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Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell Talks State of Rock Music and Drug Abuse

Chris Cornell
Paul Zimmerman, Getty Images

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell recently weighed in on the “rock is dead” argument, opened up about his own experiences with drug abuse and marvels at how 70′s rockers could “be completely f—ed up all the time and still function.”

Chris Cornell has lived through several eras where rock music dominated the industry. He was even a major part of the last decade when that statement was true — the 1990′s. In a new interview with Details, Cornell offers his take on rock music’s decline. “It’s definitely lost its place at the center of the musical universe,” says Cornell. “When I was growing up in the late 70′s, everyone could identify the 5, 10 bands that formed the center. Even if you preferred the fringe – The Clash, over say Van Halen – you still knew what the center was. Now kids turn on the radio and hear Eminem or Kanye, so thats what they gravitate towards.”

The grunge icon also believes that technology has played a substantial role in the genre’s sagging popularity. “They’re making music on iPhones. Everything’s fractured,” he explains. “The reason there’s no modern day Shakespeare is because he didn’t have anything to do except sit in a room with a candle and think.”

Having survived the battles with his own personal demons, Cornell also speaks about how drug abuse effected him in the past. “The thing is, when you pick up the pipe for the 1st time, you don’t know that that’s your fate,” Cornell recalls. “The moment isn’t that dramatic. And then that was it – I didn’t want to care anymore.”

He also notes how the tales of 70′s rock gods seemed so much less depressing than those of following generations. “Those bands somehow had the ability to be completely f—ed up all the time and still function. They could play an amazing guitar solo even though they could barely walk,” says Cornell. “The 80′s killed that – everyone was doing coke. If you see interviews w/ some of the stars of MTV’s early years, those guys look worked over. Duran Duran? They went through hell too.”

Chris Cornell is set to return with Soundgarden this year, as they are expected to release their first new album in 16 years at some point in 2012. They recently offered a preview of a new song from ‘The Avengers’ soundtrack called ‘Live to Rise,’ which will be released on May 1.

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