PREMIERE: Craig Wedren Shares New “Into the Blue Sky” Demo, Originally Written for Chris Cornell

The former Shudder to Think vocalist serves up a rework of a track originally written with the late grunge icon in mind.

Even if you don’t know them by name, Shudder to Think seemed to be in the periphery of just about every rock-adjacent scene across the US in the ’90s, from abrasive DC punk circles to the Pacific Northwest’s grunge boom. The group’s influence carried over to their contemporaries (including Jeff Buckley, Eddie Vedder, and Deftones) as much as it inspired the next wave of post-hardcore, as heard in the self-referential lyrics of Cursive’s cheeky “Sink to the Beat.”

Since their first dissolution at the end of the century, band leader Craig Wedren has kept busy, scoring a slew of David Wain movies (a childhood friend of his) in the ’00s and, more recently, showing off his photography chops on the West Coast. In December he’ll be releasing an LP of his ambient Sabbath Session—but before then, we’ll be treated to an expanded version of his latest solo record, Adult Desire, which originally dropped last winter. As a teaser, Wedren’s sharing an acoustic demo of “Into the Blue Sky,” a song he recorded with then-assistant Ben Newgard on guitar, originally written as a collaboration with the late Chris Cornell.

As Wedren puts it, the album notably showcases what he refers to as his “lower, more ‘manly’ register,” at times even sounding remarkably similar to Cornell: “I remember it felt a little forced at first, like I was playing a character,” Wedren explains. “That part of my voice is still not-quite second nature, probably because I spent so many years shouting at the top of my register in Shudder to Think. Ideally, I would like all-access to ALL the notes—at all levels of intensity—but I’m almost fifty, goddammit; time to start singing like a grown up. (Nope, never gonna happen).”

You can stream the track below, and read Wedren’s story behind the collaboration under the SoundCloud embed. The expanded Adult Desire is out November 16.

“As with many of the songs on Adult Desire, ‘Into The Blue Sky’ began as a movie assignment.

A few years ago I was composing the score for Lucky Them, a film about the mysterious disappearance of a fictional ’90s-era singer from Seattle, and his former lover—and current rock journalist—who seeks to unravel the mystery of his disappearance. If memory serves, we needed an original song for one scene, where a present-day Seattle band is playing a cover of one of the legendary singer’s songs.

I wanted to write a slightly grizzled, classic-rock-meets-grunge acoustic ballad, and had Chris Cornell in my mind’s eye. It so happened that Chris—a friend with whom I’d recently done an acoustic tour—was in Miami writing and recording demos. I sent him a version of the song, and he graciously sang the first verse and chorus, which I presented to Megan Griffiths, the director. She loved it, but ultimately went a different direction with the scene. I shelved the song and completely forgot about it.

When Chris died, I was heartbroken. Although we really only knew each other in that backstage, no-time/no-place kind of way, I loved him and considered him a pal. Spookily, our mutual friend Jeff Buckley first introduced us in the mid-’90s. Another weird nocturnal ghost memory.

About a day or two after receiving the crushing news about Chris, I had this little tickle in my brain, like ‘wait…wasn’t there a song…?’ At the time, I was nearing completion of Adult Desire, but felt the album needed one more song, something relatively traditional (a song-y song, nothing too experimental) to balance out the album.”

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