Friday, 28 October 2011
Under The Influence: Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)
Before I got into songwriting, the Beatles had the biggest impact on me musically. That had to do with how young I was, and getting into their whole catalog at the same time. I had stolen a stack of Beatles vinyl that covered their whole career. Two of the records were those ‘best of’ era compilations — those double record sets where one was red and one was blue.
I listened to it all but I gravitated toward the later stuff. Even though I was 9 years old, and had no way of knowing, it was influential in every way as a songwriter and as a singer. Essentially everyone in that band sang at some point. I didn’t know who was who, or if there even was a primary singer, and that had an impact on me. I’ve always approached singing songs in the studio in terms of what is going to sound the best texturally. I’ve never been too worried about having my own specific style as I have in singing a style that’s appropriate to the song. That’s where my range comes from. I really wanted it to sound a certain way, but wanted it to sound, in a certain sense, like a fictional character who is the narrator singing this song.
And in terms of production, those albums influenced me hugely and it took me years to understand that I was doing things a certain way because I loved the way they sound on Beatles records. Sounds and textures and panning and funny, dramatic mixes — what would normally be an inconsequential part where someone sang, or a triangle or something that would come from nowhere, and be the loudest part and then kind of disappear awkwardly. Because it was the Beatles, you didn’t question it. All of that had a huge effect on me.
It wasn’t like the story that I hear a lot of times, where some kid is sitting in his bedroom and he hears KISS for the first time, picks up a guitar and becomes Slash. I didn’t have that moment. I never thought that I would be capable of doing something like that. I was discovering that music would be important in my life as a listener and as a fan.
Chris Cornell (Soundgarden/Audioslave) interviewed on CLATL.com (via The Grunge Report)