In a new interview with WTF, Chris Cornell has revealed that people used to go to Soundgarden shows to laugh at them, because they thought they were a hippie band:
"We would open up for a band that was kind of heavy, like say we played a show with Husker Du one time. If you didn't know who Soundgarden was, you would think we were some sort of green on red kind of neo-psychedelic, alternative R.E.M. thing."
As Cornell notes (via Classic Rock), the misleading name was a blessing for the band, as it allowed them to blow people away with their heaviness:
"And then we would come out and be Soundgarden and they would go 'holy f--k. So people would love us because of that.
"I think the guys from the Screaming Trees had that experience with us. They actually came to our show to laugh at us, because of the name Soundgarden I guess.
"I got that a lot... 'I thought you guys were gonna be this psychedelic thing'. And they would like us more than they otherwise would have because they were pleasantly surprised."