Reprinted without permission from Melody Maker,
September 9, 1995
PEPE LEPUNK (THIS WEEK: CHRIS CORNELL OF SOUNDGARDEN)
Each week, Pepe LePunk, editor of 'They Came, They Saw, They Played Conkers: On The Road With Supergrass In Belgium, 1995' and Eurojournalist extraordinaire, flies by the seat of his pants to collar the hottest rock stars
(Scene: Backstage at the Rock Till You Are Hot! Club in Brussels)
CORNELL (struggling to open his beer): Damn, goddamn, stoopid f***ing beer. OPEN, you can of shit!
CORNELL'S MANAGER: What's the problem?
CORNELL: This freakin' Belgian beer's the freakin' problem, goofball! I can't open it!
CORNELL'S MANAGER: Give it here, Chris, it's perfectly simple, you just pull back on this little ring--pull at the top--
CORNELL: NO! F*** you, management! I'll do this on my own! It's YOUR job to see that the tour bus is backed up outside here to take me the 20 yards back to my hotel, it's MY job to open my own...stuff! [Struggles valiantly for a few more moments] F***! F***!
CORNELL'S MANAGER: Chris, you don't have to wrench it open with your bare hands, please just give it here and let me show you. It's a simple device, you just--
CORNELL: See what the problem with this beer is? See why it would never sell in America? Because it's just packaging, right? They put in all this prissy tin stuff round the side that stops you from getting to what's real, which is the beer! Americans wouldn't buy it 'cos it's not real!
CORNELL'S MANAGER: But Chris...
CORNELL: Well, stupid Belgian stuff, you're gonna learn how METAL cuts through the bullshit and gets to the real stuff! Where's my Army knife? Right! [Plunges his blade into the side of the beer can. Beer spurts all over him.]
CORNELL'S MANAGER: Now your trousers are all wet.
CORNELL: Yeah. Yeah! But--at least I can feel something from this beer, it's feeling something that matters rather than all this corporate tin stuff!
PEPE: 'Allo? Zer door was open. It is I, Pepe!
CORNELL'S MANAGER: Hey! I thought I told you half an hour ago, no interview, no way!
PEPE: As you Americans would say, I do not wish to speak to zer monkey but to zer goat. Chris Cornell, Pepe LePunk! This is a proud day! On behalf of Free Belgium, I stride forward to welcome you to Brussels with open legs!
CORNELL: Who the f*** is this fa...er, excessively camp person?
PEPE: I am your hottest fan! You are zer best rock group of your sort since Deep Purple, I say! I have many questions for you to answer zem into my tape machine.
CORNELL: Leave it, man, I can't get my head around it right now.
PEPE: But you do not have to put zer tape machine in your mouth! So. It is good. I ask questions. But first, I ask you a favour. I am shortly doing a Radio Show, and it's called "Pepe's Ponces."
PEPE: "Ponces" iz zer common word for "good friends" in zer Walloon religion. It is a chatting show, you see. So, you say into zer mic, "Hi, I'm Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and I'm proud to be one of Pepe's Ponces!"
CORNELL: No way! No way, man! I am NOBODY'S "ponce", you understand?
PEPE: No matter. Maybe you change your mind later. My first question is this. Why are you called Soundgarden? Zer garden is a quiet place and, hot dog, you are not so quiet!
CORNELL: Hey, man, why are you called Punk? That's your name and it seems to me you have nothing to do with the true spirit of punk, which is represented by Mudhoney, early Black Flag, Bogwater, Dishcloth and--
PEPE: You a little tense. I give you a massage, yes?
CORNELL: Don't f***en' touch me! Ask another question!
PEPE: OK, ducky, as you Americans say! You do not like zer British, disco-dancing groups like Blur, Oasis and zer Suede so much, I hear, with zer haircuts. In fact, you are not so much into zer "camp" music.
CORNELL: Hey, man, don't get me started on that! I just like stuff that, like, is straight. Down the line, means it. I think all those groups should take a leaf out of one of the great American groups of the past 20 years, whose whole attitude was totally honest and real and true and straight. You may not have heard of them, over here. They're called The Vilage People.
PEPE: Sacré bleu!
CORNELL'S MANAGER: Oh, God...
CORNELL: They were a real band, like, a guy's band who talked about what guys like me want. The way they dressed was like every honest blue collar male in America could identify with them. I've got all their records, everything! Man, if I wasn't in Soundgarden, I'd love to be in The Vilage People!
PEPE: This will be hot for my syndicated column to Seattle, "Brussels Calling!..."
CORNELL'S MANAGER: Chris, a word. See, The Village People were... [whispers in Chris' ear]
CORNELL: Shit! No! Dear God! I never suspected, I...now this asshole's gonna put it about all over in Seattle that Chris Cornell's favourite band were...excessively camp!
PEPE: I could be persuaded to forget zis affair for one small favor...
CORNELL (listlessly, into Pepe's tape): Hi, my name's Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and I'm prous to be one of Pepe's--ponces...
PEPE: Ponces! Say it loud and proud with feeling! You are one of my PONCES!
OK, take 27!...