Soundgarden's Kim Thayil Won't Name Names, But He's Still Pissed At Billy Corgan

The Soundgarden/Billy Corgan beef has been going on for decades now. Just when you think you can forget about it, one side throws some shade in the media and brings it all back up again. Most recently, Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil alluded to Corgan’s recent projects in an interview with The Dallas Observer. “We feel confident that if the four of us all like an album, it’s going to do well. We don’t have one member who is deciding the composition of an album. You should know who I am talking about, but I am not going to name names.” Here’s what else he had to say:

We have four guys who write songs here. We have four guys contributing material without someone calling bullshit on it. You follow me? There are many bands out there that are led by one guy who does all the writing? He might have some religious epiphany or some psychedelic experience and he will write all this material that can very easily suck. And the rest of his band feels like they have to play it. That is not Soundgarden. Consequently, we have never made a record that sucked.

He’s blatantly referring to Corgan, whose flights of fancy have been well-documented and mocked over the past few years.

The whole feud has roots in the ’90s alt-rock music scene, but this decade has seen its fair share of new beef. It was reignited after Soundgarden first announced their reunion. Corgan accused the band of getting back together “only to make money.” In an interview, he said, “When Soundgarden came back and they just played their old songs, great. I was a fan of Soundgarden, but call it for what it is. They’re just out there to have one more round at the till; same with Pavement and these other bands.”

Soundgarden addressed the cash grab accusations soon after. “How is it a cash grab? Since when is there money in making records anymore [laughs]? I mean, playing Lollapalooza was a one-day payday, but … and by the way, since when do we need money? We’re not like the Afghan Whigs or Pavement. We had a fairly successful career.” In a different interview, they took some more digs at Corgan that echo Thayil’s recent comments:

Kim Thayil: Now you can make a bad record because your stupid ideas aren’t being bounced around, going to the fucking ether.
Ben Shepherd: Some are like a yes men thing, we’re like a no men thing.
Kim Thayil: If you’ve got a band where one guy calls the shots, that’s a band that’s going to suck. Because the guy might have bad thoughts in his head.

Thayil’s latest comments are just a long line of words exchanged between two bands who just can’t seem to get along.

Comments (77)
  1. Way to throw shade at the Afghan Whigs and Pavement.

    • robomalkmus won’t name names but robomalkmus is pissed at Kim Thayil

    • I think he means that they were more underground and never hit it big like Soundgarden did, so those guys don’t have as much money put away.

      Or he’s throwing shade at them.

    • I don’t think he meant any offense by it. Soundgarden has had a major mainstream career, while those bands didn’t achieve the same mainstream/financial success that they did (not to say that they didn’t also have great careers! I love Pavement). I think he was really just differentiating between Soundgarden and the more independent, (for lack of a better term) “smaller” bands. At least that’s how I read it.

  2. Look, it’s different for everybody. We all know (or are IN) bands where there’s a chief songwriter/head honcho. It’s just what works for some bands. We all work differently and creativity comes differently. Personally, I like Smashing Pumpkins more than I like Soundgarden, but that doesn’t matter — both wrote great songs, but one group wrote as a band and the other’s songs were written by one guy. The results were good, so it doesn’t matter. It’s different for everyone. So to criticize on that alone is pointless. Either way: both bands had better output in the 90′s, so why beef?

  3. Wait, aren’t these guys on tour with NINE INCH NAILS right now?

  4. I’m sorry but NIN is pretty much the definition of one guy making decisions on how an album is composed so, as much as I appreciate Kim and Soundgarden, this seems like a poor angle to attack anybody from.

    • But it’s not really comparable because NIN has always been Trent’s solo project whereas the Smashing Pumpkins were nominally a band in which all members had input but functionally became Corgan’s touring band.

  5. Actually, the NIN thing just makes this more true – NIN works best when Trent isn’t been self-important. Also, touring with someone doesn’t mean you can’t criticise them if you want. Also – Pumpkins haven’t made a good record since Mellon Collie, which was how many years ago now? The last Soundgarden album was strong.

    • Pumpkins has made multiple good records since Mellon Collie. They may not have been to your liking, or met the expectations of parts of their fan base, but that doesn’t make them bad. I wouldn’t call anything Pumpkins put out pre-breakup bad.

    • C’mon, Adore is a beautiful record.

  6. Dibs on a Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden co-headlining tour story for April Fool’s Day.

  7. Sounds like he’s also pissed at Kurt Cobain, Brian Wilson, EVERY solo artist, etc…

  8. I enjoy both bands, but seriously, who gives a fuck?

    • I love Billy but you’re totally right. It’s 2014 all your fans from the 90s are 30+ Plus if Dave Grohl and Courtney Love can make up and cry and hug at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nirvana induction all other 90s feuds have to stop.

      • all us fans from the 80′s and 90′s she says!!! lmao! #CuteCommentKid
        They did not make uP! They hugged on t.v. during a political moment for both of their careers young lady! Dont you ever forget that that tv is not real! It is make believe!!!

  9. how is someone feuding with billy corgan still making news? the guy got up this morning, went to get a bagel and now has beef with his television, his maid, the guy who applies his pale skin powder, the barista who he yelled at for pouring his decaf-cafcaf-pumpkin spice-lo/high whip-latte at a 45 degree angle and for some reason dakota fanning. hell i think he has beef with me, i’m not too convince “cherub rock” isn’t about me. prove me wrong, billy! prove me wrong!

  10. This passes for music news?

  11. Kim does have a point here.

  12. the Corgan quote is just mind-boggling. Pavement got back together and toured to give the people what they want–a stroll down memory lane while simultaneously capitalizing on their cultural relevance. Additionally, Malkmus still continues to make well-received music under his own name because he rightfully realizes Pavement was more than just him. Conversely, Corgan continues to tour and record irrelevant music under the Smashing Pumpkins moniker, yet he’s the only remaining member of the original lineup. Who’s the cash grabber again?

    • I mean, look, I don’t care what a band chooses to do with their time and their legacy. But it’s delusional to believe Pavement reunited to “give the people what they want”. Nowhere except in movies do groups of people get together and decide to devote months of their lives to the vague desires of “the people”… and honestly, even if people *did* do that sort of think, Stephen Malkmus kinda seems like the last dude on earth who would do it. Can you really picture him saying, “We gotta give the people what they want, guys! Who’s with me?!”

      The Pavement reunion was a payday and Pavement took it. I’m not going to slag them off for that, but it’s pretty plainly true.

  13. Corgan’s a one hit wonder !!

  14. Billy Corgan seems to have that effect on people. I was a huge Pumpkins fan until Corgan made an appearance on TV in Toronto and dissed Our Lady Peace for no reason at all. It was shortly after that the Pumpkins disappeared from the limelight altogether. Karma’s a bitch – I’m sure Corgan is setting himself up for an even bigger fall now. Where’s left to go for him?

    • NOBODY disses Our Lady Peace!

    • Gonna go out on a limb and say the reason he dissed Our Lady Peace is because they’re Our Lady Peace.

    • i saw that interview back in the day, and it was in reference to an early track on their first record (which is very different than the stuff they were known for, and actually pretty good) called “starseed” that was a moderate sized hit in canada. the reality is that it was a very pumpkins-like riff, and corgan was right to point it out. overall, the comparison was pretty weak, though.

  15. Having gone to several pumpkins shows in the last few years, and the last soundgarden tour I can say straight up soundgarden wins. A couple new songs, but mostly the classics, a ton of songs I wanted them to play but didn’t think they would, and just about every song I hoped to hear. Pumpkins seem to be getting worse and fewer people attending every time I see them. Too much new crap that everyone stands around and stares at their phone or goes to get beer. The classics they do play feel so robotic and unenthusiastic they might as well just throw on a recording and go for a break. And what’s the deal with billy corgan going for the nesferatu look and hiring band members who weren’t even alive when he last had hair? I’ll still see them next time they’re in town, but I feel like an enabler. Hopefully one day there will be a reunion, but I know corgan isn’t the holdout and I can’t blame iha and d’arcy for not being interested.

  16. Doesn’t this rationale necessitate that solo artists in general are inherently creatively inferior to (collaborative) bands?

    And not all bands are made up by equally creative people. did The Beatles really suffer from only having two of its members as its principal songwriters? would Revolver be any better with Ringo contributing 25% creatively? I call BS.

    • George is just twirling in his grave right now.

    • Yes, it is a really poor argument. There is still a chance that four guys in a band all have terrible ideas. And just as much of a chance that one guy calling the shots is a genius and has amazing ideas, as has been proven throughout history.

    • Completely agree. Especially considering Corgan has spent an entire career writing better songs on his own than the Soundgarden fools have made as a collective (or solo for that matter).

  17. It’s true that Soundgarden never made a shitty record, but they definitely made a bunch of overlong records, and that can be directly blamed on the democracy of the songwriting process. There’s pluses and minuses to every band dynamic.

    • Yes… Was wondering if anyone else felt this. Both Superunknown and Down on the Upside have all good songs, but damn, they’re long!

  18. I think it’s really sad that an entire genre/generation of bands that were a backlash against crappy music have come to this. They sound like a f’ing bitchy sewing circle. When all else fails remember what yer mom taught ya’…

    “If you don’t have anything nice to say………”

  19. All I gotta say to Corgan is this: “I’ll be lovin’ you, a-a-a-always”… which is me sarcastically making fun of his HORRIBLE singing in the soundtrack to Spun… you have a movie about crank, and it’s soundtracked by Mr Full-of-himself? Soundgarden’s always been WAY better than Smashing Pumpkins… and Corgan practically tore that band apart during it’s heyday and produced the last album I’
    ve ever listen to by them, Adore… horrible… there’s minimalism, and then there’s laziness and pandering to a post-industrial 90′s audience…

    • I guess to be fair though, we weren’t there… by all accounts James and D’arcy and Jimmy had their issues. You could say Corgan was a tyrant who tore the band apart, but keep in mind that MAYBE he was reacting to the situation around him. It was a dysfunctional band through and through.
      Also, I thought Adore was a nice album.

      • Obviously Corgan comes off like a bit of a shit most of the time, but Jimmy and D’arcy were both addicted to really nasty drugs. Anyone who has a heroin and/or crack addict in their lives knows they’re not the sort of people you can hitch your horse to. I have addict friends who I wouldn’t even want sleeping on my couch when they’re using, let alone entrusting my multi-million dollar business to.

        Corgan *was* the Pumpkins, whether Kim Thayil likes it or not. It’s been that way since the beginning. The fact that the Pumpkins suck now is really a typical middle-aged rockstar slump story; I doubt it has much to do with the departure of the old bandmates, whose creative (and sometimes even performative) input was always minimal.

        • As seems to typically be the case you and I are in accord on this (and possibly even acamry on this)
          Corgan WAS the SP. And his highs were astronomically high. When Gish came out I was really blown away. It came out a few months before Nevermind and although I thoroughly enjoyed Nevermind I knew I was listening to a birth of punk and Pixes. Gish really freaked me out. The sound was so thick. I think it’s stands up today far better than Nevermind. But obviously I am very much in the minority here. I will always cut Corgan slack (Lord knows the man needs it) because his first 5 years of output rival just about anybody.

  20. I think it is hillarious haow in the US alone Corgan has sold double the amount of records than Soundgarden!

    • I think it is hillarious how in the US alone Corgan has sold double the amount of records than Soundgarden!

      • Is your double post a fun allusion to your “double the amount” statement? If so, I approve! I also disagree with the insinuation of the comment. If sales are the criteria by which we judge quality, Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory was the best album of 2001.

  21. Look at that, in a new interview with Corgan today I read this about the book he’s writing:

    “I would say that 90% of the bad things that have happened to me in my life are my fault, or my responsibility, or I didn’t have enough courage or strength to walk out of the room when bad thing number 800 was happening… I’m trying to write a spiritual book, and if you’re going to be spiritual you have to be accountable. To be accountable means you have to be willing to look at yourself in a way that’s usually fairly uncomfortable.”

    So, I guess he probably gets it that he’s been a bit pompous at times…

  22. I will never understand why so many people, Kim Thayil included, blame Billy Corgan for being the main decision maker in HIS band. Apparently those of us who grew up with them have this inaccurate memory that the other members of SP were held back or wanted to contribute to songwriting and recording more than they did. NOT TRUE. The other members DID NOT WANT TO WRITE SONGS. Iha made limited contributions because that’s all he offered – he wasn’t held back. And early on, Iha and D’arcy were terrible at recording. So it’s a bad thing that “tyrant” Billy Corgan (with Butch Vig suggestions, recording costs growing big time and time running out) recorded their parts to HIS songs on the first two records?

    It’s time people understand that Corgan ran the band out of NECESSITY. He wasn’t holding anyone back. Furthermore, people need to just drop their nostalgic affection for that original Pumpkins lineup. Get over it. Bands go through lineup changes – ex. Yardbirds, The Cure, etc. – but for some reason, people have a problem when Corgan’s band goes through lineup changes. Whatever.

  23. The last Soungarden album was a mess, Alice In Chains last record was amazing however.

  24. Grew up wit Zep, Sabbath, Ten Years After…etc. I’ll take Soundgarden over any wimp band any day. After decades of crap they finally brought music back to a hard edge.

  25. Kim Thayil sounds far more arrogant in his comments than BC does. And sorry Kim, but the last Soundgarden album was pretty wack. It sounded like a soundtrack to an episode of Sons of Anarchy, which consequently featured the song “Been Away For Too Long” in an episode. It was fitting.

  26. That Afghan Whigs and Pavement comment than Thayil made gave me a good laugh though.

  27. No better example than what happened with Guns ‘N’ Roses. Pumpkins suck.

  28. glad punk rock swooped in and saved all these 90′s dudes aiming for a career. Live across from Matt Cameron for 3 years back in the day, Matt was one humble guy, even after making it. I don’t follow what Corgan is doing but I still buy Soundgarden records.

  29. Lets Put it this way F what ya heard and say about Chris & Billy! Kim’s Beef with Billy-Corrigan-Love is & always will be based on him standing uP 4 #MrCobain

    • Which makes him a giant hypocrite – he never criticized Kurt Cobain, who definitely made all the decisions in Nirvana, including who to hire and fire in the band. I just wish this pointless bitching would stop.

  30. And Stereogum as a collective is on BIlly’s side once again. Thank you stereogum readers. I love you and BIlly.

  31. Yes obviously Billy Corgan is a far more self-centered jackass than most, but in his Prime Billy was a much better songwriter than anyone in Soundgarden (and a better guitarist than Thayil). Soundgarden are great but they have a constant Proggy-Sabbathy-Classic Rock masquerading as grunge sound that other than interesting riffs and cool time signatures, doesn’t delve into any great amount of eclecticism in Soundscaping the way the Pumpkins did. Even at theif most cohesive (i.e. Siamese Dream) the Jet-engine-My Bloody Valentine meets Sabbath and the Cure sound was more unique than Soundgarden Furthermore, Soundgarden would never do anything as bonkers as make a massive double album with George Melies inspired artwork. Love him or hate him, Billy took risks and reaped consequences both good and bad from it. Soundgarden stays in Soundgarden land where it is content to be. Radiohead said the same thing about the Pumpkins (though in a non-insulting “we just do it that way” fashion), but they’ve earned that right because they took risks greater than either aforementioned band AND work democratically. The new SG album is solid, but its still sorta a “hey kids, remember the 90′s?” kind of way. I must reiterate I love Soundgarden, but my admiration for crazy ol’ Billy outshines that considerably.

    • Stuart…perfectlyl stated. I love both bands as well but now that 20 years or so has passed Soundgarden’s sound is really just Sabbath updated. And I wonder how far they would’ve gotten without Cornell’s air raid siren voice. Corgan’s sound is not like anybody else in rock history. Sure, you can say he nicked MBV and that argument holds water. But that he turned THAT sound into pop music is a fucking miraculous move.

      Which dovetails me into my favorite current bitch and moan topic!!!!!! Taylor Swift!!!!. “Tonight, Tonight” by
      The Smashing Pumpkings is a POP song. But it’s not contrived. It’s not saccharine. It’s not trite. It’s not put together by some svengali producer. It’s an original piece of art that an artist created. And yet it’s a perfectly accessible song that anybody can enjoy.

      And thats the difference between the fire and the firefly.

  32. i think corgan’s been crystal clear that he’d be ecstatic to be able to find some bandmates that he could connect to in the same way that thayil/cornell and cameron/shepherd have. unfortunately, it’s not always that easy.

    and i agree that he’s probably talking about trent reznor, not billy corgan.

    • the first three quarters of soundgarden really got lucky in finding each other. it’s kind of dumb to knock somebody for lacking that good fortune…

      ….even if the last really solid (year zero is not a bad record, but it’s not a great one) nin disc was released 15 years ago, and reznor never found a way to replace chris vrenna.

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