Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell discussed the deaths of Layne Staley and Andrew Wood in a new interview with Rolling Stone Australia.
Cornell also talked about how Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder helped Seattle’s rock scene heal after Wood’s death, and the emotion he felt when revisiting Mad Season’s Above when he was preparing for January’s Sonic Evolution performance. Check out the article below.
“I had a similar sentiment that was actually based more around the Mad Season songs. I think there’s something about the Temple songs that always feels triumphant to me, and the reason I say that is because we were all really young, and as far as I know, none of us had had anything like that happen to us – where someone young and really close to us, and who had such promise and was so inspiring as a songwriter and as a person, dies, needlessly, unexpectedly, and there’s no way to characterise it in a positive way. There was no silver fucking lining to that happening ever. And yet, Temple kind of became this moment where we came together as friends in mourning and we created something that became timeless. And the experience of doing it was really great. There was no tension, there were no expectations for it commercially or otherwise, we were all enjoying each other’s company as well as enjoying making the album together. I was having this great moment of taking songs I had written and seeing a completely different group of people approach them, and see what that could turn into, and it turned into an amazing thing.
And also Pearl Jam was forming [out of the ashes of Andrew Wood’s band, Mother Love Bone] right around the time we were making the record, and it felt like that was a very big healing thing; to have Eddie [Vedder] come into the fold of this small group of friends and just somehow know that he was going to bring something creative into their lives. And that [band] that seemed like it was going to die and wither away suddenly had this huge spark, and our scene as friends and our scene as Seattle musicians went from one moment of mourning and this horrible, dour depression to hopefulness again. I think of that as a really triumphant moment that remembers a friend in the best possible way.
Having said that, doing the Mad Season songs and singing them was really difficult for me, ’cause I didn’t know them. That wasn’t an album I’d performed, I didn’t know all the words. I’d heard the songs but I had to listen to the ones that I sang and learn them and then learn the lyrics. And what ended up happening was, I’m listening to Layne [Staley] singing them over and over and over, and it was so sad. It was so sad to hear his performances and hear his expression and kind of know where he was during that period, which wasn’t great, and you hear this kind of vibrant talent, the character of who he really is coming through in the song, ’cause he was able to do that, he was able to convey that. It might have been the first time I really had to confront the fact that he’s dead and he’s not coming back.”