The incident, which took place soon after Cornell had quit Soundgarden in 1999, was sufficiently unnerving to make Morello’s companion, producer Rick Rubin, want to leave before they’d actually spoken to the singer.
“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 told Metal Hammer in a new interview, recalling the time he wanted to start the band that would become Audioslave. “[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.”
Morello recalled that Cornell “lived in L.A. 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, six-foot-two-and-a-half, lanky of frame, dark of countenance. … 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, and we were in a band for six years together.”
Morello recently discussed his 2007 song “The Garden of Gethsemane,” inspired by a message he received from Cornell after the singer was missing for several weeks. “He sent me a text that said, ‘If you swallow a coin from the wishing well, your dreams will come true in heaven or hell,’” the guitarist recalled. “I used that lyric as the centerpiece in this song for my friend who had one foot in the shadows.”
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