Audioslave have nothing to complain about. Just 10 shows remain on their first U.S. headlining trek, and guitarist Tom Morello said the boys have "never played better together." Night after night, the band is rocking "people's asses," in Morello's words. What's more, Audioslave are experiencing what the guitarist describes as a "fertile creative period," writing "about 20 songs in various stages of togetherness" over the course of a month this past summer.
"When we wrote and recorded the first Audioslave record, we had played zero shows together as a band," Morello explained. "Then, we had that year-plus of touring, and I think the band continues to gel. I think we've never played better as a live band, and to be able to take that evolving live chemistry and weave it into the songwriting in the studio is something that's exciting to do."
Audioslave have been performing some of this fresh material — which will be recorded and whittled into the band's third LP — live. "We've been rotating about five that we're comfortable enough to play live," Morello said of tracks including "One and the Same" and "Sound of a Gun." "We've been playing one a night," he explained.
"We were home in Los Angeles in our rehearsal studio, writing the songs like we do with everybody in the room, with just a free exchange of ideas," Morello added. "There's a great deal of confidence we have in each other and in anybody's ability to bring in an idea that will blossom into the next Audioslave song. These songs came together fairly quickly because we write on sort of a song-a-day pace. It feels like a very special and unique thing with this band that we can have, at the end of a day, pretty much a complete song together — with riffs, verse, chorus, melodies, guitar solos all pretty much there."
The album has no title at the moment, according to Morello, who said that even speculating on a possible release date for the disc would be premature. He's not sure when the band will hit the studio, or with which producer — although he said he loves working with Rick Rubin, the legendary knob-turner who helmed the band's first two offerings. What Morello does know is that the bandmembers want to release as much music as they can as soon as they can (see "Audioslave, At Work On Exile Follow-Up, Promise 'A Lot More Music' ").
"We want to strike while the iron's hot," he said. "And it does feel like the iron is hot. Our favorite bands growing up — whether it would be Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath or, you know, pick 'em — used to make two records a year. They would make a lot of music, and I think we're capable of doing the same thing."
"We have a pretty effortless, democratic songwriting process that's fun and exciting," Morello continued. "We love writing songs together, and the fact that we're as prolific as we are, we're going to take advantage of that and make a lot of Audioslave records and shorten the time between releases. We've only been a band for three and a half years, and we're already working on the third Audioslave album. There were only three Rage Against the Machine studio records in 10 years. So it's great to be able to get more music out there."
The guitarist said the new material is "diverse, and it's very groove-heavy. There are some really heavy rockers as well as some more off-the-cuff stuff that heads in different directions we haven't played before. I think that one of the strengths of the band is to be able to play a variety of music and have it all sound like Audioslave, and we continue to explore that."
Following this current tour with 30 Seconds to Mars and Seether — which wraps up November 19 in Las Vegas — Audioslave will revisit the songs they've written and decide on their next step, either recording new material or exploring additional international and U.S. touring opportunities for early 2006.
"I think our priority will be completing the next Audioslave record," Morello said.
For Chris Cornell's take on the creative process, check out the feature "Audioslave: Beyond The Sum Of Their Parts"