Reprinted without permission from Melody Maker, March
SOUNDGARDEN SOUND OFF
Soundgarden's Kim Thayil is deeply unimpressed with Britpop -- but Michael Stipe is a keen Oasis fan! These facts came to light during an interview with Thayil, who hinted that Soundgarden were having doubts about touring the UK to promote the release of the new, as-yet-untitled album they've just completed because of the current British preoccupation with home-grown music.
Speaking from Seattle, Thayil said: "It seems to me that no one here really cares about Oasis and Blur. Oasis must have a conception of themselves as being absolutely huge, but in the US, when a magazine comes out and the guy's comparing himself to the Beatles, I think everyone just scratches their heads."
"As a piece of advice that they may wish to pick up on,when addressing other markets, they should remember that we don't see them as them as they see themselves."
"Oasis might be great guys. I haven't heard the album, I've only heard that one song 'Wonderwall' -- but I think it's crap! I saw it on MTV and it seemed to me to be kind of smarmy and contentless."
"But I was talking to Michael Stipe from R.E.M. last night, and he was telling me how he thought they were fantastic live. He'd seen Oasis live, and he thought they were interesting songwriters and very charismatic."
"I haven't seen them live, so I wouldn't pass judgement on them as a band. But there have been so many bands who have been called 'the new Beatles' in the 25 years since The Beatles broke up, and what do we have to show for it? We don't have a new Beatles, that's for sure."
Asked about possible British Soundgarden dates, Thayil said: "I don't know. We haven't scheduled that far. I've heard that there's less interest now in the UK and Europe in what was characterised as grunge or the Seattle sound or whatever, so we'll see how the new record does and see where we go from there."
Thayil said the new Soundgarden album, released by A&M on May 20, was their most diverse to date.
"There's a number of fast songs and slow, epic songs. Typically, Soundgarden has had this mid-tempo heavy thing, but this is a little less riff-oriented and more melody and dynamic-oriented. There's some hardcore-type songs that Ben has written, but even they are given a strange twist. There's a song called 'Ty Cobb,' which is a fast song but has mandolin and mandola all over it. Ty Cobb is the name of a baseball player from the 1930s. He was considered by many to be the greatest baseball player ever, but he was also very aggressive, racist and sexist."
"There's still a darkness to it all, definitely, and it's also very aggressive. 'Boot Camp' and 'Apple Bite' might surprise people. They're almost ambient for us."
Thayil is also critical of the American scene.
"There are bands like Nine Inch Nails . . . Pearl Jam, Metallica and R.E.M. who do what they do and do it well and don't seem to be patronising a particular marketplace. But most of the new stuff that's coming out doesn't seem to have a leg to stand on."