VM: Did you and David always agree about how you wanted the song to sound? Was there ever any conflict?
Chris Cornell: I don't think there ever was really. We discussed different ideas, we had different opinions about things in terms of the mix, and it was pretty much always 50/50 in terms of who ended up being right or wrong. We didn't have any conflict at all, it was wonderful to work with David Arnold, and for me it was another time in my life where I actually had an opportunity to learn from someone who does something that, like, a guy in my band doesn't do. It's a whole different ball game.
VM: Madonna was the last person to record a Bond theme, for Die Another Day, and hers was very flashy, futuristic electro. What did you think of it, and did you ever consider writing something similarly non-traditional?
Chris Cornell: When I heard that I felt like it was a dance track she had in her back pocket, and then just threw Die Another Day on it and said "Here, put it in your Bond movie". It didn't sound like she was writing it specifically for the film - it didn't have anything to do with the character, it was just "The Madonna Show" attached to a Bond film. Which is probably, for that moment, what they wanted. And probably partly why it became one of the highest grossing Bond films of all time.
VM: Do you have a favourite Bond theme?
Chris Cornell: Live And Let Die.
VM: That's a good one - especially the Guns N' Roses cover!
Chris Cornell: Ha! Especially not the Guns N' Roses cover! I had to hear that several times because I toured with them. But really, it's an interesting arrangement, it's not traditional at all, and McCartney was going through a period when he was doing that a lot, kind of marrying different songs and movements together and making a rock song out of it, and he does that better than anyone else has ever done it. I really like Thunderball because I'm a huge Tom Jones fan, I think he's an amazing singer, and I love the fact that if you listen to the theme the orchestra sounds really tiny so that his voice can be just enormous and drenched in this old spring or plate reverb or something. It's really great.
VM: Are there any other singers around today who you think would make a good job of singing a Bond theme?
Chris Cornell: The name Thom Yorke came up a lot. Partly because he's British, maybe because he has a funny eye, I dunno! I think that could work, maybe not for this one but for the next one, just because of the emotional content, giving it something besides just being a famous person that people know. The bad idea, that would make sense if I were the movie industry, would be someone like Robbie Williams: "Oh he's perfect, the video would be wonderful, he's charismatic". But for this movie, no, I think someone more like Thom Yorke or Chris Martin would be a great choice.
VM: You've provided songs for quite a few films in your career - have you seen any films and thought "I wish I'd had a song in there"?
Chris Cornell: Yeah, but usually they were movies that didn't have songs in them. I was actually offered to act in the movie The Usual Suspects, and I didn't know anything about the movie industry, and they gave me a list of who was going to be in it and I didn't recognise any names, I didn't know who the producers were or the director. And it wasn't until I was watching the film, halfway through I thought "Oh... I could have been in this movie. Oh my god!". I'm not an actor, but a movie like that would also have been a great movie to have a song in. There are several Jim Jarmusch films I would have loved to have done music for, he's one of my favourite directors. I think cinematically he has an attention span - he really allows things to play out to the point where it always goes too far, and I enjoy that, I think it lends itself to music. He made a movie called Dead Man with Johnny Depp, where Neil Young does all the incidental music, and it's all his Les Paul through an amplifier and an Echoplex, and that's it, that's all the music in the whole film. It sounds like he just watched the movie and just played a guitar to it, and it's very dramatic.
VM: It's interesting to hear you've been offered acting roles - have you had many offers?
Chris Cornell: I used to get a lot more, then after I said "no" a lot, they stopped coming. I have a lot of respect for the craft and I'm a huge movie fan, and I don't think that the two necessarily co-mingle very well. I'm not sold on the whole Juliette Lewis thing. I've worked really hard at what I do, my whole life, and I feel that's the same way with accomplished actors, so just running in and being in a film seems like a bad idea to me.