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Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Cornell records with Timbaland

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

Chris Cornell and Timbaland
Chris Cornell left previous band Audioslave in February 2007

Chris Cornell has never been shy of a challenge.

In the past two decades the 44-year-old has taken some brave steps.

Namely leaving Seattle grunge titans Soundgarden in the late 90s to go solo and stepping into the ample shoes of Rage Against The Machine's Zach de la Rocha to front Audioslave later on.

Both of those moves invited scepticism but also ignited excitement.

Now arrives arguably Cornell's biggest ever task - convincing his own fans that his new joint project with pop producer Timbaland is a sound idea.

Fan reaction

"Some people aren't going to like it," says Cornell in a husky voice. "Some people didn't like the concept of it without even hearing it - there will definitely be people who don't like it when they do hear it."

The outcome of the partnership - a 13-track LP entitled Scream and released on 9 March - represents a seismic departure from his previous solo and group voyages.

Gone are Cornell's typical crunching guitars and churning growl, replaced instead, by Timbaland's trademark minimal beats, fragmented splats of keytar and soft melodies.

Chris Cornell and Timbaland
Timbaland has previously worked with Britney Spears and Missy Elliot

Reaction has been varied and the singer has already aired the material at a number of low-key US shows, where Cornell has been performing the record from start to finish in its entirety.

"[The reaction] it's still mixed - but it's also not a bad thing for somebody who's put out 15 albums to go do something that everybody talks about and has an opinion about," he argues.

"Even if it's bad and they want to say, 'I can't believe he did this, it's a bad thing'.

"When you've put out 15 albums I think it's good to shake people up.

"The album is not necessarily what people would think coming from a rock musician working with someone who is considered a pop producer."

Unlikely unison

Scream's dual creators usually move in very different circles.

"It came really from a phone call when I was in the middle of looking for different remixes of songs on Carry On, my last solo record," explains Cornell.

"I felt in one fell swoop I could have a completely new experience in terms of song writing and recording making an album unlike anything I've ever done."

Normally used to screaming through thunderous clouds of sound and serrated riffs - the process of recording with Timbaland was markedly different from Cornell's previous experiences.

"There was never a time when it was a group of people rehearsing a finished song to then record on tape," he says. "It was like a hip hop process."

The album is not necessarily what people would think coming from a rock musician working with someone who is considered a pop producer
Chris Cornell

"In some ways it was a lot like demoing at home for me - a lot of the time when I was working alone."

Speedy work

Timbaland's notoriously prolific mode of creativity is one which Cornell relished.

"There was a pace too that everyone said he worked at which I was excited about. Timbaland is a workaholic, all he does it music.

"I was excited to be working with someone that I wouldn't be waiting for because that's tended to be my past - waiting for people to show up and get involved.

"So we worked at this really crazy pace where he kept on bringing in ideas and I kept working on them and finishing them.

"There was nobody saying, 'You can't do this'. Ever."

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