DOWN ON THE UPSIDE WORLD PREMIERE
transcribed by Chris Mackenzie
Broadcast throughout Canada on May 13, 1996
[Burden In My Hand]
Steve Warden: 'Burden In My Hand', brand new music from Soundgarden and their album Down on the Upside. Hi and welcome to the Canadian radio premiere of Down on the Upside. My name is Steve Warden and in just a few minutes we'll hear from singer Chris Cornell and drummer Matt Cameron. I spent some time in Seattle with them a few weeks ago talking about the new album and their plans to take part in the Lollapalooza tour this summer along with their bandmates Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd. We'll get to that and lots more new music from Soundgarden when we continue on the rock radio network.
Steve Warden: Tell me a bit about the recording of the album, where was it done and when was it done?
Chris Cornell: We started in July but we had to take a break 'cause we did some European festivals and then after that we did some more song writing for another month or so. So we started in July and sort of worked on it on and off until we were finished. We recorded most of it at Studio Litho which is Stone Gossard's studio that he just opened. I think we were the first band to make a whole album there, weren't we?
Matt Cameron: Uh, yeah. I think Devilhead did one, we're the second band. He built this studio out of an old -- was it an engraving factory or something? It had old solid cement walls and he put in a really nice wood floor and a control room and did it up really nice, and had some old vintage gear, you know the Studor 24 track machine which is a really good sounding machine. So we kind of felt really comfortable there and the sounds were good so it worked out real smooth.
SW: Is that pretty much it, just having the right environment to record in?
CC: That's a big part of it. It's pretty hard to find that a lot of the time. Some people try to create that. You know a lot of bands, especially if they've made some money will try to create that. None of us have really gone into that as far as building our own studio and creating the perfect environment for us to record in, but Stone's was really pretty close to perfect, so we're happy that it's there.
SW: Are you guys studio types? Are you the kind of musicians that enjoy spending a lost of time in the studio?
MC: I think so, yeah, I think we're pretty good at it. We're able to capture the music as well as use a few studio tricks and wizardry to enhance the music, but we still keep in mind that we'll have to perform it one day so we don't do Queen backing vocals or anything like that. Yeah, I think we can definitely use it as a tool.
SW: Is every time different in terms of the recording experience and the way you approach it?
CC: Every song is different (laughs) in terms of the recording experience and the way we approach it. I mean, we're not looking to repeat ourselves record to record, we're also not looking to repeat ourselves song to song. So we have different guitar sounds different guitars on every song and different approaches -- a lot of different approaches to recording vocals and other instruments that aren't necessarily Soundgarden conventional instruments on this record. We've always done that a little bit, I think we did it more this time than we have previously just 'cause we were having fun.
SW: And you've worked with different people in the studio too, this time it was a guy named Adam Kasper. Can you tell me a little bit about him and how did he get involved?
MC: Well we worked with him on Superunknown, he was the assistant engineer. That was the first time we worked with him and it just felt natural working with him -- really good chemistry. Basically we wanted to work with him for this one because he's a really good engineer and we were able to bounce production ideas of him as well. So it just felt really natural.
SW: You've worked with, I guess, the last three records there's been a different producer or co-producer on each one, and again is that just something that -- it's a new set of songs, its a new record -- you know you may have enjoyed working with somebody in the past and had success, its like you don't want to necessarily repeat it and do it all over again, is that sort of the reason?
CC: Not really, I think we probably haven't really found anyone that at the end of the record totally entirely happy with, where we wanted to go back. I mean this record was pretty much self-produced because of that. I don't necessarily think we need anybody else, we never really use producers in that sort of role where they're involved from the very beginning in terms of song writing, or song arranging, and shoot choices of songs, and where to record, and where to mix, and even terms of sounds and performances. We've actually never used a "producer" producer, we've co-produced everything up to this record, I think we just got to the point where we figured well we don't really need this person here 'cause I think we can do it ourselves, and it worked that way really well. I mean from the beginning we could tell that it was going to be great. We went in to do like four or five songs just to see if that idea was going to work, just sort of demo them, and after about four days we just kept going, all those songs ended up on the record, so it worked, we just didn't look back.
[Tighter And Tighter]
SW: New from Soundgarden that's a song called 'Tighter And Tighter,' and we'll be back with more with Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron and more from Down on the Upside right after this.
SW: Hi welcome back, the next track we're going to play is a song called 'Never The Machine Forever,' notable for a few reasons, not the least of which is its use of a very unusual word: "ferrivorous." I asked Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron to shed some light.
MC: Uh let's see, iron eater? Is that right?
CC: I guess so.
MC: And there's no known synonym for the word ferrivorous, that's Kim's whole point for using it - no (laughs). Its just a very interesting combination of words that he used on that one and Chris actually pulled it off (laughs).
SW: Ferrivorous (laughs).
CC: (sings annoyingly) Ferrivorous! (laughter)
SW: I've never heard that one before, is Kim a real wordsmith, is he a pretty heavy reader?
MC: Uh let's see, yeah I suppose, I think he used to read more than he does now.
CC: Yeah, let's just put it this way: he can talk better than I can spell.
[Never The Machine Forever]
SW: From the new album Down on the Upside, Soundgarden, giving your eardrums a workout and improving your vocabulary at the same time with 'Never The Machine Forever' which includes the word "Ferrivorous" - apparently it means "iron eater" if Matt Cameron and Chris Cornell are to be believed, although "Webster's New World Dictionary" defines it as bearing or containing iron. They don't mention anything about eating iron, but then I don't suppose anybody from Webster's has ever been to a Soundgarden gig. Whatever -- ferrivorous -- you have to admit, is an excellent word. Speaking of words, just before we play the song 'Pretty Noose,' let's hear a few more words from the conversation I had with members Cameron and Cornell in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, talking here about Soundgarden's notorious intensity.
CC: I think we're probably mild mannered on the outside in most situations. But I think we all have a pretty big degree of intensity and we probably use music to deal with that as opposed to using drugs or like a tumultuous lifestyle, which it makes for intense records but then we don't necessarily make good copy on our off season, people aren't following us around trying to see if we're going to crash our car into a building or OD or beat up our girlfriends.
SW: Are you saying that things are pretty uneventful when you're not writing and recording and that you're just like happy, sort of well adjusted people?
CC: Well I think its just -- I wouldn't say we're happy well adjusted people, I just think that our lives outside of Soundgarden are pretty much our business and we don't go out of our way to draw attention to ourselves and compared to a lot of public personalities, we're, I think we've always wanted a certain amount of autonomy and we're also a little bit more reclusive than other public personalities. I think we've always been that way, it didn't really have anything to do with success.
SW: I guess people would wonder then, you know, where does the intensity of the band come from, I mean some would assume it come from angst or lousy childhood's or miserable personal lives or whatever, but is it really more that the four of you get in a room and there's a chemistry that creates that intensity?
MC: Probably, yeah, I just think its the music that we like. We like music to be powerful. And in that you have a certain degree of intensity that comes out with the style that we play which is pretty loud -- aggressive and powerful yet at times beautiful and melodic, and all of the above. So its like one element to a sound that we all like.
SW: We're talking to Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron from Soundgarden. You guys are unusual in the sense that everybody in the band writes. Most bands, one or two guys do all the writing, this band everybody writes, can you talk to me about the process of how songs are shaped? After one of you guys brings a tune to the band, how much input then do the rest of the guys have into what the song will finally sound like?
MC: I think we give each member full reign on their instrument as far as what they're going to contribute to the tune and how it will be shaped, 'cause I think we have a lot of trust within ourselves and as a band with letting our tune just kind of get scoped out however it may be for Soundgarden. So it's never been a case of like, you know, someone was completely off with their approach of their part. Normally there is somewhat of a guideline, but we don't try to limit their ability to add whatever it is they're going to add. So normally it works out really well, I mean sometimes we kind of have to maybe curtail a few things here and there, but that's pretty rare. It's normally a pretty easy thing to do.
CC: A lot of it has to do with the song, too. If you look at a song like 'Applebite,' that's pretty free form and it had a pretty loose structure, and so everybody did their own thing on it and it all kind of worked. And then there's songs that someone might bring in that in terms of its arrangement its a lot more specific. Even with that there's always plenty of room for anybody to do whatever they want. The thing, like I said before, that we seem to concentrate on is trying to nail the original feel or the original idea of the song and whoever wrote the song will usually be the guy that everybody asks questions when we go to record, so its like, "okay this is your song, so what were you thinking about how I should do this, or how I should do that?" I play a lot of rhythm guitar now but on a couple of the songs that Ben wrote, I didn't really feel that I could capture the same vibe that he can get, 'cause he's a really good guitar player and plays completely different than me, so I'd ask him to play it, and it's like, "well this is your song I think you can nail it," and we did that on a couple of songs. I think that aspect of it is open too, I mean whoever can do the best as far as playing that instrument should be the guy that does it. Its not one of those situations where the singer sings, the guitar player plays the guitar, the bass player plays the bass, the drummer plays the drums and if you're going to play piano you call up the musicians union and get a piano player to do it (laughs), we're not really like that. Maybe if we had a French Horn we'd have to get somebody but I don't know, how's your umbersher? (laughs)
MC: Uh, it can be figured out.
CC: Yeah, we can figure out a French Horn eventually (laughs).
SW: And stylistically, how do you know what's going to work for the band with four different people bringing ideas in and bringing different songs in? Have things just evolved now to the point that everybody knows what will work for the whole band and doesn't bring something in that wouldn't work for the rest of the guys to play on?
CC: I think everybody kind of has an idea, but you never really know. I mean, I think every time someone brings a song in that there's part of them that thinks it will be a great Soundgarden song and part of them that thinks it might not work. I mean we don't really know. We don't really know if when we like a lot of different songs, if they'll all fit together on an album, they always seem to for some reason, but we never really know it 'til we hear like several of them in a row and realizing, "well, this works" and then you start getting a feel for what the album is going to sound like. But that's part of the excitement of it I guess. Its that there is no guarantee that any particular song is going to be perfect or bad. And our attitude is just to try and be open about it, and be open for any new direction, and generally everyone's pretty cool about that and pretty excited if someone brings in a song that's really unusual or different because that's what we like about playing music. Its playing things we haven't done before and going in new directions.
SW: That's 'Rhinosaur' from Soundgarden, and we'll be back with more of Down on the Upside, the Canadian radio premiere on the rock radio network.
SW: Are you all influenced by totally different things? and maybe if you can talk about this record in particular, were there any things going on that you think influenced the making of this record in a significant way?
MC: I don't know, I suppose on a few of the tunes I heard a certain psychedelic vibe that came out pretty strong - that we've always had. I think we all kind of agree on early Pink Floyd as an influence as a band, but there wasn't anything monumental before we started, for me personally, that led me to kind of change up the whole process. But I think it was like just as, there's a couple points in tunes where I thought we really nailed a really nice/weird texture that hasn't really come out as clearly before.
CC: Yeah, I guess that point is like, that I think when we're in the record making mode I think that the experiences that are moving us and things that are happening to us that are changing us is more from the musical end than anything else.
SW: Such as?
CC: Just like Matt said, writing or recording a song in a way and with a feel and sounds we've never had before and never used before, and that being really exciting. Or someone just walking in with a tape and dumping it down, and "here's a song", and everyone just liking it and that's like a gift. That's pretty exciting, and I think that those events are probably more musical than anything else when we're in the studio.
SW: Matt, would you put the song 'Blow Up The Outside World' in that, I hate to use the word, category, but when you were talking just before about the psychedelic sound feel?
MC: Yeah, I mean there's certain points in that tune that are just a really nice, emotional crunch that happens somehow. There's something in most of the tunes that just hits a really nice chord somehow. But yeah, that one in particular, that made my girlfriend cry the first time she heard it - oops, sorry, I wasn't s'posed to say that (laughs).
[Blow Up The Outside World]
SW: 'Blow Up The Outside World', Soundgarden, from Down on the Upside, and we'll be back to wrap up the Canadian radio premiere with Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron and a final song called 'Dusty' right after this.
SW: Let's just finish up with a couple of final points, you're going to do Lollapalooza this year?
CC: Mmm hmm
SW: Why did you decide to do it?
CC: Well we were just asked to do it and for me, two main factors were that one of which was that Metallica was playing, which I think will draw a completely different audience. You know, not completely different or entirely different but definitely different than the last time we played Lollapalooza, so there's a reason to play it right there. The other reason is that its playing outside markets as opposed to major cities - in the US anyway, I don't know if that's true in Canada, but places we haven't played ever, or places we haven't played in a long time, which is great. As far as the name Lollapalooza really had nothing to do with it. We were also given the opportunity to put other bands we wanted to put on the bill, which was a good reason.
SW: And have you chosen some?
CC: Um, the Ramones, that's so far the band that we're responsible for getting on the bill.
SW: Yeah, 'cause they were going to retire before that right?
CC: Yeah, they already played their last show. So (laughs) I don't know what this tour will be, 'cause they already played their last show. Maybe they'll just show up and talk (laughs). I don't know. But we're really happy about them agreeing to do it, we didn't at any time expect them to do it just because we wanted them to do it, so they must be doing it 'cause they want to, which is cool. Maybe they played their last show 'cause they just didn't feel like there was anything else worth doing at the time, but now they do.
SW: Were they a big influence on you?
CC: I think all of us to some degree. I mean, in the US at the time when I was starting out as a musician, they we're definitely a band I heard a lot.
SW: Matt Cameron and Chris Cornell, thank you very much and congratulations on the new record, good luck.
MC: Thank you very much.
CC: Thank you.