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Ben Shepherd

Ben Shepherd
Shepherd performing with Soundgarden in September 2013
Background information
Birth name Hunter Benedict Shepherd
Also known as HBS
Born (1968-09-20) September 20, 1968
Okinawa, Japan
Origin Seattle, Washington, United States
Genres Alternative metal, grunge, alternative rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Bass guitar, guitar, vocals, drums, mandolin
Years active 1980–present
Labels Sub Pop, A&M, Burn Burn Burn
Associated acts Soundgarden, Hater, Wellwater Conspiracy, The Desert Sessions, Mark Lanegan

Hunter Benedict "Ben" Shepherd (born September 20, 1968) is an American musician best known for playing bass in the rock band Soundgarden since 1990.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Musical career 2
    • Soundgarden (1990–1997) 2.1
    • Post-Soundgarden (1997–2010) 2.2
    • Soundgarden reunion (2010–present) 2.3
    • Solo project 2.4
  • Discography 3
    • HBS 3.1
    • 600 School 3.2
    • March of Crimes 3.3
    • Tic Dolly Row 3.4
    • Soundgarden 3.5
    • Hater 3.6
    • Wellwater Conspiracy 3.7
    • With Mark Lanegan 3.8
  • References 4

Early life

Shepherd was born on an American military base in Okinawa, Japan. His family moved to Texas, then settled in Kingston, Washington, where Shepherd grew up. Shepherd became interested in music after listening to Johnny Cash on television, sitting as close to the speakers as possible. When Shepherd asked his father for a guitar, his father complied only after insisting he must learn every chord in a large book with nothing but a guitar neck. Shepherd did such and his father bought him his first guitar. Shepherd played in numerous punk-rock bands with friends as a teenager like March of Crimes, Mind Circus and 600 School. After graduating from high school, he worked as a carpenter and a laborer and worked as a roadie for Nirvana while playing in Tic Dolly Row with Chad Channing. Shepherd eventually toured with Nirvana as the second guitar player leading up to the release of Nevermind. Nirvana decided not to continue with a second guitar player after Nevermind was released and Shepherd was asked to join Soundgarden shortly after.[2]

He first auditioned for the role of bassist in Soundgarden in 1989, immediately after Hiro Yamamoto left, but Jason Everman was hired as the band's new bassist for a brief period. Everman was fired after Soundgarden completed their promotional tour in mid-1990 and Shepherd was hired.

Musical career

Soundgarden (1990–1997)

In addition to his role as bass player, Shepherd's role as a singer and songwriter increased during his tenure with Soundgarden. On his first recording with the band, the studio album Badmotorfinger, Shepherd took part in writing the following songs: "Slaves & Bulldozers" (music, co-written), "Jesus Christ Pose" (music, co-written), "Face Pollution" (music), and "Somewhere" (music and lyrics).

In 1993, Shepherd and Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron formed a side-project band called Hater. Shepherd sang vocals and played guitar in Hater, in addition to writing several songs on the band's first release, a self-titled album. A second album called The 2nd was recorded in 1995 after Superunknown tour's end, but was not released until 2005, ten years later. During the lengthy hiatus, Shepherd found time to complete the tracks that would become The 2nd between his collaborations with Wellwater Conspiracy (another side-project with Matt Cameron and John McBain) and several other artists. Shepherd was the lead vocalist on the first Wellwater Conspiracy album, Declaration of Conformity.

In 1994, Soundgarden released Superunknown, which featured Shepherd compositions "Half" and "Head Down". "Head Down" was heavily influenced by The Beatles and was written in the tuning CGCGGE, a tuning Shepherd found one day after experimenting with mic placement on his Gibson L-50, picking up the guitar and strumming it to find he liked the wildly out of tune sound, making up the song's composition on the spot. "Half" was marked by an Indian flavor and was the first song on a Soundgarden album for which Shepherd sang lead vocals. Shepherd has said that "Half" was a song he wrote in case his daughter ever wanted to learn guitar.[3]

In 1996, Soundgarden released Down on the Upside, in which six of the sixteen album tracks were lyrically and/or musically composed by Shepherd. The tracks were: "Zero Chance" (music), "Dusty" (music), "Ty Cobb" (music), "Never Named" (music) "Switch Opens" (music) and "An Unkind" (music and lyrics). Shepherd once said he penned the music for "Never Named" at the age of sixteen. "Ty Cobb" was the first song Shepherd wrote that was made a single.

In 1997, soon after the release of Down on the Upside, the band broke up due to a clash of artistic differences between Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell.

Post-Soundgarden (1997–2010)

In late 1997, Shepherd was part of the first, now rare, Desert Sessions collaboration (Volumes 1 & 2), on which he played bass and guitar.

In 1998, he quit Wellwater Conspiracy for unknown reasons. Matt Cameron took over lead vocals.

In 1999, he played bass on Mark Lanegan's album I'll Take Care of You.

In 2001, he co-wrote the song "Blues For D"[4] on Mark Lanegan's album Field Songs. He was also one of the largest instrumental contributors on this album alongside Mike Johnson.

In 2005, Shepherd formed a new band, Unkmongoni (the band's name was what Tarzan used to yell to the animals to run and be free), but the band no longer appears to be together. In that same year, the second Hater album, The 2nd, was released.[1]

Shepherd has one daughter named Ione. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington and has a house on Bainbridge Island. Shepherd is also the partial owner of an upscale Seattle bar called Hazelwood.[5]

In 2008, following the sale of the warehouse Soundgarden's equipment was being stored in, Shepherd was robbed of all his equipment including guitars, basses, and amplifiers collected and used through Soundgarden's career and 2 records he had completed. Following the incident, a downtrodden Shepherd decided to quit music altogether and became a carpenter's assistant until he was eventually coerced into making his solo record In Deep Owl and reuniting with Soundgarden shortly thereafter.

In an August 2010 interview with Spin Magazine, Shepherd stated that he was "totally broke" and was sleeping on friends' couches.[6] Shepherd has since downplayed the statement.

Soundgarden reunion (2010–present)

On January 1, 2010, Chris Cornell confirmed that Soundgarden would reunite, with Shepherd playing as their bassist again. The band played its first show in 13 years on April 16, 2010 at Seattle's Showbox theater under the anagram Nudedragons.

The group released the compilation album Telephantasm in September 2010, followed by King Animal in November 2012, their first studio album since 1996. Shepherd wrote the music to the songs "Taree" and "Attrition", and co-wrote the songs "Been Away Too Long" and "Rowing" with Chris Cornell on the new album.

The band continues to tour frequently, arranging time around Matt Cameron's schedule in Pearl Jam, and Chris Cornell's acoustic tours. In 2014 the band released a reissue of their 1994 album Superunknown as part of its twentieth anniversary and has toured with drummer Matt Chamberlain filling in for Cameron.

Solo project

In the summer of 2010, Shepherd finished recording his latest solo project. He began writing the record in 2009. It started out as an acoustic project, before morphing into a very electrified concept album in the end. Shepherd originally intended for the songs to be just voice and acoustic guitar, but soon Adam Kasper and contains a recording of frog ribbits.[7]

On June 25, 2013, Shepherd announced he would be releasing the solo album entitled In Deep Owl on August 27, 2013 under the name HBS. Shepherd premiered the first single "Baron Robber" on Spin.[8] The drummer on "Baron Robber" is Joseph Braley who also drums for Seattle based band The Mother's Anger and the band Reignwolf.[9][10] Featured musicians include:



  • In Deep Owl (2013)

600 School

  • Live recording (circa 1982)

March of Crimes

  • Fairweather Friend demo (recorded circa 1984)

Tic Dolly Row

  • Live recording (1987)



Wellwater Conspiracy

With Mark Lanegan

Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Bass, Piano, Vocals, Lap Steel Guitar (Wrote track 10: "Blues for D") (2001)


  1. ^ a b Prince, David. "Soundgarden Reunion Planned for 2010". January 1, 2010.
  2. ^ "Soundgarden Bassist Ben Shepherd Reflects on Almost Joining Nirvana". SPIN. May 30, 2013. Retrieved 2015-05-11. 
  3. ^ "Soundgarden – Guitar Center Interviews". June 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  4. ^ "WebVoyage Record View 1". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  5. ^ Brian J. Barr. "Cop Makes Running a Bar Look Easier Than the Crossword". Seattle Weekly. 
  6. ^ Hudson, Alex. """Soundgarden Bassist Ben Shepherd Homeless and "Totally Broke. Exclaim. 
  7. ^ "Soundgarden's Ben Shepherd Makes Solo Debut With Raw-Rocking 'Baron Robber' | SPIN | Premieres". SPIN. June 25, 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  8. ^ Martin, Chris. "'"Soundgarden's Ben Shepherd Makes Solo Debut With Raw-Rocking 'Baron Robber. 
  9. ^ "Baron Robber by HBS (Ben Shepherd) on SoundCloud – Hear the world's sounds". Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  10. ^ [2]
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