The Pretty Reckless singer Taylor Momsen was opening for Soundgarden on their final tour before Chris Cornell died by suicide in Detroit. Momsen discussed singing an Audioslave classic shortly after Cornell’s death, and how she struggled with substance abuse in the wake of the tragedy.
Momsen told Offstage With DWP about Soundgarden influencing her, “Their level of artistry and songwriting and musicianship is so above what I can even comprehend. It’s so intricate, it’s so detailed, it’s so good and it’s so smart that it takes a minute to understand Soundgarden. They’re catchy, and everyone’s heart the hits, but when you really investigate Soundgarden and get into it, it’s like a religion — it’s so in-depth and it’s just superior to so much music that’s out there.
“I’ve based my whole career and identity off of The Beatles and Soundgarden. They’re two bands that I put next to each other, and I know that might sound crazy to some people. But they’re so important. There’s very few bands, I think, that needed to exist, and Soundgarden is one of those bands that there’d be a hole in the music world without their records.”
She later said about covering “Like a Stone” after Cornell’s death, “That was a cover that we’d been doing for years, just because I love singing the song, but it certainly took on a different meaning at that show. I could barely get through it. It was probably not my greatest moment. I was not in a very good place to be public, ’cause after that, I canceled all touring. I needed some time to clear my head, to process what had happened, or attempt to, so I went home after that. I couldn’t get on stage and pretend that I was okay and that I was happy to be there.
To put on a show and put on façade, I wasn’t capable of doing that. So I left and went dark for a while to try to regroup. And then, unfortunately, as I started to put the pieces back together, I got the phone call that Kato, our producer, had passed in a motorcycle accident. So that kind of put the nail in the coffin. Not to get super heavy here, but I fell down a hole into such depression, substance abuse and a hole of grief that I didn’t know how to get out of. And it took a while.
To make a very long story short, it took music, rock and roll, to save my life again,” she explained. “I know it sounds super cliché, but it’s entirely true, ’cause I had nothing — I had given up on everything. I didn’t know if I wanted to do this anymore, I just thought, ‘What’s the point?’ And I turned to music, ’cause music, in my entire life, has been the one thing that’s never let me down — it’s always been my friend; it’s always been my salvation.
And listening to the records that I loved turned into me wanting to write — not even wanting to write, it just kind of became this outpour of writing without really… I didn’t have to try to write this record; I kind of just poured it out. And then that led to figuring out how to record this album. So there was a lot of baby steps in trying to heal, but without music, I don’t know how I would have made it through.”