Chris Cornell should be thoroughly exhausted right now. He just wrapped a sprawling reunion tour with his legendary Seattle grunge combo Soundgarden, and is currently tracking their 2012 comeback album, as well. On his own, he also recorded a new song called “The Keeper” for the soundtrack to Marc Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher” biopic. And, by popular demand, he released “Songbook,” a document of last spring’s acoustic solo tour, featuring chestnuts from Soundgarden, Audioslave and their own catalogs, plus “The Keeper” and a previously unrecorded number, “Cleaning My Gun.” He’s backing it with a second “Songbook” tour that hits San Francisco today.
Where did “Cleaning My Gun” come from? It’s a song I wrote a few years back that never found a home. I have other songs like that, but I’d thought about it: “Should I play any of those songs on tour?” So I played that song one time, and people kept asking about it. So when I was choosing songs for the record, I thought it would be nice to have at least one unreleased song that nobody had really heard.
Your old side project with Eddie Vedder, Temple of the Dog, just regrouped for Pearl Jam’s PJ20 fest. How did it go? Well, it’s interesting because — aside from the fact that I play the acoustic versions live — the songs, in a live context, never had the chance to progress. Even though everybody who’s in the band has had so much experience, we never toured playing those songs, so they haven’t really turned into these amazing live songs yet. And yet, every time we get together — every six or eight years — they do progress a tiny bit.
Do you and Vedder ever sit down and reflect on the past 20 years? I think that’s almost hard to do. In some strange way, I think it’s kind of overwhelming. And I don’t know that any of us ever sat in one place long enough to be able to view career steps. But the biggest change was that we became world travelers, and now traveling and touring is a large part of who I am. I get stir-crazy if I’m not doing it.
Is the Soundgarden album done yet? It’s pretty close to being finished, but it kind of depends on how we all feel about it. We definitely have enough songs for an album, but what happens with Soundgarden is, when we get close to being finished, then a whole bunch of ideas always come in, under the wire. And I feel like that’s happening right now.
IF YOU GO
Where: Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com