Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil reflects on ‘Superunknown’: “It’s got everything a rock band should bring to an album”

A&M Records

Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil reflects on the band’s hit 1994 album, Superunknown, in an interview with Guitar Player.

Superunknown was Soundgarden’s fourth album and spawned the singles “Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman,” “The Day I Tried to Live,” “My Wave” and “Fell on Black Days.” It became the band’s first and only #1 album on the Billboard 200, and has been certified six-times Platinum by the RIAA.

“I also have no problem with people who say it’s our best album,” Thayil says. “I particularly like Superunknown, not because of its success and songs like ‘Black Hole Sun’ or ‘Spoonman,’ but because of its ambience and feel. It’s got everything a rock band should bring to an album, namely songwriting and performances.”

“It’s not a dance record on which the producer means something,” he continues. “It’s not a record from the ’60s where you find some singer to actualize the songs you’ve written on piano and you find an arranger to throw other instruments in. This is a rock band, and all the work is done by the rock band.”

While Superunknown was quite successful, Thayil notes that he wishes he could’ve enjoyed that success more at the time. In addition to Thayil going through things in his personal life, Supernknown was released just a month before the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

“My personal life and things involving our colleagues and peers hit their nadir, but our professional life was at its zenith with the record hitting number one and [us] being on the cover of Rolling Stone,” Thayil says. “I know the success should have meant something, but it didn’t budge the meter from everything sucking. I wish we could have had the experience at another time.”

Superunknown will celebrate its 30th anniversary on March 8.

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