Reprinted without permission from Metal Hammer, July
SHOOTING FROM THE HIP! 20 QUESTIONS WITH CHRIS CORNELL
MH: What is the proudest achievement of your life so far?
CC: Living to be 31 years old! When I was 15 I was pretty convinced that I wouldn't make it. I dunno why, I just thought something big was going to happen to me one way or another -- either I was going to die or my life was going to change dramatically somehow. It just happened to change dramatically.
MH: Do you believe in God?
CC: No, because the interpretation of what God -- or a god -- is, I wouldn't have. I don't see some white, grey-haired old man sitting on a throne throwing lightning bolts at us when we least expect it.
MH: What is the music scene like in Seattle in 1996?
CC: It's very non-Seattle. It's very much like the LA scene was eight years ago. A lot of musicians and bands from outside Seattle moved there to 'make it big in the music business'. So now all the demo studios are doing big business and all the rehearsal studios are full and charging lots of money (laughs). It's kind of helped the economy, but not the music scene.
MH: What is the most outrageous thing you've ever done while you've been in Soundgarden?
CC: Hmmm... Whatever memory I have of it, I might have drank it away between then and now. What could it be? Hmmm... I'll have to stick with my first answer -- that whatever memory I have of it I've drank away.
MH: When was the last time you got so drunk you threw up?
CC: It's been a while. I'm not a big throw-up guy. I don't like it, so I try to not throw up regardless of how much I drink. I usually pass out and fall over first. But when we were in the studio for 'Superunknown' I was trying to quit smoking a I was chewing tobacco instead. The producer guy brought in this bottle of Scotch, and I hadn't eaten that day and I took a big pull on the Scotch, and I had the tobacco in my mouth. It went down good, so I took another big swig. And then all of a sudden I was rushing to the bathroom and my whole head felt like it was going to explode and I was throwing up pure Scotch and tobacco. It was pretty awful, but me and Scotch are friends again now.
MH: Should abortion be legal or illegal?
CC: There's different types of abortion and there's different reasons for doing it. But if you look at it this way: in terms of overpopulation, from ghettos to the white under-class, it doesn't make any sense to me to have these militant religious sects try to ban abortion. I think if they really want to protect children and do some good they should look after the living.
MH: Have you ever committed a crime, and if so what was it?
CC: That's an easy answer: yes. But these are the sort of answers it's probably best not to elaborate on!
MH: Why do people think you're a miserable bastard?
CC: Probably because I'm not very good at the whole self-promotion angle of rock music. I think kids are brought up to see rock bands as being these devil-may-care crazy people who throw out a lot of one-liners and live life on the edge; creating personalities like Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne created. We've always been interested in making music, so the whole angle of presenting ourselves is foreign to us. Being uncomfortable makes us seem quiet and depressed and perhaps a bit miserable.
MH: What is your favorite breed of dog?
CC: Dogs are kind of like people; breeds have a certain significance. But the dog I had with the most personality was a mixed-breed. It always seems to be the mixed-breed dogs that do the craziest, most eccentric things.
MH: What music do you like to have sex to?
CC: Real moody stuff.
MH: What do you think of British rock music that's around today?
CC: Well, being from the U.S., the only British rock music you ever hear about is the pop that gets video and airplay. I sure like it more than the British new wave that got played the hell out of in the '80s -- the Human League, Thompson Twins. There's a lot of British pop I feel I can get off on today, but it still sounds like British pop to me. The point is, it doesn't sound like anything new. But I'm also convinced there's a lot of British rock music that's good that we don't get to hear.
MH: Have you ever been for an Aids test?
CC: Once, yeah. There's quite a few rock musicians who have quite a promiscuous lifestyle, but I'm not going in after every tour for a new Aids test -- 'Well, have I got it this time?' (laughs).
MH: Have you ever been threatened with a gun or at knife-point?
CC: No, not really. I've been near people who have pulled guns. Not to threaten me, but to show me they had a gun. Like, 'Leave me alone, I have a gun!' But I was a lot younger then. I saw someone get shot once, in the Bay Area, though.
MH: Do you have any strange hobbies?
CC: Hmmm... I collect wax! No, I don't, really. Ha ha, beautiful gloves of different colored wax! No, not really. I talk to myself, but I guess most people do. And I'm sure whatever I'm saying to myself is quite interesting.
MH: What do you think of the Kiss re-formation?
CC: I predicted that when they did their self-promoted tribute to themselves record ('Kiss My Ass'). I thought they were really into keeping the name alive so they'd eventually do the original line-up thing. And now a few years later it's here. I think it'll be great for old Kiss fans.
MH: What was your first job when you left school?
CC: I left school pretty early, but I always worked in restaurants, bussing tables.
MH: What's the worst thing about being in Soundgarden?
CC: The best thing about being a successful musician is that you're your own boss. But the worst thing is aspects of not being able to just do anything you want to do. You have this sense of freedom, and it kind of gets shattered. As soon as you've finished an album you have to agree on packaging and photographers and stuff that doesn't come naturally to us. Ultimately, though, you think it's just great being a musician and being able to make music.
MH: When was the last time you saw Eddie Vedder?
CC: I think I saw him in a magazine shop at the airport. He was on the cover of a European magazine. He looked like he was in pretty good spirits, though. But I can't remember the name of the magazine.
MH: What would you do if Pamela Anderson came backstage at one of your shows and propositioned you?
CC: I'd have her arrested, and I'd have my lawyer contact her lawyers, and I'd sue her for sexual harassment and I'd win. And it would be like a very big legal case. You always hear about sexism in rock, but I've never gone off and touched a woman when she didn't want me to. But many times on stage and off I've had girls come up and grab my crotch, and that's sexual harassment. So I'd take her to court and I'd sue her husband and Baywatch and everybody, because I'm American and that's what Americans do.
MH: How would you feel if one of your band attempted to commit suicide?
CC: Well obviously I wouldn't feel to good about it. But I don't imagine that would ever happen. As a band we're all too stable.