Producer Michael Beinhorn, who recorded Soundgarden‘s 1994’s Superunkown, recently looked back at how Chris Cornell served his unprecedented talent with an unreal work ethic.
“We experimented with a bunch of recording configurations. Eventually, I decided that he sang better when he didn’t have an audience. So I set him up in the control room and let him record his own vocals without headphones on and [with] the speakers out of phase. So all these sessions, he’s running tape machine all by himself, remote.”
The solitude of an empty control room allowed Cornell to “put himself into the right place … emotionally without having to feel like he’s a performing monkey for the rest of us,” said the producer.
He noted that Cornell recorded his own song demos at home, so he wasn’t a complete novice at running a studio desk. Still, Cornell didn’t have the experience to protect all the studio equipment from the vocal powerhouse inside his own body.
“I’m somewhat bemused to say that he managed to fry five [Neumann] U 87’s,” Beinhorn recalled. “I know this because I saw bills from the studio for new condensers, for new diaphragms. Yeah, five mics were destroyed in the making of this record.”