way up to my new record & people who’s personalities kinda fit together, which is important..this is important as working with me & then having it on a gut level would be great & believe me, it wasn’t happening for a while & this group of dudes really made it all come together, so I’m pretty thrilled

Rock N Roll Experience: “So you’re not jaded by music at all then?”

Chris: No, not at all...I think maybe people can get into a bad relationship with music on a personal level & I felt that way when I was having like my worst time with drugs & alcohol & depression...I felt like my relationship with music wasn’t a good one, but it was personal, it wasn’t, & I knew it was like, I’m not fucking participating in it correctly & I’m removing myself from it & I’m making it impossible to have a connection or some sorta open condo lit to an art form & that was my fault, but I did see it down that road, like yet there’s many ways to be a musician & have a bad relationship with music. Anger is probably the best one...failure, doing something that you think is great & having other people say they don’t like it & then you get pissed off & that can create how you write & that’s the big no-no, don’t let that happen. I always felt like Kurt Cobain did that a little bit, like he responded to huge success by writing differently in a sense & so in a sense he kinda let that change how he wrote & I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I felt that, or I remember thinking that could be a pitfall, it could be something that could happen to you.

Rock N Roll Experience: “You brought up Kurt Cobain, so do you think that drugs kinda killed the Seattle Grunge scene?”

Chris: No, I think every music scene has its connection to drugs & drugs have a bad effect in any situation, even outside of music, but it’s definitely easier to have long term problems & exist as a musician & no one is going to fire you from your job if you’re fucked up, ha ha, it’s sorta expected! I was one of the together ones really, I was able to do what I did & I didn’t cause that much trouble until it was really mental & physical degeneration that fucked me up. I think that, if you wanted to look at it as, ok, here’s some Seattle bands that formed what we are gonna call Grunge & it’s like the main ones, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam...should they all have been like The Who, Led Zeppelin & The Stones & U2 & just all stay together in that form & tour & that’s sorta having a preconceived idea of what it is & therefore if it’s not then it’s dead, but I don’t really see it that way. I’ve always felt like the people who are there in the beginning should be doing something vital in music always & like Pearl Jam for example, they don’t fit the template for like The Who, The Rolling Stones, & yet they keep making vital records & they keep touring & they keep playing infront of lots of people the way they do it & it’s great & they drew that line in the sand with their first record...”Jeremy” was like that last normal, here we are, doing our promotion the way most bands do it, video, that they ever made, they changed the way they worked, & have been very consistent about that attitude which is really great & it is a different way of doing it & I’ve been more schizophrenic I think in my approach..I don’t think Soundgarden..once we walked on the first stage that Guns N Roses owned & looked at where that can go, we all looked at each other & said, This isn’t gonna work for us, ha ha, it just wasn’t us & ultimately, we sorta hung it up when we thought it was at a high moment & I don’t think any of us felt like continually moving on as being that thing & we played every place we could play & we had done everything that we wanted to do & since then, for me, it’s been just like chasing the music & songs & I still think that U2 makes great songs, I still think that’s a band that I think is just fantastic, but, I also think that if there’s always a sorta formula that is comparable to something like The Rolling Stones, or The Who, or AC/DC is another great example, it’s like we can trust them, they are always gonna be “that” & they are always gonna be there for us when God lets us down....I’m a little bit more..I’m never gonna be that guy, I’m just gonna be chasing the musical ideas & making records & going out & performing & Aerosmith is another band like that I think..you can count on them, which I think is great...

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Rock N Roll Experience: But Aerosmith has changed so much since the 70’s

Chris: Yeah, they did, alot..& you know what, it’s never too late to change back, I mean they are all the same people, they can do that..they can make funky, bad-assed rock records again, there’s nothing stopping them. If I were in that band, I would be that guy, like every time we got together I’d be saying Let’s try this, do that, do that, ha ha, & be the annoying guy & then we’d break up ha ha.

Rock N Roll Experience: “How did you beat your addictions?”

Chris: It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better. Going through rehab, honestly, did help, & I’m not....it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression & either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them & you know, they give you such a simple message that any idiot can get & it’s just over & over, but the bottom line is really, & this is the part that is scary for everyone, The individual kinda has to want it...not kinda, you have to want it & to not do that crap anymore or you will never stop & it will just kill you. There’s nothing you can do..if you’re best friend has a problem & it’s very serious, there’s nothing you’re going to be able to do about it & it was sad for me & the people around me Sad for me when friends of mine died because of it & but one thing, & I’ve gotta say this, because I never get preachy about this, but the friends of mine that told me, Yeah, you feel really shitty right now, don’t you? ... Yeah, I do..it’s really bad!, & they would say, you know, as long as you just kinda stay off all this, eventually all of that will go away, but you have to believe it because it’s not going to happen quick & there’s a decadence in like alcohol & drug abuse where you’re like tweaking your physiology immediately & changing your mood immediately & you get used to that, & when someone is telling you that it’s gonna take you 5 years to feel normal, that seems like forever, but now, I think of the day that I walked out of rehab now...I’m remarried, I have 2 children, I have a 2 1/2 year old girl & a 1 1/2 year old boy, I moved & live between Paris & Los Angeles, I’ve made 3 records, & toured on 4 records since then & time is not that long...time goes by & now I’m the most focused I have ever been, the most prolithic song writer that I have ever been, which is actually saying alot because in the early 90’s I was really prolithic, but I’m even more so now...not more so like creative, but I just have focus to actualize & sorta bring it in & turn it into something, & I feel much better on stage. Back in the day when I was sorta going overboard, it was really hit & miss & now I feel consistent & I’m always pushing the envelope & feeling younger now than I did when I was actually young which is pretty interesting. I think at some point, alcohol abuse got me to a point of just maintaining where I was & that was hard enough.

After my interview with Chris, Chris left the venue to get his dinner...fyi, he ordered a Crab Cake for those who care about that sorta thing, & I went into the venue to await Chris’ live show! The crowd was interesting, mostly older, & the first thought that came to my mind was, OMG, the grunge crowd are a mix of modern day hippies & yuppies! I know that’s kinda harsh, but I’m so used to going to rock shows where the crowd is slightly different..this crowd reminded me of the Candlebox crowd last year...it was definitely the Grunge-leftovers & die hard Soundgarden/Audioslave/Cornell fans who wanted to hear Chris’s amazing voice!

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The band finally took the stage a little after 9 PM with no opening act & they opened with “Cochise” which was a great rocker to start things off with! I actually got a copy of the set list & it was as follows:

Cochise

Original Fire

Outshined

Hunger Strike

No Such Thing

Fell On Black Days

Like A Stone

Seasons

Doesn’t Remind Me

Spoonman

Your Soul Today

Say Hello To Heaven

What You Are

Rusty Cage

Sunshower

You Know My Name

Black Hole Sun

Billy Jean

Jesus Christ Pose

I have to admit that the absolute highlight of the night, atleast for me was, when I was interviewing Chris, I asked him if they were playing “Say Hello To Heaven” & he said they had done it a few times but not often & Chris goes, “Would you like us to play it tonight?” & of course I said, “YES!” & I kinda thought that he was messing with me, because other bands have said this before & never played the song I asked about, BUT, sure enough, midway through the set, Chris says, “I Met a guy today who asked me to play this song” & the band started “Say Hello To Heaven” which happens to be my personal favorite off the Temple of the Dog CD & for that, I can’t thank you enough Chris, you gave me a story I can talk about for the rest of my life!

Back to the show though, Chris’ band is amazing, they play every song in their own style, but pretty damn close to the original recorded version, & if you just heard the audio, you’d never know that these guys didn’t record the original versions! All in all, this was one of the best shows EVER & I can’t stress to you enough that Chris Cornell has one of the most amazing voices in rock music & through his 20 years of making music, he’s made a legacy that few, if any other’s can even come close to emulating!