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Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

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1992.MM.DD - Excerpts from various interviews with members of Soundgarden

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1992.MM.DD - Excerpts from various interviews with members of Soundgarden Empty 1992.MM.DD - Excerpts from various interviews with members of Soundgarden

Post by Blackstar Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 pm

The Newark Advocate, January 19, 1992

1992.MM.DD - Excerpts from various interviews with members of Soundgarden 1992_015


Soundgarden has the coveted opening spot on the second leg of the Guns N’ Roses tour. Cornell sees the pairing of the two volatile bands as logical.

“This is a problem we’ve always had in that there’s not that many bands really that we can be matched up with in a tour situation — it’s got to be obviously appropriate,” he said.

“Really, musically, Guns N’ Roses is more appropriate than any other tour we’ve really been offered. Most of their audience isn’t going to be familiar with our music, but I think most of their audience is going to understand what we do, and that’s the important thing.”


Circus Magazine, January 31, 1992
As this story was going to press, Soundgarden was preparing for a monthlong supporting stint on the Guns N' Roses tour, from mid-Novemeber through mid-December. "It's the coveted opening slot for any band out there right now," says drummer Matt Cameron. "We were lucky to have been chosen by the band members themselves, instead of some management-manipulation-payola trip." Axl Rose himself was quoted in a 1989 Rolling Stone magazine interview, "I really enjoy Soundgarden. The singer [Chris Cornell] just buries me."
The prospect of touring with the, ahem, mercurial Rose may be more advantageous than problematic, according to the Soundgardeners. "If they come on late, we've been told we can stretch our set a little bit, which should be fun," says Cameron. And as for Thayil, his primary pre-tour concern is that "We have to make sure we hold people's interest. At times I think, 'Wow, what if we're up there, and they can't stand us?' But generally, I figure they're gonna like it, 'cause it's way heavy and it's gonna rock. I have no doubt in my mind as far as the heaviness factor between Guns N' Roses and us."
"We were going to go out with Queensryche," notes Cameron (Soundgarden has toured with Faith No More, Prong, Danzig, and Voivod). "So we had to say 'Later' to those guys, and go on the Guns N' Roses ship. We really believe in our record, and we want it to be heard."
The Music Paper, February 1992
In this interview, Kim Thayil, Soundgarden's lead guitarist, talks about the pressure of touring with Guns N' Roses, takes pride in the success of his peers and comments of trends, fame and other life-threatening circumstances he and band members, Chris Cornell, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron, face every day of the year.
The Music Paper: You've been touring with Guns N' Roses. That must be a thrill. What could be bigger?
Kim Thayil: Michael Jackson
TMP: Hmmmmm, Michael Jackson. Would you do that????
Kim: No way.
Kim: I think it's that we don't have broad commercial appeal in the sense that 14-year-old girls that hang in malls don't buy our records, because people push bands like New Kids on the Block way over the top. I mean, how many punk and hard rock fans are there to sustain album sales of two million?
TMP: Well, a tour like Guns N' Roses could make it possible for you.
Kim: I imagine it will help. I hope it will.
TMP: Do you feel there will be any sense of competition between the two bands?
Kim: I don't think there can be. They've sold nine million records.
TMP: You could be next.
Kim: I don't know. I think it will be a long time until a hard rock band sells that many records again, except for maybe Metallica.
TMP: Do you find that you still get compared to other bands or does it happen less as you become more well known?
Kim: Yeah, it happens less. I think people need to do it when they don't know who you are.
TMP: Maybe a point of reference?
Kim: Yeah, and as you get more established, they refer to you in terms of your other records.
TMP: So how will you top a tour with Guns N' Roses? Sell nine million records?
Kim: I don't think it's possible.
TMP: Could you cope with it if you did?
Kim: I don't know. I'll tell you if it happens.
Spin, February 1992
SPIN: (Back from her daydream) Is there a dilemma posed in opening for a band like Guns N' Roses? Did you see Sonic Youth open for Neil Young?
Cornell: We probably would have had the same problems as Sonic Youth on the Neil Young show, except that I think we are a little bit more versatile musically.
Rock Power, March 1992
The time is finally looking right for Soundgarden to achieve the success they so richly deserve. With fellow Seattle residents Nirvana having proved that it is possible to break through the industry's self-imposed barriers to anything off the wall, and the current support slot with Guns 'N' Roses giving them exposure to audiences they previously wouldn't have reached, the way has almost been cleared for the inevitable stampede toward wider acceptance.
On to the subject of the current support tour with the Gunners, and both Ben and Matt have nothing but good to say.
"We've been treated really great," says Matt. "The crew's wonderful; the guys in the band are really nice and helpful. It's been really organised."
As to the audience's reactions to them: "They've been pretty decent," says Ben.
"Although I heard one kid yell out, 'Alice In Chains, dude!'. So we had to kill him," adds Matt, with a grin. "But they're definitely roaring after we finish each song. They're not yelling out or chanting 'Guns 'N' Roses' but I'm sure we'll have to dodge some tennis shoes."
After the Gunners, and headlining their own US tour, it's on to Europe. Ben is looking forward to the trip. "Wherever we go is fine by me," he says. "I want to go to the Orient and Australia - and the moon would be cool, too, but I don't know who we'd play for."
Melody Maker, March 28, 1992
Last September, Soundgarden were asked to support Guns N' Roses on their October tour. October soon became November and still Axl was postponing dates. November became December, the phone never rang and the band found themselves starring in "Waiting for Axl". When it did finally happen, Soundgarden found themselves feeling the full force of the Guns N' Roses maelstrom. The headline band refused to go on stage until at least two hours after Soundgarden, Axl would have the backstage cleared before he even entered the enormo-domes. "Just in case someone looked at him and his head exploded," Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd says sarcastically. Even the hotel lobbies where Guns were staying on the tour had to be cleared for them whenever they deigned to make an appearance.
Now, Soundgarden are known as a ...
"An alternative underground punk rock metal band?"
Yeah, thank you Kim. And a band who have never exactly loved rock 'n' roll excess. In short, they're too smart to buy into most of "Hammer Of The Gods" and end up collecting bad attitudes and bad drug habits like so many of their compatriots.
The prospect of touring with the masters of debauchery must have brought fears of corruption.
"Most of it is tedious," explains vocalist Chris Cornell. "We just thought most of the stories surrounding Guns N'Roses were media generated -- people looking for a story. Nothing spectacular ever happened."
The release of "Badmotorfinger" coincided with a time when the walls of a strictly compartmentalised US music business were tumbling down. Metallica had just stormed in at Number One and Nirvana were just about to follow suit. The greater depth and colour and the rib-cage kicking riffs of "Badmotorfinger" were, however, more rewarding than either "Metallica" or "Nevermind" and went a long way to fulfilling the band's original slogan "Total Fucking Godhead".
"It was bound to happen," Chris claims. "Bands like Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails have been embraced by either TV or radio because younger people have moved into positions of power. And as far as Guns N'Roses are concerned, there were people who wanted more than just another corporate rock band. I'm sure the industry is surprised that any of these bands are successful. The only issue was how many times you had to hit the music business here over the head before they finally realizes they were marketing the wrong groups to the wrong audience."
KERRANG!, April 4, 1992
Life for Seattle grungemeisters Soundgarden has changed dramatically in the last 12 months. Going from self-confessed underdogs to playing arenas to crowd hysteria while supporting Guns 'N' Roses has needed a great deal of adjustment for Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil and the band. The band are currently scorching around the Uk, but on the road Stateside, Steffan Chirazi feels that arenas are where this band shine, while drummer Matt Cameron is just concerned that they keep away from 'butt-rock'...
"Just don't forget your roots, man!"
Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil looks back aghast at the creature spewing this bile in the lobby of the hotel in Minneapolis.
"My roots?" splutters the quiet, calm Thayil. "I know my roots, thank you..."
This sort of thing happens a lot now that Soundgarden are out on tour with Guns 'N' Roses. The perception is that the band have sold out. Thayil is still talking to the fan, giving him more time than he really deserves. The final gem pops out: "Hey, couldn't I just talk to you for five minutes?"
"You've just BEEN talking to me for MORE than five minutes!" replies the exasperated Thayil, before retiring to his room for beer and bed.
Soundgarden are no nearer leaving their roots than they were three years ago. If anything, their roots are stronger now that they're playing 50 minutes of their very own special music to arena crowds, huge lighting rig hovering overhead between vast walls, off which the sound thrusts its way into a whole new set of ears.
Soundgarden belong here, so seeing them in the impersonal confines of their white-washed, breeze-block dressing room doesn't make sense. Vocalist Chris Cornell seems to be having a tough time of it. The man's a total moodster. Kim Thayil, on the other hand, remains cheery and ready for a spot of fun and a beer at any given moment.
"A lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm a little older. Years ago I was always getting into trouble, allowing people to get at me, but as time goes on you just realise that it isn't worth the bother."
For the record, Soundgarden are delighted at the way they're being treated by G'N'R. The bands get along when they run into each other, although schedules being the way they are that doesn't happen much.
Before the shows, Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and sometimes Cornell will embark upon a serious warm-up, jamming song after song, including a lot of tracks by their friends Nirvana.
Shepherd is the most uncomfortable with Soundgarden's jump to arenaville. Tall, quiet, full of presence, Shepherd lives for his music. He doesn't enjoy talking about it, but you can see it onstage. The man is a complete bass-monster, the best since Flea, a spinning top of angry emotions. Beneath that stage persona is a man who likes home (Seattle), is concerned about the time he's missing with his young daughter, and is confused by the fact that people want to know about him.
"I've never really thought about it before but I guess it's part of the whole show," he says quietly. "The thing I love to do is play, and anything else just doesn't cut it. I never thought people would wanna probe into my character."
What are you getting out of this whole G'N'R tour?
"I'm testing myself, testing my threshold of anger and temper and my personal theories."
Would you like to expand on those personal theories?
"Not really," he sighs, "because those are mine."
"I remember when I saw Ben play I just knew he was right for this band," affirms Thayil, when I tell him what a superb bassist Shepherd is. "I kept on telling everyone, and they were reluctant at first but when they saw him they knew too.
"He's very intense and has a short temper. If you start fighting with him, he'll kill you. You could put him down six times and he'd still get up and beat the shit out of you."
Upon closer inspection of the Badmotorfinger LP credits, Shepherd's two compositions reflect the moods he carries. Face Pollution is the angry skull stomp, Somewhere is the dreamier, intensely poetic emotions of a man you should not overlook when you watch Soundgarden.
Drummer Matt Cameron is the easiest-going member of the band, but at what point does his tolerance give way when he's accused of selling out?
"That accusation offended me more when we were still the underdog band. We still are in some ways. Just because you have these opportunities doesn't always mean you have to take 'em. We gauge success differently - for us it's musical as opposed to how many records we sell or how many fans we have."
So there's a compromise between what's right for the band and your own personal beliefs?
"Sort of. I don't feel that we're selling out, but there are certain factors you have to weigh up when you go onto a major label..."
This is realism, and there are many people who could do with a dose of it the Soundgarden way. Cameron continues: "We did want to quit our day jobs and play music full time, which is considered disgraceful by a lot of punk theorists. We just wanted to be a full time band."
On your few days off, what are the questions you ask yourself?
"Well, this whole arena thing is frustrating because we've only played two good shows out of three weeks. Sound problems, problems communicating with the mainstream audience..."
Does Soundgarden's music only work in small venues?
"No, I think it fills up these arenas quite wonderfully - it's just a problem of us adapting properly to communicate with a bigger crowd, most of whom haven't heard us before. That's quite demoralizing, though it's always a challenge."
Does playing these size shows mean the new stuff you're writing is changing?
"Right now we're playing our songs as straight-ahead butt-rock, which seems to be the only way of communicating with arena crowds."
"Butt-rock is just the stupidest, basic, three chord rock that you can possibly play, and it works with big crowds like this who don't know you as a band. That doesn't mean that we would actually go out and write that shit - we're still going to write our usual weird stuff. Our style still encompasses 10-minute jams just as it does straight-ahead stuff like Flower."
One factor that always works with the masses is sex. On the second night of the two shows at Minneapolis Target Centre, the only banner hanging way up in the nosebleed seats reads: 'DO ME, CHRIS AND MATT.'
During one part of the set, Cornell goes up onto the ramp behind Cameron's head, arches back and stretches his hands out. The masses leap to their feet in recognition of this well-loved, arena gig rock-move and all roar their approval. They forget that minutes ago, Searching With My Good Eye Closed had swirled beautifully around their heads and that Cornell's voice exuded more sex than a month of ramp-top poses.
But that's why Soundgarden will break on through eventually; even if the crowds miss the sophisticated sexiness of their music, the band always have a couple of dashing handsome young bucks to fix onto.
Whilst G'N'R's backstage corridor buzzes with security guards, wardrobe folk and guests, the Soundgarden area remains ridiculously low key. Lifeless. Most of the band stay on the bus. Cornell wanders in to fix himself a peanut butter and jam sandwich, Thayil opts for a beer and Shepherd examines a new bass he's been waiting for.
"It's funny," chuckles Thayil, "some journalist the other day asked how much 'pussy' we were getting on this tour, how many 'chicks' we were fucking!"
If Soundgarden are living an existence of excesses, then it's a clandestine one. There are no 'chicks', only a little beer and no drugs.
"I smoke pot maybe four times a year," explains Thayil, "but that's about it. I used to do acid but then I had a terrible trip one time. Remember that Chris?"
"Yeah...", Cornell grins. "I remember dropping acid once and immediately thinking I was gonna have a terrible trip, which is about the dumbest thing you can do right after you've taken some, and it turned out to be a great trip. Then I took some when I was feeling really good and it turned out to be horrible. Funny how that happens..."
"I've tried pretty much every drug once," muses Thayil, "but never really got into anything. Except beer. I don't know what it is about beer..."
So don't you wonder if G'N'R's decadence is the opposite of everything Soundgarden are?
Shepherd: "I don't wonder, I KNOW it is..."
Thayil: "We're definitely introspective, constantly analysing and criticising ourselves. Otherwise we wouldn't be Soundgarden. One of the ways in which those arena shows could be considered sterile, is that it's difficult to relate to the band. If I walk over to Ben's side of the stage, he's waaay over there, like it's the other side of a boat!"
"I'm pretty self-conscious. I'll start thinking, 'Hey, I can't hear anyone, I can't see anybody - am I playing to anyone?' You fuck up and wonder how many people notice."
Guns 'N' Roses like Soundgarden, and the reaction from msot G'N'R fans who take to Soundgarden will be that Chris Cornell and Co are to be worshipped in the same way they worship Axl Rose.
Cornell: "It's uncomfortable when someone comes up to you, and they stand there with nothing much to say, they just wanna stand next to you. I don't really care on the whole, I don't care that kids might have my picture on their wall next to Axl's or's not my wall."
Do you understand how this whole 'rock god' thing can happen?
Cornell: "Yeah, definitely. A lot of it is blown out of all proportion. With Guns, a lot of the reports about how they handle their success and what they do aren't true. They're down to earth, but people don't wanna think of them that way."
Soundgarden are remarkably low-key, though.
Cornell: "Journalists are always guessing what you're about; they always go for the most obvious or easiest thing...And they want you to support their definition of you, so they can say they were right."
Thayil: "It's obvious that they just want a story, in which case they should just write it themselves - without us! People expect us to affirm rock cliches now, like the 'pussy' thing I told you about..."
Cornell: "People have asked me if Kim and I have a fire-and-ice relationship, like we're Jimmy Page and Robert Plant or something!"
Thayil: "Don Dokken and George Lynch!"
Cornell: "And they keep asking it like they want it to be true. People like those stories of internal band friction..."
Thayil: "There's enough friction between the band and the rest of the world!"
Cornell: "Sometimes in interviews, people will try and steer you towards topics that are socially correct, topics which have nothing to do with the band or its music. Journalists form the opinion that we're smartasses or hostile, and so when they interview us they treat us that way."
Thayil: "A lot of writers seem to really want you to be their friend, second guessing you to get the best response, the best relationship, the best story, for whatever reasons."
At the end of the day, will Soundgarden forget this whole tour or draw on this experience?
"I'm certainly not gonna forget about it," insists Matt Cameron.
"The experience is great; it's a coveted opening slot which was given to us, and we're not gonna throw that in anybody's faces."
Cameron: "We're just trying to adapt to this situation ourselves."
With this taste of the high life, could you imagine turning into an egotistical wanker if you sold millions of albums and headlined arenas every night?
"Nah, we're more mature and pretty much set in our ways - we're down to earth, non-wanking, non-butt rockers!"
RIP Magazine, July 1992
Chris Cornell is bathed in whte light. Maybe it's just a trick of the lamp on my Denver hotel room's dresser, but I swear, there's something special about his presence. (I know it sounds loonk, but afford me a little literary latitude here.) Clad in a pair of standard Seattle below-the-knee baggy shorts, a Guns N' Roses T-shirt and black Doc Martens (even though they're dirty, they somehow shine like they've been recently spit-polished), he sips a diet Coke and relaxes in a chair, fully prepared for my journalistic bombardment. Chris' wife/manager, Susan Silver, has briefed the dark-haired, hazel-eyed vocalist that your humble editor has not traveled a thousand miles just to make idle chitchat. I want something more.
Backstage at Denver's McNichol's Arena, Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil is unwinding after the band's set. They've been chewing up the road for eight months now, on a marathon trek that included the opening spot on Guns N' Roses' massive "Get in the Ring" tour. "Spending time with Axl on the Guns tour, I realized how much stuff written about them is really bullshit," Chris told me back at the hotel. "They treated us better than any band ever has."
High Times, July 1992
HT: Have you ever played a gig stoned?
Matt Cameron: Oh, yeah, the first Guns N Roses show I was a little bit baked. It wasn't that great of an idea, actually, thinking back on it.
HT: How was the GNR tour?
MC: It was kinda tense. It definitely wasn't a low-key situation. It was our first arena tour, so it took us a while to adapt to that kind of crowd. But it was cool playing 45-minute sets and not pacing ourselves. There were a few nights I thought we were really good, but overall it was probably one of our most disappointing tours as far as the way we played. With Skid Row, it's better; it's not as tense. They're cool guys.
HT: Do they get high?
MC: Yeah. (Lead singer) Sebastian (Bach) does. He smoked out last night.
HT: I had a weird experience at the GNR show in New York. We had to wait for two hours for them to go on. They had the lights flashing on different women in the audience...
MC: Taking off their clothes.
HT: Right! What was up with that?
MC: They did that pretty much every night. It was just backstage entertainment, because all that stuff was coming through on the monitors. It was just kind of a "rock" thing to do. I watched it one night, and I thought it was pretty funny, but it was definitely a strange scene. The women who do stuff like that are pretty stupid in the first place. A big rock circus is what it was.
HT: What do you think about groupies?
MC: The whole groupie scene we pretty much steer clear of.
Select, July 1992
Like Nirvana, they've been staving off the pressures of rising stardom by staying on the road with only the odd week-long break, setting off around the States last November, taking in Europe during the spring, and now this tour. Then straight into the stadia with G'N'R, then into the great outdoors on Lollapalooza 2. Don't these crowds - particularly the rather large ones - make them feel they're losing touch with the original idea of slowed-up grinding metal for speed hungry punks?
"It's the same feeling playing in front of a Guns audience that we used to get in some bar in Seattle when we first started out," Chris reckons. "There are a few fans of G'N'R, Metallica and Soundgarden out there, but it's mainly people who like G'N'R, Bon Jovi and Poison. Those people usually don't react too well."
"This tour's cool, but it's also cool to go out and depress people and knock the air out of their stupid fuckin' party. That's fun."
Guitar For The Practicing Musician, December 1992
What's the difference between the Lollapalooza audience and the crowd when you were opening for Guns N'Roses?
Kim Thayl: "Guns N' Roses had greater diversity classwise. It wasn't just white, leisure-class, suburban, 18-to-24-year-old kids who don't vote. What you saw at Jones Beach, that's the way it is at every single show. With Guns N' Roses, you'd have more of a mix between working-class kids and suburban. Lollapalooza seems to foster the sort of elitism that alienates people who work for a living. It's really getting on my nerves. Guns N' Roses was really cool because a guy getting off his factory job to see a band he believed in would feel welcome. That isn't true around here."

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