Scream-ing For His Supper

3.12.2009

By Courtney Nichols

Chris Cornell is a man of diverse musical interests. Not only did he help create the plaid shirt and torn jean craze of the early '90s with his grunge band Soundgarden, Cornell has also fronted the bands Audioslave and Temple of the Dog, wrote the theme song for the James Bond flick Casino Royale, and released three solo albums. On his newest release, Scream, Cornell puts his rock endeavors on hold to collaborate with hip-hop producer Timbaland. We chatted with the singer moments before he played The Jimmy Kimmel show to find out about adding big beats to his musical repertoire, modeling for John Varvatos, and how he really feels about David Cook covering his version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."

Out: How has Screambeen received so far?
Chris Cornell: Good. I've actually played the album live twelve times now from beginning to end, in different parts of the world. All the performances were really amazing.

What kind of audiences were you playing for?
Those shows tended to be my hardcore fans because they were small clubs and sold-out shows. That's partly why I felt the reaction was really great because these are people who are going to be the most critical of such a change in terms of how different my album is.

In the studio, since it was your first time working with Timbaland, what did the recording process entail?
The writing and recording part of it was different from what I've done before. I don't know how different it is than other people in the hip-hop world. For example, Timbaland didn't really have anyone around. There was no one hanging out ever. It was people there just working on the album. It was a situation where we were kind of writing for beats and recording vocals and other instruments all the time, as opposed to writing songs and working them out and rehearsing the songs and playing with a live band, which how I am more used to doing things. In the years I've done things just about every way you can do it.

Were you a fan of Timbaland before your brother-in-law suggested his name?
My brother-in-law suggested him for a remixer and that's how I ended up getting in contact with him. I had heard productions he had done for a long time actually, but it was talking to him on the phone that convinced me to work with him. It was my idea to go for a whole album versus doing either two or three songs or remixes. It seemed like it would be an interesting project.

Timbaland predicted you would be the 'first rock star in the club.' What's your reaction to such a statement?
It feels great! I don't know if it's really true because I feel like U2 has probably already been there. I'm actually getting a lot of club presence for the song 'Part of Me' already.

Referring to the club scene, have you ever performed at your club in Paris, Black Calavados?
I haven't. I have performed at Neyo, which is my brother-in-law's other club. It's a little bit bigger. But no I have never performed there.

What type of club is it? Describe the typical crowd.
It's a mixed crowd and it has turned into more of a lounge and bar. It depends on what is going on. If it is Fashion Week in Paris then it's packed full of fashion week people.

Why did you decide to open Black Calavados in Paris?
It was the building and the fact that my brother-in-law was working and already owning clubs there and looking for another place to open. And we were living there. It wasn't like we looking to open something like that and had to choose a place. We were living there. It just kind of happened.

Do you consider Paris home? I know you have lived all over the world.
We live between Los Angeles and Paris. I would love to consider Paris my home. I wish we could spend more time there. With my job we end of moving around a lot but it's between the two places.

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