Soundgarden disbanded in April of 1997 after the politics of the music business and rigorous touring made the band resent their own success enough to unplug from the machine. Frontman Chris Cornell went on to release the solo album ‘Euphoria Morning’ in 1999 before reluctantly joining the band members of Rage Against the Machine in Audioslave at the urging of mega-producer Rick Rubin — three albums later he left the band to continue his solo career. Drummer Matt Cameron stepped behind the kit for Pearl Jam in 1998 (a seat he still occupies), while guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Ben Shepherd kept a lower profile doing guest spots from time to time.
What started as the band’s efforts to increase their web presence and release old B-Sides and live material turned into a full-on reunion. They tested the waters by headlining Lollapalooza in 2010, released ‘Telephantasm’ — a sort of greatest hits with the addition of the previously unfinished track ‘Black Rain’ — as well as their first ever live album ‘Live on I-5,’ and embarked on a brief summer tour in 2011. That momentum steam-rolled into Soundgarden recording a brand new album, which they announced in February 2011 by saying:
“Over the past few months, we’ve been busy jamming, writing and hanging out together – exploring the creative aspect of being Soundgarden. It feels great. We have some cool new songs that we are going to record very soon. Thank you for all of the support! Loudest Love, Ben, Chris, Kim and Matt”
The band missed the initial goal of a fall 2011 release, but — as Cornell has stressed in several interviews — they know that it’s important not to force the album and would release it when they felt it was done. In November, Cornell told Billboard that they had just a couple of songs to finish and then would move on to mixing the album — both of which would happen over the holidays.