Soundgarden End It All

This is the end, my friend. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Seattle's Soundgarden, one of the first bands signed to the

influential Sub Pop label, have disbanded. A brief statement released

Wednesday (April 9) 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 '80s, a sound the media dubbed "grunge."

The group,

who formed in 1984 and whose original line-up included bassist Hiro Yamamoto

and singer Cornell on drums (quickly spelled by Scott Sundquist on drums), drew

their name from a famous metallic lakeside sculpture in Seattle.

Their

debut EP, 1987's searing Screaming Life, was released on Sub Pop. It was

followed by another EP, 1988's Fopp, and an album, 1988's Ultramega

OK for SST. With the release of 1989's Louder Than Love on A&M,

Soundgarden became one of the first grunge bands to sign to a major

label.

Soundgarden tirelessly slugged it out on the road in the early '90s

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

rock-inspired sound, garnering a Best Metal Performance Grammy in 1990 for

Louder Than Love.

Bassist Ben Shepherd joined the clan for 1991's

Badmotorfinger, the album that set the group up for the long-fought

breakthrough, 1994's Superunknown. That album debuted at #1 on the

Billboard charts, bagged them two more Grammy's and birthed their

biggest hit to date, "Black Hole Sun," as well as the radio tracks "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 Details cover story), landed them on the cover of

every major music magazine. The held down the #2 slot (second only to

Metallica) on last summer's Lollapalooza tour.

Soundgarden's final album,

last year's self-produced Down on the Upside, sprinkled with plenty of

'70s hard rock dust and 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. Their five albums on A&M (including three platinum

albums) have sold more than 20 million copies...



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.

ATN also learned on Wednesday that Ben Shepherd has joined the

Seattle band Devilhead, which counts among its members Brian and Kevin Wood,

older brothers of late Andrew Wood of seminal Seattle glam metal band Mother

Love Bone. (See related story in today's news.)

Cornell participated in the

1990 Temple of the Dog project, a tribute to Andrew Wood, alongside Pearl Jam

members Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard.

Guitarist Kim Thayil

can be heard on the new Pigeonhed record, The Full Sentence, which

features Satchel's Shawn Smith and producer Steve Fisk.

A source at A&M

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

members.

The break-up comes two months after Soundgarden announced they'd

be taking the summer off from touring, the first time they'd done so since

1988, reportedly to work on new material, although rumors of a possible break

had already begun to surface.

Joey Ramone, who hung out with the band

members on last summer's Lollapalooza, 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."