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Chris Cornell reflects on Casino Royale and `You Know My Name`

18-Aug-2007 • Casino Royale

Daniel Craig wasn't the only surprising choice for the latest Bond film. Chris Cornell, singer of the film's theme tune You Know My Name, was an odd man out as well - reports ThisIsNottingham.

For such a mainstream project, the American star seemed a decidedly alternative choice. Best known for his time fronting hugely successful grunge band Soundgarden, he then fronted Audioslave, alongside three members of fellow 90s rock behemoths Rage Against The Machine.

"I was surprised to be asked", recalls the 42-year-old.

"And I had some reservations about it. Guys like me resist stuff like that. Then I heard about Daniel Craig being James Bond.

"I'd actually seen him in several films and was starting to pay attention to him. I knew he was an accomplished actor, and James Bonds tend to be the people's actor - you like them because that's who they are.

"Sean Connery is always Sean Connery. I'm a huge fan, but he doesn't transform for roles. So I imagined that this could be an amazing twist."

Which was pretty much the opposite reaction to most fans and pundits on Daniel Craig's casting.

"Yeah. But I was a fan of his already and I thought, if they do this right, it could be genius. Then they showed me the opening sequence where my song was going to be, and I was really excited to be the guy to make that song.

"But the biggest trepidation really is that you're on a list with bands like Duran Duran, and A-ha, and Paul McCartney. Oh and Lulu, whoever that is, I don't know who that is."

His second solo album Carry On was released in May, prior to which he announced he was quitting Audioslave.

The album hit the top ten in the UK and he's following its success with a tour that includes Rock City next month.

When not working Cornell divides his time between Los Angeles and Paris, where he met his wife Vicky Karayiannis. The couple have two children - a daughter Toni, three, and a son, also called Chris, who is one in December. He also has a six-year-old daughter from his previous marriage to former Soundgarden manager Susan Silver.

"Having a family has had a huge impact on me. First of all, having a wife and a relationship where it's someone who's your best mate - I didn't have that before.

"I didn't even know that was possible. I always assumed that relationships were like, you're the guy, she's the girl, you do your separate things and occasionally you run into each other.

"And having children makes a big difference. You just stop worrying about so much of the stuff that you otherwise worry about - your career or what your hair's doing that day. Everything is boring compared to the amount of excitement you get from being around your children."

He adds: "We have rooms in our homes where there's no furniture and my children and I have these little electric cars that we drive around and we kick balls in there. I'm the kind of Dad who doesn't care", he laughs.

"I didn't have a dad like that when I was growing up. Everything was in its proper place, you didn't screw around. So now, as an adult, I'm reliving a childhood I didn't get to have."

Born in Seattle, Chris had a troubled childhood. Suffering from bouts of depression as a teenager, he got involved in drugs and theft. But it was a stolen collection of Beatles records that got him interested in music.

His mother, as he puts it, saved his life when she bought him a snare drum. He developed a passion for hitting the skins and before long he'd formed Soundgarden, eventually fronting the band as their singer. The four-piece would eventually go on to sell millions of records worldwide, spearheading a revolution with the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and a new take on rock music that would become known as grunge.

"I'm proud of being part of that", he says. "There's a separation in my memory - one side really feels like it's ten minutes ago, part of me is so much the same person. But if I think about what my life was like then, I never would have seen the journey ending up here."

Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, in what seemed a genuine case of good old-fashioned creative differences. For Chris, however, it marked the beginning of another troubled period of his life. Depression hit again and he turned to drink. He remembers times when he was trying to write songs in the studio, but instead he would just lie on the sofa nursing a god-awful hangover.

"I was having emotional problems. I really had to butt heads with the fact that I was in the wrong world, in the wrong place, and in a marriage that was falling apart. It was certainly my least prolific period."

These days the creative juices flow much easier thanks to a lack of alcohol in his life. But does he ever worry the depression will come back?

"I've learnt over the years it's a family trait. I've learnt how to deal with it in a lot of ways. In struggling with something like depression you have to figure out what of it is hereditary, what of it is chemical, and what of it is my life.

"But with that experience now I'm not that worried about it. Now I'm happily married, I have young children, I have a career that's going great. Nothing in my life is at all depressing."

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