UNIVERSAL CITY, California — As Audioslave rehearsed for their first large-scale live show on Saturday, the group struggled over what songs to include. So they enlisted some help.
"Truthfully, we came up with two sets and we played 'em both for Tom's mom, Mary Morello, and she liked the second one," Chris Cornell explained backstage at KROQ-FM's Almost Acoustic Christmas. (Click here for photos from the show.)
"She came up to the stage in rehearsals, stood right in the middle and goes, 'That set was great, you guys are the best band,' " guitarist Morello added.
" 'The best f---ing band in the world' is what she said," bassist Tim Commerford clarified.
Mary's opinion aside, the Rage Against the Machine/ Soundgarden combo has made a significant mark with its first single, "Cochise," its first album, Audioslave, and its first big live performance (see "Audioslave Deliver Like Santa Claus, Creed Booed At Radio Show").
Now it's on to round two, and for this move Audioslave are going with their own guts. Cornell, Morello, Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk have agreed on "Like a Stone" as their second single.
"It definitely shows the depth of our record, coming after 'Cochise,' so that's kind of cool, 'cause there's a lot of different kinds of music on the record," Wilk said. "It's kind of cool to come softer."
"And there's not another song like it," Morello added. "Not on the radio now, not on our record, not like what I've heard."
The melancholy "Like a Stone" — which includes the lines "I was lost in the pages/ Of a book full of death/ Reading how we'll die alone/ And if we're good we'll lay to rest" — has prompted some to wonder if Cornell wrote the song about his late friend Layne Staley (see "Layne Staley, Alice In Chains Singer, Dead At 34").
"No. I'm not one of those guys where, like, something happens and then I go run around, 'Ooh, 9/11, and now it's 9/12, let me write about that,' " Cornell explained. "I wrote the lyrics before he died. ... You can misinterpret that stuff pretty easy, but I don't tend to sit down and plan on writing about a specific issue. They come up or they don't."
Once "Like a Stone" hits the airwaves early next year, Audioslave will launch their first tour, beginning in Europe in January and returning to the States for some smaller shows in February and March.
By summer, they'll be ready for "enormodomes," either headlining or on a festival bill, according to Morello. "There's a lot of different options, and there's some other bands we might go out with, but we'll definitely be rocking you throughout the new year."
Audioslave have one more radio show left this year, Thursday's K-Rock Claus Fest at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, where they're hoping a special guest will take the stage with them.
"DMX, if you're in town we would love to jam with you," Morello pleaded to the rapper Audioslave sent tracks to earlier this year (see "Tom Morello Divulges Fate Of DMX/Audioslave Collabo Tracks"). "We were actually practicing ['Here I Come'] in rehearsal just in case DMX showed up. We're ready. Anytime he shows up, we will drop that jam on you!"
As memorable as that live collaboration would be, it'll be hard for Audioslave to top how they felt on Saturday, just minutes after their KROQ performance, which included "Set If Off," "Gasoline" and others.
Cornell was particularly stoked to hear the crowd sing along to every tune. "I wasn't sure if it was [them], 'cause sometimes I think it's me, like, singing off-key," he mused. "I figured, 'Well, maybe it's them. No, it couldn't be. The album's only been out for a few days.' "
At one point during their set, Cornell stopped to thank his bandmates for saving his life. "It wasn't really a band thing," he said afterward. "These three individuals as my friends really stuck their necks out for me and tried to help me get my sh-- together, 'cause I was having a lot of personal problems, and I have had a lot of friends throughout the years, and I've been in different bands, but I think that brought us together, at least in my opinion, closer then any band I've been in before."
Perhaps Cornell's onstage sentiment struck a chord with his bandmates, since they ended the show by hugging the singer. Or maybe, as evident by the end of the "Cochise" video, they just like hugging.
"We're gonna make it OK again for muscular guys to hug," Cornell joked. "None of that locked-arms-with-one-arm-in-the-air thing."
"We can't get enough hugs," Morello added with a smile. "We can't get enough."
For a feature interview with Audioslave, check out "Audioslave: Unshackled, Ready To Rage."