Where Are They Now?: Soundgarden

When news broke recently about the possibility of new Soundgarden music, grunge fans rejoiced.

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Many of them also likely asked the question, where has Soundgarden been? What have the band members been doing lately?

In the wake of the passing of the group’s frontman, Chris Cornell, in 2017, the “Black Hole Sun” band has been at a crossroads. What to do next? What are the options? And what are the impediments?

But now there seems to be some clarity. Let’s dive in.

Current Events

Soundgarden, which has sold some 14 million records in the U.S., has officially made an agreement with Cornell’s widow, Vicky Cornell, about the use of already recorded music.

Prior to Chris’ passing, he and the members of the band—bassist Ben Shepherd, guitar player Kim Thayil and drummer Matt Cameron—had already been working on new music.

Formed in 1984 in Seattle, Soundgarden was the first grunge band to break into the mainstream. The group broke up in 1997 and Cornell went on to form the band Audioslave. Soundgarden got back together in 2010 but then had to halt after Cornell died from suicide.

Now, though, with reportedly seven unreleased songs recorded with Cornell and the full band, there is hope for a Soundgarden renaissance.

Concerning the new agreement with Vicky, Soundgarden wrote on its Twitter page, “Soundgarden and Vicky Cornell, on behalf of the Estate of Chris Cornell, are happy to announce they have reached an amicable out-of-court resolution. The reconciliation marks a new partnership between the two parties, which will allow Soundgarden fans around the world to hear the final songs that the band and Chris were working on. The two parties are united and coming together to propel, honor and build upon Soundgarden’s incredible legacy as well as Chris’s indelible mark on music history—as one of the greatest songwriters and vocalists of all time.”

Prior to the agreement, Chris’ bandmates claimed that the seven songs they have with Chris were meant for a new Soundgarden album, which would be the band’s first since 2012 and King Animal. Vicky had offered the band some $21 million for the recordings, which they declined. But eventually, things began to thaw and the band regained control of their social media accounts and now have reached a reconciliation.

The agreement comes just weeks before the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is set to announce its 2023 class. Soundgarden is nominated for a second time, along with The White Stripes, Willie Nelson, and Missy Elliott.

Brandi Carlile

It may seem like no one could fill Chris Cornell’s shoes. And that may be true. His voice was other-worldly, capable of brooding low tones and shrieking, banshee screams.

But one person who wants to try to fill Chris’ shoes—or at least wear a pair with his face emblazoned on them—is multi-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. The artist, of course, is from the Pacific Northwest and, as a result, would approach the job with history, respect, and vocals that can coax a snake from its rattle. But will Carlile take over? It’s unclear.

Perhaps she will feature on one or two songs on the new album, along with the seven recorded with Chris. She’s already played live with the band at the iconic Gorge Amphitheater and cut a cover of “Black Hole Sun” with them.

The Members

The band’s remaining members—Shepherd, Cameron, and Thayil—are icons in Seattle.

Cameron, of course, is the current drummer for Pearl Jam. So, he stays busy with that legendary group. He’s also often seen around town working with up-and-coming acts. Thayil is also known for collaborating with local artists and performing in benefits in Seattle, while Shepherd is a co-owner of a delightful upscale cocktail spot, Hazlewood.

It’s of course a thrill for the members to get control of the group’s songs and social media and to do it amicably with Vicky. Now, they have the freedom to move forward. What the future holds is open to possibilities.

Photo by Lester Cohen / Gettyimages.com

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