SUPERUNKNOWN PRESS RELEASE
Every time the wind blows across Seattle's Sand Point, the huge Sound Garden pipe sculpture makes an unearthly and wholly unique music an eerily appropriate example of what Andrew Marvell called "the mosaic of the air." If you listened to the sounds of this unpredictable union of nature and man 15 different times, you might hear a selection of music as varied as the 15 tracks that make up Soundgarden's newest A&M release, Superunknown.
While their latest release is arguably their strongest and most diverse effort, distinction is nothing unusual for vocalist/guitarist Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd, and drummer Matt Cameron. Recording two respected EPs on Sub Pop and an acclaimed LP for SST before signing to A&M, Soundgarden have always done exactly as they pleased when it came to recording their stylized brand of hook-laden crunch.
With influences as varied as Black Sabbath and MC5 to Stooges and Killing Joke, their influence on today's music scene has been dramatic (Kurt Cobain cited Soundgarden's first two Sub Pop EPs as the reason Nirvana originally signed with the label). In a few short years, Soundgarden have managed to carve a musical niche as uniquely self-identifying as Vonnegut's prose, Lichtenstein's painting, or Hitchcock's direction, earning them three Grammy nominations and selling over one million copies for their last LP, Badmotorfinger.
Unwilling to be confined, even this "Soundgarden style" is being challenged by the aptly named Superunknown. The album was produced by Michael Beinhorn and Soundgarden. Writing and rehearsal sessions were limited only to unanimous appeal and not to preconception, making Superunknown an introspective, innovative evolution in the band's recording history. No track is entirely derivative of any previous release, though cuts like the LP's powerful opener, "Let Me Drown," "Limo Wreck," and "Spoonman" carry on the soulful metallic blues that Soundgarden has made their own. It's tracks like the emotive "Black Hole Sun" and "4th Of July," among others, that mark such a feeling of growth in this record.
"A big part of this record's sound," explains Chris, "is that some of the songs we normally would not have tried to do that were further out than what's naturally been known as Soundgarden music we just did this time. We wanted to go somewhere different. Everyone in the band writes music and there's always a certain amount of music from each individual that we use and a certain amount that we don't because it might be a direction we've never gone in before. This time we accepted those directions instead of avoiding them."
Perhaps the psychedelic, occasionally Beatle-esque, feel of "Head Down" and "Half" best illustrate this. "We just let everything out," says Ben. "I don't see us as having any boundaries at all. That's what modern music is all about anyway. If you have boundaries, it's obviously some kind of personal complex, and fuck that."
Indeed, side projects including Ben and Matt's Hater, Chris' solo contribution to the Singles soundtrack, his collaboration with Matt on the Platinum-success of Temple Of The Dog, and Kim's powerful music co-writing within the band have proven that the members of Soundgarden "are capable of doing a lot of different things with quality and meaning it," as Chris puts it. "I think we're getting better as a band and we're able to write music in a lot of different styles," adds Matt.
"And it's not like on this record we made a conscious decision to write things that were unusual," Kim explains. "We've always written things that were different, I just think this time we decided to use a greater diversity of material."
On March 8th, fans will have a chance to judge for themselves as Superunknown hits the streets. The new year's touring season will also afford fans a chance to catch the band live. After more than a year of touring with acts such as Guns 'n' Roses, Neil Young and the Lollapalooza bill in support of their last album, Soundgarden will tour Japan, Australia, Europe and the United States in 1994 playing headlining gigs to their own crowds in their own rooms. The band is anxious to let their hard work go out into the world and see what the public perception is.
"A lot went into this record over the last year," Ben says, "and I wish it would all come out of the speakers."
"We made an album instead of a record that has a couple of good songs and filler," insists Matt. "We made an album in the classic sense of the term which goes back to records we bought growing up in the seventies. Bands like Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin made these records where every song counted and I think that's what we did."
"We've taken in a lot more breath to exhale with," Ben concludes. "Simply put, this record has bigger lung power."