This image is from the King Animal album artwork. To me, the fire in Chris’ chest embodied his fire of creativity.

(The original photo  of Chris was taken by Don Van Cleave)

The first time I met Soundgarden in person was surreal. Telephantasm had just come out, and Julie and were going to NJ to see them play for the first time since they reunited. We had some sort of backstage passes, but not a high enough tier to actually get back before the show. With my touring history, i decided to just make a move…we headed backstage like we were meant to be there. Making our way through the stadium catacombs we finally hit the band’s main head of security…he was not psyched. I asked him to let Kim know I was there. Confused, he popped into the backroom for a few seconds, came out, and motioned us in.

I expected there to be a lot of people back there (the usual backstage clutter of people), but it was just the 4 band members, and now, Julie and me . What was a little awkward a first became very comfortable. We made general introductions, talked about the Telephantasm art and about Julie’s Washington roots. It was awesome. After about 15 minutes they headed out to play. They sounded amazing. Halfway through the set, Chris announced the next song was Black Rain, and then said, “This one goes out to Josh Graham.” I looked at Julie. My mind was blown. Liz Ciavarella-Brenner texted me…”You just got a friggin shout out! Coolest thing ever!” It was.

Making the art for Telephantasm was totally unexpected, and an honor in itself. I never imagined that project would mark the beginning of a 7 year collaboration, or that I would end up working on projects for Chris’ solo albums and Temple of the Dog. The trust that Chris and everyone in Soundgarden have given me as a creative director over the years has been a great privilege. It felt unprecedented, and I will always be grateful.

My thoughts go out to Chris’ family, Kim, Matt, Ben, Amy, Ron, Clare, Kille, Ted, Paul, Dave, Josh, Nate, Neil, Steve, Rich, Stephen, and everyone else on the tour. My heart is with you all.

Rest In Peace.