Soundgarden Breaks Up

With the grunge period of the early 90s slowly receding into rock history, Soundgarden, the metal-edged Seattle band, called it quits this week, after 12 years and one chart-topping album. No reason was given, just a terse notice through the group's record company that the split was amicable and mutual. Here's a look back at the band that was.

MTV: Formed in Seattle in 1985, Soundgarden was named after a piece of local pipe sculpture, and set out to bring metal out of the sludgy 70s and maybe expand its audience, too.

CHRIS CORNELL, Vocals/Guitar: If there is a cross over, I would say it goes from a college crowd to an independent metal crowd or a metal crowd.

KIM THAYIL, Guitar: Yeah, the college students' little brothers, little sisters... (THAYIL MIMICS HEAD BANGING)

MTV: The band cut its first EP for the fledgling local Indie label Sub Pop in 1987, moved on to another Indie, SST, to release its first full album in 1988, and

then signed with a major, A&M, and spawned a hit with the album "Louder Than Love" ["Hands All Over", Soundbyte, 149 K].

In 1989, original bassist Hiro Yamamoto left the band. He was replaced first by one time Nirvana member Jason Everman and ultimately, in 1990, by Ben Shepherd.

By 1992, Soundgarden put in the first of its two stints on the "Lollapalooza" tour, hitting the road with such diverse acts as Ice Cube, Pearl Jam and Ministry.

THAYIL: We were a little bit petulant and bitchy about it the first time.

TABITHA SOREN: Why?

THAYIL: It was a little bit of the alternative lie sort of thing. We enjoyed the bill, playing with Ministry, Pearl Jam, Chilis and all those guys. That was the thing we liked best about it. Everything else was a little too many people, too many interests. You had to be there.

SOREN: So why did you decide to go out on Lolla when you're last

experience...?

THAYIL: Because we get to play with Metallica and The Ramones.

MTV: Soundgarden's biggest hit came in 1994 with the album "Superunknown", which entered the Billboard chart at number one. The multi-platinum "Superunknown" brought Soundgarden two Grammy awards, one for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Black Hole Sun" [QuickTime, 1.5 MB], and one for Best Metal for "Spoonman".

CORNELL, Seattle 2/25/94: You don't hear a lot of rock songs with spoons in them, so it was sort of an experiment and it turned out really great.

MTV: In 1996, Soundgarden released what was to be the group's last album, "Down On The Upside" ["Burden In My Hand," QuickTime, 1 MB] which the band, for the first time, produced itself. It sold only 3 million copies worldwide.

JOHN NORRIS, Grammy Arrival 1997: I know you toured throughout most of the fall and

winter?

CORNELL: Yeah, we just got done, actually.

NORRIS: Are you jonesing to get back recording or do you just want to take time off at the moment?

CORNELL: Yeah, for the amount of time we spend not recording it kind of seems silly because that's what bands do, they make records and people write songs and it seems like we don't spend enough time doing that. So, hopefully we'll be doing that real soon.

KURT: Soundgarden's members, Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd, and Matt Cameron, haven't announced any future plans, yet. The band played its last concert in Honolulu on February 9th. You can see lots of Soundgarden concert footage in the MTV News Online "Feature of the Week."