SOUNDGARDEN frontman Chris Cornell spoke to the San Francisco radio station KITS (Live 105) yesterday (Thursday, September 27) about "Been Away Too Long", the new single from the reunited grunge legends, which has just arrived at radio stations, iTunes and other digital retailers. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
The new SOUNDGARDEN album, "King Animal", comes out on November 13. It's the first all-new set of material from the reunited group since 1996's "Down On The Upside".
The band's first new song since regrouping, "Live To Rise", was a rock radio hit in June when it was issued as the lead single from the soundtrack of the movie "The Avengers".
"This new album 'King Animal', it has a lot of layers to it," Cornell told Live 105. "It's something that it will take time for people to kind of digest, and it's not something that I could describe to you right now or that you will understand based on listening to the first single, for example.
"When 'Live To Rise' came out, I did some interviews where a lot of people were asking, 'Is this kind of indicative of the feel of the new album?' And the answer was, no, it's not really. If you take any song from the new album, and take it out of context of the new album, that's not, either. There's a lot going on, but it's definitely [indicative] on some level of where we are now."
Regarding how "Been Away Too Long" came together, Cornell said, "When we started talking about making a new album — this was almost two years ago — I was sitting around and one night having trouble sleeping. I was thinking of new SOUNDGARDEN songs and the music in my head was some sort of uptempo kind of SOUNDGARDEN version of a punk rock song, but not 'Been Away Too Long'. And that line sort of flashed across as I was just kind of listening to what I call brain radio, and I thought, 'Wow, that would be a great new SOUNDGARDEN song.' Then I forgot it, completely. The music was something else that I had written and demoed in a fairly compact form without a bridge. Really, it was, like, verse-chorus-solo with no lyrics, no vocals, nothing, and played it for the band and they really liked it. We worked on it as a band arranging it, Ben [Shepherd, bass] came up with kind of a jammy bridge section that was really cool and we recorded it like that and it was done, but I had still never wrote anything. Towards the end, when we were almost to mixing and we were finished with the album, I was having trouble sleeping one night and I remembered that line and thought, 'This would be really great for like a first SOUNDGARDEN single.' But as I started to write the lyrics, then it became more autobiographical and it became real."
He continued, "I don't think I would write lyrics to a SOUNDGARDEN album that would be like Eminem writing lyrics to a new Eminem song, which is essentially telling the story of the making of the album and where he feels he exists in pop culture and that kind of thing. So it's not really that, it's more autobiographical and more of a look back at history in sort of a strange atmospheric way, the way that I write. But the initial spark of the idea did feel like it would be right in the narrative of, yes, we've been out, and we've been gone for 15 years, and now we're back. It's about time, and we still have something to say about rock music that no one else is saying and I feel confident about saying that."
Banana1015.com called "Been Away Too Long" "a harder-hitting and true to form return of the most avant-garde group of the 1990s grunge scene," while Consequence Of Sound dubbed it "a fine modern rock track — that is, if you enjoy it coming at you 700 mph and from Mars."
SOUNDGARDEN reunited in 2010 after a 13-year break, releasing a retrospective collection called "Telephantasm" and a concert album titled "Live On I-5".
"King Animal" track listing:
01. Been Away Too Long
02. Non-State Actor
03. By Crooked Steps
04. A Thousand Days Before
05. Blood On The Valley Floor
06. Bones of Birds
09. Black Saturday
10. Halfway There
11. Worse Dreams
12. Eyelid's Mouth
SOUNDGARDEN has yet to announce tour plans in support of "King Animal".