Soundgarden singer describes band’s Seattle genesis
Back before grunge was grunge, a little Seattle band called Soundgarden already seemed poised to take over the contemporary rock world. Listening to the band’s 1988 debut, “Ultramega OK,” it’s apparent this was a band with a distinct vision and the drive to achieve their musical ideals. Soundgarden hit the pavement running, with dark, foggy tracks that meshed heavy metal and alternative rock to fiere accord.
Frontman Chris Cornell, says that although things fell into place quickly for Soundarden, the grunge outfit did have a few experimental years. They used those to hone their sound.
“We have I guess 15 songs that I look at as a warming up [period], which were never released,” Cornell said in a recent video interview with the New York Times. “It was the first 15 we wrote. It was on a cassette that Kim [Thayil, guitarist] always referred to as, “The First 15.” … We were a band for a couple years before we really did much [recording] … It was us saving up money from our day jobs and we would spend time recording, and when we would go in to record, we tended to record the newest things we had written, because it was what we were most excited about.” How spectacular would it be to hear those “First 15” tracks today?
Cornell added that the band’s sound evolved naturally and sincerely. “…We certainly didn’t sit down and say, ‘We want to leave these ingredients out and we want to have these ingredients in,’” he said. “We just got together in our room and started writing songs and did it very quickly. And then we would sit around and discuss what that sounds like, and then over time, I think we would maybe be critical about some of the things we were writing and playing and excited about some of the new stuff we were bringing into the band.”
He also said that Soundgarden were always “Beatles-esque” in the way they went about writing songs. “Soundgarden was very Beatles-esque in terms of everybody’s contributions,” Cornell said. “I actually started getting serious about playing guitar and bass after Soundgarden was formed so I could contribute music, and it was always well received. All incarnations everyone contributed musically and sometimes lyrically…”
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