One of our favourite releases this year was the Frank Zappa influenced Deadwood EP from Captain Cheesebeard. It is a privilege to welcome the talented Belgian’s to the site as they profess their love of grunge masters, Soundgarden.
Why do we love them…what is there not to love about Soundgarden? Cornell was one of most iconic Rock Singers of the last 3 decades and a prolific songwriter. Add the unique style of Kim Thayil’s guitar playing, (why that man’s name doesn’t appear more often on lists of great guitar players beats me), Matt Cameron’s use of odd time signatures, a thundering bass, ton’s of energy and you have a winner! They had a unique sound and I always thought the name of the band perfectly described it.
They sounded like a sonic sculpture.
We first heard them in 1989. A friend of mine played “Hand’s All Over” to me in his car and I was immediately triggered by the song. A few months later, I went to see an event at the AB Concert Hall in Brussels called “The Big Ugly Mouth” featuring Lydia Lunch and Henri Rollins doing a spoken word gig followed by a Soungarden concert in the café club of the AB; the small room with a stage that was about 2 feet high.
At the end of Rollins’s act in the main room he said something along the lines of, ‘You can now go upstairs and watch Soundgarden play. In the US, this band has sold more than a million records because Axl Rose mentioned during an interview that they were the best thing he’d heard in years, so just realise that you will never, ever see them perform again in a room that small.’
And he was right. Needles to say, the gig was incendiary.
I remember when it clicked for me; there I was, lying on the floor in my room, can’s on my noodle, stoned as a lobster, listening to “Ugly Truth”
There’s this mid section of multi layered guitar parts playing single notes , feedback , all playing in perfect harmony with Cornell repeatedly singing ‘If you were mine to give I might throw it away’ with what sounds like a Phase 90 (pedal) on his voice, panning from left to right. At that moment, I heard heaven.
A transcendent experience.
Before the grunge days, I was playing in a metal band and so the influence of Soundgarden pushed me into a different type of song writing.
I’ve always had an eclectic taste in music and I was longing to bring more melody into the metal format without the thing sounding naff or cheesy. (Cheesy was something I reserved for my musical utterings later on in my career).
To me, Soundgarden demonstrated perfectly how you could be super heavy and super melodic at the same time.
Nowadays I wouldn’t say that they’re of much influence to me when it comes down to song writing. The influences of the work I write for Cheese-beard lie somewhere else. I am just a huge fan.
As for favourite songs…most of the catalogue is superb so my choice is going to be a nostalgic one: Ugly Truth and Hands All Over, the first two songs on the Louder Than Love album which is also, for the same sentimental reasons my favourite album even if I would be the first one to point out that Superunknown was their most accomplished piece of work.
Their legacy in music is huge. All I can say about that is that their music will stand the test of time. The name Soundgarden deserves to be carved in the steps of the pantheon of 20th century rock along with the rest of the greats.
I would challenge anyone who disagrees to take a pair of cans and listen to the title track of the Superunknown album. That vocal delivery came from somewhere out of this world
On myself; I associate Soundgarden’s music with a period of my life on which I look back at with great joy, they we’re the perfect soundtrack for that time.
I still play their music on a regular basis but the last two years with a bit of a heavy heart. The death of Chris Cornell is something I didn’t fully came to terms with yet.
Many thanks to Captain Cheesebeard for this piece. Soundgarden are one of the greatest bands ever and the loss of Chris Cornell is still felt immensely. On their most recent tour, Prophets Of Rage played Cochise (from Audioslave’s first album) instrumentally with just the microphone lit up – it was a fitting tribute to the great man.
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