“OBVIOUSLY, THERE’S STILL EMOTIONAL SHADOWS AND GHOSTS…”
First up was the aforementioned Brendan O’brien (Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, AC/DC), who famously joined forces with Chris many times from the mid-’90s on, working on everything from Soundgarden’s 1994 smash Superunknown, to his final solo album, 2015’s Higher Truth. Brendan had also reportedly worked with Chris for a potential record of cover versions, which, unfortunately, never materialised.
Vicky also sought the help of Pearl Jam bassist and Temple Of The Dog bandmate Jeff Ament, who created the striking packaging for the release. Given that Jeff described Chris Cornell’s legacy as “one of the best ever” when Kerrang! last caught up with him back in May (K!1722), it’s no surprise he jumped at the chance to get involved in this new box set.
In our interview, Jeff went on to reflect on the passing of his friend: “I think we’re all still trying to understand the whys and hows. We just miss him.” Jeff also praised his final-ever live performances with Chris as Temple Of The Dog, having performed together once more at their reunion gigs two years prior.
“The shows were so beautiful,” Jeff said. “I think everybody was playing at such a high level, a level we wouldn’t have been able to play at when we made that record [Temple Of The Dog, 1991]. There was just something so positive and, not to use the word over and over again, but beautiful [about those shows], it makes it even harder to think that we’ll never do it again. I feel even worse for Matt [Cameron], Kim [Thayil] and Ben [Shepherd, bass], and the guys in his other bands, and that’s not to mention his wife and kids. That’s almost incomprehensible.”
Meanwhile, over in Chris Cornell’s hometown of Seattle, a celebration of the musician and his incredible work will be taking shape in the form of a life-sized bronze statue, created by sculptor Nick Marras, which will be displayed at a ceremony on October 7.
Originally scheduled for a public unveiling on August 29, Vicky Cornell confirmed that the ceremony was going to have to be pushed back, due to the “overwhelming response from the Seattle community and fans”, and the understandable expectation that large crowds will be in attendance to honour the Seattleite. “Even though Chris’ music touched the lives of millions around the world, there is no better place than Seattle to honour and celebrate both his contribution to music history, as well as Seattle’s unique place in popular music, with an enduring symbol of a beloved artist, father and husband,” Vicky said in a heartfelt statement. “Our children and I are deeply moved by the continued outpouring of love, compassion and support, and this is our gift to the Museum Of Pop Culture and to Seattle – our gift back to the tight-knit community that gave him his start.” Following the uncovering of the statue, there will also be a screening of Live From The Artists Den: Soundgarden – footage taken from the band’s performance at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, California. members Soundgarden Remaining of are attend set to to host this screening, special and will presumably be taking part in the public statue unveiling, too. Kim Thayil chatted to Billboard earlier this month about his fallen bandmate, and admitted that he “wasn’t sure” if he was ready to play live again so soon after Chris Cornell’s death, having recently headed out on the road as part of the MC5 50th anniversary celebrations.
“[Guitarist and MC5 co-founder] Wayne Kramer asked if I wanted to play, and my jaw dropped,” Kim admitted. “I thought two things – ‘Am I ready to come out of the foetal position?’ and then ‘How could I be any more ready than this opportunity to play with what I consider to be my favourite band?’”
Kim also spoke about Soundgarden’s final performance together in Detroit on May 17, before Chris’ death in the early hours of the following morning. “I thought the show was good,” he told Billboard. “I remember Chris had just gotten in [to town] and was a little tired and his voice was a little rough, but by about the fourth or fifth song it kicked in and then it was just, like, super amazing – beautiful, clear and strong and, I thought, particularly emotive.” Of his emotional recovery following the death of his friend, Kim continued: “Everything has improved day by day. Obviously, there’s still emotional shadows and ghosts. Like anything else, it’s something that improves with time.” For fans too, the loss of Chris Cornell still hasn’t sunk in – and it probably never will. Nevertheless, we’re grateful to hear his voice once more. His words will live on in music forever. the box set ‘CHRIS CORNELL’ IS RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 16 ON BEHALF OF THE CHRIS CORNELL ESTATE via UMG Recordings. see kerrang.com for more information
Chris Cornell: 1964-2017