Will There Ever Be A KIM THAYIL Solo Album? The SOUNDGARDEN Guitarist Responds
May 11, 2020
In a new interview with WFPK's Kyle Meredith, SOUNDGARDEN guitarist Kim Thayil was asked why he has never released a solo album during his time away from the band. He responded (hear audio below): "Probably a lot of reasons. I think at the time [of SOUNDGARDEN's original split], I was really fed up with a creative pursuit — you know, songwriting — turning into constant meetings with accountants and lawyers and managers and record company people; I just wasn't interested. When the band broke up, I was initially interested in going back and playing recreationally, which is what I was able to do — play recreationally. And I was really hesitant towards the idea of cobbing together a professional infrastructure. There were some holdbacks to it.
"When SOUNDGARDEN broke up in the late '90s, all the people we knew at A&M, eventually, a year or two later, A&M was bought," he continued. "Everyone we knew there was fired. And then the label was kind of subsumed into Universal. So we had no label; none of the people we worked with at the label were still there. Our manager, Susan Silver, who was our long-term manager and integral to the growth and success of SOUNDGARDEN and Chris's [Cornell, SOUNDGARDEN singer] solo career, she took time off and became a mother. So her management company ended up being a post office box and a voicemail. So there was no band, there was no record label, there was no management. And I thought, 'Fine with me.' I was kind of getting tired of accountants and lawyers and managers. I didn't wanna go and dig up management, I didn't wanna go call up the lawyers, I didn't wanna have to look for a label. So I just hung out with my friends and we played guitar and we recorded songs and riffs with the hopes that maybe someday it would be something. But I enjoyed playing recreationally and was resisting the professional thing, because there was just too much that had become discouraging about it. That's probably the main reason."
According to Kim, the "other reason" he didn't pursue a solo project after SOUNDGARDEN's initial split was that all of his musical ideas at that point would have sounded too close to his former band.
"Because so much of SOUNDGARDEN's sound is born of my aesthetic that anything I had done… We're a guitar band. I'm the guitarist. I wrote all the guitar parts and all the riffs in the original incarnations of the band," he explained. "Almost all the music was written by me, from '84 on, until… Hiro [Yamamoto, SOUNDGARDEN's founding bassist] wrote a lot too. And then Chris started writing more as he got more comfortable with playing guitar. And Matt [Cameron, drummer] came in, and Matt — same thing. He was learning guitar and writing songs and introducing stuff and bringing the drummer sensibility to things. But anything I would have done would have sounded like SOUNDGARDEN without the greatest singer in the world and the greatest drummer in the world. So, that was a little bit discouraging too. It's, like, why would I wanna do a B-grade SOUNGARDEN?"
Thayil went on to say that he is not planning to disappear from the music world this time around.
"After SOUNDGARDEN ended this time, I made a mental note, 'No, not this time. I'm not going to semi-retire,'" he said. "And, of course, I did a lot of work with the MC5 anniversary stuff. It's been a lot of fun and really encouraging to be on stage with those guys. But I have a different attitude now — more willing to deal with the side of the music business that had caused me to feel alienated from the creative process."
Chris Cornell was found hanged in his room at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel in May 2017, following a SOUNDGARDEN show at the city's Fox Theatre. His body was found soon after he had spoken with a "slurred" voice to his wife by phone. The death was ruled a suicide.
Last week, the surviving members of SOUNDGARDEN countersued Vicky Cornell and the Chris Cornell estate. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on Wednesday (May 6),accuses them of using revenue from a January 2019 Chris Cornell tribute concert for personal purposes for Vicky and her family.
The suit comes two months after the band asked a judge to dismiss Vicky Cornell's suit against them over possession of Chris Cornell's final recordings. Vicky claims "sole ownership" of the seven vocal tracks, which the band claims were meant for a SOUNDGARDEN album.