ATN Breaking News: Soundgarden Call It Quits

It's over. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Seattle's

Soundgarden, who were one of the first bands signed to the influential

Sub Pop label, have disbanded. A brief statement released today by A&M

Records, the group's label, read in part: "After twelve years, the

members of Soundgarden have amicably and mutually decided to pursue

other interests."

Fronted by wailer Chris Cornell and anchored by the aggressive guitar

work of Kim Thayil, Soundgarden are credited, along with Nirvana, Tad,

the Melvins and Mother Love Bone (among many others), with laying the

foundation for an aggressive, metallic sound that emerged from the

Northwest in the late 80's, a sound the media dubbed "grunge."

After their debut EP on Sub Pop, 1987's searing Screaming Life,

the group became one of the first grunge bands to sign to a major label,

releasing their A&M debut, Louder Than Love in 1989, right after

they banged out one more indie album, 1988's Ultramega OK for

SST. The group tirelessly slugged it out on the road in the early 90's

and patiently waited for radio to catch up with their over-the-top 70's

rock-inspired sound, which finally happened with 1994's

Superunknown, with their biggest hit to date, "Black Hole Sun,"

as well as "Spoonman" and "Fell On Black Days."

The attendant increase in sales and high-visibility, especially for

pin-up worthy Cornell (who was recently featured in a solo

cover story), landed them on the cover of every major

music magazine, as well as in the #2 slot (second only to Metallica) on

last summer's Lollapalooza tour.

Their final album, last year's self-produced Down on the Upside,

like their previous releases, at times sprinkled with plenty of magic

70's dust mixed with heavy metal bombast, contained the hits "Pretty

Noose" and "Blow Up the Outside World" and was considered by many

critics to be their most nuanced work to date.

The band members have been involved in various side-projects over the

years, including Hater, with drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben

Shepherd (on guitar) and a revolving group of local Seattle musicians,

who released their self-titled debut on A&M in 1993. Hater are currently

mixing their sophomore album. The duo can also be heard alongside

Monster Magnet's John McBain on the recently-released album from their

other side project, Well Water Conspiracy, Declaration of

Conformity on Third Gear Records.

Cornell participated in the 1990 Temple of the Dog project, a tribute to

the late Andrew Wood of the seminal Seattle glam band, Mother Love Bone,

alongside Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard.

Guitarist Kim Thayil can be heard on the new Pigeonhed record, which

features Satchels' Shawn Smith and producer Steve Fisk. A source at A&M

said that there is currently no word on the future plans of any of the

members.

ATN asked Joey Ramone, who toured with the band on last summer's

Lollapalooza, to spin some of his one-of-a-kind wisdom on the break-up

of "a great band." Ramone, who had not heard about the break-up,

told ATN that he could sense some conflict among the members during the

Lolla '96 tour. "I could see

the conflict, but it just reminded me of us (the Ramones)," said Ramone.

"I didn't think anything of it. Nobody gets along with each other in a

band, it's just an illusion."

Ramone also said he noticed the members "going off into their own little

corners" after a set at last year's Big Day Out Festival in Australia,

but added that he didn't believe it when he heard that the last date on

their final tour, a February 9, 1997 show at the Blaisdell Arena in

Honolulu, would really be their last gig.

"I heard they were having heavy arguments and stuff at the Hawaii show,

but I didn't believe it because they were doing so well," said Ramone.

"They were such a real band, always giving their all, especially on

Lollapalooza, and I really thought they were as grounded as you could be

with their success. I thought they'd have to be nuts to break up now."