Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Soundgarden
Published Nov 05, 2012On November 13, grunge greats Soundgarden will release King Animal, the band's first full-length since 1996's Down on the Upside forced them apart nearly two decades ago.
The reunited group's trials and tribulations are the subject of this month's Timeline feature, which will illuminate the nooks and crannies of the band's story since their formation in 1984. Below, find five of those illuminations, tidbits even mega-fans might not have known about Chris Cornell and co.
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Soundgarden:
1. The band's second show ever was opening for Hüsker Dü and Melvins.
Their second gig was opening a Hüsker Dü/Melvins show. "We wanted to be a band that we would listen to, the band whose records we would buy," Thayil says. "We wanted to create an allegiance with an audience that would have included us when we were younger — the way I felt about, say, the Ramones or Black Sabbath. We all had an idea about who was worthy of respect from an artistic standpoint, whether that was Pink Floyd or Captain Beefheart, or later on, the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr., the Minutemen, Saccharine Trust, Sonic Youth. We had to be that band that we would have sat around arguing about."
2. Soundgarden had early Canadian connections.
The band's early set list included covers of Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" and Rush's "Working Man." On an early visit to Vancouver in February 1988, they also opened for Canadian punk legends NoMeansNo and D.O.A. Later, at the start of 1990, Soundgarden embark on a run of dates with Faith No More and Voivod, with the Quebec metal gods headlining in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
3. Eddie Vedder got his first singing gig in pre-Pearl Jam group Temple of the Dog when Cornell had troubles laying down his vocals for "Hunger Strike."
Temple of the Dog was started by Cornell as a vehicle for two songs he wrote in honour of deceased friend Andrew Wood, but as sessions unfold with a band composed of Cameron, Gossard, Ament, and lead guitarist Mike McCready, formerly of Seattle band Shadow, enough material gets written to make a full album. The project is named Temple of the Dog after a lyric from Apple, and work on the eponymous album throughout the autumn of 1990 lays the foundation for the new band Gossard, Ament, and McCready are plotting, then known as Mookie Blaylock but ultimately called Pearl Jam. In trying to persuade former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons to join the group, the trio pass on a tape of instrumentals, which Irons gives to a surfer friend from San Diego, Eddie Vedder, who briefly roadied for RHCP. Vedder writes lyrics to the tracks and lays down vocals, sending the tape back as his audition. He's invited to Seattle in the midst of the Temple of the Dog sessions, and is asked to join in. "Eddie was just hanging out at the basement studio that Jeff, Stone and Mike have," Matt Cameron told Goldmine in 1993. "He wasn't totally acclimatized yet, so he was just staying down there, hanging out, listening to the songs we were working on. And then he started singing." When Cornell has trouble working out his vocal part for the track "Hunger Strike," Vedder jumps in and they record it as a duet. It becomes Vedder's first lead vocal on record and soon after these sessions, Pearl Jam make their debut album, Ten.
4. Kim Thayil contributed uncredited work to Down on the Upside.
"Collaboration was paramount in our early music, especially right at the beginning when it was me on guitar, Hiro on bass and Chris on drums," Thayil says. "Later on, it became four songwriters who played different instruments all writing guitar parts that I had to learn. That was basically the situation when we made Down on the Upside, and it kind of forced me to say, 'Well, if I'm going to have a song on this fucking record, I'm going to have to write lyrics.' So I wrote 'Never the Machine Forever.' I don't want anyone to think that that was the sum of my creative input. There are guitar things all over [the album] that I came up with, but that's unfortunately not the way we credit songwriting."
5. Chris Cornell was taken out of rehab to make Audioslave's "Cochise" video.
Cornell was in the midst of a two-month rehab stint to overcome alcohol addiction. He tells Mojo in 2007 that when making the video for the album's first single, "Cochise," "They came and put me in a van with a guy who was there to make sure I wasn't given anything. I got my hair and make-up done in there, and then I was parachuted into the middle of this $850,000 video set. The shoot's over, they drive [me] back to rehab!" Audioslave would also become the first American rock band to play in Cuba in May 2005, a free show in front of 70,000 fans in Havana.