Soundgarden lead guitarist Kim Thayil has spoken out about the raw feelings that arose following the death of frontman Chris Cornell in 2017, saying the tribute show was like “an open wound”.
Thayil opened up to Kerrang! about performing at the I Am The Highway show in memory of his friend and bandmate, an event which had been arranged by the Audioslave and Soundgarden singer’s widow, Vicky Cornell and took place in LA in January last year.
“The best thing about it was playing those songs again with Matt and Ben,” Thayil said of reuniting with fellow Soundgarden members Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd, though he added that performing the tribute was incredibly bittersweet for the remaining members of the group.
“It was picking at an open wound, emotionally, and nobody was that thrilled to do it,” Thayil said, adding, “The takeaway was the band being together with our family, crew and friends. To see that family together again was love. Everyone was happy and teary-eyed.”
“It was the Soundgarden family together, doing what Soundgarden does and honouring and missing our beloved, departed member.”
Thayil added that the “celebrity nature, promotion and focus was bullshit” and that Soundgarden were aware of a lack of intimacy putting on the event, saying: “We did it for each other, to support Chris’ legacy.”
Along with Soundgarden and Audioslave, members of Cornell’s other band Temple of the Dog, Josh Homme, Metallica, Foo Fighters, and Fiona Apple paid tribute to the late musician, who died by suicide in a Detroit hotel room in 2017.
It’s been no secret that Soundgarden have been clashing with Vicky Cornell since Chris’ death, with both sides locked in a bitter legal battle over the tribute show – though Soundgarden has since dropped their coutnersuit claim.
Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd had previously alleged that Vicky used funds intended for charity for “personal purposes for herself and her family” following the concert.
The trio claimed that they had entered an “oral agreement” with Vicky to play for free during the gig on January 16th 2019 – so long as the money raised would benefit The Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, which they alleged it did not.
At the time of the countersuit, Cornell’s attorney Martin Singer hit back with a statement that read: “Every single penny of the proceeds generated by the concert were properly allocated and accounted for and their statements are not only false and defamatory but demonstrate the depths to which Chris’ former bandmates are willing to sink to tarnish his legacy.”
According to the filing, the band still believes those claims were “well-founded” but have chosen to voluntarily dismiss them “for reasons communicated” to Cornell’s lawyers.