ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, NOV. 5, 2008
By Steve Newton
It’s been 17 years since the grunge revolution blasted full-throttle out of Seattle, but Chris Cornell remembers it well. As the front man for Soundgarden, Cornell was a chief architect of the genre, which formed as a backlash to the stagnating commercial rock of the day.
“The job of the rock icon is to violently go out and smash down what is the norm,” he relates, “and if you’re successful at doing that, you then become that norm, and it’s someone else’s job to come along and smash you down. If you’re someone like me, you have to accept the fact that at some point you became the status quo that needed to be destroyed. And when you come to that realization, it becomes kinda liberating, ’cause the roles aren’t really defined anymore.”
Cornell recently took that idea of musical openness to heart, making a stylistic U-turn by hooking up with superstar rapper-producer Timbaland for his soon-to-be-released album Scream, which he describes as “like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, only now.” He doesn’t view the trading of riff-based hard rock for club-ready hip-hop beats as a risky career move.
“I don’t think I’m at a point in my career where anything is really that big of a gamble,” he contends. “This is a period where I should be and can and will be able to exercise whatever influences and musical direction I want to go in. I want to push the boundaries and make new records as though no one has ever heard of me before.”