Soundgarden is an American hard alternative metal/grunge band from Seattle, Washington. The are one of the Big Four of Grunge bands due to their popularity gained by the trealease of their third and fourth albums, Badmotorfinger and Superunknown. They are extremely notable for their hit single, "Black Hole Sun."
Formation and Sub Pop Edit
Chris Cornell and Hiro Yamamoto were from a band called The Shemps. Their next guitarist, Kim Thayil, moved to Seattle with Bruce Pavitt and joined Cornell's band. The band later signed onto Sub Pop Records, and the band renamed themselves "soundgarden" after a local pipe statue. Cornell originally played the drums and sang, but they soon recruited Scott Sundquist to play drums, allowing Cornell to be a full lead singer. Although they signed to Sub Pop, they first appeared on Deep Six, a local compilation released by C/Z Records. Afterwards, Sundquist left and was replaced with Skin Yard drummer Matt Cameron. Thayil then spoke with Jonathan Poneman, DJ for KCMU. Poneman was impressed with Soundgarden, and became Pavitt's business partner, funding Sub Pop so Soundgarden releases could be sold. The band released their EP's Screaming Life and Fopp, which attracted a lot of attention from major labels, mostly due to Soundgarden's single "Hunted Down."
Ultramega OK and Louder Than Love Edit
Soundgarden signed onto SST Records in 1988 and released their debut studio album, Ultramega OK. The album was noteworthy for their song, "Flower," and the Zeppelin influence. After touring to support the band, they left SST out of dissatisfaction and signed to A&M. Their original audiences were unpleased with their new label. They had begun touring with hard rock audiences, abandoning the culture and fashion of the Seattle Grunge Scene. The process also caused a slight rift in the band, with Yamamoto "excommunicating himself from the band," and Cornell ending up writing the most. In 1989, the band released their second studio album, Louder Than Love, which was notable for their hit song, "Big Dumb Sex." The album was notable for their Zeppelin influence just like their debut. Because of this, the album was viewed more as a metal album than a grunge album. Hiro Yamamoto left the band a month before the touring for the album because he did not contribute much. He was replaced Jason Everman. Jason Everman did not work out well with the band during the tour, so he was fired. In 1990, Soundgarden released their compilation EP, Loudest Love, and the video compilation, Louder Than Live.
Ben Shepherd replaced Everman on bass, and the band began recording Badmotorfinger in 1991, thankful for the addition of Shepherd because his creativity helped define the band's new sound. Badmotorfinger's release gave the band more recognition. They had spawned a few hits from the album, most notably the single "Jesus Christ Pose," a song about famous people who abuse the images of people portraying Jesus Christ on the cross. The video itself gained controversy and was thought to be anti-Christian. The album was a bit overshadowed by the success of Nevermind, but Badmotorfinger helped bring more audiences to grunge, and helped regain Soundgarden's old audiences. 1991 released many other grunge albums, including Nevermind, Ten, and the Andrew Wood tribute album Temple of the Dog which Cornell provided vocals for.
Superunknown, the band's fourth album, was released on March 8, 1994, and met with more success than their previous albums. The album carried five singles, two of which gained Grammy Awards: "Black Hole Sun" and ""Spoonman." The MTV Video for "Black Hole Sun" gained an MTV Video Music Award for Best Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Video. The album itself was noted for carrying their past heaviness and evolving the band's style at the same time. Like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden was gearing more towards alternative rock. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance, but lost to Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge.
Touring for the album went from Japan and Oceania to Europe, and in May of 1994 the group started a theater tour. However, in late 1994, Cornell found that he had severely strained his vocals, so tour dates for 1994 were cancelled and made up for the next year.
Down on the Upside Edit
The band began self-producing their next album, Down on the Upside. The band had been suffering some conflicts, notably Chris's desire to steer away from their trademark heavy riffs. The album itself had more experimentation and steered away from the gurnge roots. Some of this experimentation included acoustic rock. The album was released on May of 1996, and spawned the single "Pretty Noose," which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1997.
The band then toured Lollapalooza with Metallica, and the tensions within the band were increasing. This frustration showed during the last stop on their world tour in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 9, 1997, where Shepherd's equipment failed and he stormed off the stage after throwing his bass in the air. Cornell concluded the show with a solo encore. The band then announced they were breaking Down on the Upside is known by fans as the last true grunge album of the grunge era, since the grunge scene had ended for multiple reasons, most notably the aftermath of the suicide of the Nirvana lead vocalist and frontman, Kurt Cobain. However, around the time of their break-up, they released the compilation A-Sides, which included the song "Bleed Together," which was recording during sessions for Down on the Upside.
Post Break-Up Edit
(Part of this section was copied from Wikipedia. The article can be read here.)
Cornell released a solo album on September 21, 1999, called Euphoria Morning. In 2001, Cornell joined three members of Rage Against the Machine in order to form Audioslave. The band released three albums, but the band broke-up in 2007 following Chris' departure. Chris released two more solo albums.
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 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, the collaboration between the bands Sunn O))) and Boris.
Shepherd and Cameron turned to Cameron's side project, Wellwater Conspiracy. Shepherd provided vocals for the first album, but left and toured with Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees and performed on two of his albums.
Lyrical Style Edit
Many of Soundgarden's songs are shots at religious inconsistencies, mostly Catholic, and superstitions. This is because Cornell claims to have noticed inconsistencies in Catholic beliefs and he had left the religion, despite being raised by a Catholic family. Examples include the songs "665" and "667" from their debut, which made fun of the superstition that 665 and 667 were equally as evil as 666. Soundgarden also named one of their later EP's Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas, which is a palindrone. The cover represents the palindrone mirrored inside itself, and looks like a needle on vinyl, which makes fun of the common belief that many songs played backward have subliminal satanic wording. This belief was started by some actual subliminal messaging that was not actually satanic, such as the infamous "Paul Is Dead" message that can be heard on Beatles records when played backwards. Most of Soundgarden's songs do not follow that style, but some do.
Studio Albums Edit
- Ultramega OK (1988)
- Louder Than Love (1989)
- Badmotorfinger (1991)
- Superunknown (1994)
- Down on the Upside (1996)
- King Animal (2012)