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Soundgarden at the Fox Theatre, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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When it comes to the Seattle rock movement of the late 80s and 90s, Soundgarden enjoys rarefied position at the top as part of a triumvirate with Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Even with a hiatus between 1997-2010 the two-time Grammy Award-winning quartet’s six albums comprise an iconic body of hard rock/grunge work, from the full-throttle attack of “Ultramega OK” and “Louder Than Love” to the more sophisticated sonics of “Superunknown” and “Down On The Upside.” The group was also featured in Cameron Crowe’s 1992 film “Singles,” just before its commercial liftoff two years later with the “Superunknown” album.

Since reuniting Soundgarden has relased just one album, 2012’s “King Animal,” but has toured steadily and plans on new music. More recently it’s released upgraded anniversary editions of “Superunknown,” “Badmotorfinger” and, this year, “Ultramega OK,” with more to come from the vaults as well...

• Sprucing up the older titles -- particularly 1988’s “Ultramega OK” -- has been rewarding for Soundgarden in recent years, according to guitarist Kim Thayil. “As best as we can make it, we made it,” Thayil, 56, says by phone from Seattle. “I love the songs on ‘Ultramega OK,’ as did everyone in the band. But it was difficult to listen to because the mix had this sort of papery drum sound and wiry sort of guitar sound and that weird, cheesy 80s reverb. So after almost 30 years of listening to the original and being kind of bummed out about it, it’s such a different feeling now. We improved the mix and the mastering a lot.”

• Besides upcoming anniversary editions of other albums, including upcoming reissues of “Louder Than Love” and “Down On The Upside” and some other material still in the vaults. “There are a number of recording sessions that were never released for various reasons,” Thayil says. “There are some we recorded with a previous drummer and they weren’t really up to our satisfaction. There’s stuff we haven’t released that we recorded with (producer) Jack Endino that were intended for Sub Pop (Records) release that didn’t happen. The ‘Screaming Life’ EP was supposed to be a full-length album but Sub Pop wanted to do an EP, so there’s material that was recorded for that. We’ve been able to address many of the aspects from our catalog, both released and unreleased, and I think we will continue to do so.”

• A new album is in the works, too, to follow “King Animal,” but for now it remains a work in progress. “It’s been a couple years of intermittent songwriting sessions,” Thayil says. “Obviously Chris (Cornell) has some commitments to his solo touring and Matt (Cameron) has some commitments to Pearl Jam issues. So we kind of look for opportunities where all four of us are available and then we get together and show each other what we’ve been working on and what we’ve been writing on our own and see if there’s anything that can be contributed from that sharing process. And then we jam and see if any ideas come out collaboratively that we can work on. Every different stage within the process of songwriting is being addressed at this point.”

• These days, Thayil adds, Soundgarden isn’t in the same kind of hurry and doesn’t feel the same pressure to produce as it once did. “There’s a comfort level,” he explains. “I think the fact we’re all older and more mature, maybe a little bit wiser, people have had kids, gotten married...I would think that by people expanding their circle of responsibilities we might have a different perspective. I think that just came organically with the way the band is. We’re just a little more conscientious of what we owe and contribute to relationships and not just what is owned to us, if that makes sense.”

• With Cameron and Pearl Jam inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April and Nirvana in some years before, Soundgarden seems like the logical next act from Seattle. “Y’know, it’s not my call,” Thayil says. “Pearl Jam’s a no-brainer, and Nirvana. But, yeah, I think Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, to another degree Mudhoney and Screaming Trees, we’ve all had great success that certainly surpasses that of a number of artists that are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But we’re subject to the judgment of other folks, ultimately. I think there would be something cool about it, but it ultimately doesn’t reflect what we’ve achieved critically or commercially with our body of work. I think we’re all satisfied at this point.”

If You Go:

• Soundgarden and the Pretty Reckless

• 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 17.

• Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

• Tickets are $37-$101.50.

• Call 313-471-6611 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.cm

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