DOWN ON THE UPSIDE PRESS RELEASE
A&M Records' UK press release for Down On The Upside, graciously sent by Brydon Cheyney:
Chris Cornell - Vocals/Guitar
Down On The Upside - Soundgarden's fifth full album - follows the respected Seattle band's Grammy-winning breakthrough record, the universally acclaimed Superunknown. Soundgarden has hit many distinctive strides during a decade of recording life, proving time and again that deviation, permutation and a willingness to experiment are the hallmarks of the group.
"Year by year and record by record, we have gone through this process of trying to dial into what we want to hear ourselves sound like at that moment," explains vocalist/guitarist Chris Cornell. "People always say that they're surprised by the turns we take, that they didn't expect them. And I always pause and say 'Shit, I never expected anything, why would you?' We never had a specific idea what our records would seem like when they were done, so why should someone else? It seems strange to me."
Down On The Upside sounds as immediate as anything the band has ever done. Soundgarden's rock'n roll has the capacity to pound the gut and grey matter simultaneously, the thrust both unnerving and invigorating. On Down On The Upside the songs hit hard, and their impact sticks with you for a long time.
Part of the kick is due to the fact that the band gave the heave-ho to the procedures that created the comparatively dressy Superunknown. Soundgarden went it alone on Down On The Upside. "We didn't squeeze the performances out of ourselves this time," says guitarist Kim Thayil, "like doing a guitar riff over and over for two days until it becomes rote. That kills any kind of natural feel. This time we kept it from moving into overdub central. We did everything short of making it live."
The results are discernible. Down On The Upside crackles with the energy of the moment, something of which Soundgarden is proud. Listen to 'No Attention' or 'Ty Cobb,' and the vitality is unmistakable. "The roughness wasn't a point of making a dirtier, more street version of what we do. It's about getting more accurate with recording," says Cornell. "Something about this record seems more sonically direct, possibly less larger than life than previous."
This new verite is exactly what the guys desired when they chose to produce Down On The Upside themselves. It helps augment the vivid nature of the music. The record's new facade is just as exotic in certain spots. 'Applebite' sounds like nothing the band has attempted before; employing both piano and moog to make it's mystically swirly point. Drummer Matt Cameron, who over the last two years has played the band's 'Black Hole Sun' with the Seattle Symphony and jazzed it up with avant keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, wrote the music.
"Since I've been in the band my songs have gotten a little darker sounding, probably an influence from listening to Kim and Chris," he allows, "But developing the different elements, like on 'Applebite' say, is in keeping with how the band always changes. When they started out as a trio they did weird Bauhaus stuff. So it's not what our fans are used to hearing, but we wanted to stretch it as far as we could with this one, and that tune is a good example."
So's 'Switch Opens,' which sounds like Pink Floyd and Motorhead singing something from REM's Murmur. Georgeous guitar drones breathe an intoxicating wind into your psyche. Ben admits to going through a recent phase of digging Pink Floyd's Saucerful Of Secrets, and he hears some echoes in Down On The Upside's first single release, 'Pretty Noose.' It's a song by Chris that Cornell himself can't really say much about. "I'd have to go back and check it out to explain what it means," he says devilishly.
More titillating sounds? Well, 'Ty Cobb' might be the rock's first blend of Ramonesesque pummeling and mandlin picking. You won't forget it's chorus anytime soon: Cornell makes "hard headed fuck you all" sound as catchy as "she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah."
As Down On The Upside proves, Soundgarden isn't taken with the common trappings of today's alt-rock, or even repeating the georgeous oddities they've previously created. They trust their ideas, and the fact that they've earned themselves a global reputation for intensity underscores the notion that creative risk isn't commercial suicide.
"It's amazing when that many people are turned on to your band," adds Matt. "It's the kind of thing that makes you trust your instincts. "That's what happened on Down On The Upside." Dramatic without being pompous, deliberate without lumbering - there are precious few bands who have the capability to make heavy music fly on wings of rhythmic sophistication and textural expression. Soundgarden does.
Some of the lyrics regard transcendence; 'Overfloater' and 'Boot Camp' each look for existential answers while sounding pretty damn earthy. It's a balancing act at which Soundgarden's gotten quite adept. The songs are split between those that ponder and those that explode. "I sometimes perceive the record as having the dual nature," allows Kim. "It keeps listeners on their toes, and lets them know they're not getting the same album over and over."
Obviously not. Down On The Upside shifts gears, provides Soundgarden with plenty of fertile ground to dig into, and opens up options for stylistic turns down the road.
"Exactly," concludes Ben. "What I say after every record is the same: you haven't heard anything yet."
The first single to be taken from the album is "Pretty Noose" and it will be out on the 6th of May.
The album Down On The Upside is due out on May 20th.