Chris Cornell said learning his own songs was 'a pain in the ass'
In 2014, Chris Cornell called in to triple j to chat about Soundgarden's return to Australia for the 2013 Soundwave festival. Speaking with The Doctor, Cornell was hilarious, self-effacing and incredibly humble about his own musical skills.
"We get to come and torture you with a whole bunch of new songs," he joked about the tour. "There’s no reason why Australia should get off the hook and be the only country that doesn't get tortured by Soundgarden and their proud new music."
At the time, the band had just wrapped up a 20-year anniversary celebration of their hugely successful second album Superunknown. While the ever-active Cornell said that looking back on the past wasn't his style, he conceded that he got something out of reliving the band's previous success.
"It was interesting," he said. "Just talking about it a lot was interesting, because it sort of forced me to think about the process, the studio and what we went through to create it.
"It was pretty diverse, there were a lot of different musical feels on it that were kinda new to us. In a way, I think if I sort of look at the context of the world of rock music that it was born into, it was kind of new.
"It was interesting to stop and think about it. Because I don't do that much, I'm always thinking about tomorrow. I don't look back much."
One moment Cornell recalled about the making of that album was the realisation that the band would have to figure out how to play the album live.
There's always that moment where you actually have to learn the songs that we've been writing...Chris Cornell — triple j, 2014
"We sort of become Pink Floyd in the studio, where we use the studio to do whatever we want. We kind of half come up with the album while we're in there, goofing around and recording whatever ideas come up.
"So there's always that moment where you actually have to learn the songs that we've been writing.
"It's usually this uncomfortable period of knowing exactly what the song should sound like and knowing the potential of the song but, as a band, you can't really play it yet."
Which led him to admit the hardest thing he found about playing music, figuring out how to play guitar and sing at the same time.
"It's a total pain in the ass," he said. "That's the only thing that takes work. Everything else is fun, but that part is like patting your belly and rubbing the top of your head at the same time.
"Some people are really good at it, they never have to think about it, some people are like me where I'm not very good at it so I've got to work at it. But it's fun."
Soundgarden made just one record after reforming in 2010. They released King Animal in 2012 and, as Cornell explains, the band had never initially intended on making another record.
"We hadn't discussed necessarily whether we are gonna make an album or not when we got back together," he said. "We didn't know what we were gonna do. That just started to happen. We all had ideas and it just kinda happened by proxy, by us just being in a room and rehearsing for a show. Suddenly we were also writing new stuff."
King Animal was to be Soundgarden's final studio album and the 2015 Soundwave dates were the band's final in Australia. Chris Cornell passed away while on tour with the band in Detroit.