The impact of Soundgarden on the Seattle grunge scene is undeniable. They were one of the pioneers of the movement, along with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and their music helped to define the sound of grunge and influenced generations of musicians. Despite most casual alternative rock fans associating Soundgarden's name with their landmark album Superunknown, the band released three albums before that, with 1991's Badmotorfinger bringing them to a new level of commercial success.
In the spring of 1992, Soundgarden went on a headlining tour of North America to promote the record, and one of the tour's opening acts was Monster Magnet, which had been founded by Dave Wyndorf only two years earlier and was practically unknown to the masses. Turns out the Monster Magnet singer/guitarist ended up offering Soundgarden's frontman Chris Cornell some valuable advice, as described in Greg Prato's book Dark Black and Blue: The Soundgarden Story. Wyndorf recalled that Cornell was self-conscious about his stage presence and felt like he was being compared to other rock frontmen, such as Robert Plant.
"What I remember was Chris was like a messianic frontman. Like, old school. Although he was doing it… not with a nod and a wink, but he was almost doing it begrudgingly. He was doing it athletically. He was like a 'shirt's off guy.' And that's why I couldn't believe he would come and complain about, 'Oh…these people look at me like I'm some sort of Robert Plant or something.' And I remember going, 'Well dude, why don't you put your fuckin' shirt on? You're sending out signals here!' When you go out with a mic in your hand and you look at the ceiling with your shirt off, you look like you're trying to be Robert Plant. They didn't get it. But I think he was trying to play with it."
Wyndorf advised Cornell that he should just "eat it up" and enjoy his success, as people didn't care as much as Cornell thought they did and that the smart people would be able to tell that he was having fun.
"All I know is I remember having a conversation with him once — he was a super-nice guy — and he was talking about that. And I was like, 'Just fuckin' eat it up. Are you crazy? If I looked like you and sounded like you…I'd already have platforms built! Nobody cares as much as you think they do. They want you like that. They don't mind. And the smart people will find out you're having fun, the dumb people and the people who think they're smart will go with the current press, which was like, 'Fuck you if you make any money or if you have fun'."
Wyndorf also evoked what it was like to see Soundgarden live at the time, saying the band was at the peak of their performance powers and that Cornell looked like "Jesus Christ", with crowds being very receptive to Cornell, and that he would stage-dive every night.
"Ben [Shepherd, Soundgarden's bassist] was a maniac — he was like Spiderman on stage, jumping around, and he would drag his bass on the ground. And Chris just looked like a million bucks, and he would stage-dive every night. The crowd was the most giving to a singer I've probably ever seen — they would float him around the crowd to the back of these theaters, up and down stairs. And he really looked like Jesus Christ. I was like, 'This is amazing.' And he sounded fantastic. And Kim [Thayil, guitarist] was just doing his thing, just flying. And Matt [Cameron, drummer] is one of the best drummers I think I've ever seen. So, it was all there. It was real rock. They were going for it."