Soundgarden begins to clean out catalog with Screaming Life/Fopp EP combo reissue
From the archives of the pioneering grunge-rock label Sub Pop comes a reissue of Soundgarden’s Screaming Life debut EP along with bonus tracks from the Fopp EP and Sub Pop 200 compilation. The reissue marks the first time tracks from each release are available digitally, and it’s the first time the songs appear on vinyl since the original late-80s pressings and a “long-gone” late-90s repress of Screaming Life. All of the tracks have been remastered for maximum power by JJ Golden and Jack Endino, the Seattle producer who helmed the original Screaming Life and Sub Pop 200 sessions. Endino states in a Sub Pop news release that Screaming Life was one of the first real records he made for anyone outside of his own band.
“I already knew Soundgarden pretty well, since they and Skin Yard had shared the stage many times in Seattle’s tiny club scene circa 1985-1986,” recalls Endino. “Kim [guitarist Thayil] lived near me and liked to stay up late, drink beer, and talk guitars and ontology.” Endino says he had a basement 4-track setup and had done some demos for Soundgarden and others, adding that both of their bands had been on Chris Hanzsek’s Deep Six compilation album.
When local recording studio Triangle Recording suddenly closed, Endino said he called Hanzsek with the news of the available space and the pair took over the empty building in July 1986, renaming it Reciprocal Recording. Hanzsek added his Otari eight-track recorder to the equipment mix, and the bevy of bands that soon flocked to the new studio included Soundgarden.
Endino’s additional comments in the Sub Pop news release detail how fans can hear Cornell experimenting with his singing as he “starts to realize how much range he has to play with.” Endino notes the track ‘Nothing To Say’ was the song that “made us all look at each other and go, ‘Uh, holy crap, how did we do this?’” As the debut project began to take flight, A&M Records came calling, but the band chose to sign with independent SST Records to put out their next record, 1988’s Ultramega OK.
Guitarist Kim Thayil tells Rolling Stone the Screaming Life/Fopp EPs combination came about when the band reunited in 2010 and decided to focus on catalog reissues, merchandise, and its online presence. “There was a little bit of neglect with our band and management together,” explains Thayil. “The way we looked at catalog issues, we kind of thought, "We'll get back to that. Let's go forward.’” Unfortunately, the forward thinking of the band and management didn’t include keeping active the properties they had already created.
Since wrapping up the King Animal tour, Thayil reveals to Rolling Stone that 2014 “is going to be kind of tough for touring” since Cornell is doing a solo acoustic tour and Cameron is on the road with Pearl Jam. Nonetheless, upcoming Soundgarden tour dates include Lollapalooza Chile in Santiago on March 29 and March 30 as well as Lollapalooza Argentina in Buenos Aires on April 1 and April 2. In addition, Soundgarden and Black Sabbath have announced a series of summer shows together across Germany including June 8 in Berlin, June 13 in Munich, and June 25 in Stuttgart. Thayil says the band has talked about a follow up to King Animal “in the next two years.”
Watch the official music video for ‘By Crooked Steps,’ Soundgarden’s No. 1 rock hit from the 2012 album King Animal.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Soundgarden formed in Seattle in 1984. The original band was made up of singer Chris Cornell (who also played drums at the time), lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Drummer Scott Sundquist eventually filled in so Cornell could focus on his vocals until Matt Cameron became the band's full-time drummer in 1986. Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto on bass in 1990.
* Soundgarden was one of the seminal bands in the creation of grunge, a style of alternative rock that developed in Seattle. They were also one of several grunge bands that Bruce Pavitt signed to his fledgling Sub Pop label in the summer of 1987. The single ‘Hunted Down’ was released before the Screaming Life EP appeared later in the year. Both the Screaming Life and Fopp EPs became underground hits and earned the attention of several major labels.
* The band decided to sign to SST Records instead of a major label to release Ultramega OK in late 1988. The album received strong reviews among alternative and metal publications, and the group eventually made the leap to major label A&M Records for 1989'sLouder Than Love, which earned a Grammy nomination.
* Soundgarden's third album, 1991's Badmotorfinger had the fortune and misfortune of being released at the same time as Nirvana's Nevermind. While the Kurt Cobain masterpiece overshadowed Badmotorfinger, Soundgarden benefited greatly from the grunge explosion that helped turn the band into international stars and boosted the success of 1994's Superunknown, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and yielded the Grammy Award-winning singles ‘Black Hole Sun’ and ‘Spoonman.’
* While Soundgarden may have evolved out of the blues-rock of Led Zeppelin and “sludgy, slow riffs” of Black Sabbath, the band was one of the first to successfully merge heavy metal with alternative rock to create the grunge rock sound. After breaking up in 1997, the band reunited in 2010, releasing their sixth studio album, King Animal, in 2012. To date, Soundgarden has sold more than 22 million records worldwide with 10.5 million in the U. S. alone.