Chris Cornell on Ultramega OK’s essential reissue, new Soundgarden album and Audioslave reunion
When Soundgarden released their debut album, Ultramega OK, in 1988, it was with mixed emotions.
On one hand, the Seattle upstarts - which comprised frontman/guitarist Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and then-bassist Hiro Yamamoto - had landed a deal with their dream label, SST Records; on the other, the producer SST had recommended, Drew Canulette, didn’t quite understand what to do with the band’s groundbreaking combination of ’70s rock swagger, indie attitude and punk vitality.
The resultant album showcased a heavy, uncompromising brand of alt-rock obscured behind layers of reverb. Nonetheless, critics and fans alike were able to unearth the raw songwriting gold beneath, and the record ended up receiving a nomination for Best Metal Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards, while propelling the band to a major-label deal with A&M for 1989’s Louder Than Love.
Nonetheless, Ultramega OK’s production remained a chink in the Soundgarden catalogue’s armour. It was something the band sought to rectify immediately following its release, but a remix was sidelined as Seattle - and the band with it - exploded.
Now, Ultramega OK finally receives the reissue treatment it deserves, with Seattle production legend Jack Endino at the helm, and the addition of six early demos that arguably surpass the album versions.
Chris Cornell was on hand to take us through this early period of the band, and was in high spirits, despite citing the record’s original release as one of the most difficult moments of his career. Nonetheless, the frontman was keen to discuss the album’s place in Soundgarden’s history, as well as what’s next for the band and his recently resurfaced supergroup, Audioslave…
The Ultramega OK reissue has been a long time coming - why now?
“That’s a good question. I think it was just a matter of reissuing a bunch of other stuff and trying to figure out exactly what we wanted to do with this one, ’cause there was more involved.
“First of all, with it originally coming out on SST, we had the license after seven years, so we owned the master for a long time, and felt like it was kind of doing fine just where it was. And we knew at some point we would probably want to re-release it, and we talked about Sub Pop, and everyone agreed right away - it seemed like it would be nice to keep all of our indie stuff at the same home, and they’re all friends of ours.
“We also really wanted to remix it, because that was an issue right from the very beginning. Of all the albums that we put out, that one was the one that we felt like we wanted to do-over in mixing. [laughs]
“I remember coming home after mixing it - we recorded it and mixed it in Oregon - and I was pretty happy with it. And I A/Bed it to the demos of that record that we had recorded with Jack Endino, song for song, and that was one of the hardest moments of my career in terms of something going wrong at a bad time. That was, for me, the most crucial thing, because we’d put a lot into the album, and it was a lot of the earliest history of Soundgarden.
“And so, that was it. We just finally found a window where we had time to remix it effectively, and remaster it and put it out there.”
Down with SST
When you were putting that record together, what was the band’s songwriting dynamic like?
“Well, it was unusual in that Screaming Life - which is our first EP on Sub Pop - was new material, and what happened was as we were doing demos, Bruce Pavitt from Sub Pop really reacted to a handful of songs we’d just recorded. Those were our latest songs, and those ended up being on Screaming Life.
“And yet we had this huge backlog of material, and as soon as Screaming Life came out, it did really well critically, and we started getting quite a bit of attention and people coming to Seattle, which had never happened before. We knew we wanted to put out another indie album, but suddenly it was crucial that we just keep going.
“We’d always wanted to put out a record on SST, so we did a deal with them, and we had all this material that was a little bit older than what was on Screaming Life. So, I think we wrote a couple of new things, and then cherry-picked from the songs that we’d been working on for a couple of years, because we’d been a band for four years by then.
“And so we just went back and picked the material. We hadn’t yet had the concentrated writing period for an album. I think it was Louder Than Love, the first time that happened, where you’re writing for an album and it’s all new and you have to have it ready. [laughs]”
Jack Endino has done a fantastic job on the remix, and it really highlights just how broad the band’s influences were back then; did you have a particular vision for the record?
“By then, we had very clear perspectives on what we wanted to sound like, and all it was was just finding subtle improvements on that, and that’s why I think it’s so crucial that Jack remixed it.
“I wasn’t sure in the recording of it that remixing it would really help anything, but then Jack did a remix of Flower years and years ago, just to see, because we were trying to figure out what it was we weren’t sure about. We knew that recording with Jack got us sounding the way we sounded - the way we felt we as a group sounded, the way we sounded in a room. So he did a remix years ago as a test, and it just sounded like anything else we did, so we knew [the original recording] wasn’t bad.
“Other than that, I think it was just our triumph in being able to put out a record on SST, and just be the band we were, which was probably more unique at the time than we even realised.
“The goal had always been that: most of our favourite bands at the time had been releasing at least one album on SST. It was at the centre of great indie at the time. There were a few really great indie labels that you could count on to put out really cool records, or introduce you to cool bands: SST was probably our favourite.
“And so to be able to put out Ultramega OK on SST and be part of that, that to us was the ultimate success, like a popstar being on The Voice now. [laughs]
“And to me, it was entirely on-your-own-terms success; it wasn’t the way a lot of music success is now or has been. Now, you have to make concessions, you have to do what you’re told. We were really lucky, coming into a time where you can do that, in the way that hip-hop did as well. And putting a record out on SST was that; it was the ultimate triumph.”
How would you describe yourself as a guitar player at that time?
“I was a novice at that time, really. I didn’t start playing guitar in earnest until then, and it was really to contribute songs or ideas to Soundgarden.
“And unlike a lot of bands, I didn’t get any resistance; I got a lot of encouragement. I’d come into the room and start playing the part, and if Kim liked it, for example - who’s the guitar player, who would be the first one to be pissed off that someone else is pushing in on his territory - he would really respond positively to it, and it would become a song. So, that was sort of the beginning of me becoming a guitar player on that album.”
That said, you and Kim were ahead of the curve with drop D tuning on the likes of Flower and Beyond The Wheel; did finding that tuning shape the direction of the record?
“I think it did; I think it shaped the direction of the band, probably starting a year-and-a-half earlier. Kim brought that idea in, and it just changed the band tonally.
“The first year of the band was very quirky, post-punk, odd time signatures but melodic music, and heavy rock kind of seeped in there. And I think that’s when we found out what our real identity was, which was to fit somewhere in between what was happening immediately there and mixing that with aspects of rock music from the ’70s that, up to that moment, for the last several years, had been considered super-uncool. [laughs]
“And somehow we had the guts to bring that into what we were doing, but mixing it with influences that had never been done before, and that created something new. It was interesting, the reaction, because it was mostly positive, but when it was negative, it was extremely negative. And that’s when I knew we were doing everything right.”
Jack has done an incredible job with your early material; any chance he’ll be involved with the new Soundgarden album?
“He’s always on our list. I don’t remember a time when his name wouldn’t come out there in terms of recording or production.
“I think with Soundgarden, the idea of a producer has always been a little bit abstract, because we really started using producers mostly when we were making major-label albums. It was a big investment by the label, but we’d just make friends with them, and then we would never do anything they said - we’d never include any of their ideas. And they were in a position really of just being an engineer and that was it. And there was mostly a role of engineer when it came to producers pretty much straight through our entire career.
“So, really, I think, for me, a lot of it comes down to, ‘Who’s going to make it sound the way we want to sound’, not ‘who’s going to be included in any other choice’, for example song choices, song arrangements, song edits - things that producers do.
“Not only do we not need that, but I think it’s a really bad idea. I think that we have four people with a pretty good idea of what the band should sound like, and between us all, with our input, we get what we need to get.”
So it’s safe to say there’s no producer lined up for the new album yet?
“Not really - I don’t think we’ve had that discussion yet. I imagine it might be similar to what we did on King Animal, but it’s hard to say. Again, I’m not sure that’s such a crucial part of our album-making.
“I think one of the reasons why [King Animal producer] Adam Kasper worked so well is because he’s a really great engineer that captures a very realistic tone, and I like the way it sounds. And he doesn’t get too involved in aspects of Soundgarden being Soundgarden, that producers can kind of get in trouble in.
“So, when I think about producers, nobody really comes to mind. I think that a mostly self-produced album is going to be the best Soundgarden album.”
How’s the new material shaping up?
“We have a lot of interesting songs - sort of similar in that nothing really sounds like anything we’ve done before, and there’s definitely new territory, but it definitely sounds like us. That’s what I’m doing today, as soon as we hang up.”
Last time we spoke, you said you’d “always be open” to an Audioslave reunion, and that time finally came at Prophets Of Rage’s anti-inaugural ball last month; what was it like to be back on stage with those guys?
“It was pretty fun. It was interesting because the dynamic for that band was really just there. I don’t know how much those guys rehearsed the songs, but I had the same experience when I went on stage with Tom [Morello] a couple of years back: where we walked into the room for a rehearsal, and we didn’t even really need one. We just counted the songs in and they were totally where we left them 10 years ago when we’d just got off the road.
“Now, that’s pretty crazy - all the energy and everyone remembering everything, and you’re already playing the song with feeling, as opposed to trying to find it and remember where it is, so it was pretty great, and the energy was good.
“And I think the event was great; it was bittersweet, because there’s an awful lot of emotional fallout and anger from the most recent election, and I think that a lot of people don’t really know what to do with that energy, and I think that’s something positive to do with it. Everyone that was there seemed to feel like they were somewhere that was vital and somewhere with like-minded people doing something positive.”
Can we expect more performances from Audioslave in the future?
“It’s always a possibility. I mean, we’ve been talking about it for at least three or four years now. We were talking about actually picking dates, and it just ended up not working out because everybody’s so busy.
“They have another band again, they all have separate bands that they do themselves, I have Soundgarden and a solo career that’s taking up a lot of time, and I just did Temple Of The Dog. So, it’s really honestly as simple as we end up having a window of time where it’s comfortable for everybody and we want to do it, because I definitely feel like everybody’s up for it.”
The remixed and expanded reissue of Ultramega OK is out on 10 March via Sub Pop.
Just added to Google Drive
- Full Prophets of Rage show. Even the parts you don't want to see
- Just the Audioslave initial 3 song set
- Those 3 songs split up
- Chris Cornell joining in with err'body on Killing In the Name
(it lets you stream these like YouTube but if you select a file, there's a download option too)
We also added these to the existing YouTube playlist:
Watch On Google Drive (Cochise, Like A Stone, & Show Me How To Live*)
Audioslave performed Cochise, Like A Stone, and Show Me How To Live in that order, and Chris returned to close the show with all other guests and Prophets of Rage performing Killing In The Name Of.
*Show Me How To Live is fan shot, thanks to our friend Lisa ! The other 2 are from the live stream.
Note: it's 2:30am and these videos are uploading. so if you click the YouTube or Google Drive and the 2 videos aren't there, then you somehow found this site and clicked the links while the upload was still going. Congrats ! Now wait longer
Audioslave have reunited to perform their first gig in 12 years – in protest against Donald Trump at the Anti-Inaugural Ball.
The supergroup of three members of Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell will be taking to the stage at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles on 20 January along with Vic Mensa, Jackson Browne, comedian Jack Black and The Los Angeles Freedom Choir.
The evening will be headlined and curated by Prophets Of Rage – the supergroup of RATM, Public Enemy‘s Chuck D along with B-Real and DJ Lord. The gig’s slogan is ‘power to the people’ and was set up in opposition to Donald Trump’s inauguration to taking the seat of power as President Of The United States.
Guitarist Tom Morello has been very vocal in his opposition to Trump – even brandishing the slogan ‘not my president’ on the back of his guitar.
Audioslave disbanded in 2007 after three albums – their acclaimed self-titled debut, ‘Out Of Exile’, and ‘Revelations’. They made headlines by performing a huge gig in Cuba to over 70,000 people in 2005.
Meanwhile, RATM bassist Tim Commerford said that he was ‘hopeful’ of a Rage reunion – telling fans to ‘keep their fingers crossed’.
Trump’s inauguration has been hit with many problems so far. A host of artists have either turned down invitations to perform or pulled out of planned events – including a Bruce Springsteen tribute band. In spite of this, soul legend Sam Moore recently confirmed himself to be performing – saying that he ‘wasn’t going to be intimidated by critics’.
“I was a participant in the civil rights movement and have seen many positive changes and advancement in my 81 years of living in this wonderful country, but I know we must all join hands and work together with our new President,” Moore said in a press release.
“I honestly believe that if we can accomplish this, the best is yet to come. We all as Americans need to unite behind our new President and give him a chance. He needs everyone’s support to make America greater, stronger and an even better country.”
Source: SubPop / Soundgarden
"Remixed and remastered, this Ultramega OK CD comes packaged in a foil-stamped gatefold with custom dust sleeve, featuring liner notes from Kim Thayil and Jack Endino, and includes a previously unseen photo from renowned photographer Charles Peterson."
All Your Lies
Beyond the Wheel
Mood for Trouble
Circle of Power
One Minute of Silence
Head Injury (early version)
Beyond the Wheel (early version)
Incessant Mace (early version)
He Didn't (early version)
All Your Lies (early version)
Incessant Mace (V2) (early version"
Rockville Festival in Jacksonville April 29/30
Carolina Rebellion in Charlotte May 5-7th
join previously announced
Rock On The Range in Ohio May 19-21
Carolina Rebellion ticket presale is live with code:
Presale announced by Soundgarden [Twitter] - Code is SOUNDROTR
We don't usually share pre-sale codes but since this was shard publicly by the band, we made an exception. Also...nobody is going to see this but me anyway
Next Soundgarden album has ‘colour where you want it to shine’
Author: Martin Kielty
Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil hints at contents of their next album, planned for 2017 - as Badmotorfinger box set goes on sale
Kim Thayil has outlined the vibe Soundgarden fans can expect from their next album, expected to arrive before the end of next year.
The follow-up to 2012 comeback King Animal is underway, although it’s been interrupted by the band members’ separate schedules.
“We’re shooting for later 2017. Some people whip out albums in a few weeks or a few months. Soundgarden takes months.
“We do something for a few weeks then come back later and revisit it.”
The guitarist says all four members are “fairly attentive of what we do” and that the process includes “four different, strong opinions and four songwriters – without the addition of the producer.”
Discussing the material so far he says: “It has precision where it needs precision. It has chaos and looseness where you want the song to be wild. It has colour where you want it to really shine. We really roll the thing over.”
He adds: “It’s definitely a fun and dynamic process.”
Meanwhile, Soundgarden have today released their extended box set edition of 1992 album Badmotorfinger – watch bassist Ben Shepherd’s unboxing video below.
Frontman Chris Cornell and drummer Matt Cameron are nearing completion of their Temple Of The Dog reunion tour.
San Francisco 11.12.2016
"Hey Baby..." was originally performed by M.A.C.C. [featuring Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, and Mike McCready] for the 1993 album Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix
Nov. 4 - Philadelphia, PA @ Tower Theater (Night 1)
Source: MusicandFireworks on Youtube [Link]
Nov 5. Philadelphia, PA @ Tower Theater (Night 2)
Our own videos:
Jim Powers On YouTube [Link]
Both Philly Shows Mixed
YouTube user mfc172 [link]
Nov. 7 New York City @ Madison Square Garden
Our own videos:
24 videos (full show)
YouTube user aerofan2007
Nov. 11 - San Francisco (night 1) @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
YouTube user The Attitude [link]
Madison Square Garden becomes the Temple of the Dog: review
Temple of the Dog — the grunge supergroup featuring members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden — reunited Monday night at Madison Square Garden for the first arena gig of their 25th anniversary tour and only their third official concert together.
The tour marks the 25th anniversary of Temple of the Dog’s self-titled, one and only album from 1991. It went on to be a million seller, yet the band members only performed a handful of club gigs in the Seattle area before retuning to their full-time bands.
Temple of the Dog, the grunge supergroup featuring members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, reunited Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Temple of the Dog features an all-star lineup with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell on vocals and Pearl Jam members: Stone Gossard (guitar) Mike McCready (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass) and drummer Matt Cameron, who has performed as a member of both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. TOTD was formed in 1991 in tribute to the band members’ friend and colleague Andrew Wood, the lead singer of the Seattle band Mother Love Bone, who died in March 1990 of a heroin overdose just weeks before Mother Love Bone’s debut album, “Apple,” hit store shelves.
The concert featured not only the songs of Temple of the Dog, but also a few rousing Mother Love Bone compositions such as “Heartshine," “Stargazer," and “Star Dog Champion,” all performed with a passion that would have made Wood proud.
The loudest applause of the night came when Cornell introduced a song “that has probably been played in this building before” and launched into Led Zeppelin’s spacey, yet epic “Achilles Last Stand.”
The set opener “Say Hello 2 Heaven” was written by Cornell, originally to help him process the grief brought on by Wood’s passing. Tonight, it was an anthem that got the Garden crowd on their feet, singing along to match Cornell’s high, ear-piecing falsetto that proves why he is truly one of rock’s greatest voices of all time. Another crowd pleaser was “Hunger Strike," performed on the album as a duet between Cornell and Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder. Cornell had the crowd eating out of his hand, as they sang Vedder's entire verses of the song.
TOTD also touched on the music of another Seattle area band, Mad Season, of which Mike McCready was also a member of, along with the late Layne Staley of Alice in Chains on vocals. “River of Deceit”, a minor alternative rock hit in the mid-1990’s was well received by the Garden crowd, as were cover numbers by David Bowie (“Quicksand”), The Cure (“Fascination Street”) and Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”).
The concert featured not only the songs of Temple of the Dog, but also a few rousing Mother Love Bone compositions such as “Heartshine,” “Stargazer," and “Star Dog Champion.”
Perhaps the loudest applause of the night came when Cornell introduced a song “that has probably been played in this building before” and launched into Led Zeppelin’s spacey, yet epic “Achilles Last Stand,” featuring masterful, looping guitar work by McCready and Stone Gossard. Afterward, Cornell laughed as it hit him: “I never imagined I’d be singing ‘Achilles Last Stand’ on stage at Madison Square Garden!” an obvious nod of praise to his childhood rock 'n' roll heroes.
The name Temple of the Dog comes from a lyric by Wood in the Mother Love Bone song “Man of Golden Words," which Cornell performed Monday night as a solo acoustic number. The “one-off” band played two short opening sets in Seattle in 1990, and has occasionally performed TOTD songs with Cornell during guest appearances at Pearl Jam concerts, but otherwise the group has never played together live since recording the album.
1. "Say Hello 2 Heaven"
2. "Wooden Jesus"
3. "Call Me a Dog"
4. "Your Saviour"
5. "Stardog Champion" (Mother Love Bone cover)
6. "Stargazer" (Mother Love Bone cover)
7. "Seasons" (Chris Cornell song)
8. "Jump Into the Fire" (Harry Nilsson cover)
9. "Four Walled World"
10. "I'm a Mover" (Free cover)
11. "Pushin’ Forward Back"
12. "Hunger Strike"
13. "Quicksand" (David Bowie cover)
14. "Heartshine" (Mother Love Bone cover)
15. "River of Deceit" (Mad Season cover)
16. "Holy Roller" (Mother Love Bone cover)
17. "Reach Down"
18. "Man of Golden Words" (Mother Love Bone cover)
19. "Times of Trouble"
20. "Achilles Last Stand" (Led Zeppelin cover)
21. "Missing" (Chris Cornell song)
22. "Fascination Street" (The Cure cover)
23. "War Pigs" (Black Sabbath cover)
24. "All Night Thing"
Updated Our "What's Mine Is Ours" Page For Last Night's Show & A Placeholder For Tomorrow Night.
We have Philly Night 2 photos up already but we're being a little slow to get those videos up because of some technical difficulties lol
We'll keep working on it though and update it as often as we can. The NY stuff should go up much faster, and probably before the Philly videos are all there.
In the meantime, here's a video that isn't from us of "Missing" from last night's show:
Source & Full Article with Video Links: ConsequenceOfSound
Say Hello 2 Heaven
Call Me a Dog
Stardog Champion (Mother Love Bone cover)
Stargazer (Mother Love Bone cover)
Seasons (Chris Cornell song)
Jump Into the Fire (Harry Nilsson cover)
Four Walled World
I’m a Mover (Free cover)
Pushin Forward Back
Quicksand (David Bowie cover)
Heartshine (Mother Love Bone cover)
Holy Roller (Mother Love Bone cover)
Man of Golden Words (Mother Love Bone cover) (with Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb” tag)
Times of Trouble
Achilles Last Stand (Led Zeppelin cover)
Baby Lemonade (Syd Barrett cover)
Fascination Street (The Cure cover)
War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)
All Night Thing