Soundgarden Producer Criticizes ‘Badmotorfinger’ Songs

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Soundgarden Superunknown producer Michael Beinhorn recently claimed that the albums before the ones he produced, which would include Badmotorfinger, had some ‘fat’ on them, despite him having nothing bad to say about those records.

He told the Cobra and Fires podcast, “I think one of the most amazing things about them was just the overall vibe that they projected as a band together. They were incredible, powerful personalities, and I think that comes through in all their work. And it’s kind of hard to argue that Chris [Cornell] was one of the greatest rock singers who ever lived.

There was a core to them that I just felt they’ve never really touched. There was an essence to them that I felt they’ve never really gotten to. And while I have absolutely nothing bad to say about any of the predecessors to the record that we did, I did feel that there was a lot of, like, fat…

There were these jams that went on for a while and to me, that was stuff that – if you wanted to see a band live, you could go see them do that. If you’re gonna make a record – when you listen to a jam over and over again, it’s not a jam anymore because you start knowing all these parts.

What would’ve been an improvised thing becomes a structural construct after a while because you start remembering things, and the spontaneity begins to kind of melt away and after a while, your brain is expecting to hear the improv the way it is…When a band performs a song live, they don’t play it exactly the same way, and there’s gonna be something in your brain that’s a little disappointed by that. I’m not interested in capturing those aspects, at least from the perspective of an actual performance that is improvised.

The nuances, however, of a performance that pertain directly to an actual structure, like a vocal performance, for example, that’s part of what I have to do as a producer – is to listen to all the nuances and all the subtleties and select or at least be an arbiter, I guess, in the selection process of what finally gets picked and used on the final recording that everyone hears.

It felt to me like there was a deeper level to this band in terms of structure, in terms of songwriting, in terms of composition, in terms of creating ideas that had a real resonance in them in terms of structural elements.

And to me I felt that was really important to bring that out while not losing any of the rawness and the power, and in fact amplifying that, finding really subtle aspects of what I felt made the band so vital and so exciting. As an example, I noticed when I listened to Chris sing that his voice was so powerful that there was always a little expulsion at the end of some of his lines. You could hear him pushing out of the stomach right at the end. And to me, that was so sexy. [Laughs]

I was listening to other records he did, and you couldn’t really make it. Like, you had to listen for it. I was like, ‘Why in God’s name that people who record this guy, why didn’t they try and amplify that?’

Because there’s something so raw and sensual about that, like, why you wouldn’t want to make that be kind of a little bit more apparent? It’s not something that you’re immediately going to notice, it’s something that you hear and it becomes a part of the presentation. Things like that were very important to me. I wanted to focus on a lot of details on the record.” Ultimate-Guitar transcribed Beinhorn’s remarks.