Temple of the Dog
the Seattle supergroup featuring Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Mike McCready, and drummer Matt Cameron (who plays drums with both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam) — has reunited and will tour for the first time ever since forming in 1990.
The tour marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Temple of the Dog’s first and only album, a self-titled set that was released by A&M Records on April 16th, 1991. “We wanted to do the one thing we never got to do … play shows and see what it feels like to be the band that we walked away from 25 years ago,” Cornell says of the 2016 tour.
Temple of the Dog came together from the ashes of Mother Love Bone following the death from a drug overdose of its frontman Andrew Wood, Cornell’s close friend and roommate. Cornell wrote future TOTD songs “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Reach Down” to help process his grief, “but the songs didn’t have any destination,” he says. “I was compelled to write them and there they were – written in a vacuum as a tribute to Andy. My thought was that maybe I could record these songs with the remaining members of Mother Love Bone and that maybe we could release them as a tribute.”
Mother Love Bone’s Gossard and Ament began playing with McCready, and they brought in Soundgarden’s Cameron to drum on demos. Because this was a collaboration, and a tribute, there was no commercial expectation for the Temple of the Dog album. It would be, Gossard would later observe, “the easiest and most beautiful record that we’ve ever been involved with.” Adds Cornell: “Temple was about making an album simply for the joy of doing it. We weren’t concerned what anyone outside of our group of friends would think of it. It was the first and maybe only stress-free album that we all made.”
Gossard, Ament, and McCready were also simultaneously forming a new band, which more than six months later would be known as Pearl Jam. A singer from San Diego named Eddie Vedder, who was vying to lead the project, came into the studio to sing background vocals on three of the Temple songs. When Cornell thought another song, “Hunger Strike,” needed a duet, Vedder was enlisted. “Hunger Strike” became a hit single, peaking at No. 4 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Temple of the Dog performed live only a handful of times, most notably in Seattle, in November and December of 1990. Those shows have become some of the most legendary Seattle concerts of all-time. Their 2016 shows mark the first time the band has ever toured. (Cornell joined Pearl Jam in 2014 at the Bridge School show and for two nights at PJ20 in Alpine Valley, WI, and the Temple line-up played “Reach Down” and “Call Me a Dog” at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall in January 2015.)
“This is something no one has ever seen,” Cornell says of the official reunion. “We wanted to stop and recognize that we did this and pay homage.”