Soundwave 2015: Soundgarden’s Perfect Timing

“I got my first Ramones record in ’76 or ’77, it was just perfect timing to be a band that grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, KISS, Pink Floyd, Yes or whatever, and then to start learning our instruments when the Ramones and Talking Heads and Television were coming out… We were of that age, that cusp of the Baby Boom and Generation X and it really came about in our music.” Timing, it seems, is everything to Soundgarden‘s Kim Thayil.

The band have just been announced and as part of the Soundwave 2015 lineup and as we discuss the festival, Thayil — one of the most influential guitarists of the ’90s — attempts to dissect what it is that’s endeared his band to such a wide audience. He invariably returns to the topic of time. Be it the “weird time signatures” that have marked his band’s music, or the “perfect timing” of having some the most revolutionary movements in popular music occur “in parallel with our youth and our musical careers”.

“While we’re playing music and learning our instruments in the late ’70s and early ’80s, our band forms and you have bands like The Birthday Party and Bauhaus and Joy Divison and Killing Joke and Black Flag and the Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth. It was just perfect timing. These movements sort of occurred in parallel with our youth and our musical careers and that might explain a lot of it.”

The past 12 months have forced Thayil to reflect on his band’s history, as he tours in support of the 20th anniversary reissue of the band’s seminal 1994 album, Superunknown. Still, speaking to the founding member of one of grunge’s greatest groups, it’s clear that his energies belong with the present, as he explains that the band’s recent shows have included career-spanning setlists which also prominently feature songs from the band’s most recent effort, 2012’s King Animal.

Watch: Soungarden – Superunknown

“We are promoting the 20th anniversary of the Superunknown album, but we’re also playing material from all our albums,” he explains. And, he says, punters attending Soundwave 2015 can expect the same. “We’re gonna be playing a lot of material from all our albums, the only difference is since we were last there for Big Day Out we released the album King Animal, so we have a lot of songs from [that album] that we’ll be able to play.”

“I think Australian audiences are very similar to American audiences when it comes to rock,” he opines. “There’s something very similar in the cultures. The similarities are greater than that of what America shares with European countries or with Japan or perhaps even New Zealand. Australia and the US, they’re very similar and they both certainly embrace their rock and roll.”

As Thayil recounts, many of the bands that we so reverently embrace would not have come into being if not for Soundgarden. “Pearl Jam, Green River, Mudhoney, the Nirvana guys, Alice In Chains, they all know the kind of influence that we had. And many other bands around the ’80s and ’90s that were aware of what was going on,” he says.

“I think with the popular audience, they mostly judge things when they experience them via MTV or radio,” he adds. “Nirvana signed with Sub Pop records because they worked with Jack Endino because we were on Sub Pop and we had done our first record with Jack Endino… That’s just kind of the way it was. At least regionally, we were kind of the big band in Seattle.”

He still remembers his forebears as well. “I think the granddaddies of them all might be a band called Malfunkshun. Malfunkshun had some influence on us as well as the band Green River, and Soundgarden and Green River ultimately led to a lot of the big bands you have today.”

Watch: Malfunkshun – The Andrew Wood Story (trailer)

Taking a trip even further back in time, Thayil says, “I’d love to have been in Detroit in the late ’60s when The Stooges and The MC5 were playing around and be able to have the opportunity to see The MC5 play with Sun Ra or the New York Dolls come through and play.

“That’d be a really cool thing. It’d also be really cool to be in New York around 1976 or ’77, to able to see Television and the Ramones and Suicide and The Dead Boys,” he adds. Though his mind stays focused on the now, Thayil’s knowledge of music history is impeccable.

Looking towards the future, while still thinking about the past, Thayil is excited about seeing friends Faith No More at Soundwave 2015. It’s an alliance, the guitarist explains, that he forged “all the way back” in 1987. “We have quite a history with those guys and we look forward to certainly seeing them and to hanging with those guys,” he explains.

As for whether fans can expect any Sidewave outings while the band are here, he doesn’t yet know: “I’m not a hundred percent sure about that because a lot of the details are still being figured out. I think usually if there’s an opportunity for us to play some of our own shows it’s likely that it’ll happen.” Guess only time will tell.

Soundgarden join Faith No More, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson and more on the recently announced Soundwave 2015 lineup. Details below.

Watch: Soundgarden – Taree (Live on Letterman)

Soundwave Festival 2015

Soundwave members pre-sale begins 12pm local time Friday, 22nd August

General public tickets on sale 9am Friday, 29th August

Saturday, 21st February & Sunday, 22nd February 2015
Bonython Park, Adelaide, South Australia
Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 21st February & Sunday, 22nd February 2015
Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, Victoria
Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 28th February & Sunday, 1st March 2015
Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 28th February & Sunday, 1st March 2015
RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane, Queensland
Tickets: Soundwave

Lineup – Day One
Adelaide – Saturday, 21st February, 2015
Melbourne – Sunday, 22nd February, 2015
Sydney – Saturday, 28th February, 2015
Brisbane – Sunday, 1st March, 2015

Faith No More
Lamb Of God
Gerard Way
New Found Glory
Fear Factory
Hollywood Undead
The Aquabats
Area 7
Crown The Empire
The Interrupters
Icon For Hire
Emily’s Army
Patent Pending
The Bennies
The Color Morale
Nothing More
Ne Obliviscaris
The Treatment

Lineup – Day Two
Melbourne – Saturday, 21st February, 2015
Adelaide – Sunday, 22nd February, 2015
Brisbane – Saturday, 28th February, 2015
Sydney – Sunday, 1st March, 2015

Marilyn Manson
Fall Out Boy
Judas Priest
All Time Low
Papa Roach
Of Mice & Men
Escape The Fate
Tonight Alive
Butcher Babies
The Swellers
King 810
This Wild Life

+ more to be announced!

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