Kim Thayil is opening up about his memories of Soundgarden’s final show in Detroit on May 17, 2017, just hours before frontman Chris Cornell committed suicide. In a new interview, Thayil denies the notion that there was something wrong with Cornell or his performance that night.
“I thought the show was good,” the Soundgarden guitarist told Billboard. “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.”
As for the reports from some people at the show that Cornell wasn’t himself, Thayil said, “People speculate, and they get causality in reverse.”
“I guess it’s natural to try to fill in the blanks to explain a particular mystery,” he added. “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….'”
After Cornell passed away, Thayil went into a period of mourning, but now he’s touring as a member of MC50, a band assembled to honor the 50th anniversary of the legendary Detroit-area rock band MC5.
“[MC5 frontman Wayne Kramer] asked if I wanted to play, and my jaw dropped,” Thayil said. “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,” he added. “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 how the members of Soundgarden plan to move forward, Thayil revealed that discussions have come up between himself, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd.
“We often reference rock history and we’ve often commented on what other bands in similar situations have done,” Thayil said, “not as a plan or anything but just commenting on how bands have handled situations like this and what bands seem to have been graceful and dignified in how they manage their future musical endeavors and how some maybe were clumsy and callous.”
“We think about those things,” he added. “We try not to go too deep into these conversations, but stuff comes up after a few beers.”
The MC50 tour kicked off last night (Sept. 5) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is scheduled to run through late October. Find the full list of tour dates here.