Being in one hugely successful band is rad; being in several is proof that you’ve got something special going on. Such was the case with Chris Cornell, whose renowned work fronting grunge progenitors Soundgarden gave way to an incredible solo career and a solid run as the frontman of hard rockers Audioslave. It was in the latter band that Cornell grew close to Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who recalls in a new interview how he met the singer alongside famed producer Rick Rubin — and how Rubin was a little taken aback by the lanky, shadowy Cornell.
“When Rage broke up, Brad [Wilk, drums], Tim [Commerford, bass] and I still wanted to play together,” Morello told Metal Hammer, “and we kept listening to [Soundgarden’s] Badmotorfinger. Chris had an amazing voice, but he had a dark, Edgar Allan Poe poetry to him, we wondered what he was really like, so we decided to go talk to him.”
Morello ended up going to meet with Cornell with Rubin, known for helming legendary albums by Slayer, Danzig, and Jay-Z. But apparently, upon arriving at the singer’s eerie hilltop home, Rubin wanted to turn tail.
“[Rubin] doesn’t leave the house for anything, unless it’s in a Rolls Royce inside another Rolls Royce, but he’s in my van.” recalled Morello. “Chris lived in LA at the top of the last and loneliest mountain, it was dusk and the sunlight was going and this mansion he lived in was creepy as hell, the gates just opened like Addams Family style, and we drove in and there is Chris, 6’2 and a half, lanky of frame, dark of countenance, and he starts slowly walking towards us and Rick freaked out and goes, ‘Let’s get the fuck out of here!’
“We stayed, he was the most loving and generous guy,” says Morello, “and we were in a band for six years together.”
Words by Chris Krovatin