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August 28, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Soundgarden and NIN: a hard-rock power tour 20 years in the making | Concert preview

The Soundgarden tour is getting a boost with the rerelease of the 1994 “Superunknown,” the band’s most successful album — and a top album of the grunge era. The doubleheader also features Nine Inch Nails. (The Seattle Times, 2012)

The Soundgarden tour is getting a boost with the rerelease of the 1994 “Superunknown,” the band’s most successful album — and a top album of the grunge era. The doubleheader also features Nine Inch Nails. (The Seattle Times, 2012)

More than 20 years ago, Soundgarden was booked to do its first tour with Nine Inch Nails (NIN).

But the doubleheader, featuring two of the most powerful hard-rock bands of the ’90s, never happened.

“We were originally going to tour with Nine Inch Nails in 1994 after ‘Superunknown’ came out,” guitarist Kim Thayil said recently during tour rehearsals at Seattle’s Studio X. “But we kind of cut our tour cycle short for various reasons. I think the reason we gave was that Chris (Cornell) hurt his voice, and we had to cancel some shows in Canada and he had to go to a doctor and take some (vocal) training again. So we nixed the tour.”

Now, two decades later, Soundgarden is finally on the road with NIN. The trek is getting a boost from the 20th-anniversary re-release of “Superunknown,” the band’s most successful album — and a top album of the grunge era. (The band is also playing in the pre-game festivities at the Seahawks season opener Thursday, Sept. 4, with Pharrell Williams and Ariana Grande. The concert, held outside CenturyLink Field, begins at 4:30 p.m.)

Recorded at Seattle’s Bad Animals studio with producer Michael Beinhorn, “Superunknown” was a commercial breakthrough that debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. The album has since been certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.

The band and its label celebrated the recent “Superunknown” anniversary with two reissues: a two-CD Deluxe Edition including the remastered album as well as a second album of demos, rehearsal tracks, B-sides and other outtakes; and a five-CD Super Deluxe Edition featuring remastered album, additional demos, B-sides and rehearsal tracks. The fifth disc is a Blu-ray Audio 5.1 Surround Sound edition offering an extraordinary listening experience.

“The label was really interested in it from the day we got back together,” Thayil said, referring to band’s 2010 reunion. “It just made sense.”

Riding the momentum of the repackaged “Superunknown,” Soundgarden is in its second month of concert dates with NIN, a band that complements the Seattle band’s intense firepower. The two rock powerhouses feature charismatic frontmen in Cornell and NIN’s Trent Reznor.

NIN, a pioneer of industrial music, has also had a significant influence on the development of electronic music. The Grammy-winning band has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and recorded such rock hits as “The Hand That Feeds,” “Only,” “Every Day Is Exactly the Same” and “Survivalism.”

Soundgarden, beloved by hard-rock fans for its searing intensity, is among Seattle’s biggest rock bands of the last 30 years. The summer set list includes songs from “Superunknown,” as well as “Screaming Life,” “Ultramega OK,” “Louder Than Love,” “Badmotorfinger,” “Down On the Upside” and “King Animal,” released in 2012.

But the timing of Soundgarden’s first joint tour with NIN is almost coincidental, Thayil said. The band wasn’t directly involved in planning the summer trek. Cornell didn’t sit down with Reznor to hammer out a tour plan.

“So it’s very interesting to be touring with them finally,” he said.

Saturday, Aug. 30, at White River Amphitheatre; $39.50-$99.50 (800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com)

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

Comments | Topics: Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, White River Amphitheatre

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