Soundgarden Reveal If They Feared Chris Cornell Breakup

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Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil revealed in a new Billboard interview that Chris Cornell’s decision to breakup Soundgarden in April 1997 was unexpected, and that while recording Down on the Upside, he was already discussing another Soundgarden album with Matt Cameron.

In two years, it will be the 25th anniversary of Down on the Upside. One presumes there will be some type of deluxe package at that point.

Superunknown had a lot of B-sides, outtakes and demo stuff. Down on the Upside, not so much. This is a conversation I’ve had with our A&R guy, because there just isn’t much for that album. We can remix it, but we don’t like doing that to our records. What we can offer is a remastering and maybe an update of the artwork and packaging, but I don’t see much bonus material unless we dig out some studio outtakes and live versions of the songs. We weren’t fans of having original Soundgarden songs being treated as strays or castaways. But we do have the tapes, so one thing we could do is a 5.1 surround-sound mix.

We’re definitely going to remaster it, though, because that record was always so fuckin’ midrange-y, which kept it from being as exciting as some of those songs could be.

Down on the Upside often has been written about through the lens of the band breaking up, where people read things into the music after the fact. Can you set the record straight?

They’re reversing the causality. They’re saying, “Oh, the last song is ‘Boot Camp,’ and the band went on tour and then broke up. So the breakup must be foreshadowed on the record. Or the breakup is what caused the record to have these sentiments.” No, that’s not the case. If you look at the history of Soundgarden’s material, there are a lot of themes about finite-ness and endings. [Laughs.] That’s present in a lot of our songs going back to the beginning. The fact that there were songs thematically referencing conclusions on that album, ultimately, it’s coincidence. When we were making that record, at least [drummer] Matt [Cameron] and I had talked about there being a next Soundgarden album.