Soundgarden Overview

Soundgarden is an American rock rock music band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by lead singer and drummer Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band's permanent drummer in 1986 while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990.

Soundgarden was one of the seminal bands in the creation of grunge, a style of alternative rock that developed in Seattle, and was one of a number of grunge bands signed to the record label Sub Pop. Soundgarden was the first grunge band to sign to a major label (A&M Records, in 1988), though the band did not achieve commercial success until Seattle contemporaries Nirvana Nirvana (band) and Pearl Jam po***rized "grunge" in the early 1990s.

Soundgarden achieved its biggest success with the 1994 album Superunknown, which debuted at number one on the Billboard Billboard (magazine) charts and yielded the Grammy Award-winning singles "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman." In 1997, the band broke up due to internal strife over its creative direction. On January 1, 2010, Cornell alluded to a Soundgarden reunion, though no details have yet been released. Soundgarden has sold over eight million records in the United States, and an estimated twenty million worldwide.


 
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Formation and early recordings (1984–1988)

Soundgarden traces its origins to a cover band called The Shemps, which performed around Seattle in the early 1980s,

Soundgarden began working on its fourth album after touring in support of Badmotorfinger. Cornell said that while working on the album the band members allowed each other more freedom than on past records, while Thayil observed that the band spent a lot more time working on the actual recording of the songs than on previous records. Released on March 8, 1994, Superunknown became the band's breakthrough album, driven by the singles "Spoonman", "The Day I Tried to Live", "Black Hole Sun", "My Wave", and "Fell on Black Days"; Superunknown debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. The songs on Superunknown captured the creativity and heaviness of the band's earlier works, while showcasing the group's newly evolving style. Lyrically, the album was quite dark and mysterious, and of it is often interpreted to be dealing with substance abuse, suicide, and depression. Cornell was inspired by the writings of Sylvia Plath at the time. The album was also more experimental than previous releases, with some songs incorporating Middle-Eastern or Indian music. J. D. Considine of Rolling Stone said Superunknown "demonstrates far greater range than many bands manage in an entire career." He also stated, "At its best, Superunknown offers a more harrowing depiction of alienation and despair than anything on In Utero." The music video for "Black Hole Sun" became a hit on MTV and received the award for Best Metal/Hard Rock Video MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards and in 1995 it received the Clio Award Clio Awards for Alternative Music Video. Soundgarden won two Grammy Awards in 1995; "Black Hole Sun" received the award for Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance and "Spoonman" received the award for Best Metal Performance. Superunknown has been certified five times platinum RIAA certification in the United States and remains Soundgarden's most successful album.

The band began touring in January 1994 in Oceania and Japan, areas where the record came out early and where the band had never toured before. This round of touring ended in February 1994, and then in March 1994 the band moved on to Europe. with the opening acts Tad Tad (band) and Eleven Eleven (band) . The band would make up the dates later in 1995. Superunknown spawned the EP Songs from the Superunknown and the CD-ROM Alive in the Superunknown, both released in 1995.


Internal conflicts and breakup (1996–1997)



Following the worldwide tour in support of Superunknown, the band began what would become the band's final album, having chosen to produce the record themselves. However, tensions within the group reportedly arose during the sessions, with Thayil and Cornell allegedly clashing over Cornell's desire to shift away from the heavy guitar riffing that had become the band's trademark. Cornell said, "By the time we were finished, it felt like it had been kind of hard, like it was a long, hard haul. But there was stuff we were discovering." The band's fifth album, Down on the Upside, was released on May 21, 1996. The album was notably less heavy than the group's preceding albums, and marked a further departure from the band's grunge roots; Soundgarden explained at the time that it wanted to experiment with other sounds, which included acoustic instrumentation Acoustic music : David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said, "Few bands since Led Zeppelin have so crisply mixed instruments both acoustic and electric." The overall mood of the album's lyrics is less dark as on previous Soundgarden albums, with Cornell describing some songs as "self-affirming." The album spawned several singles, including "Pretty Noose", "Burden in My Hand", and "Blow Up the Outside World." "Pretty Noose" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1997. Despite favorable reviews, the album did not match the sales of Superunknown. After Lollapalooza, the band embarked on a worldwide tour, and already-existing tensions increased during that tour. When asked whether the band hated touring, Cornell replied "We really enjoy it to a point, and then it gets tedious, because it becomes repetitious. You feel like fans have paid their money and they expect you to come out and play them your songs like the first time you ever played them. That's the point where we hate touring." At the tour's final stop in Honolulu Honolulu, Hawaii , Hawaii on February 9, 1997, Shepherd threw his bass into the air in frustration after suffering equipment failure, and subsequently stormed off the stage. The band retreated, with Cornell returning to conclude the show with a solo encore. On April 9, 1997, the band announced it was disbanding. Thayil said, "It was pretty obvious from everybody's general attitude over the course of the previous half year that there was some dissatisfaction." Cameron later said that Soundgarden was "eaten up by the business." Soundgarden's final release, a greatest hits collection entitled A-Sides, was released on November 4, 1997. The album includes 17 songs, including one previously-unreleased song titled "Bleed Together". The track had been recorded during the Down On The Upside recording sessions.


Post-breakup (1998–2009)

performing live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 2005.|alt=A man playing a guitar and singing on stage at a concert.
Cornell released a solo album in September 1999, entitled Euphoria Morning. Later, in 2001, he formed the supergroup Audioslave with former members of Rage Against the Machine, which recorded three albums (Audioslave Audioslave (album) (2002), Out of Exile (2005), and Revelations Revelations (Audioslave album) (2006)). Cornell left Audioslave in early 2007, resulting in the band's break-up. His second solo album, Carry On Carry On (Chris Cornell album) , was released in June 2007 and his third solo album, Scream Scream (Chris Cornell album) , produced by Timbaland, was released in March 2009, both to mixed commercial and critical success. Thayil joined forces with former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra and former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Gina Mainwal for one show, performing as The No WTO Combo during the WTO World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Seattle on December 1, 1999. Thayil later contributed guitar tracks to Steve Fisk's 2001 album, 999 Levels of Undo, as well as Dave Grohl's 2004 side-project album, Probot. In 2006, Thayil played guitar on the album Altar Altar (album) , the collaboration between the bands Sunn O))) and Boris Boris (band) . Cameron initially turned his efforts to his side-project Wellwater Conspiracy, to which both Shepherd and Thayil have contributed. He then worked briefly with The Smashing Pumpkins on the band's 1998 album, Adore Adore (album) . In 1998, he stepped in on drums for Pearl Jam's Yield Tour, and subsequently joined Pearl Jam as a permanent member; he has recorded four albums as the band's drummer (Binaural Binaural (album) (2000), Riot Act Riot Act (album) (2002), Pearl Jam Pearl Jam (album) (2006), and Backspacer (2009)). Shepherd was the singer on Wellwater Conspiracy's 1997 debut studio album, Declaration of Conformity, but left the band in 1998. He has toured with Mark Lanegan and played bass on two of Lanegan's albums, I'll Take Care of You (1999) and Field Songs (2001). Shepherd and Cameron lent a hand with recording Tony Iommi's album IOMMI Iommi (album) (2000); they were part of the side-project band Hater Hater (band) while they were members of Soundgarden and in 2005 Shepherd released the band's long-delayed second album, The 2nd.

Regarding a future Soundgarden reunion, Cornell stated in an October 2005 interview that it would "probably not happen." He continued, "It's almost like we sealed the lid and said, this is Soundgarden and this is its lifespan, and put it out there. And it looks really great to me. I think getting back together would take the lid off that and then could possibly change what...to me seems like the perfect lifespan of the band. I can't think of any reason to mess with that." In interviews following his departure from Audioslave in February 2007, Cornell reiterated that the members of Soundgarden had no interest in reuniting, later explaining to NME, "When Soundgarden broke up, my discussions with the rest of the band was [sic] 'We have to have an agreement that we will never tour Soundgarden—Soundgarden will never exist—without it being a unanimous decision and that everyone who was in the band is in the band.'" In the 2009 book Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, Thayil, Cameron, and Shepherd all reflected on the possibility of a Soundgarden reunion, Thayil saying, "I don't see it. I'd imagine it could, it's perfectly within the realm of possibilities—everyone's still alive [laughs]. But I don't see it happening." On March 24, 2009, Thayil, Cameron, and Shepherd reunited with Tad Doyle Tad (band) on lead vocals to perform "Hunted Down," "Nothing to Say," and "Spoonman" at a Tom Morello solo show at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle. In a July 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Cornell shot down rumors of a reunion, saying that conversations between the band members had been limited to discussion about the release of a box set or B-sides album of Soundgarden rarities, and that there had been no discussion of a reunion at all.

On October 6, 2009, all the members of Soundgarden attended Night 3 of Pearl Jam's four-night stand at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, CA. During an encore, Temple of the Dog reunited for the first time since Pearl Jam's show at the Santa Barbara Bowl on October 28, 2003. Chris Cornell joined the band to sing "Hunger Strike Hunger Strike (song) ". It was the first public appearance of Soundgarden together since their breakup in April 1997. Conseqeuntly, rumors of an impending reunion were circulating on the internet.

Reunion (2010–present)

On January 1, 2010, Cornell alluded to a Soundgarden reunion via his Twitter, writing: "The 12-year break is over and school is back in session. Sign up now. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!" The message linked to a website that features a picture of the group performing live and a place for fans to enter their e-mail address to get updates on the reunion. Entering that information unlocks an archival video for the song "Get on the Snake," from Soundgarden's second studio album, 1989's Louder Than Love. The latest statement indicated the band will be headlining festivals such as Lollapalooza, and the Reading & Leeds Festivals in the UK, although no official confirmation has been issued by the band. On March 1, 2010, Soundgarden announced to the people who signed their e-mail subscribers that they are re-releasing an old single "Hunted Down" with the song "Nothing to Say" on a 7" vinyl released on April 17th only at Record Store Day. Also, they released "Spoonman" live at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego, CA from 1996. This song is available for download on Soundgarden's homepage.Soundgarden was a pioneer of the grunge music genre, which mixed elements of punk rock and heavy metal heavy metal music into a dirty, aggressive sound. Soundgarden's sound during the early years of the Seattle grunge scene has been described as consisting of "gnarled neo-Zeppelinisms Led Zeppelin ." The influence of Led Zeppelin was evident, with Q Q (magazine) magazine noting that Soundgarden were "in thrall to '70s rock, but contemptuous of the genre's overt ***ism and machismo." According to Sub Pop, the band had "a hunky lead singer and fused Led Zeppelin and the Butthole Surfers." The Butthole Surfers' mix of punk, heavy metal and noise rock was a major influence on the early work of Soundgarden. Soundgarden broadened its musical range with its later releases. By 1994’s Superunknown, the band began to incorporate more pop pop music and psychedelic psychedelic music influences into its music. As a member of Soundgarden, Cornell became known for his wide vocal range and his dark, existentialist existentialism lyrics.

Soundgarden often utilized alternative tuning Guitar tunings#Alternative tunings s in its songs. Many Soundgarden songs were performed in drop D tuning, including "Jesus Christ Pose," "Outshined," "Spoonman," and "Black Hole Sun". The E strings of the instruments were at times tuned even lower, such as on "Rusty Cage," where the lower E is tuned all the way down to B. Some songs use more unorthodox tunings: "My Wave" and "The Day I Tried to Live" are both in a E-E-B-B-B-E tuning.

Soundgarden also used unorthodox time signatures; while such songs as "Jesus Christ Pose" are in typical 4/4 time, "Outshined" is in 7/4, "My Wave" uses 5/4, "Black Hole Sun" is in 4/4 and uses 9/8 in the bridge section, "Fell on Black Days" and "Somewhere" are in 6/4, "Never the Machine Forever" uses 9/8, "Beyond the Wheel" uses 9/4, "Face Pollution" uses 9/8 and 6/4, "Rusty Cage" uses 4/4 for the majority of the song and a repeated pattern of 3/4, 2/4, and 5/4 in its coda, and "Spoonman" alternates between 7/4 and 4/4 sections. Thayil has said that Soundgarden usually did not consider the time signature of a song until after the band had written it, and said that the use of odd meters was "a total accident."Soundgarden was one of the early bands of the 1980s Seattle music scene and is regarded as being one of the originators of the genre later known as grunge. The development of the Seattle independent record label Sub Pop is tied closely to Soundgarden, since Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman funded Soundgarden's early releases, and the band's success led to the expansion of Sub Pop as a serious record label. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was a fan of Soundgarden's early music, and reportedly Soundgarden's involvement with Sub Pop influenced Cobain to sign Nirvana with the label.
I think and this is now with some distance in listening to the records but on the outside looking in with all earnestness I think Soundgarden made the best records out of that scene. I think we were the most daring and experimental and genre pushing really and I'm really proud of it. And I guess that's why I have trepidation about the idea of reforming. I don't know what it would mean. I guess I just have this image of who we were and I had probably a lot of anxiety during the period of being Soundgarden, as we all did, that it was a responsibility and it was an important band of music and we didn't want to mess it up and we managed to not, which I felt is a great achievement.


Soundgarden has been praised for its technical musical ability and the expansion of its sound as the band's career progressed. "Heavy yet ethereal, powerful yet always-in-control, Soundgarden's music was a study in contrasts," said Henry Wilson of Hit Parader. Wilson proclaimed the band's music as "a brilliant display of technical proficiency tempered by heart-felt emotion." with Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic stating that "Soundgarden made a place for heavy metal in alternative rock." The band inspired and influenced a number of bands, ranging from The Dillinger Escape Plan to Trapt.*Ultramega OK (1988)
*Louder Than Love (1989)
*Badmotorfinger (1991)
*Superunknown (1994)
*Down on the Upside (1996)*
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