Kim Thayil

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Kim Thayil
File:Soundgarden @ McCallum Park (522012).jpg
Thayil performing with Soundgarden in 2012.
Background information
Born (1960-09-04) September 4, 1960 (age 58)
Seattle, Washington, United States
Genres Alternative metal, grunge, alternative rock, heavy metal
Instruments Guitar, bass guitar, mandolin
Years active 1980–present
Labels A&M, SST, Sub Pop
Associated acts Identity Crisis, Soundgarden, No WTO Combo, Probot, Dark Load, The Presidents of the United States of America
Notable instruments
Guild S-100

Gibson Firebird

Gibson Les Paul Custom Lite

Kim Thayil (born September 4, 1960) is an American musician best known as the lead guitarist of the Seattle-based rock band Soundgarden, which he cofounded with singer Chris Cornell and bassist Hiro Yamamoto in 1984. Thayil was named the 100th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone.

Childhood and early life

Although he was born in Seattle in 1960, Thayil grew up in the Chicago suburb of Park Forest. He played guitar in a Post Punk band called Identity Crisis in 1980, and released a 7" inch EP called "Pretty Feet".[1]

Thayil met Hiro Yamamoto at Rich East High School in Park Forest. After graduation, they moved to Washington, where Thayil studied philosophy at the University of Washington. There they met Chris Cornell, a roommate, and the three formed Soundgarden in 1984.

Soundgarden (1984-1997)

Soundgarden became the first of Seattle's grunge bands to sign with a major label (A&M Records). They went on to release five albums, including three which went platinum at least once, and won two Grammys.

Thayil became acclaimed for his guitar work, which was typically characterized by heavy riffing, and was cited among other grunge guitarists as an influence and a pioneer of the "Seattle Sound." In 1994, Thayil commented, "I think Soundgarden is a pretty good band and I'm a fine guitarist. I'm not God, but I'm certainly not average. I feel very comfortable with the fact that not many other people can do what I do on guitar. I think my guitar is happy with the way I play it."

Originally one of Soundgarden's main songwriters, Thayil's contributions as a writer eventually dwindled to just one song on Down on the Upside, "Never the Machine Forever", although he contributed to details in every song, as did every band member.

While a member of Soundgarden, he has written the following songs for the band:

Post-Soundgarden (1997-2010)

After the 1997 breakup of Soundgarden, Thayil went on to contribute guitar to work by Pigeonhed and Presidents of the United States of America. More recently, he contributed guitar to the track "Blood Swamp" from the 2006 SunnO)))/Boris album Altar, for which he also wrote liner notes. Thayil also plays lead guitar on a track called "V.O.G." by Ascend, which features Gentry Densley (Iceburn, Eagle Twin) and Greg Anderson (Sunn O))), Engine Kid, Goatsnake). Ascend's record, titled Ample Fire Within, was released in 2008 by Southern Lord Records.

In 1999, Thayil formed a punk band, the No WTO Combo, with Jello Biafra (formerly of Dead Kennedys), Krist Novoselic (formerly of Nirvana, at the time a member of Sweet 75), and Gina Mainwal (also of Sweet 75). The band was formed to celebrate and further the rampant protest activity against the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999, which was held on November 30, 1999. Originally scheduled to play at The Showbox on that same evening, police prevented the band from doing so, forcing the show to be rescheduled for the following night. This was Thayil's first live concert since the breakup of Soundgarden. The show was recorded by Mark Cavener and mixed by Soundgarden producer Jack Endino; it was released as the album Live from the Battle in Seattle in May 2000.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Thayil #100 on the list of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time".[2]

In 2004, Thayil played guitar for Probot, Dave Grohl's heavy metal side-project; he was featured on the songs "Ice Cold Man" and "Sweet Dreams."

Thayil was a recurring participant on the Almost Live! sketch comedy show, calling things "lame" during "The Lame List" segments.

In 2009, Thayil played with Soundgarden's Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd at a show in Seattle on March 24, 2009 at the Crocodile Cafe that was headlined by Tom Morello's The Nightwatchman. It was the first time the three had played together in public since the band's 1997 breakup. The three were joined by Tad Doyle of fellow 1990s Seattle band TAD, and performed three Soundgarden songs. For the last song (Spoonman) they were joined by Tom Morello (Morello had played the song before with Audioslave). Thayil has also played with Greg Gilmore of Mother Love Bone and Danny Kelly of Heliotroupe in the group Set & Setting. Their debut performance was October 31, 2009 above the famed K Records warehouse now known as the Cherry St. Loft in Olympia Washington.

Soundgarden reunion (2010-present)

On January 1, 2010 it was announced through Facebook and Twitter posts by Chris Cornell that the official Soundgarden fanclub had been restarted. On April 15, 2010, it was announced that Soundgarden would play its first show since 1997 the following day at the Showbox at the Market in its Seattle hometown. The band played under the name 'Nudedragons', an anagram for Soundgarden.

On August 5, 2010 the band played their first reunion show under the Soundgarden name at The Vic Theatre in Chicago. Three days later, on August 8, 2010, they headlined the final night of Lollapalooza in Grant Park.

In September 2010, the band released the compilation album Telephantasm. November 2012 saw the release of King Animal, their first studio album since 1996.



  1. "Identity Crisis – Pretty Feet". Discogs.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Fricke, David; Edmonds, Ben; Eliscu, Jenny; Kemp, Rob; Kot, Greg; Levy, Joe; Moon, Tom; Puterbaugh, Parke; Randall, Mac; Sheffield, Rob (18 September 2003) "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" Rolling Stone Issue 931, pp. 46-61. The list was posted to the Internet on 27 August 2003 "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"