SOUNDGARDEN
THE UGLY TRUTH

Welcome to the Unofficial Soundgarden FAQ V2.0! In an effort to construct the most comprehensive Soundgarden site on the Web here at stargate.net, this list of Frequently Asked Questions is different than most of the FAQs you will encounter, simply because it is available on this site and this site only. There is an official FAQ; and as this document was never intended to be the last word, it is meant only to complement the official archive. If you have any corrections or comments, please mail the author.

1. THE HISTORY
1.1 Who was in Soundgarden?
1.2 How did Soundgarden form?
1.3 Why did they break up?
1.4 What have they been doing since then?
1.5 Will they reform?
1.6 Where did the name Soundgarden come from?
1.7 Who was their first gig with?
1.8 Why did Hiro leave the band?
1.9 Who is Jason Everman?
1.10 Sub Pop - the label Soundgarden built
1.11 Why did Soundgarden record with so many independent labels before signing with A&M?

2. THE MUSIC
2.1 What albums did Soundgarden release?
2.2 What singles did they release?
2.3 What videos are out there?
2.4 What is song 'X' about?
2.5 What songs did they cover?
2.6 What equipment did they use?
2.7 What is Temple of the Dog?
2.8 What is Hater?
2.9 What is the Wellwater Conspiracy?
2.10 What is Alice Mudgarden?
2.11 What is Dark Load?

3. THE MUSIC MINUTIAE
3.1 What is SOMMS?
3.2 What is Songs from the Superunknown?
3.3 What is the Alive in the Superunknown CD+?
3.4 What is B-Sides?
3.5 Who is Chief Sealth?
3.6 Why does K. McDonald get lyrical credit on "I Awake"?
3.7 What is that noise at the end of "Smokestack Lightning"?
3.8 Who is Stephanie Barber?
3.9 Why does Jeff Ament get credit for the title of "Spoonman"?
3.10 What is Chris' name doing on an Alice Cooper album?
3.11 Ty Cobb? Kyle Petty? Who are these people?
3.12 What is dropped D tuning?

4. THE MISCELLANY
4.1 Where can I find...?
4.2 Who have they toured with?
4.3 Who is Gregg Keplinger?
4.4 Who is the guy in the "Spoonman" video?
4.5 What is Walpurgis Night Music?
4.6 What is the significance of 90?
4.7 Is there an official fanclub?
4.8 What is the Soundgarden mailing list?
4.9 Where can I find more information about Soundgarden on the Web?


1. THE HISTORY
1.1 Who was in Soundgarden?

The final line-up of the band was Matt Cameron on drums, Chris Cornell on vocals and guitar, Ben Shepherd on bass and Kim Thayil on guitar.

This was not the original line-up, as Ben was preceded by both Hiro Yamamoto and Jason Everman on bass guitar while Matt was preceded on drums by Scott Sundquist.

1.2 How did Soundgarden form?

The short version is this: Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto move from Chicago to Seattle in 1981 in order to attend Evergreen State College. Hiro answers a roommate wanted ad in 1984 and ends up moving in with Chris Cornell, a musician whom both Kim and Hiro had already met and jammed with. The three begin to play music together, with Chris on drums and vocals. Matt Cameron eventually joined as the full-time drummer in 1986 and the band goes on to make their first recordings on Sub Pop (see 1.7).

For a more in-depth overview, click here or try these articles: Reflex (December 1991) or Rolling Stone (July 1992).

1.3 Why did they break up?

Soundgarden announced their break up on April 9, 1997 with this press release:

"After 12 years, the members of Soundgarden have amicably and mutually decided to disband to pursue other interests. There is no word at this time on any of the members' future plans. They'd like to thank their fans for all of their support over the years."

The following comments from Kim, Matt and Chris should make things more transparent:

"The break-up isn't filled with as much drama as you'd like to believe. We simply got to the point where we didn't want to be Soundgarden anymore...This rock and roll thing is your job. You do that for 12 years, you love it, but in the course of 12 years, individuals establish and lose many relationships. Chris Cornell, Ben Shepherd, Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil all exist independently of that unit we called Soundgarden...You can't really break up the quartet. If we want to work together creatively then that's what we'll do. But there were these other social and cultural prosthetic devices, the crutches and the leg braces which were not being as supportive as they should have been." (Kim - Guitar World, February 1998)

"Creatively, I thought we were still viable and could do more records. But our working relationship just wasn't happening at all, and our chemistry as people broke down because of that. No matter how much success you're having, you can't continue working together if you can't communicate. I felt our chemistry had been crumbling for quite a while, probably about a year before we went in to do Down On The Upside. But I started feeling the beginning of the end in those sessions." (Matt - Modern Drummer, July 1999)

"We just needed some time apart from each other. Different members of the band were having uncomfortable feelings about every aspect of being Soundgarden. I can't think of another band that kept a better reign on their environment than we did, but still, once you start making millions of records, things get out of hand. We kind of ended up becoming a band of fans and expectations. We could deal with that stuff, but at some point we stopped dealing with it very well. And we knew it was time to stop." (Chris - Raygun, September 1999)

1.4 What have they been doing since then?

Chris released his first solo record Euphoria Morning, toured the U.S. in support of it, jammed with Rage Against The Machine and became a father;

Kim performed with Jello Biafra and Krist Novoselic during the WTO demonstrations in Seattle in 1999 and is apparently in charge of B-Sides - "I've been living my life like every day was Saturday or Sunday...being free of the shackles of pop-culture personality."(Sonicnet, May 2000);

Ben toured with Mark Lanegan and Pete Krebs and has played with Wellwater Conspiracy-variants from time to time - "I usually don't answer my phone anymore, and nobody's called anyway. I'm trying not to plan anything for the time being. I'm not glad, or sad, or anything. It's all hollow. I'm going to rewire my house so it doesn't burn down, then set up a studio so I don't have to leave except to get the newspaper. I'm a grump." (Guitar, October 1997);

Matt released a second Wellwater Conspiracy with John McBain, toured and recorded extensively with Pearl Jam, appeared briefly on albums by the Smashing Pumpkins, Our Lady Peace and Tony Iommi and also became a father.

1.5 Will they reform?

An intriguing question, for sure, but one that this FAQ cannot answer. I think that the band certainly could reform one day, the four are still friends and must still share some element of creative chemistry.

We obviously won't know the answer to this for some time, but can certainly live in hope.

Here are some comments from Kim, related to Guitar World's Jeff Gilbert (February 1998):

THAYIL: [laughs] "If we ever did it again, it would be for the creative element and the camaraderie. I think everyone likes and enjoys each other's company. We would do it for that reason. If someone were to dangle a million-dollar carrot in front of our faces, they wouldn't get a nibble because we're not interested. There are plenty of other things we can do. Music is just one of many employment opportunities available to us. We're talking about four individuals who are capable of retiring if they so wish. Employment opportunities are not the issue here, sabbatical is."

GW: "So it's not over yet, is it?"

THAYIL: "As long as we're all alive and kicking and enjoying ourselves, nothing's over. Sure, there's a certain finality to what we did. It would foolish and pretty stupid to say, yeah, it's over. But we ran our course. We had fun."

And then this:

"I don't know. I've thought about that, too. Sometimes I wake up and think "Hell no. I don't ever want to be in a room with all those guys again," and sometimes I wake up and think "Boy, I miss those guys." So I'm still ping-ponging there." (Guitar.com)

More recently, Chris had this to say:

"Yeah, a certain amount of time would have to pass. I dont foresee anybody chomping at the bit to do something like that now. Really, its just a possibility. Its just as much a possibility that it wouldnt happen. The statement really is that there was no curtain pulled down, and no one hating anyone, and really what Id imagine is us maybe doing different things with different combinations of whos in the band and just having fun, not worrying about what it means, and a name, or in a sense planning on anything." (Modern Quarterback, 1999)

1.6 Where did the name Soundgarden come from?

This from Kim in Rip, 1990: "It's a name that conjures up powerful visual images, although at one point we thought it might be too soft. But there was something about the name we liked. One of our hopes is that people come to see us thinking they're gonna get something pretty, and then get their heads blown off...".

The real physical inspiration for the name came from "A Sound Garden", a pipe sculpture that stands in Sand Point Park in Seattle. A music of sorts is produced when wind whistles through the structure's hollow metal pipes.

1.7 Who was their first gig with?

Their first live performance was with a band from New York called Three Teens Kill Four. And for those of you who are curious enough, their second gig was in support of Husker Du and the Melvins at Gorilla Gardens in Seattle.

1.8 Why did Hiro leave the band?

Hiro left the band in 1989, following the release of Louder Than Love, primarily to complete his Masters degree in Physical Chemistry at Western Washington University. Other reasons for Hiros departure have been suggested, such as his dislike of the music industry and his unwillingness to be a part of a long and extensive tour for the new album. Recent history indicates that the split was amicable.

There is this, however, from Chris in Sounds, 1990: "We understand everybody's got their own idiosyncrasies and temperament and we know you've got to let someone go once in a while. Anyway, our original bass player actually quit because he knew he wasn't concentrating and we were still dedicated. But had he not quit then we would definitely have fired him."

Hiro has gone on to record an album on Capitol Records with his band Truly, whose last recorded output was in 1999 on a Go-Gos tribute album.

1.9 Who is Jason Everman?

Jason Everman was the bassist who joined the band after Hiro left in 1989. This occurred soon after Louder Than Love was recorded and just before the ensuing world tour was about to commence. Several bass players auditioned for the position, among them Jason Everman and Ben Shepherd. At the time, Ben didn't know the songs, and Jason did; "Jason knew the material already, and we sort of took that to mean he would be more into what we were doing," said Chris (Guitar World, July 1997). So with the tour looming, Jason got the job.

In the end Jason was not what the band was looking for, Chris noting that "it wasn't because he wasn't good at what he did. We didn't need to go find someone better than him; we needed to find a kindred spirit that we'd hang out with anyway. We realized that was an important thing." (Sounds #38, 1996)

Everman enjoyed a brief stay as guitarist with Nirvana before his time with Soundgarden and later recorded with the band Mindfunk. It has been reported that Everman has been enlisted as a U.S. Airborne Ranger and has joined the U.S. Navy, although neither of these has been confirmed.

1.10 Sub Pop - the label Soundgarden built

Okay, so the band didn't actually create Sub Pop, but they certainly had a hand in its inspiration and were critical to its early success. While the label first started official operations on the first of April, 1988, the events leading up to its creation have much to do with the band, in particular Kim.

The earliest and most significant link between band and label was the friendship between Kim Thayil and Bruce Pavitt, a friendship which began at high school in Park Forest, Illinois and continued through the pair's eventual move (with Hiro Yamamoto) from their home of Chicago to Seattle. Pavitt landed in Olympia, Washington around 1979 and began producing an underground fanzine called Subterranean Pop that had as its focus independent releases and the Seattle regional scene. Between 1980 and 1983, Pavitt released three cassette compilations bundled with the fanzine, documenting indie demos from around the country. 1986 rolled around, and Pavitt moved to Seattle, from where he would release the first Sub Pop album, Sub Pop 100.

In late 1987, a young DJ at KCMU by the name of Kim Thayil was still in contact with Pavitt and knew of the financial difficulties that Pavitt was going through to keep the magazine/label afloat. He also knew another DJ named Jonathan Poneman, a guy who not only hosted the local music program "Audioasis" on KCMU, but who had also booked Soundgarden into the Fabulous Rainbow tavern and was as a result interested in releasing a Soundgarden record. Kim suggested to Pavitt that the two become partners, and the rest is history.

1.11 Why did Soundgarden record with so many independent labels before signing with A&M?

"It was neat that they (bigger labels such as Capitol, Geffen and A&M) were waving this money in our face, but it was important to us to establish ourselves with the people who like us. It would be bad to develop an underground following and then suddenly turn up on a major label. It would be alienating. Being on a major doesn't even guarantee that you'll make a record, and we wanted to establish ourselves in the underground and college marketplace first, where the majors couldn't screw around with us." - Kim from Rip (May 1990).


2. THE MUSIC
2.1 What albums did Soundgarden release?

Screaming Life/Fopp 1987/88
Ultramega OK 1988
Louder Than Love 1989
Badmotorfinger 1991
Badmotorfinger/SOMMS 1992
Superunknown 1994
Down On The Upside 1996
A-Sides 1997

For more data, specifics and technical details than I could possibly provide here please direct your attention to Steven Russell Jr's discography, a remarkable document which is linked to this site and contains detailed information on probably every Soundgarden-related release.

2.2 What singles did they release?

The band released few singles in their early career but then signed with A&M, who were obviously very enthusiastic about releasing singles in a number of formats.

Their singles/EPs follow: "Hunted Down," "Flower," "Hands All Over," "Loud Love," "Jesus Christ Pose," "Rusty Cage," "Outshined," "Spoonman," "The Day I Tried To Live," "Black Hole Sun," "My Wave," "Fell On Black Days," "Pretty Noose," "Burden In My Hand," "Blow Up The Outside World" and Ty Cobb. "Superunknown" was released as a single in the form of the EP Songs From The Superunknown.

Once again, for more information please consult Steven Russell Jr's Discography.

2.3 What videos are out there?

While the band expressed some dissatisfaction with the video making process over the years, as a fan I would say that many of their video clips are well worth the price of admission. There are video clips for "Flower," "Loud Love," "Hands All Over," "Rusty Cage," "Outshined," "Jesus Christ Pose," "Spoonman," "My Wave," "Black Hole Sun," "The Day I Tried To Live," "Fell On Black Days" "Superunknown", "Pretty Noose" (directed by the marvellous Frank Kozik), "Burden In My Hand" and "Blow Up The Outside World."

Soundgarden also released two full-length videos. The first was originally titled Jonathan Will Like This but was then renamed Louder Than Live. The tape features a live performance shot at the Whiskey A Go-Go in 1990 and the video clips for "Loud Love" and "Hands All Over." Jason Everman plays in both the clips and the Whiskey footage.

Soundgarden's second video, Motorvision, was released in 1992. It includes songs primarily from the Badmotorfinger era and has a great introduction by J.P. Patches the clown. There are also some good interviews with some notable individuals, namely Johnathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop fame, shot by Ben's brother Henry.

2.4 What is song 'X' about?

In a musical climate of cookie-cutter pop and flavour-less easy listening Soundgarden were one of the few bands of their time who were adept at writing obscure yet compelling lyrics. And while all four members wrote lyrics for the band's songs none of them are easily decoded.

So what were they singing about? The bands obvious consensus on this topic was that you should make up your own mind, ask yourself what the song means to you and not focus on the original inspiration. The following quote from Ben in Rolling Stone (July 1992) stresses that the listeners own interpretation is ultimately of more value than the authors:

"People want to take so much, analyzing the lyrics and trying to figure out 'Did you mean that?' or 'You said that to me, didn't you?'. That cheapens it. That makes it old. Sometimes it makes you feel like you're living in a land of cows that just don't think."

Chris adds this, from Request Vol. 4:

"The thought that somebody might get it wrong doesnt bother me at allI came from a background of being a fan of music, where the idea is more or less escapism and whatever facilitates and wherever you escape to is your business. Thats the only way you can really own the cds you buy. If you spend money on something that encourages you to come up with your own meaning - visually, mentally, emotionally - then its all worth the money. And for us as a band, its well worth the effort of recording it in the first place."

2.5 What songs did they cover?

Soundgarden obviously enjoyed interpreting and playing other musicians' work, both in the studio and at live shows. After releasing what was essentially an EP of covers in 1992, the band included increasingly fewer covers in their live performances and recorded almost none, prefering to play from their own growing catalogue.

Despite this the list of songs the band covered is impressive. Influenced by a wide range of musicians, the band remade songs by such far flung artists as Body Count, the Beatles, Howlin' Wolf, Devo and Spinal Tap.

For more information on who and what Soundgarden saw fit to cover over the years, please inspect Steven Russell Jr's discography.

2.6 What equipment did they use?

This list is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination but should be a good indicator of what equipment Soundgarden employed during their twelve years together, both in the studio and on the road.

Chris - His main guitar of yesteryear was a cherry sunburst Les Paul, and he has been known to favour a black Gresch '89 Duo-Jet, a silver Gretsch Jet, a Gibson ES-125 and a sunburst mid-60s Fender Jazzmaster. Reports from Lollapalooza 96, however, placed him exclusively in the Fender Telecaster camp. He used Ernie Ball Super slinky nickel strings, gauges ranging from .010 to .046. His amp setup included a Peavy Rockmaster preamp, MESA 100-watt Dual Rectifier heads, MESA 4x12" cabinets and a Celstion Greenback 35-watt speakers. His effects pedals included (but probably werent limited to) a Boss PN-2 Tremolo/Pan, an Arion HV-8500 stage tuner and a MESA switching box.

Kim - Kim played a range of Guild S-100 Delux guitars, but also fooled around on a Gibson Firebird, a thin-line Les Paul Custom and a '57 Fender Telecaster, relying on Ernie Ball Super slinky strings (.009 to .042) and Dunlop .060 nylon picks. Like Chris, Kim played through MESA/Boogie 4x12" cabinets and MESA Dual Rectifier heads. His main effects were the Vox or Colorsound Wah, a Dod FX-10 bi-fret preamp, DOD flangers, a Boss CE-2 chorus pedal and a range of MESA switching pedals.

Ben - Not one for technical stuff, Ben utilised a range of different equipment, purchasing one amp simply because it had a purple light on it. He was partial to Fender basses, generally Custom and Precision models, but has later used Music Man, Mosrite and a Hoffner bass (similar to Paul McCartney's); his string of choice being Dean Markley flat-wound. Like Chris and Kim, Ben also played through MESA/Boogie amps and 2x15" MESA bottoms.

Matt - Matt's drum setup was fairly standard. Early on he played Drum Workshop and Ayotte kits, but then moved to Ayotte exclusively, becoming an official endorser of the brand. His set consisted of a 14" Keplinger snare (custom made), 12", 13", 14" and 16" toms and a 24" bass drum. His cymbals were all Zildjian, including (from left to right): 15" New Beat high hats, 18" K crash/ride, 21" A medium ride, 17" A rock crash and a 20" A medium ride. Matt made use of a mixture of Emperor and Diplomat heads, a Remo coated snare and Vic Firth sticks (American Classic 5B).

2.7 What is Temple of the Dog?

Following the untimely death of Andrew Wood to a heroin overdose in 1990, his roommate Chris Cornell composed two songs in tribute to his memory. He invited Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, bandmates of Wood's in Mother Love Bone, along with Matt Cameron, to record the songs with him. Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder soon joined the ranks and once it was given a name - Temple of the Dog, a lyric from Man of Golden Words by Mother Love Bone - the band was complete.

Originally to be released as a single, Chris' two songs quickly grew to a round ten and were ultimately released through A&M. Chris explains "It was initially my idea because of a couple of songs I recorded, but the idea was mainly to do a single as opposed to a whole record. And the thing was, the rest of the guys in Temple, they sort of thought, well, maybe we should make it a little bit longer project, like an EP or something. The more we talked about it, the more songs kept flying out, and it ended up being an album." (Reflex, December 1991)

A single and accompanying video were released ("Hunger Strike") and a couple of live shows were performed. There is, due to the nature of the union, very little likelihood of the band ever recording or performing together again; Temple of the Dog was definitely a strictly one-off magical moment in music.

Please visit the Temple of the Dog homepage for more information.

2.8 What is Hater?

Hater was a side project put together by Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd. Formed in 1993 during the 'post-tour syndrome' which followed Soundgarden's place on the Lollapalooza bill, the band included former Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain, singer Brain Wood and bassist John Waterman. Hater's self-titled and self produced album of late 1993 was written mostly at Ben's house and took the better part of five days to complete. Ben explains: "It wasn't an industry thing, but actually a backlash from so much touring, playing the same songs over and over" (Guitar Player, April 1994).

Interestingly, the first Hater seed was sown when Stuart Hallerman asked Ben to record a solo single for A&M, Ben noting that "I wanted to do it for the fun of it, to escape the whole industry...Well, it took on a life of its own." (Guitar World, July 1997)

In 1996 Matt was asked what the status of Hater was, to which he responded "We've got a new record kind of waiting around. Ben wants to remix stuff but it's pretty rockin' and ready to go. We've been in some legal battles with The Haters, so we might change the name. They're this weird experimental group from San Francisco that's been around for awhile. We didn't know about them and named our band Hater and then got this hate mail from The Haters." (Sounds #38)

Hater went on to perform a number of shows in Seattle between 1996-97 and then dissolved in late 1997, perhaps so Matt, Ben and John could concentrate on Wellwater Conspiracy and other projects. It would seem that the roughly thirteen new songs unveiled over this period will not see the light of day.

Please visit the Hater homepage for more information.

2.9 What is the Wellwater Conspiracy?

The Wellwater Conspiracy began as a side-project for John McBain, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd in 1996. Matt and Ben were under contractual restraints at the time and so were known as Ted and Zeb respectively on their first three 7" singles for SuperElectro. They kept these pseudonyms and a number of slight variations through to the release of their first record, Declaration of Conformity.

Matt and John, both home-recording, four-track, garage-rock fanatics, recorded most of the vocals and instrumentation for their second album by themselves, releasing Brotherhood Of Electric in 1998. Ben did not appear on this record and seemed to be out of the band but has now been confirmed by John as being back in.

John offers this "It's cryptic in that it's about not trying to be a band per se. WWC is an entity and every once in a while we release a record. We wanted to avoid all of the trappings of being in a band. The industry wants to slap leather pants on you and make you wear those ridiculous orange tinted glasses. Matt and I had done that to a degree with our previous bands. WWC was a reaction. We just wanted to start all over." (Spin, February 1999)

To which Matt adds "We have both been to the next level and seen it and now it's like we just like the level that affords just kind of making music naturally" (Yakuza Magazine, May 1999).

2.10 What is Alice Mudgarden?

This was more of a guest appearance than any sort of side project; Chris sings on the song "Right Turn," track three on Alice in Chains' EP Sap. The name is a combination of three names - Alice In Chains, Mudhoney and Soundgarden - because both Chris of Soundgarden and Mark Arm of Mudhoney lend their vocal talents to the normal Alice mix of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell.

2.11 What is Dark Load?

Dark Load is the brain-child of Jeff Gilbert, a writer for Guitar World, and features Kim Thayil on guitar, Bill Reiflin (of Ministry) on drums and Paul Larken (of Below Sound) on bass. There have been all sorts of plans for albums and split singles in the works, but so far the only track to surface has been "Brewicide", an increasingly muddy affair enjoyed by drinkers and music fans alike. The song was included on the 1996 compilation Smell The Fuzz, which also featured many other guitar virtuosos.

Visit the Dark Load page for more information.


3. THE MUSIC MINUTIAE
3.1 What is SOMMS?

SatanOscillateMyMetallicSonatas, or SOMMS, is the second disc of the 1992 re-release of Badmotorfinger. The disc itself contains "Into the Void" (Black Sabbath), "Girl U Want" (Devo), "Stray Cat Blues" (Rolling Stones), "She's a Politician" and a remarkable live version of "Slaves and Bulldozers." The Badmotorfinger/SOMMS CD was limited to 100 000 copies and has since been deleted.

SOMMS is also the name of the Unofficial Soundgarden mailing list.

3.2 What is Songs from the Superunknown?

This is the audio-only EP that was released simultaneously with the Alive in the Superunknown CD+. It contains some of the songs featured on the CD+, "She Likes Surprises" (a track not on the U.S domestic release of Superunknown) and the instrumental "Jerry Garcia's Finger."

3.3 What is the Alive in the Superunknown CD+?

Soundgarden released a multimedia disc in late 1995 on the CD+ format. The CD+ features a photo collection, videos for all four Superunknown-era singles and various other videos, stills, hidden features and deadfalls.

3.4 What is B-Sides?

B-Sides was to be the companion disc to A-Sides; a collection of live tracks, alternate takes, soundtrack offerings and other non-album tracks for the dedicated Soundgarden fan or collector.

"We have a couple of dozen songs that were never available on a Soundgarden album; they were always released as B-Sides in European, Australian or Japanese singles packages, or on movie soundtracks. So we want to put them together in an album format, and I think our fans would love that. That is not a cynical thing to do, that is the best tip of the hat to fans: rather than having to go out and buy the two dozen different singles or cassettes or CDs on which these tracks appeared, they can buy one album and have them altogether. You'd have to be a pretty insane collector to pick up all those little things from international releases and movie soundtracks and I think, as a fan, I would love to be able to have all those songs in my collection without having to hunt down all the various obscure releases." (Kim - Metal Hammer, January 1998)

The release date for this compilation continues to be pushed back; Kim is apparently in charge of the project but doesn't seem to be in a great rush to get it into stores.

3.5 Who is Chief Sealth?

Chief Sealth was an American Indian after whom the city of Seattle was named. The band used his commentary, albeit in a slightly shorter and modified version, on the ideas and social actions of the Europeans coming to America as lyrics to their cover version of Black Sabbath's "Into the Void", the lead track on the SOMMS EP.

Kim explains thusly: "That was our bass player's idea. Ben Shepherd. He noticed a similarity in the meter of the lyrics and Chris made them fit. It was just such a Seattle thing to cover a Sabbath song, and then use the lyrics of the man whom our town was named after. Kinda funny. Born of sincerity, but it also had its humour." (Guitar for the Practicing Musician, December 1992)

3.6 Why does K. McDonald get lyrical credit on "I Awake"?

The story goes something like this: Kate McDonald was Hiro's girlfriend. Chris arrived one morning to pick up Hiro at his place and found a note McDonald had left on the table. Chris liked the words enough to turn them into the lyrics for "I Awake."

3.7 What is that noise at the end of "Smokestack Lightning"?

The strange, grating sound tacked onto the end of Soundgarden's cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" is taken from Sonic Youth's "Death Valley 69." Recorded in 1984, "Death Valley 69" features Lydia Lunch on vocals and has been released on Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising and their seven-inch vinyl "Brave Men Run" (minus the crackling and repeated lyrics).

3.8 Who is Stephanie Barber?

Those of you who have heard the band's b-side cover of "Touch Me" may be wondering who that banshee-like voice accompanying Chris actually belongs to. The scoop is this: during recording sesssions for that particular song, Kim invited his friend Bruce Fairweather down to make the day a little more bearable. While transcribing the lyrics for Chris, who would come in the next day to add vocals, someone suggested that Fairweather's wife Stephanie try them out. In short, one take was all that was necessary; highly impressive considering that Barber had never sung professionally before that day. The next day Chris came in to complete his own vocal track and was surprised by the production team with Barber's decidedly raw delivery. Thus we hear this one time duet between Chris and Stephanie Barber.

3.9 Why does Jeff Ament get credit for the title of "Spoonman"?

In the movie Singles there is a fictional band called Citizen Dick. Probably for amusement value alone, Jeff came up with a bunch of fake titles for the band's demo tape, one of them being "Spoonman." Around this time Chris recorded a bunch of acoustic demos using the titles dreamed up by Jeff, one of them being "Spoonman." Chris recalls "I'd always thought it's be really cool just to write down 10 or 12 titles in order, as though it was a record already, and then write the songs later, based on those titles, just for fun," he said. "I was supposed to come out of the Matt Dillon character's apartment, and the cassette package was in there, and I just picked it up. Cameron (Crowe, the film's director) was laughing, saying how he thought it was the typical titles for the introspective solo tape from a local musician guy, and it just clicked at that point. I thought I'd just do it for him as a surprise. That's kind of what I do really, for fun. That's pretty much all I do, just sit around and write songs, record some stuff." (Guitar World, July 1997)

A fragment of the acoustic demo of "Spoonman" can be heard for the first time during the movie when a Citizen Dick poster is being nailed to a telephone pole, almost two years before the final version of Spoonman was included on 1994's Superunknown.

And no, Chris Cornell does not play the mime artist in the movie. The mime is played by Eric Stoltz.

3.10 What is Chris' name doing on an Alice Cooper album?

It is believed that Chris wrote some songs - "Stolen Prayers", "Unholy War" and "Heartfist" - for an Ozzy Osbourne EP, but Ozzy didn't end up recording them. So Chris took them to Alice Cooper who liked them enough to record both "Stolen Prayers" and "Unholy War". The two songs were included on Cooper's Last Temptation record, with Chris singing backing vocals on "Stolen Prayers".

3.11 Ty Cobb? Kyle Petty? Who are these people?

Ty Cobb - The fifth track from Down on the Upside, "Ty Cobb" was first aired during the band's performance at the Reading Festival in 1995. Originally titled "Hot Rod Death Toll," the song reminded Ben of the infamous baseball player and the name stuck. The connection? While Cobb was the first player ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and still claims the major league's all-time best career batting average (.367), he was also one of the most despicable players in the game's history. While some of the stories surrounding Cobb are just that, some truths cannot be denied. Cobb was regarded by players and fans alike as an outspoken racist, womaniser and alcoholic; a man with a short fuse and little humour who would readily resort to violence, both on and off the field. Although he was widely respected for his baseball prowess and intelligence, it is believed that no-one from his team attended his funeral in 1961, having alienated almost all those close to him.

Kyle and Richard Petty - The b-side to the "Fell On Black Days" single, "Kyle Petty, Son of Richard" is a somewhat biographical account of the relationship between father and son Richard and Kyle Petty, two of NASCAR's biggest celebrities and most awarded drivers. Richard is by the far the most decorated of the two, his seven championships and 200 total wins garnering him the moniker of "The King". The newest of the Petty racing clan (first generation Lee Petty won the inaugral Daytona 500), Kyle Petty has not enjoyed the amount of success his father has; the weight of his father's achievements leading some to regard him as "Richard Petty's son".

3.12 What is dropped D tuning?

Alternate tunings for stringed instruments have existed for a very long time and can be traced back to 16th century Europe. Soundgarden used one of these tunings, dropped D tuning, heavily throughout their catalogue, a process Kim credits to Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins. This alternate guitar tuning requires that the low E string is dropped to a D. This allows the guitarist to move between power chords more quickly than normal, like Kim's work on songs such as "Spoonman" and "Let Me Drown". From the horse's mouth - "We just do it to make certain songs easier to play...we do it to spark songwriting."

Soundgarden also composed and played in a number of other alternate tunings which were later used by contemporaries such as Alice In Chains, Helmet, Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins. Other artists who used alternate tuning include John Denver, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and James Taylor.


4. THE MISCELLANY
4.1 Where can I find...?

This may sound incestuous but the most information-rich Soundgarden site on the Web is this one, the Unofficial Soundgarden Homepage. For information on lyrics, tablature, news and just about anything else a Soundgarden fan might need to know visit web.stargate.net/soundgarden.

There are other good sites, such as Steve's discography or iMusic's official Soundgarden website, but these will be discussed later.

As for buying Soundgarden music, merchandise or collectibles, your best bet is to search online music stores and auction sites. Interesting Soundgarden items seem to be few and far between in record stores these days.

4.2 Who have they toured with?

As noted earlier, their first gig was with Three Teens Kill Four. Since that first show, Soundgarden have toured with such acts as Guns n' Roses, Faith No More, Pearl Jam, Skid Row, Danzig, Voivod, Nirvana, Pantera, Neil Young, Nine Inch Nails, You Am I, the Rev. Horton Heat, Prong, Queensryche, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Monster Magnet, Corrosion of Conformity, Tad, Eleven, Metallica, the Ramones, Moby, Rocket From The Crypt and Ministry.

4.3 Who is Gregg Keplinger?

Gregg Keplinger is the man behind Keplinger snares and is a close friend of Matt's. He provided studio assistance during the recording of both Superunknown and Down On The Upside, lending cymbals, changing heads and testing the drum mix. Gregg also contributed a percussion track on "Head Down" and played drums on the Hater song "Sad McBain."

4.4 Who is the guy in the "Spoonman" video?

The bald gentleman featured in the "Spoonman" video clip is none other than Artis the Spoonman. Artis is well-known in Seattle as a street performer, his first performance taking place way back in 1972, playing his spoons to the beat of a cafe jukebox. Artis has since performed on the Late Show with David Letterman and recorded with Frank Zappa, describing his performance on the "Spoonman" video as "a great experience."

4.5 What is Walpurgis Night Music?

Walpurgis Night Music is the name under which Matt published his musical work with Soundgarden. It came to him while reading the scene in Faust when the witches are singing in order to bless the harvest. In his own words, the title "seemed appropriate at the time." Walpurgis Night itself is celebrated on April 31st and appears to be of German origin. It is usually associated with the coming of spring and the witch's sabbath.

Out of interest, Kim, Chris and Ben also have their own publishing titles: In One Ear And Out Your Mother, You Make Me Sick I Make Music and Stupidditties respectively. Older individual publishing titles used by the band include Loud Love and Noyes.

4.6 What is the significance of 90?

A number of people have noticed that over the years Chris and Kim periodically wore clothing with the number 90 emblazoned across the chest. It has been suggested that this is a reference to the year of Andy Wood's death, although this has never been confirmed by the band.

The brand itself was formed by ex-professional skateboarder Kevin Staab and Joe Johnson and is now defunct.

4.7 Is there an official fanclub?

Yes. Named Knights of the Soundtable the fan club provided all manner of tour information, product catalogues and Soundgarden trinkets to its members. Sadly, KOTS has gone offline indefinitely, sending out a newsletter at the end of 1998 with this postscript:

The fan club will be going on a "long tropical vacation so you won't be hearing from us for a while."

4.8 What is the Soundgarden mailing list?

The Unofficial Soundgarden Mailing List, or SOMMS, is dedicated to discussion of Soundgarden and whatever Chris, Kim, Matt and Ben might be doing now.

Somms was first opened and maintained by Seth Perlman in July 1995 and now operates through Yahoo! Groups under the watchful eyes of Jen Grover and Geoff Kleemola.

4.9 Where can I find more information about Soundgarden on the Web?

The most prominent ones have already been discussed, but in an effort to get you the reader up to speed, here is a more detailed account.

There is, of course, the Unofficial Soundgarden Discography. Maintained by the singular Steven Russell Jr, this document comprehensively lists just about every Soundgarden release known to man. The discography is not hosted on this site, but is linked to Steve's own server. I strongly recommend that if you have any technical queries about any Soundgarden release you should visit his discog. Steve also maintains a good audio, video and bootleg discography at the same site, which I likewise recommend.

The Official Soundgarden Webpage remains frozen in time but contains some interesting info that you can probably only get there, interviews and whatnot.

For a fairly comprehensive rundown on what is good out there, please click here.

Please read the legal disclaimer and acknowledgements from the author of the FAQ.