Chris Cornell Interview

The Audioslave frontman talks about his musical experience, favourites in music, terrible injuries he's seen from the stage and quiting smoking.

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Chris Cornell -- the singer and mainman of Audioslave, which released their second album "Out Of Exile" in May -- has talked to Austin Scaggs from the about his musical experience, favourites in music, terrible injuries he's seen from the stage and quiting smoking. Read some excerpts from the interview below:

Rolling Stone: What is your first musical memory?

CC: I have really early memories of life, so don't freak out. As a child I'd get caught up in how words didn't make any sense. I remember hearing the song "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain When She Comes," trying to figure out what the f--k the guy was talking about.

At Audioslave's recent gig in Cuba, you sang "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." Who turned you on to the Beatles?

The Beatles were my first love. My friend John Zimmer's oldest brother was kicked out of his house, and his parents put all of his stuff in the basement, where it was getting destroyed by flood waters. He had about fifteen Beatles records. So I stole the whole stack -- lovingly put paper towels between each of them. For over a year I listened to nothing but the Beatles. It was my music school.

When was the first time you sang in front of a crowd?

At a talent show in sixth grade at Christ the King, my Catholic school in Seattle. I remember being incredibly nervous and also bringing the house down. Teachers were crying. I sang a song called "One Tin Soldier." A girl in my class knew it on piano and accompanied me.

You toured with Guns n' Roses in 1991. Got a good Axl story?

He was always hidden somewhere having a personal crisis -- always. One time I was in the room when he was talking to his manager, Doug Goldstein, about wanting the Goodyear blimp for the show. I said this as a joke -- even though it was true -- that the Fuji blimp was the largest blimp in the world. Axl was like, "That's it! It's gonna be the Fuji blimp!"

What recent song do you wish you'd written?

The last was maybe "Karma Police," from Radiohead. There's something so simple about it.

If you punched "Most Played" on your iPod, what would come up?

I don't know about most played song, but most played record would be Bob Dylan's first one. I'm not a huge Dylan fan -- he only wrote a couple of songs on that album -- but they're all Dust Bowl, Depression-era hobo songs that are really fresh. It's almost like punk rock. Incredible. And be careful with headphones: When he hits the harmonica, it rips your head off.

Has quitting smoking helped your voice?

It's definitely a different world. Smoking is bad for your voice, for sure, but you learn to function in that world of bad. Now I'm in better shape, and I'm much more physical onstage, but I have to watch getting winded. Once I'm winded, I don't sing right. I would have smoked three cigarettes already during this interview [laughs].

You recently moved to Paris. Has that affected your musical tastes or your songwriting?

Not at all. I did write some of the lyrics for the new Audioslave record when I was there, but I don't know if being there made a difference. Except for that song I wrote [sings]: "Rockin' Eiffel Tower/It towers over us and it's so cool/Right on!" And the second track, "I Ate A Snail."

Read the whole interview at this location.

41 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Black Hole Sun, it's a Soundgarden song. IMO the real version is much better then the acoustic version he does alone at concerts.
    The Mofaster
    Audioslave is just an amazing band. Every member is just great at what they do. It's no wonder this band gets the credibility they deserve.
    yea, i know every single person out there who wishes they could sing would want it to come out like his voice....that band is amazing too
    Sasha Bond
    I always thought Cornell was massively talented but I hate his freaking guts for joining my all time favorite band in history
    I think audioslave is awesome, but I would prefer to listen to soundgarden instead.
    whats the name of the song he sings thats on the radio that is like just him and an acoustic guitar. I know its not either soundgarden or temple, i need to know!
    Chris Cornell went to a Catholic School? Wow, I never viewed him as "religious."
    I like audioslave except for Tom Morello everything he plays sounds the same. If they had a different guitarist they would be even better
    Chris Cornell is amazingly talented. And applax, without Tom, Audioslave would just be another rock band.
    why doesnt cornell play guitar anymore? didnt he play guitar in soundgarden?
    he did indeed, he plays the acoustic on some songs live. Anyway why is everyone forgetting the bassist from Rage and Auduioslave hes one of the best around at the moment, anyway, great band and chris seems like a funny guy.
    I ectually think that Audioslave hasnt reached their full potential ..i hope they do and its very funny to compare audioslave with ratm ,soundgarden,temple of the dog, or chris's solo album ,i mean all this bands or projects are in the past and audioslave is still creating its own sound ,it will take time to harmonize the hole thing so it will be perfect but I expect that after touring ,their next cd to be much better then this one.
    Jesus, do you guys not have ears? Audioslave is a terrible band writing mediocre radio friendly music. The new album is terrible (not that the first was really that good). Tom Morello is re-writing the same riffs and still playing is wanky effects solos. Soundgarden and Euphoria Morning is where it's at.
    Chris Cornell is awesome! I'm always expecting musicians to go off on some political rant during interviews, but he's outgoing, funny, and polite! And wow, he's very musically open.
    darksider: Theres only two but knock yourself out james86... Soundgarden albums are good too specially Superunknown. if you want the good stuff, go buy Chris' solo album euphoria morning. AUDIOSLAVE ROCKS!!!..
    I know i wasn't the only one who really liked that solo album. Anyway, the Rolling Stone site had something i really liked that UG left out:
    Do you think it's crazy that Jacko walked? I wasn't there, so I don't know. I have an idea, though, that could help everyone. Gary Coleman, as we know, is of legal age, he looks like a little kid still and he's broke. A match made in heaven.
    not a fan of audioslave but Tom Morello is a genius with a guitar and i think they are currently one of the best rock bands in the world
    Theres only two but knock yourself out james86... Soundgarden albums are good too specially Superunknown. if you want the good stuff, go buy Chris' solo album euphoria morning. AUDIOSLAVE ROCKS!!!..
    audioslave ROCKS but.....the Out of exile (album) .. i dont know the lyrics are a little ahmmmm empty???
    Chris Cornell likes Radiohead. If Audioslave toured with Radiohead that would be so awesome.
    yeah euphoria morning is amazing!! although if u want a real treat i suggest popping to ur local music store and getting Temple of the dog, clearly his greatest vocal work, Hunger strike and call me a dog are fantastic!
    Audioslaves new cd, Out of Exile is good but I miss some of their heavier songs from their first cd like cochise, set it off, and show me how to live.
    Chris Cornell is an amazing artist and everything he touches becomes amazing musically.
    Why didn't cornell stay solo? Euphoria morning was a monster album. I've been sent the new Audioslave song but I kinda don't want to listen to it. But he is fantastic.