Jeffgarden Radio Is Live - Stream Online On Desktop Or Mobile

We've re-launched our Jeffgarden Radio online radio station.  We had the station several years ago but had to take it down due to changes in copyright, licensing, and DMCA rules and laws. 

We are back up, hosting hundreds of combined tracks from Soundgarden, Audioslave, Chris Cornell, and Temple of the Dog - as well as many collaborations featuring Chris Cornell. 

We of course also have several other artists on the station, and are adding more multiple times a day - Full Artist List

The new station is hosted by Live365 and can be streamed from the browser, desktop apps that allow adding a URL to stream from (such as VLC and iTunes, among others) and several apps on iOS and Android - Full Listening Options

We have custom playlists scheduled throughout the day, and when the station is on Auto DJ, it follows current DMCA rules.  We also have a couple recurring schedule of broadcasts - Licensing/Legal Information | Broadcast Schedule

Use the Comments section of this post, Twitter (Jeff | Lea | Meghan | Jeffgarden Radio), or email for issues/questions/suggestions.

Interview: Alain Johannes [Guitar One - Oct./1999]

Interview with Alain Johannes from Guitar One, October 1999

Q&A with Chris Cornell’s co-producer and guitarist, Alain Johannes

What steps did you take to help capture the particular sound Chris was after with Euphoria Morning?

Chris has impeccable ears, and what he wants is so clear in his mind. But he also knows how to search – he’s got a great nose, so he knows when we’re going in the wrong direction. We started in July of last year, and basically over six or seven months – with tiny little breaks in between – recorded the whole album here in the house. Chris, Natasha and I produced it, wrote a few songs together, and had a wonderful experience being as creative as we possibly could, without the pressures of a commercial studio.

We wanted to make sure that everything was beautifully orchestrated, but we were careful with our choice of instruments, choosing them for their character and how they fit overall with the song. And Chris’ voice has such a beautiful timbre that it’s difficult to hear by the time you poke through a heavy and layered sound; the full richness of his voice doesn’t become apparent. So we were really careful about the sonic placement of things. We would take a chord progression and split it into several smaller triads or bits and then assign it over the whole range – from the bass, to several guitars, to the organ, to whatever – yet leave enough space for the vocal to breathe properly. We wanted the vocals to be as in-your-face as possible.

There are tons of unique guitar sounds on this record. What are some of the unorthodox techniques that you and Chris experimented with?

Chris used a drill on ‘Mission’ – where it almost sounds like bowed glass [1:07-1:17]. He had a drill with a buffer on it, and he would use it as a pick. The drill would excite the string, producing this funny, glassy sound. I think he used that on ‘Preaching The End Of The World’ as well. We would try anything. On ‘Wave Goodbye’ the slide guitar sound that’s going from right to left , that’s a butter knife. But it had to be the right kind [laughs] – some knives sounded too bright, some were too dark.

I always had to make sure that some kind of recording was going on because there were several great sounds that just popped up – usually in the guest room, which is where the majority of the amps were set up. And I always had a DAT ready with a mic, and sometimes you’d capture it, sometimes you wouldn’t. There was an incredible day where this cricket was making some amazing sound, and every time we tried to record him he would change and do something that wasn’t so hot. Then we’d go away and he’d start again – he basically told us he didn’t want to be part of it [laughs].

I’m very used to hearing ambient sounds and hearing their musical applications – it’s another tool for composition, another sound for a song. And because all the songs stand on their own as acoustic guitar and vocal, there was actually quite a bit if space in the sonic landscape to plant stuff and watch it grow.

You played a lot of guitar on this record. Did Chris give you free reign to do whatever you wanted, or did he sometimes coach you to go after a particular vibe?

It wasn’t so much of a ‘coaching’ thing, it was more of a silent understanding of what was required. Chris is an amazing guitar player to me because he’s got this incredible feel. The way he plays has a ‘breathing’ quality that comes from his understanding of the song from the inside and from being the singer of the song. On the couple of songs where I played acoustic, like ‘Preaching The End Of the World’ and ‘Follow My Way’, it was actually pretty difficult because his feel is so important. I would have to become that person for that song – which was hard, not having written it and not having it come from inside me – and it actually took a couple of days of living with the part itself.

There are some pretty trippy solos on this record. The solo in ‘Steel Rain’ sounds like a cross between Alan Holdsworth and Brian Setzer with all that wild tremelo bar vibrato.

I’ve incorporated the tremelo into my playing to the point where I’m always holding it. I prefer the Jazzmaster I; it can be pulled up and down and it’s not as severe as other tremelos. And except for a couple of strumming things, whatever parts I played – including all my solos – I played with my fingers; I didn’t use a pick. I’ve been experimenting with pulling at the strings and hitting them with my nails because you can actually do a lot more with your fingers. I just wanted to approach it that way – especially when I’m playing a guitar with single-coil pickups – it just speaks so much better.

You’re playing some interesting blues phrases in ‘When I’m Down’.

That whole solo is triple-tracked; I wanted that thick sound. I love the way the Beatles’ vocals sounded when they were double or triple-tracked; they have a certain imperfection and a certain thickness. George Harrison used to do a lot of that – doubling the solo – usually when there was a ‘set’ part. And I would never stick a chorus or a doubler effect on something to get that sound because it’s completely different. So in this case something came out of my head, and then I had to learn it again, which is really difficult for me because I never play the same thing twice - a blessing and a problem. My playing is really all ear-based; I never really studied. I love discovering and never really getting inside the instrument in a very academic way. For me, music has to be as mysterious as it was when I was a kid, at all times, even though the more time passes, the more I’ve become a musician. I’m just trying to stay as fresh as possible. When I play, it always feels like I’m about to fall off my stool or the edge of a cliff. I like that dangerous feeling.

Temple of the Dog @ Bridge School Benefit [Pro Shot, Soundboard Audio]

Our friend from Florida Soundgarden concerts and assembler of videos for the official Temple of the Dog DVD, Steve Duchin [Facebook] [YouTube], has put together this version of the Temple of the Dog performance of Hunger Strike from the Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View, California 10.25.2014

Meet & Greet: Soundgarden @ Tampa, FL 08.11.2014

We had a chance to have a meet and greet with Chris Cornell before Soundgarden's set.  We had just driven up to Tampa from the Soundgarden show in West Palm the previous night. 

This was our second time getting to see Chris backstage, and the first time in our home state.  Little Chris and Toni were also there, running in and out of the room where they held the meet and greet. 

Our previous meet and greet was at an Austin Soundgarden show with one other couple. This was the first time where we would be alone with just Chris and, intermittently, the kids.  

Photofantasm wasn't complete yet so we printed out the would-be cover of the book, and made a homemade poster for Chris to sign.  

Here is a mostly complete transcript of our meeting...


Chris: How are you ? Good to see you

Meghan: Likewise 

Chris: What do you got ?

Meghan: Oh ! Stuff to sign

Chris: Oh, ok

Meghan: You wanna see ?

Chris: Sure !

Meghan: Alright...So, a little homemade poster.


(Chris stares at the poster, reading the caption.  Can’t quite tell if he likes it or is maybe slightly annoyed by it...)

Chris: That’s cute

Meghan: And then...that’s for the...that’s going to be the cover of the Telephantasm book.  I mean we’re not gonna include the autograph in the book...

Chris: Oh ok

Meghan: We just wanted a....picture

Chris: How’ve you guys been ?

Meghan: Been Great !

Chris: Good

Meghan: How ‘bout you ?

Chris: Good !

Meghan: It’s so great to like finally see you like in our home state

Chris: Yeah ?

Meghan: You guys are like a very expensive favorite band to have

Chris: Yeah...

Meghan: We’ve seen Soundgarden like somewhere around 15 times and we live in Florida.

Chris: Uh huh

Meghan: So it’s, great to see you guys here

Chris: Where’s the farthest you’ve gone ?

Meghan: Seattle

Chris: (thinking about it) yeah, i guess, that makes sense, i guess. I was guessing a different country.  Where, what part in Florida ?

Meghan: Miami

Chris: Ah, cool.

Meghan: (yeah)

Chris: ...

Meghan: ...

Jeff: ...

Chris: ...what else we doin ? Where’s your book ?

Meghan: Well the book itself isn’t out yet

Chris: uh huh, it’s not done yet ?

Meghan: It’s...we’re flying to Michigan in September to kind of finalize it with, look it over before it goes to print

Chris: Wow

Meghan: Yeah, we’re really excited about it


Jeff: I don’t know if you remember Mike and Jaye...English ?

Chris: Yeah

Jeff: Yeah we’re planning to meet with them...and finish it....(at this point realize there there was no reason to say the one thing I’ve said so far)

Chris: Yeah...did I meet them ?

Jeff: Yeah

Meghan: Yeah

Chris: I’m trying to place them

Jeff: You met in New York, at least, among other times

Chris: Like THIS met them ? Or...

Jeff: No it wasn’t...I think this was outside of any concerts

Chris: Oh okay, yeah, I know their names, just trying to place their faces

Meghan: Yeah we met them at a Seattle songbook show and ever since we’ve gotten together to see you

Chris: Oh you do ?

Meghan: They’re a lot of fun

Chris: Which Songbook show ?

Jeff: The Moore ? 

Chris: Yeah, that was fun. Is that the only Songbook show you’ve gone to ?

Jeff: NO...we went to a couple of the ones in New York [Chris: Oh...] AND Miami 

Chris: Yeah...

Jeff: So we HAVE seen you in Miami like ten times, with Audioslave and solo...we just haven’t seen Soundgarden...

Chris: Yeah the last Songbook show, in Seattle was great. The Moore one was pretty good. The Moore one was rowdy...I mean, for a Songbook show



Meghan: Yeah, I wouldn’t imagine a Songbook show to get particularly rowdy, it’s...

Chris: Yeah, well that one...rowdy meaning...i think we were standing room, and it was packed...

Meghan: Yeah

Chris: And it changes how it’s more dense, so it’s not quite a airy. It doesn’t sound as good, when it’s packed in like that, worked out and that was a fun show

Jeff: The Songbook album Seattle at the Moore

Chris: Is it ? Yeah ! That makes sense. That’s why it looks so cool...I don’t play any shows really, where people aren’t...don’t have seats.   So everyone is sitting, or maybe standing at their seat

Meghan: The other Songbook shows seemed pretty, pretty, you know, everyone sitting at their seat...

Chris: Yeah

Meghan: The Moore being the exception

Chris: Yeah, I think I’ve only done a couple shows like that.  I mean, where it was a theater, but there weren’t seats...that was fun

Meghan: What would you say was like your favorite place to play ?

Chris: I dunno....I don’t think I have one, because what happens is you know you’ll have like this amazing experience at some venue, in some city, whatever it is. And um, you’ll go back, remembering how awesome it was and then it’s not the same, you know ? 

But then some other place, that you’re like...well, Toronto’s been really, I don’t know if I thought that way of THIS show (NIN Tour) in Toronto just now that we just played, but the Songbook show in Toronto...the first one I did was amazing and I’d always talk about that.  And then when I went back, I thought well, it’s not going to be as good as the first one, and it was like as good or even better.  

Places like...Austin, is always good. 

Meghan: Yeah, we did, the meet and greet in Austin, last tour

Chris: yeah.  Austin is always good. Um....Seattle’s pretty good...not always, but I dunno, I think for me it’s always pretty good.  Soundgarden is sort of...I’s hard because it’s like hometown shows where everyone there has like four guests, you can’t really just relax, and enjoy the show.

Texas, I haven’t played Songbook much through there, it’s like, Dallas has the House Of Blues, which I don’t do. I did it once, and I hated it. But like rock shows in Texas are always good. 

I did like some solo rock shows in Austin with my solo band that were fuckin’ incredible. It was like this outdoor...almost like a pen (laughs), it almost looked like something you’d put livestock in at some point, and it’s this out door, rocky, like...dirt...parking lot sized field. So I’ve played there a few times

I didn’t really think about this tour schedule that much. I thought about it a little bit but I wasn’t really really looking at the schedule

South Florida...Texas...

Felt good last night with the set. We never play know, doing 15 songs. It’s like, an hour and.....10 minutes ? And it’s usually like 2....15....and the Songbook is like 2:45...

Another thing about this tour....we’ve never done more than 2 shows in a row...that’s the first time we’ve ever been on a tour where we play more than that


(Chris signs our stuff)

Chris: Alright kiddos....good to see you....have fun

Meghan: Happy belated 50th

Chris: Thank you, thank you. Great to see you

Meghan: Likewise, probably won’t be the last. Thanks again for everything

KEXP Seattle Tour, Soundgarden Records With Original DJ Notes

As part of the KEXP radio station tour in Seattle, the Nirvana "Nevermind" and "Deep Six" records are shown, with taped on notes from the DJs. The DJs regularly added little notes on the records that were meant to serve as material to intro the music, leave mini reviews, or have mini conversations between the KEXP team. 

Meghan snuck off during the tour and found Soundgarden's Ultramega OK and Screaming Life records, that also featured these original notes

"'s here. Ultramega drum sound. Chris is singin' though @ times it's buried among the instrumentation.  You'll be groovin' !"

"You'll be groovin INDEED.  I cannot believe how incredibly good this is.  Even Hiro's vocals on "Circle of Power" sound okay.  Heavy, Happy, & Happening"

"ROCKS ! I remember when I discovered rocking' fuckin' guitars...
You're funny.
I know, and I still remember when I discovered"

"Oh Man - This sounds so much more like their live stuff than what Sub Pop released. What will A&M do with this ?"

"Heavy fucking shit ! Play this loud or don't this is gonna sell so many copies.  Don't hate 'em when it does, okay (unless you already did)."

"Production doesn't really capture their colossal sound on some tracks.  Love smokestack tho"

"More heavy than the Melvins. Rocks raw

"Love the Lennon cover"


"Wow !! heavy stuff here.  Let me die in my own pool of sweat ! I heard this was originally going to be called "Screaming Trees" but there were already 2 bands using that name, so they kept the Screaming + chose to name the record after another local band, The Life.  But really, Tears To Forget screams big time"

"Nothing like young men screamin' their durn fool heads off"

"Seattle ! Live it ! This quakes and I gyrate to it"

"So just exactly what is "Entering" about ??"

"Rocks too hard. So unbelievably cool"

"(covered). I really dislike this grunge cum-metal noise thrash.  Time to move it down.  "Hand of God" segues nicely into "Little Lighthouse" on the dukes of stratosphere LP, however"

"I'd like 'em better if they had The Silver Surfer on their guitars."

"But that would elevate them to God status and I couldn't stand that. 


The rest of the tour photos:

Kerrang Magazine: "Chris Cornell - A Life, Through The Ages And Pages Of Kerrang!"

Source: Kerrang!


In memory of the legendary vocalist who passed away one year ago today.

One year on from the tragic loss of Chris Cornell, his incredible music and legacy continues to captivate and inspire. It always will. From Soundgarden and Temple Of The Dog to Audioslave and his solo career, he led an extraordinary life in music – and Kerrang! was there to witness much of it first hand. If there was one common thread to his interviews with us over the course of more than a quarter of a century, it was his constant desire to draw attention to the gulf between the reality of a rockstar’s life versus the public’s preconceptions. Throughout his career, he was deeply unimpressed by fame; a man trying to locate whatever truth he could, amid the ever-expanding mythology of rock’n’roll. Here we look at his story as it appeared in our pages…  


Having already created quite the buzz on the back of Ultramega OK and Louder Than Love, the first time Chris Cornell graced the cover of Kerrang! it was as part of a question we posed: “Are these men from Seattle the future of metal?” Given Soundgarden had just released Badmotorfinger, a record that even in 2018 still sounds like it’s travelled considerably far back in time to the present day, it was perhaps a redundant question. In our cover feature, K! scribe Don Kaye unequivocally labelled Soundgarden “the most brilliant band to hit the planet since Slayer unleashed Hell Awaits” before meeting the band in New York. Even as early as then, Chris Cornell boasted a healthy scepticism of fame. “One day you’ll hear a lot of positive things and then the next day you’ll hear negative things,” said Chris. “It inhales and exhales. Sometimes there are moments when it seems like there’s this sort of Soundgarden hype ready to burst and rain down on everyone, and then other times it seems like we’re still lost…”

APRIl 1992
About that “Soundgarden hype”… In April 1992, it had well and truly struck. When K! reconvened with the band, they were touring American arenas supporting a plucky bunch of underdogs called Guns N’ Roses. Some in the alt.rock community saw the pairing as something of a betrayal; grunge, after all, was supposed to be the antithesis of the debauched legacy of ’80s rock. “A lot of it is blown out of all proportion,” Chris told K! journalist Stefan Chirazi about life on the road with Axl Rose and co.. “With Guns, a lot of the reports about how they handle their success and what they do aren’t true.” While he played down any notion of rock excess, he did note that being called a rock god was starting to rankle. And it would continue to do so from then one.

When K! travelled to America to catch up with Soundgarden on tour with Neil Young in 1993, we were greeted by a freshly shaven-headed Chris Cornell. Naturally, our cover story bore the headline: Shaved ‘N’ Dangerous. Hey, it was a different time. A new hairstyle wasn’t the only change. They had already started road-testing some brand-new songs with names like Spoonman, Kickstand and My Wave, but when it came to the title of Badmotorfinger’s follow-up they weren’t giving up the goods. “We were thinking about Three Years, Eight Days And Four Minutes In The Life Of Arrested Development,” joked Chris to Don Kaye. “Or we might just cop out and call it Soundgarden.” It was, of course, actually soon to be called Superunknown – the record which would help define a) Soundgarden to the masses b) grunge c) the ’90s d) an exemplary way of selling millions of copies without compromising e) any album collection worth its name.


Soundgarden were in Melbourne when K! next checked in with them. Superunknown wasn’t out and yet the band, like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, were struggling with the trappings of the music business. More than ever before, they were aware that the simple act of being themselves in the spotlight was fraught with difficulty. “A lot of the public wouldn’t want to meet us,” Chris explained to K! writer Morat. “Because we won’t always be agreeable or happy. It’s not that we don’t appreciate fans; it’s just that we’re that way with each other, friends and family sometimes. We can’t pretend, we can’t be the game show hosts…”  

A lot had changed in 1994. With Superunknown unleashed into the world – boasting a gargantuan single in the form of Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden were officially one of the biggest bands in the world. But it was also the year that grunge lost its avatar. As the world continued to ponder what, specifically, drove Kurt Cobain to take his own life, Chris – finding parallels in his own experiences as a frontman – was quick to dispel any theory that reduced Kurt’s death to one overriding cause. “It wasn’t just: this guy’s a heroin addict and it made him crazy and he killed himself,” he told K!’s Morat in New Orleans. “Or: this guy gets bothered by teenagers and he hates it so killed himself.”  

MAY 1996
In 1997 Soundgarden imploded, calling it a day shortly after escalating tensions in the band came to a head with one disastrous show in Honolulu, Hawaii. But before all of this, K!’s Morat headed to Seattle in a feature that found the band in high spirits but not dysfunctional on the back of their perennially overlooked fifth album Down On The Upside (when was the last time you listened to Tighter & Tighter? Do it. Do it now). Just as our humourous photoshoot drew attention to the playful side of a band so often presented as consummate miserablists, so too did their quotes. “My friends are cool about my money. But then I did give them all motorcycles…” deadpanned Chris.


Two years later, Chris Cornell joined K! to reflect on what happened to Soundgarden, stressing how lucky they had been to have the success they did while also expressing regret that they didn’t enjoy the experience more. It wasn’t all sad news, however. Our September 1999 cover also heralded the launch of his solo career with his bona fide classic Euphoria Morning, a bruised, haunting debut. Speaking to K!’s Morat in a darkened Hollywood hotel room, Chris reflected candidly upon his childhood and the role depression had played in his life and music. “There’s times when you think, ‘Fuck, I wish this didn’t mean anything to me, I wish I was one of those happy people,’” he said. “They don’t get the low-lows. But then they don’t get the high-highs, and I would never trade that.”

“The first time I walked into the room when those guys were just jamming, it sounded incredible,” Chris Cornell told K! writer Ben Myers of the time he stumbled into seeing Rage Against The Machine men Tom Morello, Timmy C and Brad Wilk. “After some brief thought, I realised I couldn’t come up with a reason good enough not to do this band.” And so Audioslave was born. For some, pairing the howling voice of Soundgarden with the incendiary musical backbone of RATM was an idea that was simply too good to be true. No way could they live up to that kind of hype, they argued. Imagine how refreshing it was, then, that the mammoth classic rock strains of their 5K-rated self-titled debut lived up to fans’ wildest dreams. And then some.


MAY 2005
When K!’s Alexander Milas joined Chris, Tom Morello, Timmy C and Brad Wilk for our cover story in 2005, they were a band growing into their own skin. And that included the decision to finally embrace their combined heritage. After initially ignoring the wealth of material at their disposal, Audioslave had taken to covering both Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine songs. Fans were going wild. Not only were they resurrecting the likes of Spoonman and Killing In The Name live, they were also preparing to unleash their second outing Out Of Exile, an album that saw Chris tackling the recording sober. “Getting cleaned up changed a lot for me,” said Chris. “I’m not the kind of person who wants to know or sit back and analyse things, but I’m a new man now…” Audioslave would return the following year with their final album, the perma-underrated Revelations, before disbanding shortly afterwards. Their legacy includes some of the greatest songs of the ’00s.  

When Chris Cornell united with legendary hip-hop producer Timbaland for a solo album of futuristic R&B in 2009, it drew reactions ranging from bemusement to downright anger. Those questioning and/or mocking him were soon forced to eat their words in the form of the incredible reunion of Soundgarden. Their comeback record, King Animal, captured the band’s unique musical alchemy in world-beating fashion, from the twisted, unwinding riff of Non-State Actor to the disenchanted beauty of Black Saturday. The world had missed them, and they had missed each other. “It’s been a long time coming,” Chris told K! writer Tom Bryant. “After 15 years, we got back together and made one of our best albums. We still have something else to say about rock music that no-one else is saying.”


In 2015, in his final interview with Kerrang!, Chris Cornell was in an inquisitive mood ahead of the release of his fourth solo album, Higher Truth. In a conversation that ranged from the distractions of the Internet age to mankind’s need for comfort in religious higher powers, he was a man seemingly more in love with the potential of life than ever before. “Now I’ve started having children I was surrounded by it all the time and thinking about it all the time,” he told your correspondent. “I think we start out just fine [in life]. We start out very connected with the wonder and amazement and miracle of the fucking world. But we get corrupted by a lot of insecurities and self-consciousness, and the pressure of surviving and the strange selfish nature we have with other people, no matter how close we are.” 

MAY 2017
On May 18, 2017, Chris Cornell took his own life, a loss that continues to reverberate around the rock community. “No-one sings like you anymore,” read the coverline of our tribute issue. But with Chris Cornell, it wasn’t just how he sang, but what he sang. How, time after time after time, his words offered a sense of hope to others even when he struggled to find it for himself. It is for that very reason memories of him will always live on. ‘The past is like a braided rope,’ he sang to us on 2016’s Through The Window. ‘Each moment tightly coiled inside.’

Words: George Garner

Seattle: Discovery Park

On May 18th, after visiting A Sound Garden earlier in the day, we made our way to Discovery Park's West Point Lighthouse, where the Temple of the Dog "Hunger Strike" video was filmed.  

We last visited the site in 2017, and have photos from then posted here.

Seattle: A Sound Garden

On the morning of May 18th, we visited A Sound Garden with our Twitter friends Whitney & Clinton.  We were there for a couple of hours, as other fans stopped by in groups, talked to other fans, and left mementos at the site. 

We visited A Sound Garden a few times before, with the most recent being in 2017. Our photos from that visit are here.

A Sound Garden is one of six outdoor public art works on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) campus that lies adjacent to the Warren G. Magnuson Park on the northwestern shore of Lake Washington in Seattle, Washington.[1][2] The Seattle Arts Commission guided the jury selection headed by Sadao James Hilario, Engineer-in-charge of the GSA Art in Architecture Program for the NOAA Project, and the jury chose five artists from a pool of more than 250.

Designed and built by sculptor Douglas Hollis from 1982–83, A Sound Garden is a sculptural group composed of 12 21 feet (6.4 m) high steel tower structures, at the top of each of which hangs an organ pipe attached to a weather vane that produces soft-toned sounds when it is rotated or passed through by the wind.[1][2][3]
— Wikipedia

The 2018 photos are below

Hollywood Forever

We are in Seattle today, thinking of Chris and his legacy.  The impact he had on this town is immeasurable, and the love it has for him can be seen everywhere.  

We will post from Seattle all weekend. Before coming out here, we stopped by Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles yesterday, as the site was being set up for today’s vigil.  

Hollywood Forever, September 2017

SeattleTimes: Remembering Chris Cornell: The quiet cook at Ray’s Boathouse who became a rock god

Seattle Times

 Remembering Chris Cornell: The quiet cook at Ray’s Boathouse who became a rock god

 Michael Rietmulder Updated May 18, 2018 at 7:54 am

On the anniversary of Chris Cornell's death, his former co-workers at Ray's Boathouse remember those formative years together during the Seattle institution's heyday.

By 11 a.m. there was usually a line outside the door, but the ragtag kitchen crew didn’t care. They had traditions. The tight-knit band of back-of-house comrades had already finished prepping for the lunchtime rush that would hit Ray’s Boathouse during the early ’80s, and before the doors opened, they’d be in the parking lot, blowing off steam at a basketball hoop.

The youthful brigade of cooks and dishwashers played as hard as they worked, and they did it all together.

Among them was a quiet, longhaired teenager with a wry smile and wicked sense of humor, once you got to know him. Chris Cornell, who died one year ago today, was an alright ballplayer and an everyman in the kitchen, after working his way up from dishwasher. However, his true calling was impersonating rock stars while hosing off floor mats down by the dock.

“He could do that Billy Idol scowl — that kind of sideways smirk and his lips would purse,” recalls Wayne Ludvigsen, longtime Ray’s chef.

A decade later, a generation of wannabe rockers would be impersonating the kind, low-key Ray’s kitchen hand, who became one of the most distinct voices in modern rock history as the lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave. But for a brief period during their formative years, the two Seattle icons had an intertwining history.

The voice from the dish pit

Back then, Ray’s was the kind of bustling joint you needed an in to get a job at, and Chris’ older brother Peter was his. The younger Cornell later paid it forward by getting his roommate Kevin Tissot a job there. The rebellious teens raised by single mothers met as sophomores at a North End alternative high school and bonded over a love of Elvis Costello and the Clash, and a disinterest in school. The two “momma’s boys” moved in together at 17, though they still regularly hung out in their mothers’ basements (Tissot and others say Soundgarden’s “Full On Kevin’s Mom” is about his mother).

After the two “trashed” a place on Lake City Way (“the garbage just proliferates,” Tissot says), they found another house in Ballard with other friends, having late-night existential conversations after work and competing to date the hostesses and waitresses that would get hired at Ray’s each summer. “I think girls liked Chris more than they liked me at the time, which was frustrating,” Tissot says.

Like Tissot, dishwasher Duane Ochs connected with Cornell through music. A few months before Cornell started at Ray’s, Peter noticed Ochs, who was about Cornell’s age, showing up for his shifts with a guitar slung over his shoulder. Soon Ochs, 14 or 15 at the time, was coming over to their house near Golden Gardens to jam with Cornell, who played drums. Apparently teenage Cornell wasn’t much of an interior decorator and, as Ochs recalls, his bedroom in the family’s converted garage had a bed, stereo, a dresser, his drum kit and little else. It was there that Cornell first started singing.

“His sisters were out in the driveway and they’re like, ‘Who was singing? Who was that?’” Ochs says. “I’m like, ‘It was Chris.’ … He was a very adequate drummer, but when he got behind the mic, you could tell, like his sisters, he had a very unique, powerful voice.”

It wasn’t long before the rest of their co-workers caught on to Cornell’s talent. The crew often had KISW blasting in the kitchen and occasionally Cornell would pick up a tune in the dish pit. “He’d sing very softly,” says Ernie Davis, another Ray’s alum. “We’d all be listening — ‘Oh, Chris is gonna sing. Let me turn this down.’”

Every year around the holidays, Ray’s brass would throw a big staff party on a Sunday night. A husband of one of the managers had a two-man band and was hired as the entertainment one year, recalls Dean Swanson, who also worked in the kitchen. Everybody was drinking, talking when all of a sudden Cornell — who Swanson says was 17 or 18 at the time — made a move.

“Chris, for some reason, got up from the table we were sitting at and went over and grabbed the microphone, and talked to the guys for a few minutes and he belted out ‘Twist and Shout,’” Swanson recalls. “He was a teenager. We’re all looking at him, going ‘Uh, what are you doing, dude?!’ I mean, his voice was so powerful and wonderful.”

At the time, Swanson joked that Cornell should form a band.

One of Seattle’s hottest restaurants

Besides parking lot pick-up games, another Ray’s pastime was giving their boss hell. Not much older than his young staff, Ludvigsen was the recipient of endless pranks: hidden knives, changed delivery dates — “Just mean stuff that would throw the day off,” says Tissot, Cornell’s former roommate. A particular favorite was trying to get Ludvigsen, who was notorious for reducing food waste, to puke by sun-baking spoiled food in a bucket and getting their unsuspecting chef to take a whiff. One day Cornell and another co-worker went a step further, convincing Ludvigsen to taste test a sauce that had obviously gone bad.

“As soon as I stuck it in my mouth, (I realized) it was a bet between those two guys,” Ludvigsen says. “They had a pretty good chuckle. They made me eat something totally rancid.”

In the early ’80s, Ray’s was in its prime. Ludvigsen took over as head chef in 1979 and is often credited with making Ray’s a local fine-dining institution, sourcing the best and freshest local seafood. In 1983, Ray’s was among the first Seattle restaurants to serve Copper River salmon.

Despite the grind of working in one of Seattle’s hottest restaurants at that time — “It was Studio 54 on the West Coast,” Swanson says — many of the cooks described it as the most fun job they ever had. “Auto brew” was another kitchen ritual Ochs remembers fondly. When the dining room was rocking and they hit 300 dinners, a pitcher of beer would appear through the dish window.

From the sounds of it, the occasional pitcher wasn’t the only thing available during an era Ludvigsen describes as “the golden years — pre-AIDS, mid-coke.”

“There used to be cocaine from all the fishermen that’d come back from Ballard and they would do coke right on the bar,” recalls former employee Mike Shanks, who later became perennial political candidate Mike The Mover. “There was coke everywhere.”

According to most of the people we spoke with, Cornell didn’t really participate in such extracurriculars then. In 1994, he told “Rolling Stone” that he was a “daily drug user” at 13, but quit by the time he turned 14.

Soundgarden takes shape

As Soundgarden took shape in the mid-’80s, with Ray’s maintenance worker Scott Sundquist briefly on drums, Cornell and his brother left Ray’s and worked at Rain City Grill on Capitol Hill, owned by former Ray’s kitchen boss Mike Brown. Peter Cornell was also a musician, leading the band Inflatable Soule with two of their sisters to local acclaim in the early ’90s. The Cornell brothers used to practice guitar licks out on the back stairwell where Chris and Davis, another Ray’s carry-over, would have pull-up competitions on the awning.

One night in 1986, Brown recalls coming into the kitchen and Davis and the crew were excitedly playing what Brown thinks was an early recording of Soundgarden’s “Big Dumb Sex” — its chorus marked by a string of f-bombs. Cornell was shy about asking for favors, Brown says, and later that night Peter asked him to give his little brother a ride home. On the way, Brown also gave him some unsolicited advice.

“I said ‘Chris, don’t you think you should tone it down a little bit? You can’t say that on the radio,’” Brown recalls. “His response was, ‘We have our following.’ I mean, I was his boss, so he couldn’t tell me (expletive) you. But yeah, basically … ‘We’ll be fine’ — that classic cool.”

As Soundgarden gained steam, Cornell eventually hung up his chef’s knives. By the time the world tours commenced and the band became a fixture on MTV, he’d lost regular contact with most of his apron-wearing brethren who came of age at the Boathouse. But whenever they’d meet during a chance backstage run-in or sporadic phone call, friends say he was the same guy who used to cruise Ballard in an old Volkswagen Thing that couldn’t drive in reverse.

In March 1997 — a month before Soundgarden broke up at the height of their popularity — Cornell made a surprise return to Ray’s. After 22 years, Ludvigsen was leaving the restaurant and the staff threw him a going away party. He doesn’t remember much of their conversations (hey, it was a party), but Cornell “stayed till the bitter end.”

“He was just a real guy,” Ludvigsen says, “and he always came across that way.”

Even though it had been nearly 20 years since Swanson had spoken with Cornell, it felt “like losing a family member” when he died last year. Ludvigsen’s party was the last time they saw each other.

“I told him how proud we all were for his success,” Swanson says, with a long pause. “And how I missed him. Of course we could believe how well he did, because we knew the talent was there. But we were so proud of what he became.”

Taylor Momsen Posts About Chris On The Anniversary Of The Indianapolis Soundgarden/The Pretty Reckless Show

Posted by Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless on [Instagram]

A year ago today was a day I will never forget. I was sitting outside our dressing room in Indianapolis, when I heard someone say “Taylor?” I looked up to see a man standing there, with the sun blazing behind him, he looked familiar...and then my heart dropped, because it was Chris Cornell. I’d met him a couple times before in passing but here he was, actually talking to me. We spent about 20 minutes chatting about things like singing and their record ‘King Animal’ and how much I loved it. Later that night after we played our show opening for them, we were watching their set from behind the stage when he started talking into the mic, and my heart dropped again when I heard him say our band’s name...twice. He dedicated ‘By Crooked Steps’ to us and we all were as happy as we could ever be. It was magical. Kato was with us that night sharing the experience. We have lost so much this year and it has put our passion for music to the test, but as humans we are all built to handle this pain, it will make us stronger, and we will return, because the music will always live on...

“I'm addicted to feeling, stealing love isn't stealing
Can't you see that I understand your mind?
I'm a walking believer, I'm a ghost and a healer
I'm the shape of the hole inside your heart
Not looking for a brighter side
Crooked steps will take me higher
I don't care if you want to cry” -Chris Cornell

LoudWire: "Watch Soundgarden Duo Rehearse Together As Part Of MC50 Tour Preparation"

It was teased last month that Soundgarden and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron would be making a special appearance as part of the MC50 touring lineup, celebrating the legacy of Rock Hall-nominated outfit MC5 as they mark their 50th anniversary year. This will mark the first time Cameron and Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil will perform together since Chris Cornell's death. Fans got an early sample of what that will look like with the newly posted rehearsal footage.

Cameron posted a video clip, featuring cuts of the all-star band playing and jamming through "Rocket Reducer No. 62" in the studio. The group not only features MC5 leader Wayne Kramer, but you'll also see footage of Dug Pinnick of King's X, producer/bassist Don Was, former Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and vocalist Marcus Durant jamming in the studio. Many of the shots in the video are the members posing during photo shoots, but for a few seconds, you see Thayil and Cameron playing together.

In addition to Cameron's posting, Danny Bland has offered a number of Instagram shots from the rehearsal that can be seen below, including a potential set list for the upcoming tour. MC50 will hit both Europe and the U.S. during the run, with Cameron set to drop in on the trek June 8 at the Northside Festival in Denmark.

The U.S. leg starts Sept. 5 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and runs through Oct. 27, finishing in MC5's hometown of Detroit for two shows. Get all the MC50 tour and ticketing details here.