KIM THAYIL On SOUNDGARDEN Reunion: 'No One Needed Money And Everyone's Doing Fine'

Steven Rosen of recently conducted an interview with guitarist Kim Thayil of reunited grunge legends SOUNDGARDEN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. In 1994 you released "Superunknown" and had huge success and then broke up two years later. What happened?

Kim Thayil: I think maybe just getting burned out. Every individual has different paces that they can deal with their daily life in the world and the band is an entirely different pace. We just had a number one album and the Grammy Awards and there was a lot more demand and that command just doesn't come from the industry. It comes from girlfriends, wives, friends, family and it comes from the strangers in the grocery store and from record company and management. "We have these opportunities and this door is open. Let's go through it. We don't have to walk through every damn door that's open but it's a wasted opportunity." We said, "Ahh, it will come again" and they said, "It may not be offered again" and those kinds of things. There was a lot of pressure on the band?

Kim Thayil: It's like many decisions need to be made and many opportunities and you don't have to do every opportunity but some people have a hard time saying no and some people have a hard time saying yes. After a while you just want to slow the whole damn thing down. What we probably should have done is taken an extended break and put the band on a shelf and just go and do some other stuff. Put everything at a pace and a schedule that was more under our control like it had always been. It now seemed to me that the band's career was somehow somewhere else and we weren't driving the car anymore-we were in the passenger seat. You didn't feel like you had any control?

Kim Thayil: That's because of all the demands and expectations. The record company wasn't being unfair and A&M was really cool to us. They rarely tried to make us do anything we didn't want to do. But between their advice was and the advice of management and the differing degrees of ambition within the band, how do you manage a collective career and a partnership like that? At this point was there any talk of doing a record down the road?

Kim Thayil: That talk did occur but not then and not at that point. Sometime after we did Lollapalooza in Chicago at the end of the summer it was Matt who said, "Hey guys, I have some riffs and some songs. I have free time in November and I'd like to go in the studio if you guys have time to come to the studio. I've got some riffs I'd like to have you guys learn." Obviously he had these musical ideas he thought maybe weren't appropriate for PEARL JAM and he thought, "Oh, I'd love to hear what SOUNDGARDEN could do with these." And that's what we did. We went in there and learned his songs and learned the ideas and introduced other ideas consequently over the next few days. It was pretty clear around then we were going to continue writing and look at booking studio time to work on a new record. That spark was still there?

Kim Thayil: If we failed to successfully prestidigitate to the point where we create an illusion to fool ourselves, yeah, we wouldn't have done it. There would have been no reason and I wouldn't want to waste my time for two years. We didn't know it would take that long. We thought maybe we'd do it in under a year but because of other commitments that other bandmembers had it kind of took a little bit longer to finish it. I wouldn't have committed to that if it wasn't fun and enjoyable. That was a dumb question.

Kim Thayil: No, it's not a dumb question because there are many people who commit to doing that kind of thing for some reason. Maybe they need to pay the property tax on their estate in Hawaii. I only have one house and I don't have any financial problems. I don't think Matt has any financial problems — he plays in one of the biggest bands in the world, PEARL JAM. I've read stupid reviews that say, "Oh, this is obviously a cash grab. That's why they made this record." Fans really felt like you were just cashing in?

Kim Thayil: It's like, "Sure, because there's a huge market for live albums and greatest-hits records." I think our attendance was really to our legacy and catalog. No one needed money and everyone's doing fine. No one expected the record industry, which is at a third of what it used to be when we were together, we didn't think that was going to carry us anywhere financially. But it was up to ourselves to enjoy that. What people sometimes forget and they need to focus on is, believe it or not, there are four human beings that have to see value in a relationship with each other. I mean, you know how difficult it is for two people to manage a relationship and we all know that even in the context of a civil and legal commitment, they still fail. Just imagine a partnership with four guys who are involved in something that's very emotional and sensitive like songwriting and musicianship where you're sharing of yourself. When you have that sharing and you feel it's not being embraced or if you feel that maybe you're feeling rejected, well, that's a tough thing to manage with two people. With four people in the band, granted, we're not fucking each other — we're just fucking with each other. Still we gotta make sure the love is there and it was, and so that's a good thing.

Read the entire interview from


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