Kim Thayill Turns Off Soundgarden From the Radio
Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil said he can't listen to his band on the radio, because he prefers to control when he hears the voice of late bandmate Chris Cornell.
He’s continued working on the group's archives, and also on Chris Cornell: An Artist's Legacy, which comes out tomorrow and aims to celebrate the achievements of the singer, who took his own life in May 2017.
Asked if it was hard to listen to Cornell singing, Thayil told Billboard, “I love the way he sings – but, yes, I turn the radio off when one of our songs comes on. I love our songs. I love our material, but I don't need to have the music presented to me. I can choose to listen to it on my own, any time I want to. But if it's presented to me and I haven't asked for it, I'll turn it off.”
He admitted he had struggled to write the liner notes for the new release. “I’ve written some stuff for Soundgarden, but this one asked more of me, and it was very difficult,” he said. “It took a long period of time. I had to understand an angle that wouldn't be that demanding of me emotionally but told some story. But it couldn't be dry and simply a stating of instances and facts and events. It had to have some context. It was very tough to try and do that.
"A number of times I almost gave up and was like, ‘I can't do this … .’ But I found a way to talk about it. [Label executive] Jeff Fura pushed me – he said, ‘You can do this. No one else is going to know this story, going back to the beginning and putting some context in it.’ I still have stuff I'll save for perhaps a future book or something, but I'm happy with what I shared for this.”
Thayil said he had not learned much new about Cornell while working on the compilation, but he noted that “seeing Chris perform in other contexts gave me a better understanding of his work with us. Sometimes you appreciate things better when they're gone. … And ultimately the solo work he did, acoustically, gave me the best insight in the contributions he made to Soundgarden by seeing him play those songs solo, with just an acoustic guitar. I got a better understanding for the quality of his voice and his interpretive inflection with the material, which maybe when you're younger is a little more awkward. Chris was ultimately able to express his majority on his solo acoustic tours, which allowed us to contextualize his voice and how we hear it when he played with us.”
He repeated his assertion that he wasn’t interested in the band continuing in any form. “It's not likely that we could ever do Soundgarden without a missing piece," he said. "I'd like to do more with Matt [Cameron] in the future. I'd like to do something with Ben [Shepherd] in the future. It's likely Matt and Ben and I will do something in the future – it just probably won't be Soundgarden. I don't see the dignity in pursuing that course.”