Kim Thayil On Why Kurt Cobain’s Vocals Didn’t Impress Him

Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil recently appeared in an interview with Rick Beato and revealed that he was not impressed by Kurt Cobain’s vocals when he first listened to Nirvana.

Kim Thayil co-founded Soundgarden along with singer Chris Cornell and bassist Hiro Yamamoto in 1984. The Seattle band became one of the pioneers of the grunge movement and won two Grammy awards with their albums. The 1994 album ‘Superunknown’ became a commercial and critical breakthrough for the band.

A few years after Soundgarden’s formation, Nirvana was established by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. The band also became an influential act reflecting Seattle music and one of the pioneers of grunge like Soundgarden. Cobain’s deep voice and stage style impressed the audience of that period. The band experimented with creating music with the producer Jack Endino before releasing the debut album ‘Bleach.’

Recently, Thayil mentioned he had discussed Nirvana’s earlier sounds before ‘Bleach’ with the producer Endino. Although Endino found them excellent, Kim was not interested in vocalists. He stated that he could not pay attention to Cobain’s singing because he was focusing on the riffs as a guitarist. Thayil was not impressed by the band as much as the producer, as he noted.

Kim Thayil said the following when asked his first impression of Nirvana:

“Honestly, I remember the kind of debating it with Jack. The vocals struck me, and Jack’s like, ‘This is a great singer,’ and I was like, ‘Ehh.’ I wasn’t really into the songs, but this was pre-‘Bleach.’ This was, like, really early. At the time, I was like, ‘Ehh.’ He kept saying, ‘These guys are great, listen to the vocals.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, the vocals are great, but I’m a guitarist.’

And even though we had a great singer in our band, I would focus on the riffs and the songs. And no matter how often people told me that Chris was a great singer, or people told me that Kurt was a great singer, it’s just like, ‘Oh, but I’m not hearing any cool riffs.‘ But Jack was really stoked. He was telling everyone he met this great new band from Aberdeen called Nirvana.”

You can check out the interview below.

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