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
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."
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.
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
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
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
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
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."