Kim Thayil Says Despite Speculation Around Final Soundgarden Gig, ‘It Was a Good Show’
In a new interview, Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil denies that there was anything noticeably wrong with Chris Cornell the night of their final concert last May in Detroit, Mich. The frontman died at his hotel afterward; the medical examiner ruled that it was a suicide.
"I thought the show was good," Thayil said. "I remember Chris had just gotten in (to town) and was a little tired and his voice was a little rough, but by about the fourth or fifth song it kicked in and then it was just, like, super amazing - beautiful, clear and strong and, I thought, particularly emotive," Thayil tells Billboard. The guitarist adds that at one point Cornell's guitar went out of tune and a backup wasn't ready. "He had to leave the stage, I remember, and he just kind of poked his head around and said, 'Go ahead, start without me,' at which point (bassist) Ben (Shepherd) started jamming on something and we all fell in until Chris was ready."
"People speculate, and they get causality in reverse," Thayil adds. "I guess it's natural to try to fill in the blanks to explain a particular mystery. I think it's natural to say that, 'We know something terrible happened, so we know there must have been some sort of problem. Let’s see what that problem might be. Well, come to think of it, the show was kind of messy...'"
Thayil has been joined recently by his Soundgarden bandmate Matt Cameron - who is also a member of Pearl Jam - in MC50, which celebrates the legacy of the MC5. When the guitarist was first asked by bandleader Wayne Kramer to play in the project, he was hesitant.
"(Kramer) asked if I wanted to play, and my jaw dropped," Thayil says. "I thought two things - 'Am I ready to come out of the fetal position?' and then 'How could I be any more ready than this opportunity to play with what I consider to be my favorite band.' So I made myself ready. It was like, 'Fix your head. This is The One!' When I mentioned it to friends of mine they didn't hesitate; They said, 'Omigod, jeez, this is your dream. You should do this!' The timing was pretty good, I think. I was allowing myself to be ready."
As for what the future holds for he and his Soundgarden bandmates together, Thayil remains unsure, saying, "Obviously there's still emotional shadows and ghosts."
"Like anything else it's something that improves with time," he says, adding Shepherd and Cameron, "still talk to each other frequently and text and call and check in on each other and see how we’re doing. I imagine we will do more things in the future, one of which will be Matt sitting in on a few more MC50 shows. I'm sure I'll do stuff with Ben as well."
10 Unforgettable Chris Cornell Moments
20 Greatest Chris Cornell Lyrics