Tom Morello Reveals What Was ‘Terrifying’ About Chris Cornell: ‘It’s Dark And Scary’

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Former Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello discussed Chris Cornell in a new Q&A. Alternative Nation transcribed his remarks.

“We spent a lot of time listening to Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger. Chris’ vocals were not just beautiful on that, but the lyrics and the vocals were also really terrifying. You listen to those words, you are like who is that guy? It’s really kind of dark and scary, and it’s beautiful, and it’s super rocking. We thought we should at least have a talk with that guy. So Rick and I get in my 1985 Chevrolet Astro Van, and we drive up to, Chris lived in Ojai at the time.

Rick Rubin, he’s fantastic he’s one of the greatest producers of all time, but he’s fancy. He’s never been in a van the last 50 years. He usually drives in a Rolls Royce that is inside another Rolls Royce, that’s his normal means of transportation, so this is an unusual trip for him. So he’s in my van, we’re driving up there, it’s dusk, and Chris of course lives in the end of the loneliest road of the loneliest hill. We get there and it’s this sort of Spanish mansion at the top, and it’s getting darker, and we pull in and there’s these motorcycles in the court yard, a long staircase going up to the house. So we park, and Rick and I are like, alright. I swear to you straight up Adams Family doors in the house that open without any reason for them opening, and Chris, who was 6’2, and this lanky figure, comes stalking out.

He hits the stairs, and he’s coming down, and Rick turns to me and says, ‘Let’s get the fuck out of here.’ ‘I’m not gonna be here after dark with that. We’ve got one chance to turn around Morello, put this thing in reverse.’ (Laughs) ‘I’ll reconcile with Zack [de la Rocha], because this is too fuckin’ scary. Not worth it, it’s getting dark.’ Fortunately we did not chicken out, and we did have a good conversation with Chris that night. Chris had a lot of demons to process, but he managed to harness those demons for 52 years to make some of the greatest rock and roll people have ever heard.”