IRVINE, California — Along with owning the albums chart, Audioslave are making quite an impact on Billboard's Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock singles charts. "Be Yourself" is top 10 on both, and the just-released follow-up, "Your Time Has Come," is right behind.
The second single from Out of Exile (see "Audioslave Rage To First Billboard #1") — which is more like "Cochise," while "Be Yourself" is similar to "Like a Stone" — was inspired by '80s song "People Who Died," an emotional salute to the casualties of New York drug culture written by poet and singer Jim Carroll, who also penned the autobiographical "The Basketball Diaries."
"It's a bunch of references to people that I knew that ... were younger than me who've been dead for years and years, up to a couple of years ago," singer Chris Cornell explained backstage at the recent KROQ Weenie Roast (see "Grohl's Nipple Squeezed, Audioslave Play With 'Fire' At Weenie Roast"). "And then just kind of that juxtaposition of, even though it seems a lot for one person, a young healthy person, to have lost all these friends through various means of stupidity and other things, then making reference to the Vietnam War Memorial and the sheer numbers of dead. And remembering that and pointing out that each one of them has a family, each one of them has friends that are sitting around thinking about the same stuff that I did. But the numbers are astounding and, in a sense, kind of criminal. And that's what the song's about."
Audioslave are still finalizing plans for the video, but will likely use footage from their free concert on Hollywood Boulevard last month after performing for "Jimmy Kimmel Live." The show was one of the band's most memorable, although not exactly for the right reasons.
"We had just played a free show in Havana, Cuba, so we thought we'd play a free show for our fans in Hollywood," guitarist Tom Morello explained (see "History Made and Audio Saved — John Norris Reports From Cuba"). "The interesting thing though was when we played in Havana, the crowd of 70,000 was very peaceful, and so were the authorities. When we played on Hollywood Boulevard, the fans were very peaceful, and the authorities beat the crap out of them. So pick your own police state, whatever you want, that's cool with me."
It's too early to determine Out of Exile's third single, although a frontrunner is certainly the melodic, mid-tempo "Doesn't Remind Me," which drummer Brad Wilk said was written in about five minutes.
"We were really on a roll in the rehearsal studio, and ideas were flowing very freely, and that one was just a simple chord progression that had great dynamics and rocked pretty hard," Morello said. "It's one of my favorite songs on the record."
"I was out of town, and these guys recorded that and a bunch of other stuff on a tape, and [when I returned,] we were working on different things on the tape and then started playing that one and I thought, 'Wow, I'm surprised we're working on this, like somebody wanted to do such a simple chord progression in a song,' " Cornell said. " 'Cause personally I would not have chosen that, which is part of the reason I love being in a band and collaborating with other people."
Audioslave are currently in Europe, where the band is touring through mid-July.
"Then we come back and we're gonna go write some more music for a little while and then we're gonna go back out in the States again and tour," bassist Tim Commerford said.
"I think going to Cuba should illustrate our dedication to going all over the world, wherever we can, playing rock music for whomever we can," Cornell added. "Touring is something that is going to happen for a long, long time."