Richie Kotzen says that he "would have to be a bit of a fool" to turn down an opportunity to front SOUNDGARDEN on a hypothetical comeback tour.
The 50-year-old musician, who has been singing since the age of 17, has often been compared to late SOUNDGARDEN vocalist Chris Cornell due to his ability to deliver "full-throated roars one minute and croon with husky empathy the next." (Stereoboard, 2013)
Asked in a new interview with Izzy Presley of "Another FN Podcast" if he would accept an offer to play with SOUNDGARDEN if the band came to him with "the right number," Kotzen responded (hear audio below): "It doesn't have anything to do with numbers; it would not be a numbers game. I think that it would be an honor for anyone to have that opportunity. And again, it goes back to the sentence I said earlier: 'Never step into a great man's shoes.' But I think that that phone call, whether it was me or anyone else, would be a complete honor, and I think someone would have to be a bit of a fool to say 'no.'"
During the same chat, Kotzen acknowledged similarities between his voice and that of Cornell, but denied that he was ever directly inspired by the late SOUNDGARDEN and AUDIOSLAVE singer.
"Well, I think it is a compliment," Richie said of the comparisons. "He's one of the greatest rock singers of our generation, so it's definitely a compliment. And I think people draw comparisons, because that's what they do — they hear things that resonate that are familiar. Now, the comparison, I think, is coincidence. I think I'm a little too old and I've been doing it a little too long to say that his work was a direct influence on what I do. But I could say that we probably had similar influences. And I can say that I think he's a fantastic and amazing artist. And it's an honor to be compared to anyone that's great.
"My biggest influence as a singer is Terence Trent D'Arby," Kotzen explained. "And that is where that sound comes from. So the sound that caused the rock people to mention Chris, I got that sound, and I will admit I lifted it from Terence Trent D'Arby. So the rock people, many of them, aren't gonna get that, 'cause they don't listen to that kind of music. So they say Chris. If they did their research, they'd know that I listened to Terence, I listened to [David] Coverdale and Glenn Hughes and Ronnie Dio and Paul Rodgers. So, it's a coincidence, but it is a very nice compliment. And being compared to someone that is that great is always a good thing."
Kotzen performed the AUDIOSLAVE classic "Cochise" — which was originally co-written and sung by Cornell — at a "Soundcheck Live" event in January 2017 at Lucky Strike Live in Los Angeles, California. Joining him for the rendition was Tom Morello (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, AUDIOSLAVE, PROPHETS OF RAGE), Nuno Bettencourt (EXTREME), Marty O'Brien (LITA FORD) and Glen Sobel (ALICE COOPER). Fan-filmed video footage of the performance can be seen below.
Kotzen's 22nd solo album, "50 For 50" is now available via his own custom label, Headroom-Inc. The three-disc collection is just what the title implies: a collection of 50 previously unreleased compositions produced, performed and written by Kotzen in honor of his birthday. It's the follow-up to his critically acclaimed "Salting Earth" album, which was released April 14, 2017 via Headroom-Inc.
Cornell died in May 2017 after being found unresponsive in his Detroit hotel room. SOUNDGARDEN had played a show earlier that evening. The 52-year-old had sedatives and an anxiety drug in his system, but died as a result of hanging himself.