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Soundgarden returns with album, tour


What was to become of Soundgarden's legacy?

After more than a decade dormant, the Seattle rockers, who first emerged during the grunge heyday of the early 1990s, re-formed in 2010. First there was a new track, then a few shows. Now, Soundgarden is embarking on a full-on tour in support of its new album, "King Animal."

"The beginning of it really was an issue of generational concern that all of a sudden it became apparent that if you want your musical legacy to continue to be recognized, you have to do something, whatever it is," said frontman Chris Cornell. "No one was doing anything."

Soundgarden performs Friday at DAR Constitution Hall.

Where: DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D St. NW
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Info: $57.50; dar.org/conthall

The spark to re-form the band, which includes guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron, originated when a friend couldn't find a Soundgarden T-shirt to purchase.

"What can we do to draw attention to our musical legacy?" Cornell asked. "What that created was an opportunity for us, as simple as it sounds, to just be in the same room with each other. Once we were in the same room with each other and talking and just telling old stories and laughing, it was very comfortable."

Soundgarden's first album of original material since 1996 dropped in November. "King Animal" features energy, riffs and nuances that are familiar to longtime fans of the band, beginning with the opening track and first single "Been Away Too Long."

Cornell said that while fronting Audioslave and working on his solo career, he avoided making music that sounded like Soundgarden. In creating "King Animal," Cornell said the band turned its attention to being what the group is as a collective.

"We've made a lot of music together and we made several records, and then we had 15 years off," Cornell said. "I avoided as much as I absolutely could writing any music that would remind me of Soundgarden. The one thing I knew I didn't want to do when we split up in' 97 was come out with a sort of Soundgarden-ish-sounding anything. I felt that was a really bad idea."

In re-forming Soundgarden, Cornell said the biggest difference is that rehearsals are longer.

"It's funny at this point in our lives where you would think we all have interests that would be distracting and having children and a family, we're almost more focused," Cornell said. "Maybe it's kind of an appreciation of having back something that was gone for a long time."