Breaking a new act is a crapshoot. To minimize the risk, record labels often sign musicians with proven track records.
The combination of Soundgarden’s frontman with Rage Against The Machine (sans Zach de la Rocha) would seem like a sure shot. But Audioslave was one of those blue chip “marriages” that nearly blew apart before it got rolling.
After de la Rocha’s departure from Rage Against The Machine, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk decided to press on.
It was Morello who asked Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell to come on board. Cornell was initially agreeable but soon bailed, saying things weren’t moving in the direction he hoped (whatever that means). Was that the end of that? For a while. But Cornell was persuaded to return.
The video for debut single “Cochise” used the equivalent of a medium sized city’s 4th of July fireworks. The good news was the group had pyrotechnics of its own.
Following an impressive debut album (cleverly titled “Audioslave”) and an equally successful tour, Audioslave released their platinum-certified sophomore album “Out Of Exile” in 2005.
Audioslave did something later in ’05 that would have been typical of Rage Against The Machine. They performed in Cuba. The U.S. State Department actively discouraged any contact with that country or its citizens but Audioslave went anyway playing their songs and tossing in Soundgraden tracks (“Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun”) and Rage songs (including the classic “Bulls On Parade”).
Returning to U.S. soil, the group began work on their third album “Revelations.” The 2006 release, with the single “Original Fire,” was produced by Brendan O’Brien (who had previously worked with both Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine).
But in February 2007, word arrived that singer Chris Cornell had left Audioslave, effectively ending the supergroup. The recent decision by other bandmembers to participate in a Rage Against The Machine reunion tour was listed among the reasons. “Due to irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences, I am permanently leaving the band,” said Cornell. “I wish the other three members nothing but the best.”
Eventually, Cornell returned to Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine reformed with de la Rocha.