With its 20th anniversary editions of the landmark “Superunknown” album about to come out, Soundgarden is eyeballing some more forays into its vaults. Guitarist Kim Thayil tells Billboard that a long-promised compilation of B-sides and non-album tracks, containing some of the bonus tracks featured on the new “Superunknown” packages, will become a reality in the hopefully near future.
“I’ve been talking about that since the mid-90s — people still ask me about it in the (online) forums,” Thayil notes. “But then the band broke up, and I thought when we got back together four and a half years ago we’d start on that project. But first we did the retrospective best-of (2010’s “Telephantasm”) and then a live record (2011’s “Live on I-5″) and then a new album (2012’s ‘King Animal’) came out, and these tours came up and now ‘Superunknown’s’ 20. But the B-sides and all that stuff will be compiled in the future into a separate, stand-alone record.”
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Thayil adds that the group is also talking about a deluxe anniversary edition of 1991’s Grammy Award-nominated “Badmotorfinger” album, most likely in 2016.
“We definitely have discussed giving this treatment to ‘Badmotorfinger,’ for sure,” he says. “There are some B-sides, live material, I believe there may be rehearsal material. ‘Badmotorfinger’ was very influential in the rock community. It had a strong influence on other musicians. ‘Superunknown’ probably did as well, but it’s success was not just with musicians but with fans as well. ‘Badmotorfinger’ had an impact with listeners but also with guitarists and drummers and singers, people who started bands. It definitely deserves the same kind of treatment we’re giving (‘Superunknown’).”
Thayil does, however, acknowledge a bit of ambivalence around all the vault-trawling. “King Animal,” after all, established Soundgarden as an active musical concern again, and the group is planning to record more new material — though it’s most recent trip to the studio was working on an older song from about 1990 which “we never really gave the proper attention to with the current rhythm section.” There’s no specific plan for that track yet, however.
“We’re very happy and proud of the ‘Superunknown’ album reaching its 20th year, but I think the band is primarily concerned about being a current, vital concern,” Thayil says. “But at the same time there certainly is an interest in anniversaries. I think it makes sense, fully, especially for a band like Nirvana that doesn’t have new product other than what they have in the catalog. And it make sense for Pearl Jam; they did a big 20th anniversary thing. I think the record company is pretty eager and excited about the fact we’re from the same place, around the same time. And at least we have the material that justifies it.”
Soundgarden returns to the road June 2 for a performance of “Superunknown” in its entirety at Webster Hall in New York City the day before the anniversary packages are released. Thayil says the group will play the full album at other special events this summer. Meanwhile, Soundgarden begins a European run on June 8 in Germany and starts a North American co-headlining tour with Nine Inch Nails on July 19 in Las Vegas.