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Soundgarden Singer Chris Cornell Explains Indefinite Hiatus vs. Breakup

Chris Cornell
Paul Zimmerman, Getty Images

Soundgarden went on hiatus in 1997 but it was believed that the band had just broken up. Singer Chris Cornell, who fronted Audioslave in between the hiatus and the band’s return to activity, recently opened up about the semantics of “indefinite hiatus” versus “breaking up.” With the benefit of hindsight, Cornell admitted that the band members should have used different terminology in order to make navigating the murky “Soundgarden are currently inactive” waters more manageable for everyone involved.

In a chat with Gibson.com, Cornell acknowledged that the band’s dormant period was more like an extended vacation. He said, “I think if there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that it wasn’t even necessary to announce a breakup. We could have just said we were going on indefinite hiatus, and that would have been fine. There didn’t have to be some sort of finality. It certainly didn’t change anything from the standpoint of the media or even Soundgarden fans.”

It still didn’t stop people from wondering and talking. Cornell continued, “Every time I did an interview, I was asked, ‘Is Soundgarden ever going to get back together? Will the band ever do anything again?’ Had we just said we were going on hiatus, the question would have been ‘When?’ instead of ‘Will?’ And the answer would probably have been the same: ‘I don’t know.’”

Live and learn, right?

Now that Soundgarden are back from vacation, Cornell revealed that he is going with the flow. He doesn’t try to peer into a crystal ball, instead saying, “I just want to be busy. Whatever that turns out to be, it will be fun. It’s a privilege to be able to follow your most passionate pursuit, to have that as your job.” He explained further, saying, “I don’t feel that it’s necessary for me to figure out what that might be, say, five years from now. I don’t want to be the sort of person who wants to know what that might be.”

He concluded, “That would mean I’m closed to the possibility of a change of heart, or changes in circumstances, or unpredictable events that might change how I feel. As long as I’m busy doing music, that’s all I care about.”

That shouldn’t be a problem for someone as talented as Chris Cornell.

Soundgarden’s new album is due out this spring, read our preview here.

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