Chris Cornell on Kurt Cobain's Suicide: 'We All Had That Crisis of Mind'

Soundgarden frontman also talks Kurt's decision to appear on Rolling Stone cover in 1992.

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Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell opened up about Kurt Cobain's suicide, calling it an extreme point of a crisis a lot of grunge artists had at the time. As Cornell described it, such mental dilemma was revolving around the fact that grunge became a global trend garnering the attention of mass media, something the movement was fighting against in the first place. "There was a little bit of an uncomfortable transition that I think all the Seattle bands had, which was - it was anti-commercial, it was anti every institution that supported commercial music as well," the frontman told CNN, giving Nirvana's appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine as one of prime examples. "If you remember when Kurt and Nirvana were on the cover of Rolling Stone, he was wearing a t-shirt that said 'Corporate magazines still suck.' I thought, well that's great that he wore that and they put that om their magazine, but he also showed up for the photoshoot and did the interviews and agreed wholeheartedly and happily to be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

"So how was it in a sense that he's not tearing himself apart doing the same thing? We all kind of had that crisis of mind and Kurt shooting himself was probably that to the extreme," Chris concluded. After describing the moment of hearing about Cobain's death as very surreal, Cornell noted that "in a sense, we could all take solace in the fact that we were born from this idea that we played dark, moody music. Our identity in a sense was the band that created a soundtrack for that type of weird awful scenario." The frontman also discussed the matter of his alcoholism issues and the early days of Seattle rock when Soundgarden were the movement's first band to ever be approached by a major label. Check out the full chat below.

65 comments sorted by best / new / date

    AlexGreat123
    Chris Cornell is a trooper. I'd be really messed up if my friend and roommate died (Andrew Wood)one of the most famous people from my scene killed himself (Kurt Cobain) and another of my friends died from a drug overdose (Layne Staley)The mere fact that he's still goiing and is on the straight and narrow is nothing short of astounding. Then again the same can be said for Jerry Cantrell.
    iommi600
    Spot on, man. Both Jerry and Chris are some of the most down to earth people in rock and roll these days. The things they had to go through in the 90s and even in the 2000s gave them an enormous sense of maturity. I respect them strongly.
    FERAL1975
    Not forgeting he was friends with Jeff Buckley too.
    sleepawaycamper
    I'm not going to lie, I didn't start listening to Jeff Buckley until around 2007-2008, but after I downloaded the Grace(Legacy Edition), and heard all of those songs and how powerful they were, I was very upset that I had missed out on the opportunity to hear him when he was still alive. "Forget Her" and "Eternal Life"(Road edition) are two of the most powerful, beautiful songs that I've ever heard, and after my ex-girlfriend broke my heart/broke up with me, "Forget Her" was THE song I listened to nonstop, and felt emotionally connected to, more so than any other song I had felt that way about before. Jeff and Tim are both awesome musicians that died way too young, and Jeff, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful songwriters in the last 25 years. I really wish that somewhere out there, hidden in the deep intranets, there would be a song with Jeff Buckley and Chris Cornell singing together. And as Zerath said, "Wave Goodbye" is definitely a great tribute song, and a last goodbye from Chirs to Jeff.
    Pit_
    Soundgarden overall was and still is an awesome band.
    TheOnlyChance
    Audioslave was MUCH better... no offense to Soundgarden, they rock too
    Flying Afros
    No, I think you're wrong. Edit: Wrong to the Audioslave comment stating they are better than Soundgarden
    elcapitan1800
    90% will disagree very strongly with you, but I am with you. I love the groove that Audioslave brought, and a little Tom Morello craziness never hurt anyone
    aCiDJaZzy666
    Why do you guys post about the same topics all the time. Music is amazing, yet you only talk about the same people. I can think of so many bands and artist that deserve to be publicized on here, but nope. Dave Mustaine and Kurt Cobain have all the spot light. Everyday.
    Brandon1993
    Well the reissue of In Utero was coming up so it was kinda justified that they talked about Nirvana for the past few weeks. Don't understand why the site has a never ending hard-on when it comes to news pertaining to Dave Mustaine, Ted Nugent, and Dave Grohl though.
    Noob_Brood
    Dave Mustaine - Legend Ted Nugent - Crazy and can't keep his mouth shut Dave Grohl - Workaholic...there is never a day where he doesn't do something that is productive and slightly noteworthy.
    Brandon1993
    I agree with all 3 of those. Ted is insane, Dave is a legend, and ...Dave is a workohalic. But there ARE other insane, legendary, and workaholic musicians that they can talk about. The dudes from Sunn O))) are both in like 20 bands at a time, they produce albums, they collab with other bands all the time, one of them runs Southern Lord, and they're constantly out doing shit. Thats even MORE insane than Dave and yet I don't think I have ever seen anything about them on here the entire time I've used the site. The last news piece about Sunn O))) on this site is from from FIVE YEARS AGO! They have released 4 live albums, a demo, a split, and 2 studio albums since then. Not to mention Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley have released a bunch of stuff on other bands since then with: Ascend, Pentemple, Grave Temple, KTL, Æthenor, Khanate, House Of Low Culture, Ensemble Pearl, Burning Witch, etc. not to mention touring for each of those bands as well. Dave IS the man though....
    q0q0nut
    but no one has ever heard of, nor cares about, any of those bands.
    kramer242
    I loved nirvana and listened to them more than anybody else growing up. I've always felt that AIC got robbed of some credit though. They had a pretty big hit with man in a box, and a pretty good selling album. I used to constantly here man in a box on rock radio. Then nevermind blew up beyond comprehension and basically put a lot of bands in their shadow. Soundgarden for sure earned their credit for being one of the first.
    AdamLeMoine
    "There was a little bit of an uncomfortable transition that I think all the Seattle bands had, which was - it was anti-commercial, it was anti every institution that supported commercial music as well," the frontman told CNN He told CNN.
    Reagar
    Let's face it, Kurt Cobain was a very depressed man and a heroin addict, and I'm pretty sure his betrayal of his indie credentials had little to do with his eventual suicide
    Nwright14
    He watched as his indie credentials flew right out the doah!!! He'd make millions and then he'd go out and he'd make even more millions!!
    btfbonzo
    Kurt Cobain = sell out. I will never understand the hero worship surrounding him. All these other Seattle bands had the presence of mind to deal with their crisis of faith like adults while Kurt dealt with it like a child.
    LysanderSpoon
    Like a child...or, y'know, like an adult with serious mental illness that he self-medicated with heroin.
    theclassicrock
    Mental illness? I could have sworn it was early back pain or something like that.
    seance
    Stomach pain
    Brandon1993
    He had a pinched nerve in his stomach which he "medicated" with heroin. The pinched nerve in his stomach was caused by the way he played his guitar. It resulted in a curvature of his spine.
    Brandon1993
    Don't really see how killing himself makes him a "sell out" but okay. I guess the definition of sell out has changed then.
    j-mac71
    people like him for his ideas, his songs. I dont think he ever sold out because he didnt change his music if anything in utero is darker than the other albums. I am gonna assume its hard to have presence of mind when all you can think about is getting high and the fact that you just went through rehab, so you really shouldnt demonize him for that. He did have alot of flaws that get overlooked hed be the first to say "im so ugly, thats ok..."
    jordo246
    I've known known any child want to shoot themselves when they have a problem
    Alice2Mudgarden
    Oh yeah Chris totally knows about anti-commercial and anti-corporate, right? (cough cough timbaland wink wink audioslave nudge nudge king animal soundgarden shoes and underpants)
    crazysam23_Atax
    When he started out, that's what Grunge was about. Look into very early Grunge (late '80s)...they were very much embracing the soul of alternative music, in that they were (by definition) an alternative to the current crop of corporate rock and pop.
    soulgrenade
    You know why he did those things? because he grew up that's why. You gotta pay the bills, right?
    cha33 armstrong
    up until now I had no clue Soundgarden were from Seattle
    hudsonstradlin
    they were at the forefront of that scene for a long time. if I'm not mistaken, they were one of the first acts to sign with sub-pop.
    javdoc
    Correct. They were also the first Seattle band to sign with a major label. The expectation at the time was that Louder Than Love would be the big breakout album from that scene. Instead, it was Nevermind. Which, from a Soundgarden perspective, was probably a good thing - they did not have the same kind of attention or pressure on them as Nirvana.
    zalant
    Indeed, as with most of the other "scene" bands from Seattle, Soundgarden were at it long before grunge exploded. I first heard of them in '88 or '89 when Kirk Hammett made reference to their sound/energy in a guitar magazine interview. When I finally got around to hearing them a couple of years later, I thought, "ah, this is what he was talking about!"
    TheHydra
    Supposedly Soundgarden signing to Sub-Pop was what made Kurt want to sign.
    HardAttack
    That might have something to do with the fact that you were born when the grunge movement was ending.
    shwilly
    I don't get the downvotes The important thing is you're aware of who these guys are. If every set of Beats headphones came with a free copy of Badmotorfinger the world would be a better place
    alinn4
    i have a feeling kurt was never actually addicted to heroin...