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MC50 brings guitarist out of "fetal position"

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2018

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Kim Thayil returns to Detroit this week with some conflicting emotions.

On one hand he's having a great time playing the music of the MC5, "probably my favorite band," in the all-star MC50 troupe. But the last time Thayil was in the city was on May 17, 2017, for a Fox Theatre show with his band Soundgarden after which frontman Chris Cornell committed suicide.

"I've been up and down, in and out," in the wake of Cornell's death, Thayil, 58, says by phone acknowledging that he had to "come out of the fetal position" to be part of MC50. "Everything has improved day by day," he says. "Obviously there's still emotional shadows and ghosts. Like anything else it's something that improves with time."

He says he, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd "still talk to each other frequently and text and call and check in on each other and see how we're doing." The three recently attended the unveiling of a Cornell memorial statue in Seattle, and Cameron has sat in on some MC50 shows and will be part of a special live recording session on Oct. 30 at Detroit's Third Man Records.

Thayil predicts the three bandmates "will do more things in the future" but rules out anything under the Soundgarden moniker. He also dismisses notions that anything was visibly amiss with Cornell during Soundgarden's show at the Fox prior to his suicide at the MGM Grand hotel.

"I thought the show was good," says Thayil, citing only some technical problems with Cornell's guitars that resulted in an odd delay during the show. "I remember Chris had just gotten in (to town) and was a little tired and his voice was a little rough, but by about the fourth or fifth song it kicked in and then it was just, like, super amazing beautiful, clear and strong and, I thought, particularly emotive.

"People speculate, and they get causality in reverse. I guess it's natural to try to fill in the blanks to explain a particular mystery. I think it's natural to say that, 'We know something terrible happened, so we know there must have been some sort of problem. Let's see what that problem might be. Well, come to think of it, the show was kind of messy ...' But not really."

Soundgarden has been in the midst of archival projects in recent years, with expanded editions of albums such as "Badmotorfinger," "Superunknown" and others. No future releases have been planned yet, and Thayil says he, Cameron and Shepherd are still grappling with how they want to proceed.

"We often reference rock history and we've often commented on what other bands in similar situations have done," Thayil says, "not as a plan or anything but just commenting on how bands have handled situations like this and what bands seem to have been graceful and dignified in how they manage their future musical endeavors and how some maybe were clumsy and callous.

"We think about those things. We try not to go too deep into these conversations, but stuff comes up after a few beers."

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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