The Irish Times recently conducted an interview with bassist Ben Shepherd of reunited grunge legends SOUNDGARDEN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.On whether he expected "Badmotorfinger" to be as successful as it was: Ben: "I think it was successful on our end, I don't know about fanfare or anything. I remember being chided because it was supposed to come out in September  — the day NIRVANA's 'Nevermind' came out — and all my Seattle friends were like: 'God, you guys are dicks. Your album is out the same date as NIRVANA.' But the cover was messed up so we postponed it and put it out later. In comparison to other albums, it was a success for us. It was fun as hell to make. It was my first venture into the band and becoming part of the band." On why he thinks Johnny Cash chose to cover SOUNDGARDEN's "Rusty Cage": Ben: "Probably because they're bad-ass, truthful, lyrics. Chris [Cornell, SOUNDGARDEN singer] is a great writer and Johnny could probably relate to that. Johnny always talked about, if you read his books, how a singer has to sound like they're telling the truth. It's all about the truth. If you mean it then it sounds right. If you don't mean it it's a schlock thing (and)you tell it a mile away." On going through some difficult times after SOUNDGARDEN's breakup in the late 1990s: Ben: "Not only did SOUNDGARDEN break up, HATER [Shepherd's side-project band] broke up and my personal life fell apart all at once. I was totally gutted and cut adrift, basically. I never got back on my feet enough to actually, you know, do the music industry thing. All my connections were gone in the fog. That's not pushing the blame somewhere else — I fully accept the blame for myself not doing what I needed to do. I was just kinda floating." On SOUNDGARDEN's reformation in 2010: Ben: "It was some tweet that Chris sent about reforming the fan club — not the band reforming — and everbody ran with that! So we just let them run with it — and we ended up reunited! I remember that New Year's Night or New Year's Eve, right then I was finishing my solo record. Two days before that [when the band announced it was to reform] I told everyone in the studio that: 'Now I'll never be in another band again — I was in a band once — that was a real band!' On whether it was hard finding that SOUNDGARDEN sound again after all these years: Ben: "There is a natural chemistry. The influences we have outside the band are filtered because we play to each other in the band. I can't wait for Kim [Thayil] or Matt [Cameron] or Chris to hear a song I write and I cannot wait to hear their songs. Collaborating has always been really cool. We always just bounce ideas off each other." On what it was like going back into the studio with SOUNDGARDEN: Ben: "There were some structural things that we had to work out. 'Non-State Actor' was way over-composed I guess, or way over-organized. I didn't like how it turned out but now when we play it live it makes sense. I probably had too many parts and I kept trying to chop parts and change parts and everybody else did to. They're the things you iron out before you get into the studio usually but there were a few songs we hadn't even done pre-production on. On whether there are any plans for SOUNDGARDEN to return to the studio: Ben: "God, I hope so because we've got a lot more songs to go — I know we do! But, I don't know if we've toured off 'King Animal' enough. It's a trip for me that we have not played Europe on the 'King Animal' tour yet." Read the entire interview at The Irish Times.
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