When Soundgarden first announced that they were going to be getting back together, most people expected them to go through the usual process: Play some big festivals, book a ton of tour dates, re-release some old music and constantly hint at the idea of a new album. But Soundgarden have handled their reunion much differently. They have only played a handful of concerts since reconvening (including headlining this year’s Lollapalooza). They haven’t gone crazy with reissues (they are releasing a new best-of compilation called Telephantasm, which hits stores today) or new music (the sole “new” track on Telephantasm is a jam called “Black Rain” that was originally written and recorded for Badmotorfinger way back in 1991). They seem to be taking everything pretty casually, and it seems to suit them just fine.
Even their initial reunion meeting was somewhat atypical. “We tried this really obscure song that we rarely played live,” drummer Matt Cameron told MTV News when the band sat down for a chat on the eve of the release of Telephantasm (as well as the release of the Soundgarden-endorsed “Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock”).
“We never played it live!” frontman Chris Cornell corrected. “It’s called ’Blind Dogs.’ We recorded it for ’The Basketball Diaries’ [soundtrack] and we never played it live ever. For some reason, that was the first song we played together. I guess that makes sense, though. We set the bar low for the first song.”
“There was no standard with which to measure it by,” guitarist Kim Thayil added. “So failure was impossible.”
Soundgarden admitted that they don’t quite know what’s next for them, though the members of Pearl Jam have been really open-minded and excited about it (Cameron’s day job remains sitting behind their drum kit). There are more songs and demos in the vault that need to be addressed and likely more shows down the line. But for the moment, they’re happy to buck the accepted knowledge of what a reunion is supposed to be and are content with simply being in Soundgarden (which has apparently always been awesome). “There was three minutes of ’awkward first date,’ and then it was just stories of who threw up on what when,” Cornell said of their initial meeting. “It was great.”
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