In 2001, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk came together to create one of the greatest super groups off all time. They called themselves Audioslave, and on November 19, 2002, they unleashed their debut album into the world. As the album turns 15, celebrate with these 10 facts:

SOURCE: Billboard
SOURCE: Billboard



1. Zack de la Rocha walks. In October 2000, de la Rocha announced that he’d be leaving Rage Against the Machine, leaving the band without a vocalist. Knowing the remaining band members were still eager to rock, producer Rick Rubin suggested Chris Cornell by playing them Soundgarden’s “Slaves and Bulldozers”.


2. Complete bandWhen the band reached out to Cornell, he was working on his second solo album but decided to shelve the project to work alongside Morello, Commerford and Wilk. Morello described Cornell’s presence by saying,

“He stepped to the microphone and sang the song and I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t just sound good. It sounded transcendent. And… when there is an irreplaceable chemistry from the first moment, you can’t deny it.”


3. Burnin’ that gasoline. As soon as the band formed, they immediately began writing music. They wrote 21 songs in 19 days and hit the studio in May 2001.

4. Leaked. On May 16, 2001, a short time after the band entered the studio to begin recording, their demos were leaked. At the time, the band was split up with Cornell still working out of Seattle. Demos were sent to him at Bad Animal Studios where, according to Morello, “someone at that studio helped themselves to a copy and, after eight months, it made its way to an Italian website”, six months before the album’s scheduled release date. At the time, Morello said that the leaked demos “weren’t even the same lyrics, guitar solos, performances of any kind”.

5. Cornell’s personal crisis. Following the studio leak, the band faced yet another obstacle. Cornell was battling a substance abuse problem and the band’s Ozzfest performance was cancelled. Cornell checked himself into rehab where he spoke to Metal Hammer from a facility payphone, saying he went through a “horrible personal crisis” during the making of the record, staying in rehab for two months and separating from his wife.

7. Legendary album design. The band managed to snag legendary graphic designer Storm Thorgerson (real name, real awesome). Thorgerson has created some of rock and roll’s most iconic album covers including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the MoonMuse’s AbsolutionLed Zeppelin and more. The band knew that they wanted the cover to resemble an “eternal flame”. Thorgerson said he had the idea of “a volcanic island, since volcanoes suited the brooding menace of Audioslave,” The original concept for the cover, shot elsewhere at the same location, featured a naked man looking at the flame. “We so nearly used it,” said Thorgerson, “but we were not entirely sure of the nude figure”.



8. Set it off. The album was a massive success. It went on to become certified gold within less than a month and sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. alone. The record produced some of the band’s biggest songs including, “Cochise“, “Like a Stone“, “I Am the Highway” and more. “Cochise” was released as the band’s debut single, but it was originally called “Save Yourself”. Morello said that “Cochise” comes from the Apache Indian chief of the same name “who declared war on the Southeast and drove out thousands of settlers”. Morello describes him as “Cochise the Avenger, fearless and resolute, attacked everything in his path with an unbridled fury”, adding that the song “kinda sounds like that”. Despite the name, the song’s lyrics are generally unrelated to Cochise and feature a number of religious references instead.

9. Show me how to… drive? The music video for “Show Me How to Live” features the band in a car fleeing police. Cornell drives a replica of a 1970 Dodge Challenger from the film Vanishing Point. Two vehicles were used in the shoot, one of which was given away in a contest put on by the band. Towards the end of the song, Cornell’s voice becomes distorted and sounds almost digital. While recording, Cornell actually hit his throat to achieve the unique sound. Skip to 4:39 to hear it:


10. Debut on the marquee. On November 25, 2002, the band made their public debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. They were the first band to ever perform on the Letterman marquee. Critics and fans alike both agree that it was one of Cornell’s best vocal performances of his career. Skip to 2:20 to see their performance of “Set It Off” and 9:20 for “Gasoline“.

Filed under: Audioslave