Chris Cornell to Join Rage

When Zack de la Rocha abruptly left Rage Against the Machine last October, the future of the alterna-political band was anything but clear. But it appears the band will soldier on, albeit with a new name, and with former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell behind the mic.

Steve Hochman of the Los Angeles Times reports that Cornell has officially inked his name on the dotted line of the new band, which will also comprise Rage guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk. Hochman goes on to report that the new band, still unnamed, will eschew the political rap-rock that was Rage's trademark for a more hard rock theme.

According to Peter Mensch and Jim Guerinot, managers for Rage and Cornell, respectively, the quartet has written 20 songs and will head into the studio with producer Rick Rubin next week to begin recording.

"Both of these groups of individual artists are more excited about this than at any other point in their career," Guerinot tells the Times. "I've never seen Chris so excited and that's echoed from Brad, Tom, and Tim. They think this is the best work of their careers. … I can't tell you what it was like hearing them together."

Of course, with any high-profile musical coupling, there are still details to be worked out. Cornell is signed to Interscope, while the remains of Rage are on Epic. One possibility, according to Mensch, is that the new band would actually release albums on both labels. "That's what I'm told they're thinking about," he says. "Album one on Epic, album two on Interscope."

Neither party is unused to breakups. Former Rage singer de la Rocha released an angry statement last year, saying the band's "decision-making process has completely failed. It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal." Formed in Los Angeles in 1991, Rage Against the Machine released four studio albums together.

For his part, Cornell's decision to leave Soundgarden in 1997 proved the end of the seminal Seattle grunge band. His solo album, Euphoria Morning, was released in 1999 to tepid reviews and limited sales success.