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Soundgarden

Soundgarden made a place for heavy metal in alternative rock. Their fellow Seattle rockers Green River may havespearheaded the grunge sound, but they relied on noise rock in the vein of the Stooges. Similarly, Jane's Addiction were toofascinated with prog rock and performance art to appeal to a wide array of metal fans. Soundgarden, however, developeddirectly out of the grandiose blues-rock of Led Zeppelin and the sludgy, slow riffs of Black Sabbath. Which isn't to say theywere a straight. ahead metal band. Soundgarden borrowed the D.I.Y. aesthetics of punk, melding their guitar-drivensoun ...read more

Soundgarden made a place for heavy metal in alternative rock. Their fellow Seattle rockers Green River may havespearheaded the grunge sound, but they relied on noise rock in the vein of the Stooges. Similarly, Jane's Addiction were toofascinated with prog rock and performance art to appeal to a wide array of metal fans. Soundgarden, however, developeddirectly out of the grandiose blues-rock of Led Zeppelin and the sludgy, slow riffs of Black Sabbath. Which isn't to say theywere a straight. ahead metal band. Soundgarden borrowed the D.I.Y. aesthetics of punk, melding their guitar-drivensoundwith an intelligence and ironic sense of humor that was indebted to the American underground of the mid-'80s.Furthermore,the band rarely limited itself to simple, pounding riffs, often making detours into psychedelia. But the group's keysonic signatures -- the gutsy wail of vocalist Chris Cornell and the winding riffs of guitarist Kim Thayil -- were what broughtthemout of the underground. Not only were they one of the first groups to record for the legendary Seattle indie Sub Pop,butthey were the first grunge band to sign to a major label. In fact, most critics expected Soundgarden to be the bandthatbroke down the doors for alternative rock, not Nirvana. However, the group didn't experience an across-the-boardsuccessuntil 1994, when Superunknown became a number one hit.

For a band so heavily identified with the Seattle scene, its ironic that two of its founding members were from the Midwest.KimThayil (guitar), Hiro Yamamoto (bass), and Bruce Pavitt were all friends in Illinois who decided to head toOlympia,Washington, to attend college after high-school graduation in 1981. Though none of the three completed college, allof thembecame involved in the Washington underground music scene. Pavitt was the only one who didn't play -- he foundedafanzine that later became the Sub Pop record label. Yamamoto played in several cover bands before forming a band in1984with his roommate Chris Cornell (vocals), a Seattle native who had previously played drums in several bands. Thayilsoonjoined the duo and the group named itself Soundgarden after a local Seattle sculpture. Scott Sundquist originally wastheband's drummer, but he was replaced by Matt Cameron in 1986. Over the next two years, Soundgarden gradually built upadevoted cult following through their club performances.

Pavitt signed Soundgarden to his fledgling Sub Pop label in the summer of 1987, releasing the single "Hunted Down" beforetheEP Screaming Life appeared later in the year. Screaming Life and the group's second EP, 1988's FOPP, becameundergroundhits and earned the attention of several major labels. The band decided to sign to SST instead of a major,releasingUltramega OK by the end of 1988. Ultramega OK received strong reviews among alternative and metal publications,and thegroup decided to make the leap to a major for its next album, 1989's Louder Than Love. Released on A&M Records,LouderThan Love became a word-of-mouth hit, earning positive reviews from mainstream publications, peaking at 108 on thecharts,and earning a Grammy nomination. Following the album's fall 1989 release, Yamamoto left the band to return to school.JasonEverman, a former guitarist for Nirvana, briefly played with the band before Ben Shepherd joined in early 1990.

Soundgarden's third album, 1991's Badmotorfinger, was heavily anticipated by many industry observers as a potentialbreakouthit. Though it was a significant hit, reaching number 39 on the album charts, its success was overshadowed by thesurprisesuccess of Nirvana's Nevermind, which was released the same month as Badmotorfinger. Prior to Nevermind,Soundgarden hadbeen marketed by A&M as a metal band, and the group had agreed to support Guns n' Roses on the fall1991 Lose Your Illusiontour. While the tour did help sales, Soundgarden benefited primarily from the grunge explosion, whosemedia attention helpedturn the band into stars. The band was also helped by the Top Ten success of Temple of the Dog, atribute to deceasedMother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood that Cornell and Cameron recorded with members of Pearl Jam.

By the spring release of 1994's Superunknown, Soundgarden's following had grown considerably, which meant that thealbumdebuted at number one upon its release. (A year before its release, Shepherd and Cameron released an eponymousalbum bytheir side project, Hater.) Superunknown became one of the most popular records of 1994, generating a genuinecrossover hitwith "Black Hole Sun," selling over three million copies and earning two Grammys. Soundgarden returned in 1996with Down onthe Upside, which entered the charts at number two. Despite the record's strong initial sales, it failed togenerate a big hit,and was hurt by grunge's fading popularity. Soundgarden retained a sizable audience -- the album did goplatinum, and theywere co-headliners on the sixth Lollapalooza -- but they didn't replicate the blockbuster success ofSuperunknown. Aftercompleting an American tour following Lollapalooza that was plagued by rumors of internal fighting,Soundgarden announcedthat they were breaking up on April 9, 1997, to pursue other interests.

During the late '90s and 2000s, each member kept very busy. Cornell released three solo albums, also recording and touringasAudioslave with former members of Rage Against the Machine. Cameron toured his Wellwater Conspiracy project, andalsoplayed and recorded with Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. Thayil collaborated with a wide range of artists,includingCameron, Dave Grohl, Steve Fisk, and Boris. Meanwhile, Shepherd helped out with Wellwater Conspiracy, and alsoplayed andrecorded with Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees. Finally, in 2010, the band announced a reunion with a few liveshows duringthe summer (including that year's edition of Lollapalooza) which preceded a compilation, Telephantasm, in thefall.Telephantasm was initially available as a double-disc set on September 28, with a single-disc version appearing a weeklater(the single disc was also included via Guitar Hero on September 28). In 2011, Soundgarden released their first live album,Liveon I-5, which featured material recorded during the band's supporting tour for Down on the Upside. All of this activitywouldbe the prelude to Soundgarden's full-on return in 2012, when they released their sixth album, King Animal, in the fall ofthatyear. « hide

Similar Bands: Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Led Zeppelin, The Stooges, Pearl Jam

LPs
King Animal
11/13/2012

3.6
495 Votes
Down on the Upside
1996

3.7
883 Votes
Superunknown
1994

4.3
2,188 Votes
Badmotorfinger
1991

4.1
1,421 Votes
Louder Than Love
1989

3.5
519 Votes
Ultramega OK
1988

3.3
389 Votes
EPs
Songs from the Superunknown
1995

3.2
25 Votes
Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas
1992

3.4
17 Votes
Loudest Love
1990

3.8
13 Votes
Flower
1989

3.2
26 Votes
Fopp
1988

2.9
46 Votes
Screaming Life
1987

3.6
57 Votes
Live Albums
Live on I-5
2011

3.2
40 Votes
Compilations
Telephantasm
2010

3.9
56 Votes
Fresh Deadly Rarities
2000

4
9 Votes
A-Sides
1997

3.9
207 Votes
Alive in the Superunknown
1995

4.1
9 Votes
Screaming Life/Fopp
1990

3.4
71 Votes

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