Soundgarden Returns

April 12, 1996 — In other music news, more than two years after debuting on the charts at number one with its “Superunknown” album, Soundgarden returns to the racks next month with a new one, recorded at the home studio of Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, near Seattle. I visited the band on the set of an experimental video shoot last weekend, which was filmed by a first-time director, to file this report.

TABITHA SOREN, MTV News: Soundgarden named themselves after this pipe sculpture here at Seattle’s Sand Point back in 1984. Over the past 12 years the first local act to attract major label interest here has had platinum records, a Grammy award, and their last album even debuted at number one. So of course Seattle’s dour sons were worried that main stream exposure might dilute the intensity of their music, all evidence to the contrary on their latest “Down On the Upside.”

MTV: The first video for “Down On the Upside” is for a song with an unlikely title: “Pretty Noose”.


SOREN: How are you approaching this video differently from others you’ve made?

KIM THAYIL, Guitar: Well, the director is a graphic artist who’s been a poster artist that we’ve liked for a number of years, Frank Kosick.

MTV: Soundgarden has consistently experimented with different video styles and directors, and by now quickly know if a director and an idea are gonna work out.

CHRIS CORNELL: It’s pretty obvious if you’re talking on the phone with the director and he starts talking about wanting the band shirtless with lipstick then, you know, OK, wrong guy. We’ll get someone else.

SOREN: Can you tell me about the song apart from the video. What is a pretty noose?

CORNELL: It’s just sort of an attractively packaged bad idea, pretty much, something that seems great at first and then comes back to bite you.

MTV: As it turns out, Ben Shephard had real first hand noose experience.

SOREN: As a kid you sat around tying nooses? I mean,
I don’t know if that’s a common thing.

BEN SHEPHARD, bass: Yeah you practice… you take a string… and we also had a sailor’s book at home and we used to sit around and try and tie a whole bunch of different knots.

SOREN: That’s not quite as morbid somehow.

CORNELL: What are you saying, you didn’t hang little nooses around your Barbie and hang her from a light shade?

MTV: With “Down on the Upside” carrying songs like ‘Pretty Noose’, ‘Zero Chance” and “Blow Up the Outside World” it’d be easy to assume that the album’s pretty dark. And you’d be right.

THAYIL: It’s a little bit sad, it’s a little creepy. What’s new?

MTV: Chris Cornell offers a different perspective from those who see nothing but doom in the band’s music.

CORNELL: If you write a song about feeling bad in a particular way and then someone hears that song and they think, “Wow, I really identify with the way he felt when he wrote this so there’s someone else out there who
feels like me, I’m not the only one.” What happens? They feel better, so even if it’s a dark theme, it can actually have a positive effect.

The “Pretty Noose” single will be out April 24th. “Down On The Upside,” the album, will follow on May 21st. Soundgarden will also be making its second Lollapalooza sojourn this June, joining the Ramones and Metallica on the ’96 version.