According to Cornell, working with the producer du jour has been an eye-opening experience in more ways than one. “There’s this concept that, as a songwriter and a singer, I can’t do it without a band,” he explained. “This Timbaland/ Chris Cornell album is a perfect example of why I want to be solo. [I’ve learned that] there’s so much, musically, that I haven’t done. I’ve barely scratched the surface, and I have a lot of catching up to do. I feel like I want to fast-forward into my future of musical expression, because there are just so many different things I haven’t done yet.”
Cornell recorded Scream’s 13 tracks with Timbaland over a six-week period, working only at night. He said they would hit the studio at 1 a.m. and record until sunrise. It was all very new to Cornell, who praised Tim’s production on the disc.
“Timbaland’s diversity — in terms of his feels, the ideas he brought in, the beats, the rhythms, the musical themes and auras of the different songs — was incredible,” he said. “His focus was very much, ’I don’t repeat myself, and I won’t let you repeat yourself.’ Being someone that writes songs mainly from an organic platform, I just really didn’t know how much is possible in the musical spectrum until I met Timbaland. What he brought in, every day, was a surprise. He would surprise me with ideas he would bring in or ideas he was working on every time. Timbaland’s music, coming from someone like me who started in rock music, I view it as being psychedelic music more than hip-hop, more than pop, more than beat-based music. It’s atmospheric, like Pink Floyd is atmospheric — he creates a sonic world that you get lost in, and you listen to it and you start to trip out.”
While there is still no official release date for Scream, Cornell has been getting ready to tour in support of the disc. He plans to play the whole thing live, from front to back, in one continuous hour of beat-driven rock, because to him, the album is one big song.
“I’ve been rehearsing this as a musical piece that’s an hour long,” he said. “I’ve been rehearsing it with an entire band, and it’s kind of taken on a new life. Something happens to a song when you play it live — it sort of transforms over time. And to have a whole album with these different musical interludes and these different mood changes in between the songs … to perform that whole thing live, it’s kind of transformed into this living, breathing animal, which isn’t something I expected. It’s challenging, but it’s really fresh.”
Cornell has also shot a video for the album’s title track, with director Alan Ferguson (Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes ). Filmed in Orange, California, last month, the clip reflects the feel of the album, he said.
“The idea Alan had for the video, which is pretty ingenious, is sort of capturing the two moods of the music,” he said. “There’s kind of two things going on. It’s a record that’s 111 beats per minute, which is fast. But the music and lyrics and the vocals are actually kind of slow and relaxed and flowing over this beat that’s pretty uptempo and kind of chaotic and excited. The way Alan’s shot the video, he’s shooting both at the same time. My role in the video is performing the song in super-slow-motion, where I’m existing in this Zen-like world, singing these song lyrics and everything going on around me is super-fast, super-chaotic, and I’m just suspended in it. It’s a filmic piece that has something to say about the song lyrics and the feel of the music. It’s going to be very much a cinematic video.”