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Band holds onto roots



Published: Fri, April 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Group members acknowledge their pasts but rock toward their future.

THE ERA OF THE SUPERGROUP HAS arrived for Gen Xers, who are currently rocking with abandon to the sounds of Velvet Revolver and Audioslave.

However, the biggest difference between the two superstar acts has to do with their respective pasts. Velvet Revolver, comprised of ex-Guns'N Roses (Slash, Matt Sorum and Duff McKagan) and Stone Temple Pilots (Scott Weiland) members, currently tours its debut album "Contraband" with a set list boasting song after song from the illustrious catalogs of its erstwhile outfits.

Audioslave, on the other hand, eschewed its Rage Against the Machine (Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, and Tom Morello) and Soundgarden (Chris Cornell) pasts with contempt on its inaugural tour two years ago.

Instead, surprising covers of The White Stripes ("Seventh Nation Army") and Elvis Costello ("(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding") were performed alongside material the band's 2002 self-titled debut.

Audioslave's ingenious guitarist, Tom Morello, defends the band's decision, which perhaps was confusing to fans at the time. More so, he hints that the upcoming tour in support of the band's sophomore album, "Out of Exile," due out May 24, should find diehard followers finally getting their wish.

"There were rumors and speculation that [Audioslave] was just a project and Chris Cornell is going to go back and do his solo career and maybe Rage will re-form," Morello said calling from his Los Angeles home. "We've known from Day 1 this was going to be a real band. And we really set out to prove that the first time out and I think with the release of this record, it's beyond any shadow of a doubt. So, we're kicking some ideas around, but we're not afraid of our past."

Set lists

Early set lists from the band's tour confirmed the members of Audioslave have embraced their pasts with Rage Against the Machine ("Bulls on Parade," "Killing in the Name" and "Sleep Now in the Fire") and Soundgarden ("Outshined," "Spoonman" and "Black Hole Sun") material getting stage time, along with new tracks such as lead single "Be Yourself," "Out of Exile" and "Your Time Has Come."

Clearly, Audioslave has hit its stride with not only its creativity and drive but also in terms of harmony within the band.

"I think the first album was a result of this creative explosion," Morello said. "Rage Against the Machine made records once every four or five years, so the idea we could get in a room and write a song a day was so new and thrilling, we just couldn't believe it. So [this time], there were no sophomore jitters. This time it felt like playing with the house's money."

Such was not the case for band members in the past. Tension divided Rage Against the Machine, resulting in lead singer Zack de la Rocha's departure in late 2000 to pursue a solo career. Supposedly tracks were recorded, but an album has never been released.

As for Soundgarden, one of the big four Seattle-based grunge acts alongside Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, the band had a 13-year-run before internal pressures divided the group in 1997.

Cornell pursued a solo career, releasing the disappointing "Euphoria Morning" in 1999. Eventually, Morello and company called on the wailing singer, and the rest is Audioslave history. On a side note, one can only wonder whether Cornell would have auditioned for Velvet Revolver.

With a spring tour, including a sold out April 24 show at the Agora, Morello said Audioslave is ready to rock again.

"It's such an exciting prospect to head out onto the road and be able to play these songs in front of audiences," Morello said. "The last show we played was over a year and half ago, so this is going to feel very fresh to us again."




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