Guitar Magazine: Ben Shepherd

None Dare Call It Soundgarden
by Tom Gogola

“My name is Zeb. Ben Shepherd doesn’t exist on this album, and that’s the way it should be. People should hear it for what it is, and not for who is playing on it.”

That’s Ben Shepherd, bassist for the now-defunct Soundgarden, doing a slow-burn about being outed by Guitar World as the singer on Declaration of Conformity (Third Gear), the debut album by Wellwater Conspiracy. With Soundgarden cohort Matt Cameron playing guitar on a Syd Barrett cover and contributing vocals on a few other tracks, this psychedelic meltdown is the first post-breakup release by any of the Soundgarden members.

The Conspiracy came together when former Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain asked Shepherd and Cameron to perform on some tracks he’d written. “The thing about John’s songs that I liked,” says Shepherd, “is that I hear the melodies immediately. I don’t like any of my singing, but most people don’t like what they do, anyway.”

But Shepherd clearly enjoyed being in Soundgarden, one of the most successful bands of the grunge decade. What’s life like now for him?

“I usually don’t answer my phone anymore, and nobody’s called, anyway. I’m trying not to plan anything for the time being. I’m not glad, or sad, or anything. It’s all hollow. I’m going to rewire my house so it doesn’t burn down, then set up a studio so I don’t have to leave except to get the newspaper. I’m a grump.”