Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil described the tribute concert to late colleague Chris Cornell as “awkward” – but remained glad that it had taken place.

He, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd appeared alongside special guests at the I Am the Highway concert in Los Angeles in 2019, following the singer’s death in 2017.

“The best thing about it was playing those songs again with Matt and Ben,” Thayil told Kerrang! in a new interview, “and the next best thing was having our friends and guests join us. The rest was a little bit uncomfortable. It was sort of a clusterfuck.”

He continued: “It was picking at an open wound, emotionally, and nobody was that thrilled to do it. We were thrilled to play the songs for our audience, and to play with each other onstage. 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 honoring and missing our beloved, departed member. That was important.”

However, he added: “The rest of it – the celebrity nature, promotion and focus – was bullshit. And we knew it was bullshit going into it. We did it for each other, to support Chris’ legacy. There was something awkward and un-intimate about it. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around it, but I’m glad we did it for our friends and family.”

Thayil said the three remaining members were still trying to “find our feet” following Cornell’s passing. “Matt still has his presence in Pearl Jam so he’s kept himself writing and recording, which is good,” he reflected. “I’m just trying to come back down and get back on Earth… We will definitely find our feet, move forward and do some original stuff again. Hopefully, I’ll do stuff with Matt and Ben.”


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