In the new issue of Details Magazine, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden offers his take on rock music’s decline in a brief Q&A. “It’s definitely lost its place at the center of the musical universe,” says Cornell. “When I was growing up in the late 70′s, everyone could identify the 5, 10 bands that formed the center. Even if you preferred the fringe – The Clash, over say Van Halen – you still knew what the center was. Now kids turn on the radio and hear Eminem or Kanye, so thats what they gravitate towards.” Check out the full Q&A below.
Q:There’s been a lot of talk recently, most of it negative, about the current state of rock music. What’s your take, is rock dead?
CC: It’s definitely lost its place at the center of the musical universe. Rock never meant the same thing to everyone, but when I was growing up in the late 70?s, everyone could identify the 5, 10 bands that formed the center. Even if you preferred the fringe – The Clash, over say Van Halen – you still knew what the center was. Now kids turn on the radio and hear Eminem or Kanye, so thats what they gravitate towards. They’re making music on iPhones. Everything’s fractured. The reason there’s no modern day Shakespeare is because he didn’t have anything to do except sit in a room with a candle and think.
Q: You’re 47. What makes you feel old these days?
CC: Topics like this. The inclination to think that the world was better when I was a kid.
Q: SG has reunited, along with nearly other band that had a video on Buzz bin during the Clinton Administration. Do you worry that people might question your motivation?
CC: Honestly, I don’t really care. People can be cynical if they want. I would never go out of my way to convince them of our sincerity. If people come to our shows, I think they’ll see it’s for the right reasons.
Q: How’s your hairline holding up?
CC: It hasn’t changed much, really. I have some gray. But my grandfather on my dad’s side, he looked like Fred Flintstone. Fred Flintstone had a GOOD head of hair.
Q: What were you like growing up?
CC: Wild. And reclusive. Sometime between 12 and 14 I smoked PCP and had a real bad reaction. By the time I was high-school age, I didn’t want to do drugs anymore, so I went a couple years without having any friends. I got in touch with the creative process between the age of 14 and 16, mainly because I was alone so much.
Q: And yet you became a frontman. Did playing music change you?
CC: I was a nerdy shut-in who listened to prog-rock and then I got on stage. Most frontmen were not born hams like David Lee Roth. We’re more like Joey Ramone: awkward geeks who somehow find our place in the world on the stage. Nobody ever said a positive thing to me, ever, in my life until they heard me play music.
Q: I bet it helped you meet girls, too.
CC: Oh yeah. Initially, I was a drummer. and I remember standing somewhere in public with a pair of drumsticks, and these cute girls came up and started talking to me. We hadn’t even played yet! It was actually uncomfortable. I thought, “Is that all I have to do? Just HOLD drumsticks?” it immediately made me not like the girls.
Q: If you’d already been a ladies’ man, maybe you wouldn’t have had a problem with that.
CC: But someone who’s already popular wouldn’t become a rock star. If you have success as a youth – for example, you’re great at baseball, you don’t have the time or inclination to be off in a corner. And I think the off-in-a-corner part, where nobody’s paying attention to you, is crucial.
Q: After SG broke up, you were a pretty serious substance abuser. What was your drug of choice?
CC: When I transitioned into adulthood – High-stakes emotional responsibilities – I did everything I could to get my hands on. It happened without me really noticing it. The thing is, when you pick up the pipe for the 1st time, you don’t know that that’s your fate. The moment isn’t that dramatic. And then that was it – I didn’t want to care anymore.
Q: No offense, but why are grunge bands’ drug stories so much more depressing than the 70?s rock gods?
CC: Right? Those bands somehow had the ability to be completely fucked up all the time and still function. They could play an amazing guitar solo even though they could barely walk. The 80?s killed that – everyone was doing coke. If you see interviews w/ some of the stars of MTV’s early years, those guys look WORKED OVER. Duran Duran? They went through hell too.
Q:Your oldest daughter is almost 12. Would you let her date a musician?
CC: It depends on the person. When I met my wife Vicki’s family, I had to go out of my way to convince them – to show them – that I wasn’t anything like their idea of a musician. But I’ve met many, MANY musicians that I wouldn’t let anywhere near my daughter. Or my son.
Chris Cornell has kept busy with his solo project and tour over the last couple of years, but get ready for the full return of Soundgarden this year, as they are expected to release their first new album in 16 years this fall. Soundgarden has posted a 22 second clip of the song ‘Live to Rise’ from the ‘Avengers Assemble’ soundtrack, which will be released just three days before the film on May 1. The song will be featured in the end credits of what will be one of the biggest movies of the summer. The soundtrack includes many of today’s biggest and best hard rock groups.
Soundgarden stated in an official press release: “We’ve been hard at work on our new album, which will come out this Fall. When the opportunity arose to write an original song for the film came our way, we thought it could be a cool match. We are excited to release our new song, which is also the only new song in the film. Here’s a taste. Loudest of Love.” Soundgarden will also undertake a brief tour in 2012, starting with a May 25 appearance at the Sonisphere Festival in Madrid, Spain.
1. Live to Rise – Soundgarden
2. I’m Alive – Shinedown
3. Dirt and Roses – Rise Against
4. Even If I Could – Papa Roach
5. Unbroken – Black Veil Brides
6. Breath – Scott Weiland
7. Comeback – Redlight King
8. Into the Blue – Bush
9. A New Way to Bleed (Photek Remix) – Evanescence
10. Count Me Out – PUSHERJONES
11. Shoot to Thrill – Theory of a Deadman
12. Wherever I Go – Buckcherry
13. From Out of Nowhere – Five Finger Death Punch
14. Shake the Ground – Cherri Bomb
Additional track on the international release:
15. Pistols At Dawn – Kasabian