Out of all the survivors to emerge from the grunge revolution of the ’90s, Chris Cornell could easily be considered its most experimental. Unafraid to venture into new territory, Cornell’s latest solo opus, “Higher Truth,” is hitting all the right notes with critics and fans alike.
amNewYork had a chance to sit with the Soundgarden legend to discuss this new release, the moment he knew he could write an acoustic-only album and the experience of performing with Mad Season earlier this year in Seattle.
Can you explain the impetus behind writing songs for “Higher Truth.”
The whole point of the album to me was to finally release an acoustic based album. Since the beginning of Soundgarden, I’d been writing songs in that vein, like “Sunshower” for example. I still have acoustic versions of “Like Suicides” from “Superunknown.” All the stuff I wrote for Temple of the Dog was kind of in that world of singer-songwriter, but a destination in mind. For the most part, these are songs I wrote when I wasn’t writing songs for Soundgarden. And I got a lot of great reactions from it.
Was there any trepidation to performing in this stripped-down format?
I played a promo show, an hour of acoustic songs in Stockholm [in 2005], when I was [with] Audioslave. That was the first time I realized I could do an hour of this and people won’t start talking after 20 minutes. And I don’t think I played any Soundgarden songs. All I did was Audioslave songs, some cover songs and some solo things. From that point on I knew it was something I wanted to do. [But] I wanted new songs to support this type of touring instead of just nostalgia every time.
What was it like stepping into Layne Staley’s shoes on Mad Season? And will you record any original material under that group name in the future?
I won’t be doing anything under that name because of the historical significance to it. But I’d certainly be amenable to doing stuff with those three guys, Barrett [Martin], Duff [McKagan] and Mike [McCready]. The experience of being on stage with them and just playing a few songs was really amazing. I was really blown away. Having said that I think of it as something far in the future as all of us are slammed busy. But someday, I would love nothing more than to play with those three guys.
If you go: Chris Cornell is at The Beacon Theatre on Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m., 2124 Broadway, 212-465-6500, $46-$76