Reprinted without permission from Guitar World, December 1989

by Jeff Gilbert

"It's sweater-snagging rock 'n' roll," boasts Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, describing Louder Than Love, the band's new major label LP. "It's louder and it's heavier, and it rocks more than anything else you see on MTV; it's a waterbed album!"

Since most of what's played on cable these days is either "Yo, it's rap so it must be hip", or hairspray hammer-ons, the endlessly wise-cracking guitar player knows he's right - Soundgarden does rock more that anything else on t.v.

"A lot of the songs on the album are tuned down to an open D tuning," says Thayil, revealing the secret behind his metal-on-acid blues riffs. "The strings are looser and rubber band-like, so the guitars sound like a monster's breath."

Thayil plays a '74 Guild S-1 and a Les Paul Custom Light. "I also use a Strat and G&L, but I don't know the names of my guitars. They all have last names, like 'Guild'. But I don't know their surnames; I'm not a first name basis with my guitars." His amp of choice is a 65-watt Music Man head with a Legend cabinet containing four stock twelves. In performance he uses the sturdier Peavy cabs, with the same speaker configuration.

Lead singer Chris Cornell will be sharing guitar duties when the band hits the road. "Chris is going to try and learn how to play and sing at the same time," Thayil jokes. With Cornell assuming part of the rhythm burden, does Kim feel any extra pressure to play the role of the 'guitar hero'? "Most guitarists worry whether or not they're playing by the textbook," he responds. "I just worry if it's loud enough."