Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready discussed Chris Cornell and Layne Staley’s death earlier this week on the Jim and Sam Show. Alternative Nation transcribed his remarks when he was asked if he knew about Chris Cornell’s depression.
“I never knew any of that stuff. There’s a picture [in my new book Of Potato Heads and Polaroids], the first shot is of me, Chris, Eddie, and Nancy Wilson. That was a Temple show at the Moore Theater. Chris that night took me out for dinner to talk to me about the project, we had Italian food, and we talked about Pink Floyd and all sorts of stuff.
He was always cool to me, in terms of helping me out in my career: ‘Hey, you want to play on this Temple of the Dog record?’ This was the first legitimate record I was ever on, so it was a big deal. I was terrified, but also I wanted to do the best I could. Specifically with ‘Reach Down,’ he heard the first solo I did one time, and was like, ‘I’m going to go outside, and I’ll come back in 10 minutes, and I want to hear you do something different.’ So I just did that one solo that’s on there in one take, and that was after him making me kind of lighten up.”
He later added, “Not knowing anything about depression or any kind of thing, I had no idea. I just knew him on a musical sense, and a friendship, a brotherhood, and I miss him dearly. It’s super sad, and I’m still in shock over it. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t even know how to talk about it, it’s just super sad.
I’m really lucky and happy I got to play with him, and do the Temple of the Dog tour we just did. The reunion of sorts, because I had to have him in my headphones every night, that was amazing to hear him sing. I’ve been blessed to be able to play with a lot of great singers, and I don’t take that for granted. Ed, Chris, Mark Lanegan, Layne, all those guys.”
A host asked him if Layne Staley’s death was less of a surprise due to his issues.
“Your insight is correct. I felt that it may happen with Layne, and you kind of saw the trajectory of that happening unfortunately, because of his addiction. That was just dark and grim. Again, I was happy to be able to do music with him for the Mad Season record, and I’m very proud of that, and it means so much to some people that I’ve talked to.
I think it was freeing for him to sing on that thing, because I was like, ‘Do whatever you want man. You’re a great singer, just do it.’ But he struggled, you can’t necessarily say you see that coming, but it’s just one of those things. Again, like oh man, another guy dies.”
A host added that he wonders if the seasonal weather leads to Seattle musicians doing drugs.
“There could be a thing about that.”
McCready later quipped, “Don’t move there, nobody. Nobody move there!”