Chris Cornell Leaves Soundgarden Behind On Solo Outing

Singer's new album concentrates on introspective, psychedelic songs rather than former band's grunge sound.

Earlier this year, former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell prepared to

record his just-released solo debut, Euphoria Morning, knowing one

thing for sure: He didn't want to rehash past glories.

"It was just a natural process," Cornell said of the Los Angeles sessions

for the experimental, psychedelic-soul album.

"Obviously, I had no interest in revisiting the band, for many reasons,"

Cornell, 35, said, adding that, as Soundgarden's songwriter, he had to

write in a style that would satisfy everyone in the group.

"My interests were already starting to go into different directions," he

recalled. "And out of respect to the band, I couldn't re-create that, so

why would I ever want to try?" (RealAudio

excerpt of interview)

Cornell said fans of the defunct, multiplatinum Seattle grunge band might

be able to find hints of Soundgarden's dark bluster in some of his new

songs, such as the bluesy "Mission" (RealAudio

excerpt) and the epic rock tune "Disappearing One." But they also

will find Cornell reaching out in new directions after a nearly two-year

absence from the marketplace.

Euphoria Morning seems to draw inspiration from the experimental

rock of late-period Beatles albums, the dreamy, surging psychedelia of

Pink Floyd and the emotionally resonant, baroque pop of the late Jeff

Buckley. The latter is even eulogized on the bluesy soul tune "Wave

Goodbye."

Cornell said his close collaboration with Alain Johannes and Natasha

Shneider of the Los Angeles band Eleven helped inspire him to introduce

such elements as drum loops and jazzy crooning.

"All three of us are quite dark bastards when it comes to art, [but]

not in real life, though," Moscow-born Shneider said. She said the

introspective, brooding nature of some of the album's cuts, such as

"Pillow of Your Bones" (RealAudio

excerpt) — which features the only lyrics co-written by the

trio — doesn't accurately reflect Cornell's day-to-day personality.

"Where it comes from? It comes from perceiving the world a certain way,"

Shneider said. "There is an external way people see you ... say, walking

down the street — and what you really feel and think when you are

with yourself. And those moments are when you write.

"Those moments are not happy and cheery, but there is always a ray of

light shining through everything," she continued. "It's bittersweet,

something that life is, I suppose." (RealAudio

excerpt of interview)

Freed from the need to create music that all the members of Soundgarden

could agree on, Cornell said Euphoria Morning was a chance for

him to push his sound in any direction he desired.

Johannes — speaking from the home he and Shneider share — said

the situation resulted in Cornell acting on his inspirations, literally,

at every turn during the recording process.

"When he was recording the vocal for 'When I'm Down,' he had it nailed,"

Johannes said of a blues-rock song on the album. "We were out at this

restaurant, smoking and drinking and he was talking, and then all of a

sudden he stops and said, 'Get the check. We gotta go.'

"He just felt that his voice was in a certain space, and in two takes,

he had the whole thing. He just knows his voice so well."

Cornell fronted Soundgarden for more than a decade, scoring numerous

hard-rock radio hits over the years, including "Blow Up the Outside

World" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Black Hole Sun." The group disbanded in 1997.

The first single from Euphoria Morning, the Beatles-esque "Can't

Change Me" (RealAudio

excerpt), is already a hit at alternative radio. Meanwhile,

Cornell and his band are about to wrap up a six-date club tour with a

pair of shows at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on Tuesday

(Sept. 21) and Wednesday.

Despite the intricate nature of some of the album's arrangements, Cornell

said he wasn't afraid of losing a bit of the texture in a live setting.

"There's so much going on in the record, there's little events and little

sounds ... even if you have enough people and the equipment to reproduce

that exactly in a live situation, you wouldn't be able to hear it,"

Cornell said.

"The approach really is to try to get the overall personality of the

song out in a live context," he explained. "For the most part, I think

we did that really well. ... I've never been in the studio and thought,

'Well, we shouldn't do this because we'll never be able to re-create it

live.' " (RealAudio

excerpt of interview)