Chris Cornell’s ‘Euphoria Morning’ was a departure from his old/reformed group Soundgarden, in both texture and lyrical content, showing the maturing of one of the last great rock singers of the 1990s. ?Previously guarded in interviews and suspicious of the press, Cornell has been opening himself up more and we captured this snapshot of the man out of his shell.
THINK: I laughed a lot and I thought the French version of ‘Can’t Change Me’ was really funny.
CORNELL: I thought it would be different, even though I don’t speak French. In my interviews I had in France it was more like, “Why would you do something like this! ” I didn’t get the feeling that they thought it was a great French pronunciation.
THINK: Is there someone out there right now that has a profound effect on you as a singer or a writer?
CORNELL: As a singer? There’s not a lot. I think Tom from Radiohead is an amazing singer, but I don’t think of him in a way that would inspire me to attempt that style. But that’s also true of Captain Beefheart or Tom Waits, I like their voices, but it’s not truly an influence. If I’m writing a song it is very much influenced by the music and whatever I’m reminded of, what will be appropriate for that part.
THINK: A little Waits in the song ‘Wave Goodbye’? And a little McCartney on ‘Flutter Girl’.
CORNELL: Really! Someone told me that it sounded a little John Lennon on Angel Dust. But I’m sure a lot of Beatles gets into my music because I listened to them alot when I was growing up, and they were the first band that turned me on to music in general.
THINK: Are there any female singers that turn you on, that you sing in the shower?
CORNELL: I like Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin, the more guttural, or you could say more masculine female singers.
THINK: How about Robert Plant?
CORNELL: I also listened to him when I was growing up, he and Janis Joplin. I like his vocal performances, they aren’t my style, but I appreciate his natural open-jammy way of singing a song,. He also a way of reproducing that live feeling in the studio, and though he’d miss notes constantly that would not be a factor in the performance.
THINK: He could catch himself?
CORNELL: Not really catching himself, It’s more like the fearlessness of it. Not even knowing it, not paying much attention to what was happening but for totally getting into it.
THINK: Imagery from ‘Black Hole Sun’ and some of the new record conjures of someone interested in Science. Does that come naturally?
CORNELL: Lyrically it either happens or it doesn’t. I don’t get too analytical about it while its going on.
THINK: ‘Preaching the end of the world’. Millennial tension?
CORNELL: It’s a funny topic in a way, it’s a concept people have been batting around for a quite a while. When is it exactly?
THINK: ‘Follow My Way’ lyrically?
CORNELL: It was one of the collaborative numbers with Eleven. It combined two separate songs that didn’t seem to work, and came together. Sometimes for me the things that inspire me the most are those that are furthest away from something I’ve done, or that I expect I would’ve done which that some was. And it was one of my favorites for awhile.
THINK: What makes a good relationship work?
CORNELL: I’m not sure what that is. I’m not sure someone would recognize what a good one is, when it’s happening. Or know what to do when feeling it’s not happening. Or would recognize that its not happening within the period of time, to really affect any change within it. A relationship is really like an individual person almost, and it has its own life, It grows and it changes or sometimes it shrinks and it changes. You can try to make it better or heighten it and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
THINK: In one interview, you said you would see things everyday that would piss you off, what does it for you these days?
CORNELL: Depends really from moment to moment, seeing a mother slap her kid in a grocery store can get me, or seeing intense amounts trivia being rehashed and rehashed on the news. The news media in general because of the way they try to capture a reader, by focussing attention on something through intimidation, by using panic inducing terms, and exclamation points.
THINK: That’s a huge part of my leaving the country.
CORNELL: You get this feeling that, Shit! Something really bad is happening and something is going on, and you pick it up and it’s the same fucking article that you’ve read for months, and all they want you to do is spend the money.
THINK: Electronica is really huge here, and hip-hop. How do you feel about the effects of the new technology on music?
CORNELL: There is always going to be something in it that’s interesting, but it’s an individual thing, rather than a genre. The most interesting things are kind of the microscopic or microcosmic things where, one person filters interesting aspects of a style through their own unique personality, and borrows to mix it with other things.
THINK: Would you be tolerant of someone sampling your voice?
CORNELL: No, not at all
THINK: Good, because we barely have any copyright laws here. Aliens, UFO’s?
CORNELL: Not my concern. It’s not gonna effect me, or help me or hurt me, so it’s just one of those things that you stop and wonder, but I don’t that much, because I think that there’s plenty to be concerned with on the Earth.
THINK: Outside influences other that music. Books, films, etc.?
CORNELL: It all in the moment. I spend half my time trying to avoid the sensory subject at all. And the other half focussing on something for a moment and getting into it, then moving on to the next thing.
THINK: How did you feel when you first recognized this gift of your instrument?
CORNELL: It’s something I developed over a long period of time, so , it wasn’t like I had a moment or a period when I was really discovering that I had an instrument that was powerful.
THINK: Were you nervous about it when you first hypnotized a crowd?
CORNELL: I have moment of that, but I try to be a listener first. I do have moment when it makes me really happy and fortunate, but at the same time there’s not alot of gloating that should be done in a situation like that. If you have a gift you should always be looking ahead to see where you can take it to inspire yourself, and hopefully other people.
THINK: Well said, thanx for the time!
Think Magazine’s interview with Chris Cornell.