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
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
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."