WSOU: SOUTH ORANGE, NEW JERSEY, 18 OCTOBER 1991
transcribed by Justin Nicholls
Interviewer: Toxic Tommy D
Tommy: I'm in the studio with the guys from Soundgarden, Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd. How are you guys doin' today and thank you for coming down.
Ben: Oh, all right.
Tommy: The new album you guys have got, of course, Badmotorfinger, and I want to do a little bit of talking about that. What I noticed from listening to the album is that is got a really distinctive sound, apart from Loud Love; it's got a new sound but in the same way it goes back to your older stuff. Did you guys figure that out when you were doing the album and when you recorded it?
Kim: No, that wasn't premeditated. I think the fact that Ben's playing on the album and he has a different playing style and that he contributed to the song-writing and the fact that the drums sound a lot better... the biggest change is, I think, is with the drum sound, they sound a lot clearer and they sound like real drums.
Tommy: What did Matt do to get that sound? Did he just do something different or was it new techniques...
Kim: We recorded it in a different room and the producer used different techniques...
Ben: And everybody worked on it longer.
Tommy: And Terry Date produced the album again, you guys decided to go with him again too. What were the factors in choosing Terry again to produce the album?
Kim: Well, acquaintance with him and enjoying the recording process last time, and knowing that he had grown in the past two years and we had, and we could bring that to the project.
Tommy: Because you could definitely see the growth in the album from Louder Than Love to Badmotorfinger. What I wanted to ask was, Ben, when did you come into the outfit?
Ben: April 15th 1990.
Tommy: April 15th 1990 is the day, the infamous day in history. Now as far as the last tour went, I know I was lucky enough to see you guys twice, playing bass on that tour was Jason Everman. Now did he leave and Ben came in for him?
Kim: Uh huh...
Tommy: Oh, of course that is how it would work, but was it a conscious choice to go with Ben to record the new album?
Kim: Yeah, Ben has been with us over a year and a half. At that point we were still recording and we were still touring, and we just got to the point where we realised we couldn't work with Jason any more and that we wanted to get Ben in there.
Tommy: Oh, okay. 'Cause I noticed that Ben your playing gives a definite... your bass sound is very, like, it attacks and it's very punchy, which is from the older Soundgarden stuff. This is the most prominent I've heard the bass on the album, it just makes the tunes sound even more incredible, this is definitely a very solid album. And what a lot of people don't realise is that is the fact that, y'know, this is your second major label, because you of course had Ultramega Ok before that and it's just opening a lot of people's eyes to the band. But as far as the writing process, you did contribute much more...
Ben: Yeah, we all did.
Tommy: That's great. How do you all go about when you write songs? Do you all just like throw it into a blender and you guys come out with this stuff or...
Ben: Whatever way, whatever way you think of, we've done it and we're still doin' it.
Kim: As long as we like the song it doesn't matter how we came about it.
Tommy: I also read that when you guys are writing the lyrics come in after the song is already written?
Kim: Sometimes beforehand.
Tommy: Uh, the new tour I guess is the biggest news, you guys are going to be opening for Guns N' Roses. Now how did this come about?
Kim: They asked us. Their agent called up our agent... they called up our manager and our booking agent. They asked us and we said mmmm... yeah!
Tommy: 'Cause I also heard that you guys were supposed to open for the Chili Peppers on this tour...
Kim: Yeah, Queensryche and Ozzy... all those names are...
Ben: Not Ozzy...
(mumbling from all three)
Kim: Queensryche asked and we said yeah and then the Chili Peppers asked and we said yeah and then Guns N' Roses asked and we said yeah.
Ben: We were playing hopscotch.
Tommy: But you're definitely happy you're going out with the Guns? When does this start, when does the tour start?
Kim: November 19th, I believe... 16th...
Tommy: Do you guys have any idea when you are going to be playing this area with Guns, like whether it's the Garden?
Kim: Four nights at Madison Square Garden...
Kim: Second week of December.
Tommy: Mmm, something for everyone to look out for, who's listening.
Tommy: Well last night you guys did something in the city and it was a great show, that was like I said before, kind of a tease for the die hard Soundgarden fan...
Kim: You were there?
Tommy: I was there, yes. Chris was sick, though... but he sounded great, as far as the fact of being sick. The first single of the album, of course, is Jesus Christ Pose. What was the intention of going with that one first out of all the tunes on the album?
Kim: We thought it was colourful, we wanted to make a video with it, we had an idea with the directors we wanted to work with... we were thinking, I guess, more along the lines of how the video and how the song might work. We wanted to release that song knowing that it probably wouldn't get a whole lot of airplay but it was a song we liked and we wanted to go ahead and do it.
Tommy: Well that's more important, if that's what you like and that's the one you wanted to put out first. Guys, the video has been added to MTV already because I think I saw a clip of it. I haven't been able to see the whole clip yet...
Kim: Yeah, I think they are debuting it tomorrow night on Headbanger's Ball.
Tommy: Oh okay, good deal. 'Cause what I also wanted to talk about was the Day On The Green last week, how was that for you guys?
Kim: That was great. It was a lot of fun.
Ben: The bands didn't rip our lungs out like I thought they would (laughing) which is really cool.
Tommy: Because I saw highlights on MTV... JC Pose live, they did a few seconds of that and they, I was watching the whole hour special and I was like throwing things at the T.V. set when they played like the third Queensryche video I was like "Argh, what is going on?". So the next day when I caught the Day In Rock and they had interviews with you guys on it and they only showed you and Metallica...
Kim and Ben: Really?
Tommy: Yeah, they showed interviews with Lars and Kirk and with you guys. They showed like two parts with you guys and I was like "Ah, about time,"...
Kim: What questions did we answer?
Tommy: Uh, you talked about getting some robes, smoking jackets and pipes... (laughter)
Kim: Oh my God...
Tommy: And Chris on stage telling everyone that he usually isn't up at this hour and everyone was going crazy... what time did you guys go on?
Kim: One thirty, which is usually the time I wake up.
Tommy: How is it playing in the bright of day, how did that work out?
Ben: I think I got a sunburn.
Kim: It went okay, I was worried about it, y'know, this is morning... but it went okay.
Tommy: That's cool. As far as you guys coming from, of course, Seattle and being, I could definitely say one of the first bands to come out and get recognition from the Seattle scene, what do you think about the other bands that are comin' out and getting more recognition, like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam?
Kim: Well, Alice in Chains came out a period of time where we weren't doing anything, touring or recording, Pearl Jam, I think this record will do well for them, and Nirvana, y'know, those guys, I think they'll do well.
Tommy: I just read in an interview with Kurt from Nirvana he was kinda shading away from the fact that they're from Seattle, he was saying that there's more of a scene in Olympia. Now you guys are from...
Kim: Yeah, he's kinda getting into that... that's just like an hour away from...
Tommy: Is there a big different in the bands that play out of Seattle and Olympia or is basically all the same?
Kim: Beat Happening is from Olympia... there isn't a huge difference. I think Kurt's into Beat Happening right now...
Tommy: Do you guys have any ideas for a second single in the works?
Kim: Yeah, Outshined...
Kim: We just shot the video for that here in New York on Monday.
Tommy: Okay. And any little hints about what it's going to look like, what it's going to be like?
Kim: It's going to have some dancing bikers...
Tommy: Uh, that's interesting...
Kim: There's some homeless people and there's some drunk yuppies. I think the coolest part was the great big biker people with their shirts off dancing to the song.
Tommy: Well, that should be interesting to see. Of course, I wanted to get to this, the Grammy nomination you guys received for Louder Than Love...
Kim: No actually, the Grammy nomination was for Ultramega Ok from SST...
Tommy: Oh really? I can't remember these things.
Kim: But it was the year, a couple of months after Louder Than Love was released. Often reviewers cite that.
Tommy: Were they just late on the fact? I mean how was the fact that it was a few months after your first major release...
Kim: Well, Ultramega Ok came out during the nominating period and Louder Than Love came out after it, just after it.
Tommy: Oh okay. I see that...
Kim: That's the only record that SST had nominated for a Grammy, the same label as Black Flag and Husker Du... it's pretty wild.
Tommy: And did you guys feel about it, because you guys are up against Jane's Addiction...
Kim: No actually, that year in the heavy metal category is Faith No More, Queensryche, Metallica, the same bands are on the Day On The Green... and Metallica won. When we were told that we were on tour with Faith No More and Voivod. We were in Quebec city and they woke us up and said "Kim, Chris, guys, Matt, you've been nominated for a Grammy," and we go "Cool," and go back to sleep. And then later that day it came back that Faith No More has been nominated too. "What category?" "Heavy Metal." "Cool," and we went back to sleep. And later on we ran into Faith No More and we were sort of kidding around about that, at the time we didn't really think that much of it, y'know, the Grammys aren't any kind of standard for any of the kind of music we do. I mean, getting a Grammy in heavy metal is just... y'know, they're not a recognisable body or institution when it comes to that.
Tommy: Well that goes back to a year before when they had Metallica on the Grammys and they gave it to Jethro Tull, and then the next year Metallica got the award. It just makes you go "Hmm, what's going on?" But I think its just as great that you guys were nominated for that Grammy just the same...
Kim: Yeah, well it's kinda cool, Mom liked it, "Oh, you've been nominated for a Grammy!" But as far as the judgement of the academy I don't really don't admire or respect the judgement of the academy, so with or without the nomination it doesn't change how I feel about the band. It'd be better if Kerrang or Rip or something gave you an award...
Tommy: They're magazines that you guys respect. But there's gotta be news publications that you guys respect more than others. Is Rip one of them?
Kim: Umm, there probably are some we respect more than others, the Village Voice...
Tommy: I remember reading in one particular magazine, I don't know if I can remember the name of it, but the article was on Soundgarden, a picture of Chris on the cover, it said Soundgarden: the essence of real heavy metal. Now when you guys, when I first started getting into Soundgarden you guys weren't even in the heavy metal section of the record store, you were in the specific grunge section.
Kim: Yeah, alternative or punk rock or grunge...
Tommy: And I can remember the first day I heard Soundgarden I walked into a record store near my house on the day Louder Than Love was released, and the first song I ever heard was Big Dumb Sex. It went on and I walked up to the counter and I said "Excuse me, what is this?" and the girl at the counter was like "It's Soundgarden, but if you get this then you have to get this," so she gave me Ultramega OK too, and I took it home and like from that day on...
Ben: Great! Whoever that is, thank you.
Kim: That's great.
Tommy: Totally turned me on to the whole Soundgarden... see she had already seen you, like, seven times.
Tommy: She's like, "They're going to be the biggest thing," and I was like "Woah, this is great," so I started from there on. I've been hittin' you guys on my shows and stuff because, well you'll have to be on with the new album, finally getting a disc here. Because we have Louder Than Love on vinyl...
Kim: Do you have this on vinyl yet?
Tommy: Uh, not on vinyl, we just have the disc.
Kim: I like vinyl.
Tommy: So as far as the tour with Guns that's going to start in November, what is your setlist going to be like? Are you going to basically new material or are you going to do old stuff too?
Kim: Mainly new material, but you see, the period of time that we have allocated to play varies, depends on when those guys start, and they notoriously start late.
Tommy: That's right, I was going to say how do you feel about that, in that Guns N' Roses being very unpredictable?
Kim: So we'll do primarily new material and then if time requires it we'll start doing stuff off of Screaming Life and Ultramega...
Ben: We'll probably mix it up pretty good.
Tommy: 'Cause I know when I saw the Guns tour in the summer in Philadelphia Skid Row got, like, over an hour to play and then Guns came out and played close to three hours, and they started on time which was a shock, since the next night in New York they went on three and a half hours late.
Kim: Look at this picture of Chris. Doesn't he look like he's fourteen? (laughter) He must have been a little kid then...
Tommy: One thing I wanted to get to, of course, was the album sales. Have you guys got any input on how the album is doing in the first couple of weeks of its release?
Kim: Well, it's been out for just a little bit over a week, and two days ago we were told that it debuted on Billboard at ninety-five, which after a year and a half we never broke a hundred on the last record. But it's debuted at ninety-five so that's pretty good, it sold or advanced like a hundred and sixty thousand copies and many of the record company folks, the distributors and sales people, they're guessing that or saying with a lot of confidence that this is going to be gold by Christmas.
Tommy: I would definitely hope so, if only for you guys. One thing I wanted to ask you about, the video tape that you have out, the Louder Than Live, with the live songs and the two videos, is there anything like that in the works for the Badmotorfinger album?
Kim: Well, nothing is in the works right now, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't.
Tommy: Because that was great too. Number one, it wasn't priced very high, I think the list price on it was like fourteen ninety-five and for most videos these days they're like twenty bucks at least. And then yours, which has four or five live tunes and both videos, that's just a big kudos to the fans, and they know it. It's a big thank you because I thought that was the greatest thing. And your covers on the live thing, you did Big Bottom and Earache My Eye, which is on the Louder Than Live CD too, right?
Kim: Yeah, old Cheech and Chong...
Tommy: Scatterbrain doest that too, have you ever heard their version?
Kim: Yeah, and the Rollins band does it as well. There was a time when there was talk about getting Rollins, Scatterbrain and us to tour together and we'd all do our version of Earache My Eye... it was serious talk, all the managers were talking about it, this was last year, but it didn't pan out.
Tommy: I know you are going to be out on the road with Guns, how long are you going to be out with them, are you going to stay with them the rest of the tour?
Kim: Well, right now it's for at least four or five weeks, that's how much is agreed to. If we get along well and it works they might ask us to stay longer.
Tommy: Figuring that you do this stint with Guns N' Roses, afterwards what would you guys do? Would you go out headlining larger clubs than you did last time?
Kim: We might do something like that, unless another amazing support...
Tommy: ...Comes along and you take it?
Kim: Exactly. At some point we are going to have to do a headlining tour. We want to get out there and play in front of our fans, we don't want them to necessarily have to pay twenty-five, thirty bucks to come and see us.
Tommy: Because that's what the Guns tickets run, I know I in the summer I spent thirty dollars a ticket. And it's not that it's so expensive, you're paying thirty dollars to see two bands and other times you cheaper shows, and in clubs its always so much better 'cause you're right there, but I'm definitely going to be interested in seeing you guys in an arena, especially at Madison Square Garden.
Kim: I'm interested too.
Tommy: The new sound system and everything, you'll see my face in first couple of rows when you guys are on. But anyway, we'll be looking for you guys on tour and I want to thank you very much for coming down, Kim and Ben, this is awesome, and all the luck in the world with the Guns tour, it's going to be great. Thanks for coming down.
Kim: See ya.