Scream-ing For His Supper

3.12.2009

By Courtney Nichols

You modeled for John Varvatos in 2006. Do you maintain a friendship with him?
We are definitely still friends. He comes to shows when I'm on tour and I talk to him occasionally. I was just at his benefit for Stuart House a couple of days ago, which he has put a lot of his time and effort into. It's a rape center for women and children and it has a multifaceted emergency rape and abuse center that has become a new model for that type of thing nationally. John's efforts have been incredible, seeing what's he's done over the past years and the momentum he's created and how much support he's gotten. I've been involved with him on that a little bit.

Would you ever model again?
It's something I never really looked at as something I wanted to do. I kind of did that campaign with him because it was him.

Do you find that fashion and music coincide?
I think they do as a sort of lifestyle. I think a lot of people look at music as being more than just something you listen to, particularly young people. It's a way to distance yourself from people you want to distance yourself from and join a group you want to join. That includes listening to certain music, certain artists and adopting the way they dress, what their style is, what they look like.

Last season David Cook covered your version of Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean.' Are you a fan of other artists covering your arrangements of songs? Or was this a shock to you?
It certainly didn't bother me. I don't think it's a bad thing. You can tell you're obviously out there and your music is sort of reverberating in culture when other people are covering it. In this particular case I really liked it because the fact that when my album Carry On first came out with this twisted version of ['Billie Jean'], a lot of people were critical of me doing something like that. People didn't really get it. David Cook covering it on American Idol was the first of what became a whole bunch of people doing it on X-factor shows all over the world. It became a worldwide X-factor phenomenon of people singing my version of that song. First it was Chris Cornell's lost his mind doing this weird version of 'Billie Jean' and then it was reverberating all around the world where millions of people hear it. You're sitting at home, alone, and you have a weird and creative idea and other people question it. It's sort of my job to do it anyway and not worry what other people think. Not really have my own critical voice be loud based on the fact that other people are not necessarily get what I do sometimes or why I want to do it. Also it's really easy when someone does something dramatically different -- they become an easy target.

You've gone through so many transformations. Have you noticed that your fan base has remained consistent or do you have younger fans that have recently discovered your music?
I've done so many different things that to me it seems pretty spread out -- people who are older than me to people who getting into music right now. They can be fans of music of various times of my career. It's not necessarily about knowing about other periods. There was a big moment when Audioslave got new, young rock fans who didn't necessarily know about Soundgarden. I'll play shows outside the US where I'll go through a repertoire that includes Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog and Audioslave and solo things like the James Bond theme and other songs. A lot of people realize that my voice is the same throughout all these different things.

What will the next album be like?
I'll have no idea what I'll do. I haven't thought about my next album yet.

What's the tour going to be like? Do you have any special tricks to expect while you're onstage?
I'm planning on it being an entire career retrospective as well as my new album. I play really long shows and I may do some more shows where it's the entire new album first and then catalog songs. The new album is an hour of continuous music and it's a one-idea album in a way. That's the way I perform it, so, we'll see.

Scream is available in stores and online now.

Chris Cornell will appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno March 20th and The Carson Daly Show on March 24th and 25th.

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