Temple Of The Dog Biography
Last updated: 10/10/2013 08:11:15 AM
I want to show you something, like joy inside my heart
Seems I been living in the Temple Of The Dog
Where would I live if I were a man of golden words
Or would I live at all
Words and music - my only tools
- Andy Wood, "Man of Golden Words"
Temple Of The Dog. The project is almost legend now in the histories of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, and the name inspires respect and a kind of awe from fans of both those bands. It's also been a project to which many misconceptions and misunderstandings are attached; how, who, and when will there be another album, another reunion. Most of us came on board after the fact, when Temple had already become a commodity. Lots of us came on board much later, and only know the legend.
Temple was a labor of love, a tribute to a dead friend, an outgrowth of the mourning process. It wasn't intended to be the commodity that it was later forced to become. This is an exploration of the project's genesis, motivation and creation, as well as its aftermath.
The story begins with aspiring "Freddie [Mercury] prodigy," Andrew Wood. People give Stone and Jeff shit about wanting to be rock stars, selling out, the usual bullshit. Those people obviously never knew anything about Andy Wood. The saying is that Andy always played to the balcony, even if there were only 10 people in the room. His idols were Freddie Mercury of Queen and Marc Bolan of T.Rex, and Andy seemed to be one of those people destined for stardom.
"L'andrew, mythical love child from Olympus, now resides in Seattle where he fronts a band called Malfunkshun..." - from early Malfunkshun show posters
The Seattle music scene has a reputation for being incestuous. There's a good reason for that: it is. Everyone either ends up playing or working with everyone else. Andrew's first real project, Malfunkshun, included his brother Kevin, as well as fellow Bainbridge Island neighbor Regan Hagar (later of Satchel and Brad).
At the same time, the infamous Green River was at its peak. For those not keeping a scorecard, Green River consisted of Mark Arm and Steve Turner, who would later go on to form Mudhoney, and Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, who, well, you know. Bruce Fairweather, a bandmate of Jeff's from his metal project Deranged Diction, also joined to replace Steve Turner. Stone, funk denizen that he is, often jammed with Andy and Malfunkshun. Jeff used to work with Andy at the same day job. Green River breaks up, Malfunkshun packs it in, and the three of them (plus Bruce Fairweather) get together to form their own project, Mother Love Bone.
From the start, Mother Love Bone thought big time. Wanted to be big time. They wanted to be rock stars, and their dedication paid off in the form of a record contract with Polygram, signed by Michael Goldstone, who would later bring Pearl Jam to Epic Records. "We wrote more songs and dreamed big dreams," says Jeff Ament in the Mother Love Bone compilation liner notes. They recorded the Shine EP in November of 1988, and the record was released a few months later, in March of 1989. The project toured, received critical acclaim (and critical bashing).
Mother Love Bone spent the summer and fall of 1989 recording their first album, Apple. It was during this time that the band realized that Andy's struggle with his demons was a serious one. He was persuaded to enter a rehab program, and completed it successfully. Shortly afterwards, the band played The Rocket's (Seattle's local music paper) 10th anniversary party in late December, and by all accounts were the stars of the show. Mother Love Bone was, by anyone's reckoning, on the verge of making it big, of achieving all the dreams its members had for years.
Then disaster struck. Two weeks before Apple was due to be released, Andy Wood was found comatose in his apartment, the result of a heroin overdose. He remained in a coma for several days, and never recovered. Andy Wood died on March 19, 1990.
His death hit the Seattle music scene hard; very hard. Not only for his bandmates, but for his friends, his coworkers, his housemates, one of which was Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. Trying to find an outlet for his enormous grief, Chris penned a few songs in tribute to Andy, which were "Reach Down" and "Say Hello 2 Heaven." He decided to ask Stone and Jeff, Andy's friends and bandmates, if they'd like to record them, for a possible single release. At the time, Soundgarden had yet to become superstars, and Stone and Jeff were just beginning the painful work of putting a new vehicle together, following the untimely demise of Mother Love Bone. Chris recruited his Soundgarden compatriot Matt Cameron, who coincidentally at that time was working with Gossard, Ament and a new co-conspirator, one Mike McCready.
"It was initially my idea because of a couple of songs I recorded," Chris [Cornell] explains, "but the idea was mainly to do a single as opposed to a whole record. And the thing was, the rest of the guys in Temple, they sort of thought, well, maybe we should make it a little bit longer project, like an EP or something. The more we talked about it, the more songs kept flying out, and it ended up being an album. It didn't feel like a morose project. It felt sort of celebratory." - Reflex magazine, 12/91
The sessions grew into the Temple Of The Dog project. Not all of the songs were directly about Andy; however, they didn't fit into the Soundgarden format, and the "Gossman Project," as it was allegedly called, was strictly experimental at that time. Stone, Mike, Jeff and Matt had recorded some demos together, with the two projects occasionally crossing borders, as demonstrated by the shared relationship between Temple Of The Dog's "Times of Trouble" and Pearl Jam's "Footsteps." ("Times of Trouble" ended up on the demo tape that the project was circulating to potential members.) They were still recruiting members, and during the sessions they ended up auditioning a potential frontman: San Diego surfer boy Eddie Vedder, who first arrived in Seattle in the fall of 1990. The Temple Of The Dog album was recorded during the late fall and winter of 1990; Ament, Gossard and McCready would work with Chris at night, then jam with Eddie in the newly-christened Mookie Blaylock in the afternoons.
The album was released in April 1991, and initial sales were modest at best. The band members were still largely unknowns beyond the Seattle music scene, and no one really expected more to happen with the project than that. The band played one official, full show (as verified by Matt Cameron), at the Off Ramp Café, on November 13, 1990. (Eddie wasn't there; our reckoning is that he had gone back to San Diego to pack his things up and drive back to Seattle.)
Then, in the spring of 1991, Soundgarden entered the studio to begin recording what would become the legendary Badmotorfinger. Pearl Jam were in the studio around the same time, recording their debut album, Ten (equally legendary, of course). The albums were released, the respective bands exploded, and suddenly the media and the fans were desperately hungry for more (pardon the pun). A&M saw the opportunity and struck while the iron was hot, rereleasing and actively promoting Temple Of The Dog to an audience who didn't and couldn't possibly understand the project's spirit and origins. New fans couldn't understand why Eddie was relegated to the shadows in the "Hunger Strike" video, or why he didn't sing on more of the songs. Others were angry at the attention Eddie seemed to be receiving, and didn't understand that he'd been invited to join the project, not that he forced his way in, or was put there by the manipulations of the record company.
Despite the confusion, there were two more semi-reunions for Temple Of The Dog, one in October 1991, at the Foundations Forum showcase (which Pearl Jam and Soundgarden both attended), and another at the last Lollapalooza show of the '92 tour. The first was planned, the second one purely organic, as a result of extremely high energy at the end of an amazing tour. Additionally, rumors flew thick and heavy that there would be another reunion at the end of the 1996 Lollapalooza, and apparently the management of both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden are continually inundated with offers and requests for charity appearances and the like. There's also regular unattributed reports of a second Temple album.
What none of these people understand, and as much as I, or you, or any of us, would kill to see these two bands combine forces again, is the fact that Temple Of The Dog grew out of love, and emotion, and grief, and that it just can't happen again. None of us can personally understand what Chris, Stone and Jeff went through at the loss of their friend, and it's wrong for us to ask them to turn it on and off and treat it as a commodity. Instead, what we can and should do is enjoy, appreciate and respect the fact that they chose to share their grief with us in the best way they knew how: making music.
Mother Love Bone gained some exposure in 1992 when the track "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" was featured on the Singles movie soundtrack. The Malfunkshun project never saw the light of day, until Stone Gossard and Regan Hagar's Loosegroove Records released the album "Welcome To Olympus" a few years back. The Shine EP and Apple are out of print and have become highly-sought (and rather pricey) collector's items; however, there is a compliation of those projects, simply entitled Mother Love Bone that is readily available.
Bruce Fairweather went on to join various Seattle projects, the best-known of whom is Love Battery; Greg Gilmore has had a few lesser-known projects as well.
In June of 1997, a director by the name of Scott Barbour was in Seattle, interviewing Chris Cornell and Stone Gossard for a forthcoming documentary on Andy Wood. The OK Hotel, venue for the very first Mother Love Bone show, hosted a night of music filmed for the documentary; among the bands appearing were Macaw, a new project for Ben Shepherd, formerly of Soundgarden, and Devilhead, which features Andy's brothers Brian and Kevin Wood.
The music, connections, love and friendships that were the foundations for Mother Love Bone and Temple Of The Dog continue.