Seattle-based Soundgarden have been around for almost three decades although, depending on what memory you ask the early initiators of grunge rock to recall, it might seem like 125 years ago or 10 years ago. After a 14 year hiatus, Soundgarden has almost been reborn, although according to an interview this morning, their newest album King Animal serves as a sonic bridge between the sound people know and love and their current musical incarnation of that.
In more than one way, Soundgarden have almost become timeless. They certainly don’t think they are ready (or old enough) to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame although they were there last weekend. Chris Cornell both inducted Heart and performed with his longtime hero, Neil Peart from Rush. He called the moment a “weird dreamscape” that “freaked” him out. Bassist Ben Shepherd said he “tripped” on seeing John Fogerty sitting next to Quincy Jones.
“I got to play onstage with Rush and thirty other people, but it didn’t matter,” recalls Cornell. “It kind of occurred to me during rehearsal as the song ended and I looked back to cue off of the drummer that the drummer was Neil Pert.”
Soundgarden, one of the most renowned alternative rock bands of the last thirty years ago, still admits to getting self-conscious around their musical heroes. Just like Soundgarden’s own fans do. Cornell said that he admired the inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year because much of their infamy was due to the devotion of their rabid fan base.
“That actually made me feel better about the whole Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame thing to see Rush and Heart at the same time–and a band like Public Enemy too,” explains the Soundgarden frontman. “It’s a diverse cross-section of groups. You definitely get a feeling, at least with those three groups, that their fans had something to do with it. And that makes me feel good too. Definitely aware that the fans have a voice and to me that’s kind of what makes it a good thing.”
For Soundgarden, they are still trying to build up their fan base, recruiting new Soundgarden lovers in their late-teens or 20s with songs like “Half Way There” on King Animal. They’re not trying to relive “past glories” or do “something that feels like the remnants of 15-years ago.” According to Cornell, Soundgarden is “happening and it’s now and it’s sort of moving forward.”
They say their writing process is “full of beginnings,” but that sentiment seems to apply to every aspect of their musical careers, because as Chris Cornell says, that’s the point.
“Every day is kind of a new day, which is sort of the whole point I suppose, getting back together and doing what we do.”