Chris Cornell Interview
MTV News bagged a chat with the influential rocker whose new album is a collaboration with Timbaland
Chris Cornell was at the forefront of grunge as frontman for Soundgarden in the early 90s. Later he hooked up with most of Rage Against The Machine to form Audioslave and had more success.
In between the 44 year old Seattle native has also had solo success working on Soundtracks including James Bond movie Casino Royale.
Now hes starting a new phase of his career hooking up with super-producer Timbaland for his new album Scream- which is released March 9. The record is apparently influenced by Pink Floyds classic concept album The Wall. We caught up with Cornell on the phone from the States.
MTV: Hi Chris, what have you been up to lately?
CC: I did an eight show tour of the US where I played the whole of the album and it was really interesting to play the new music.
This is my 15th album and generally you play songs from your entire history but to play new music non-stop is something I havent done in ages. It was great as its also a completely different sound for me. It was small venues with hardcore fans and the response was really great.
Were you worried about alienating fans with your new style?
I thought of this album as a project in a sense and of course its gonna alienate some fans. The focus to me in this situation is to take advantage of not being in a band with a particular identity. I could move forward with ideas that were unorthodox- this project wouldnt have happened in a band.
You have to listen to it a few times but it stands out on its own without knowing who I am or who the producer is.
How has your music changed?
Its all electro-songs. It was obvious that there would be fans of mine that wouldnt like it but Ive done that in the past. When I first started doing songs for soundtracks some Soundgarden fans didnt necessarily like that.
When I perform I have fans who like the solo work, some who like Soundgarden and some Audioslave fans. But everyone enjoys the show. I now have the most fun live because I dont feel like Im missing anything.
On your forthcoming tour youre gonna play the whole new album in full- Why did you decide do that?
Its the obvious choice for me because I think the album needs to be heard that way. The singles for the album were written first but the album is like a movie soundtrack and I want to perform it that way. Putting out Scream my biggest concern was how am I gonna integrate this into a live show and play it with the rest of my catalogue?
Is Scream a concept album?
Musically it became that but lyrically I wouldnt say that. There are characters inspired by the music but lyrically I dont have that kind of attention span (to write a concept album).
How did you hook up with Timbaland?
It started when I was looking for remixers and his name kept coming up. We had a mutual friend. I called him and he was interested in doing a couple of original songs. I know pop artists do it like that but I dont so we made the whole album. He loved that idea and so we went and did it.
Are you a hip hop fan?
Hip hop was never something that I listened to a lot. Over the years artists have integrated it into their sound and thats what is exciting about music for me. Im open to anything.
To me hip hop created a new type of writing and recording where you can create sounds out of anything. It takes unusual sounds and puts them in songs and Ive always wanted to do that in my music.
Are live shows in the UK special to you?
Ive played the UK extensively but its been a while. The last two shows that I played in Britain were great. A gig at the (Camden) Roundhouse was the last one and it was sold-out. Its a great venue and the crowd were real good.
Im definitely looking forward to playing it all of Scream live- I get a really exciting feeling going out playing this album in its entirety.