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
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
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,"
"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)