The Disillusionment That Encouraged Chris Cornell To Form Soundgarden

The grunge movement of the early ’90s brought many prominent names to the rock scene. One of them was Soundgarden. When three ambitious teenagers infused with the spirit of Seattle’s music scene crossed paths, they knew exactly what they wanted to do.

At the time, the spirit of counterculture and nonconformity gripped the youth in Seattle. Grunge emerged as a musical expression of this rebellious spirit. That’s precisely how Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, and Hiro Yamamoto had felt while forming a new band.

They had engaged with the music in various ways before, but one piece just didn’t fit. They would fill that missing piece with Soundgarden and write their names in music history as one of the four horsemen of the genre. In a 2006 interview, Chris Cornell shared the story behind their big entrance to the grunge scene.

“You know, at the time that Soundgarden first started, it was just three of us,” the musician replied when asked about their ambition while starting Soundgarden. “It was me and Kim Thayil on guitar and Hiro Yamamoto on bass, who had become my roommate. And he played bass, and I played drums at the time. And because we lived together, we thought, well, we’re a rhythm section; let’s start a band.”

Cornell continued, “And I had been in several bar bands at the time from about 17 to then, I think, I was 20. And I had this idea or this ambition that if I were a fantastic drummer and just focused on what I did was very great, that some fantastic band that wrote great songs would knock on my door and say, ‘Come be in my band.’”

Before starting Soundgarden, he knew the music style he wanted to make. The late frontman noted, “And, I had this image of some band like U2 at the time, you know, which was they had put out, I think, three records. And I thought that this is what I’ll be and this is what I want to do. And I was in several bands, and it was just one bad band after another. No one was writing songs I liked. It wasn’t music that I liked, really.”

The fact that he could not just conform to the already existing music scene was the primary motivation that gave life to Soundgarden. Chris explained, “And I came to the conclusion, I think, at the same time as Kim and Hiro, that if you want a band where you’re playing music that you love, you just pretty much have to start it yourself. And we did that.”

The singer added, “And I started playing guitar right at the same time. [I] picked up the instrument strictly just to write songs on it. [I] knew nothing about the instrument, I just started writing songs immediately. And we wrote 15 songs, I think, in a couple of weeks and became a band that way and did it. We were then a band playing music that we liked.”

The band members fulfilled all their ambitions one by one with their unique music, genius lyrics, and distinctive sound. Soundgarden still maintains its relevancy even after many years and continues to inspire a whole new generation with its nonconformist spirit.