Chris Cornell Reveals Why Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains & Nirvana Sound Similar


Chris Cornell discussed the early days of Soundgarden and Grunge in a recent interview with Mike McCready on Pearl Jam Radio. Alternative Nation transcribed his comments.

“I remember the first couple of weeks of me, Kim [Thayil], and Hiro [Yamamoto] writing songs. It was one of those brand new band things, where we wrote probably 10 to 15 songs in a few weeks, really quickly. I got a sense of the sound of the three of us, and that it had its own unique identity, and it wasn’t like anything else. I just remember that as being this really euphoric moment, that we were inventing our own thing. That was kind of what it was about, and that’s what it was about I felt in the Seattle music scene at the time. There were predecessors that we loved, like the Blackouts or the U-Men, bands doing something that you could relate to, other indie bands at the time, but they still kind of had their own thing. That’s what we wanted to be a part of, we wanted to be a part of the sort of U.S./U.K. post punk indie scene.”

He also discussed the ingredients to the success of the Seattle Grunge scene.

“I think there was a lot more to that scene that was happening than what people sort of understand it to be. I think what it became known for is chiefly four bands: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains. That’s all sort of guitar heavy, and is also sort of known for more maybe what it leaves out, or had left out at the time, than what was in it, necessarily.

But there was a lot more going on, Feast was always a good example I thought. Initially as a band, they shared lead vocals between a guy and a girl, and when the guy wasn’t singing, he would play this kind of free jazz sax, but over these huge riffs. There was something to that that I felt was in a little bit of everything in that scene. Over time I think it deteriorated, as all scenes do, but it was pretty exciting, and I also don’t think that any of us knew that it wasn’t the same way in every other city our size in the U.S., but it really wasn’t. We didn’t really discover that until we started touring.”

  • Eddie Yarler

    Same reason most bands from the 90s sound similar. Because its essentially an entire generation growing up with the same musical influences to make music. If my shit generation had any ambition, you bet many of our bands would sound alike.

    Regardless, I still think he’s off. I think its funny that a ‘Seattle Sound’ exists when Ten, Nevermind, Dirt and Superunknown have few and far in between comparisons musically and vocally. The only common thread between them is hard rock mixed with great songwriting.

  • Hwang Sunghyeop

    Seattle, Grunge…
    U idiot might don’t care those words really. But sometimes because of those words we listened to those band’s musics.

  • Jason Newstedt

    Nirvana will always be the Pixies with overdrive pedals.

    • Joel Clark

      You say that like it’s a bad thing!

  • CommentSense

    Black Keys have been around since early 00’s, they’re both in their mid 30’s. GCJ is at least 30. I agree that they make great music, but if you want to mention young artists making an impact on the music scene, Lord would be the first that come to mind.

  • Spiral

    Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains & Nirvana don’t sound similar to one another, so not sure what this article is about.

    • Agree. The article also never “Reveals Why Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains & Nirvana Sound Similar”

  • Spotify and Pandora are great way to find those underappreciated bands. Langhorn Slim is another one, along with The Avett Brothers. (Google Cracker Farm)

    Most acts didn’t just burst on the scene. They spent year or decades schlepping all over the US playing crummy venues for peanuts. God bless the ones who can hang in there and enjoy some success.

  • Eddie Yarler

    Those bands all have members born pre 1990 though. My generation is everything afterwards. I genuinely want to form a band just to have more of us active in the rock scene. lol

    Regardless some of my favorite millennial artists aren’t even traditional rock musicians. Someone mentioned Lorde who is more of an alternative artist. Charli XCX incorporates alternative sounds but is still very pop heavy, and Mac Demarco is also an alternative musician. Of the three he’s my favorite. Check out this song and let me know what you think

    • Chapter C Cavanaugh

      To me it has a sitting all alone in the bathtub playing my casio while one of the lights is flickering vibe.

      • Eddie Yarler

        Definitely a theme of loneliness. To me its about appreciating how isolation shapes your self-awareness and establishes security with yourself. Haha. If you like that Psychedelia sound check out his other albums.

  • Corndog

    I remember the Waterboys because of the song ‘The whole of The Moon’.