From Song­book to dig­ging the ’Gar­den

Chris Cor­nell’s tour­ing the world solo and with Soundgar­den, writes John Carucci

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE’N’LOUD -

HRIS Cor­nell is just a man with his gui­tar – and for the time be­ing, he ab­so­lutely loves it. The former Au­dioslave and Soundgar­den front­man has been wow­ing au­di­ences on tour with his high­oc­tane, acous­tic show, which played Bris­bane ear­lier this year.

Last month, Cor­nell re­leased Song­book, a live col­lec­tion of his solo per­for­mances that rep­re­sents a wide re­serve of his own work, as well as some of his favourite cover tunes. They in­clude Led Zep­pelin’s Thank You and John Len­non’s Imag­ine. An­other pop­u­lar track, Michael Jack­son’s Bil­lie Jean, was not in­cluded on the al­bum, but is per­formed reg­u­larly.

Although Cor­nell is rel­ish­ing life as a solo artist, it won’t last long: he and the rest of Soundgar­den are fin­ish­ing up their new al­bum, due out in the first half of 2012. Cor­nell speaks about his Soundgar­den re­union, which brings the band to Aus­tralia in Jan­uary to head­line the 2012 Big Day Out, his Song­book al­bum and his con­tri­bu­tion to grunge. Tell us about the solo tour and the live al­bum.

I did an acous­tic tour called the Song­book Tour which started me do­ing a world tour of acous­tic shows. Some­where in the mid­dle of it, it felt like a spe­cial thing. It has mostly to do with the room and the au­di­ence. I just had some re­ally amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences live and de­cided it would be great to pick some of those songs and put them out. And Soundgar­den are back to­gether . . .

Be­ing able to have Soundgar­den back to­gether again at this point in my life is a hugely ful­fill­ing thing, par­tic­u­larly with the things that I started to end up do­ing in a solo ca­reer, with mov­ing more to­wards kind of ful­fill­ing that prom­ise of do­ing acous­tic mu­sic . . . The con­trast of do­ing my solo ca­reer that way and at the same time be­ing in Soundgar­den and all of what Soundgar­den is is a pretty ful­fill­ing feel­ing. Why did the band break up?

I don’t think we were re­ally very good at the big ver­sion of band busi­ness. We were re­ally good at the small one. We were very self-suf­fi­cient in the be­gin­ning and as an in­die band, we were very ca­pa­ble that way of every­thing. As it be­came big busi­ness, I think, we re­ally had kind of a dis­dain for deal­ing with the day-to-day nuts and bolts of keep­ing that all to­gether and be­ing in charge of it. As we be­came less in charge of it as a group, I think it be­came less fun as well. It wasn’t us at the helm nec­es­sar­ily any­more. That was the defin­ing fac­tor that caused us to be apart. Soundgar­den and other Seat­tle bands were la­belled as grunge. Was that of­fen­sive?

At the time it was. Not be­cause of the ac­tual name – it came from an or­ganic place – but I didn’t feel that Pearl Jam and Soundgar­den and Nir­vana never sounded much like each other. I feel we were all in­die rock bands that were part of an evo­lu­tion. Soundgar­den was in­flu­en­tial in bring­ing in­die rock into a more com­mer­cially prom­i­nent environment. These days, I don’t mind be­cause it makes it eas­ier to com­mu­ni­cate in sound­bites. In the doco Pearl Jam 20, you made it seem as though there wasn’t any com­pe­ti­tion among the Seat­tle bands. Was there?

There was. I think it was com­pet­i­tive there, but maybe like a grown-up ver­sion. You wanted to one-up your bud­dies but they were still your bud­dies and if they came up with some­thing that was great, you recog­nised it and you would use that as kind of a mo­ti­va­tor. Some­times (there) was ten­sion and some­times like talk­ing be­hind each other’s backs – but also you were talk­ing about a bunch of young guys that play rock mu­sic. What do you think it is about grow­ing up in Seat­tle that leads to such a vi­tal mu­sic scene?

Be­ing a child grow­ing up in Seat­tle, no one would ever guess that be­ing from Seat­tle would mean that you had a good rock pedi­gree (laughs.) No one ever would have had that cross their mind.

Soundgar­den, Kanye West, My Chem­i­cal Ro­mance, Kasabian, Noel Gal­lagher, The Liv­ing End, Boy & Bear and more play the Big Day Out, at Park­lands Show­grounds, on Jan­uary 22. Tick­ets are $165 (+ book­ing fee) from www.big­day­, via Tick­et­mas­ter and at Sun­flower Pa­cific Fair.

Seat­tle in­die rock pi­o­neers Soundgar­den head­line the Big Day Out

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