Chris Cornell: New Soundgarden Album ‘Picks Up Where We Left Off’



Story by Anne Erickson

Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell says playing acoustic makes for a deeper connection with the crowd

Chris Cornell carries many shades of musical talent. While the grunge rocker is known for his raging rock voice in Soundgarden, he can also turn things down a notch, crooning gently and delicately with nothing but an acoustic guitar to back him.

Such is the case with Cornell’s current Songbook tour, which has the singer traveling the U.S., playing acoustic versions of songs from Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog and his solo project. Whether he’s playing a hard rock number from Soundgarden or a quiet ballad from his solo archive, Cornell says presenting the songs in an acoustic environment allows the songs — and the performer — to show more vulnerability.

“For me personally, maybe there’s an ability to be more emotional,” he told Spinner. “I don’t think that makes as much difference to me as it does to the listeners. That’s because for me, they’re my lyrics,” he added. “I wrote them. I’m singing them. So even in the context of, for example, a Soundgarden or Audioslave show where it’s very loud and there’s a lot of competing with the singing, it’s kind of competing with focus on what’s being sung.” Cornell went on to say that for someone sitting in the audience, “that competition is much more difficult to deal with than it is for the person singing it — I know what I’m singing. So, when it is stripped down as it is for an acoustic show, I think there’s a different focus entirely.”

Switching gears to the new Soundgarden album, Cornell reports it’s about “three quarters of the way there.” He says the collection is neither “nostalgic” nor “retro,” and that he doesn’t see it indicative of Soundgarden going back to their roots. “I don’t even know what that would be. Soundgarden has always been so eclectic,” he said. “To me, it’s a continuation or in a sense it’s almost like picking up where we left off.” Soundgarden’s new album is slated to come out in the spring, and the guys will support it with a full-fledged tour. Spring 2012 can’t come soon enough!