It's hard to believe, but Soundgarden's alt-rock masterpiece Superunknown is now almost at legal drinking age. And to celebrate the 20th anniversary reissue of their most famous LP, the quartet dropped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform a pair of tracks ("Spoonman" and "My Wave") and sit down for a quick backstage chat.
For "Spoonman," the band was joined by Roots percussionist Frank Knuckles, who added rhythmic punctuation to their enveloping drop-D riffs and Matt Cameron's booming toms. Frontman Chris Cornell does strain a bit for the chorus high notes, but the added gruffness is also a nice touch. "My Wave" is even more impressive, with Cornell and Kim Thayil layering their guitars into psychedelic webs of sound.
As a web exclusive, the band reminisced about the last-minute writing process of "My Wave." Cornell says the track came together as a spontaneous rehearsal jam and was one of the last songs (if not the last) written for Superunknown. "It was the end of a rehearsal," he says. "We were about to leave, and it's almost like we were about to grab our car keys, and I just started playing the riff. Everybody just started immediately playing. . . the song." They also discuss the creative thought process behind a forgotten Soundgarden staple, "The Star Stangled Banner." (The "bombs bursting in air" part was originally "balloons bursting in air" since they originally envisioned it as a "party song.")
Soundgarden recently played a rousing New York gig, with Cornell's godlike voice taking center stage. The band will embark on a proper tour with Nine Inch Nails starting July 19th at Las Vegas' Planet Hollywood.
When asked in a recent interview with Rolling Stone if the band would play the album front-to-back on the upcoming tour, Cornell replied, "Well, we're still considering it. There are a couple more shows where we will play the whole thing. Really, we could choose to do that at any one of these Nine Inch Nails dates at any time – or the whole thing. You never know [laughs]."