SOUNDGARDEN
ARTICLES

Reprinted without permission from KERRANG!, ?? 1996

ON LOCATION

This week: Chris Cornell drags Morat onto the Eurostar

"Ah, the beautiful British countryside," sighs Soundgarden vocalist/guitarist Chirs Cornell, peering from the window of Eurostar's London to Paris train at some particularly unattractive railway sidings near Penge. "But it's so much nicer here in France," he grins as we emerge from a small tunnel that he knows full well is not the Chunnel.

Travelling, unless it's done by motorcycle down some sunbaked highway, sucks. Chris Cornell knows this better than most people. He's in Europe on a press trip that takes in London, Paris and Hamburg, and mostly involves sitting around answering the same questions every day.

Like the rest of Soundgarden, Chris hates travelling. We're not using the Eurostar today because Cornell's a rock star, but because he has a serious fear of flying and has to take prescription sedatives just to get on a plane.

"My dad flew small planes when I was a kid," says Chris," and I used to go up in those all the time, I was never afraid. But then the first commerical flight I ever had was to New York; it took off from Seattle in bad weather and as soon as we got up we heard this huge explosion, and the pilots came on and said it was 'static discharge'. Yeah, right! That means the plane got struck by lightning. The whole flight was storms all the way, and we had an abortive landing. So that totally freaked me out for a long time."

Cornell spends the next half hour cataloguing a series of travelling disasters that have befallen Soundgarden, like the tour bus that almost plummeted off the Italian Alps when the brakes failed, or the drunken 18-hour nightmare ferry journey to Scandinavia. Then there was the one that nearly wiped out everyone on the Australian Big Day Out tour...

"We were supposed to land at this little airport, but the power had gone out because something got struck by lightning," recalls Chris. "You could see lightning flashing all around the plane. All of a sudden, the clouds part and you see, like, the chimney of a house. Then you could see this house that had 'Jesus Saves' in big letters on the roof. That made everyone nervous because we thought it was the last thing we'd ever see. Our last chance to repent! The pilot forced the plane down at the fourth attempt and everyone went straight to the bar."

Then there was the flight they had in a Puddlejumper. "They're like small commuter planes that crash all the time. We were in bad weather in that, too. About halfway through the pilot comes on and says, 'Apparently...', and then clicks off. We're sitting there for 20 minutes going, 'Apparently what? The engines have broken? One of the wings has dropped off? ' It turned out we were going to be a few minutes early. It's probably some pilot joke thing."

Today on Eurostar we suffer nothing worse than mild boredom. Chris kindly arses about for the photos, plucking nasal hairs and doing a fine impression of a dribbling old codger asleep. His mate Eric, who's keeping him company on the trip, fleeces me of #5 with a card trick. And we arrive in Paris to find the place shut down and swamped with mad French footie fans. Yes, travelling sucks.

CHRIS CORNELL TRAVEL FACTS

  • Chris Cornell moved himself out of Euroclass First Class section into the smoking carriage so he could have a few tabs on the journey.

  • Having lost #3 during the first two hands of poker we played, he won all his money back on the last game. Jammy git.

  • Soundgarden's singer admits that he looks like a 'Native American girl' on his passport photo. This is not good.

  • He would rather ride his custom 1,340cc Harley Davidson bike than sit on a train all day.