Soundgarden producer Michael Beinhorn has revealed that the band were given $400,000 upfront to record Superunknown.
Beinhorn told the Cobras and Fire podcast, “Yeah, it was pretty good. I think it was around $400,000.”
He added that he did not take a whole lot of that early on, “Not a whole lot. [Laughs] Believe me, I made out of it in the back end. It worked out just fine; there’s no possible way I could complain.
He also told the story of how Chris Cornell wrote “Black Hole Sun” for the album.
“What I can say is that without me that song wouldn’t exist, but that’s a whole different story. I do want to say that everything about that song in terms of parts, ideas, structure – I made one little tweak in the song and that’s it. That was Chris’ [Cornell] genius. And everything that the guys could bring to the table – like that drum fill right before the last chorus, which is just absolutely out of this world, that just fell out of him, that whole thing.
All the guitar parts, all the background-vocal parts…I remember when I first heard the cassette tape from that, I felt like I was on drugs, it was incredible, it was absolutely beautiful. And the way that song came about is – I received a batch of about… I was getting demos fairly regularly from Chris, you know, some of them were good, but for the most part, they were kind of throw-away-ish.
I was beginning to detect a bit of a pattern. We had, I’d say, maybe 60-70% of the record, but we were still missing this really epic, epic song. And then it was like, ‘I got to talk to this guy’ – because we’re about to go down a really bad pathway, and if I don’t say something…
Actually, I received this batch of 11 songs and not one of them – I listened to them not too long ago, they’re pretty good, I mean, Chris wrote them, he sang them but they still didn’t feel like they were up to the standard of the record that we were going to make, and that’s when I knew I had to have a conversation with him, and I spoke with him.
I wanted to get into his head a little bit and understand what’s motivating him to write this kind of songs and eventually I began to realize that he was trying to please his audience. He was trying to write songs that he felt would be appropriate for a Soundgarden fan. I mean, as you can imagine, doing something like that can be extremely dangerous because you don’t really know who these people are.
I explained this to him, like, ‘You’re trying to please people whose experiences aren’t yours. They like your music because it’s you, not because you’re trying to please them, not because you’re trying to do something that gives them a certain sense of, I guess, identification with what you’re doing.’ ‘They connect with you because you’re you – because your expression is unique.” Ultimate-Guitar transcribed Beinhorn’s remarks.