The Washington Post recently conducted an interview with former Soundgarden/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Washington Post: Suffice it to say that "Scream" hasn't been the most enthusiastically received album that you've ever made. Has the blowback surprised you, or did you sort of anticipate it because of where you've been and where this project was taking you?
Chris Cornell: I think it's pretty obvious. I did the math as soon as I made the decision to make that record. But it also depends on where you go, in terms of how enthusiastically it's been received. In some places, it's been received incredibly well. If you go right to the fans that like specifically the more hard-rock side of what I do, it's sort of an obvious script of that's going to be read, even by critics.
Does some of the criticism sting when it's some of your own fans saying, "Hey, I really don't like what you're doing here"?
No, I would be stupid to assume that they would like it. I would be stupid to think that everybody would, like, get into something that's really sort of an electronic rock record. In terms of its instrumentation, it's entirely different than what they're used to or what they might even ever want to hear. It doesn't sting at all. At the same time, there's a huge group of people getting behind it. Underground DJ culture is tearing this record up, and they're pretty snobby about what it is that they get into.
From what I hear from other people, this album is just two years ahead of its time. But that's also still unrelated to my older fans. As music changes and the landscape of music and the styles of music that become popular change, it still doesn't mean that somebody in their 30s that's been listening to me since they were a teenager is going to like where that goes. This record is just very different. I completely understand it.
And it's not an ego thing. To me, music shouldn't be ego-driven. When you go out on stage and play songs, it is. But when you're sitting in a room, writing songs, it's a completely different process. It's a completely different place. It's a creative place, a musical place. It has nothing to do with who likes what. As a fan, that's something I would be disappointed in; I certainly would not ever want a band that I'm a fan of to be worried about what I think when they create what they do. The whole point is that they create what they do, and then I go into that environment if I want.
So you're saying that if, I don't know, Trent Reznor, makes an album that you don't particularly care for, you're not going to go out and blast it?
No. That's kind of childish. To be honest, if I wanted to go out to blast records that I hate, I would be sitting on Twitter 24 hours a day blasting 96 percent of what comes out maybe 98 percent of what comes out. (Laughs.) There's a lot of music that I don't like.
But it's not a popularity contest. It's not campaigning, either. And also, it's not the first time I've been in this position. When SOUNDGARDEN first came out, we were basically part of and wanted to be part of this post-punk indie scene in the U.S. And then we suddenly had this particular moment when he wrote songs like "Incessant Mace" on that SST record and "Nothing to Say" on the first Sub Pop record and we were somehow naturally drawing from these influences of '70s hard rock, which at the time couldn't have been less popular and less cool. There was tension in that, and we did it anyway.
A lot of people hated it, even people who were fans of us and had liked what we'd done until then hated it. They didn't get it. That was exciting, actually. I like that feeling. I like the idea of not being comfortable, preaching to the choir, coming out with a new record, seeing people blow up online saying, "This reminds me of that song from that other record 10 years ago." Ten years is a long [expletive] time to me. Ten years ago, I made a solo album ["Euphoria Morning"] that was completely unlike anything like I'd ever done. So I feel pretty great about where I am musically.
What was your reaction to the news that Kim, Matt and Ben reunited to perform three Soundgarden songs with Tad Doyle?
I thought it was cool that they'd actually get together and rehearse some songs. I was kind of surprised by it, to be honest. [Laughs.] And I love Tad. We toured with Tad; I've always felt he was a really amazing person and a really talented guy. So I just really thought it was a cool thing for them to do. They were just getting up there and doing it for fun, and I think that's great. The only thing I didn't like is that I wasn't there to see it. If I was there, I probably would've gotten up on stage.
So at some point, might we see a Soundgarden reunion?
You never know.
Read the entire interview from The Washington Post.
Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd, and drummer Matt Cameron performed together onstage for the first time in more than a decade on March 24 at Seattle's Crocodile Cafe. The trio came out for a show on Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello's Justice Tour, for which he invited musician friends in each city to perform. Singing in place of frontman Chris Cornell was Tad Doyle, former leader of Seattle cult band Tad. The foursome's three-song "Tadgarden" set included what Ear Candy described as a "powerful" rendition of early Soundgarden song "Nothing To Say" as well as the band's 1994 hit "Spoonman".
Check out video footage of the performance here.
Soundgarden broke up in 1997 after 12 years together and five studio albums. Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains, the band led the way for the Seattle "grunge" sound and alternative music revolution of the 1990s.
Thanks for the report to Blabbermouth.net.