Last spring, I made this painting based-off the album cover for Soundgarden’s Louder than Love album that came out in 1989, when I was a senior in high school. I found the boldness of the cover very striking and was intrigued by the odd “unfaced” pose of frontman Chris Cornell in grey. It struck me then and still strikes me now as a very “abstract” image – which for me simply means my mind has a hard time “figuring it out”. Cornell said the image represented “the quintessential angry young man”*. At the time, I identified with the angst and anger in the music, and the album cover stuck with me. The bold black lettering of the band name on yellow placed against the grey tones of the photo are really straightforward, beautiful and unpretentious.
I saw Soundgarden perform at First Avenue in Minneapolis in about 1990, not long after Louder than Love came out. In this intimate venue, I watched Cornell’s raw physicality in performing much of the album. Cornell was a physical manifestation of the low, heavy grinding music of the album. He wailed and writhed powerfully. The height of his performance was a climb around the balcony, in his cut off shorts and combat boots, which was finished off by a dive back into the audience and a crowd swim back to the main stage. Amazing, I thought. Raw physicality with no pretentions, not faking it at all, simply embodying what the music was. The performance transcended the small venue with an intimate, intense, compacted energy.
When I made the painting above in the spring of 2016, I titled it Untitled (Louder than Love) in reference to the album and the album cover. With the death of Cornell this May, the painting for me has become a small tribute to him and his memory.
* Interview with Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1991.