Following the frontman’s death in 2017, Thayil has been outspoken about Cornell apparently leaving behind enough vocal recordings to complete the new album the band was working on before their frontman’s passing. As Thayil has said multiple times before, the surviving members of Soundgarden—including current Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd—could easily finish the album if they just had the demo files of Cornell’s recordings, which are currently in possession of parties Thayil has repeatedly declined to name.
When asked by host Eddie Trunk if there’s an “obstacle stopping” the completion of the unfinished Soundgarden album, Thayil’s frustration becomes apparent.
“There shouldn’t be,” Thayil said, “other than the fact that we don’t have those files.” The guitarist trails off rather than elaborate on why the band doesn’t have what they need. Trunk moves the discussion along by reiterating the hypothetical that if the surviving members of Soundgarden came into possession’s of Cornell’s vocal demos, they could release an entirely new studio album.
“Yeah, definitely, and I think that will happen. It would be ridiculous if it didn’t,” Thayil responded. “But, you know, these are difficult things. Partnerships and property.”
Trunk also asked whether Soundgarden would ever consider following in Alice in Chains‘ footsteps and continuing on with a new singer following Layne Staley’s death. While Thayil thinks the current incarnation of Alice in Chains is “amazing,” he doesn’t foresee the same trajectory for Soundgarden.
“Reasonably, you got a big part missing, so, I think in terms of the Soundgarden catalog, that’s going to be active as best as it can be. In terms of unreleased recordings, live materials, I’m still going to attend to that. That’s my gig. I love that. Let’s make records,” Thayil said. “Given the commitments the other band members have and given our sentiments over Chris, I do not see us reconfiguring a tour—or anything—without him.”
Thayil gets visibly emotional talking about Cornell. “This is really complicated. I’ve known Chris since I was a kid, basically. You want to honor the work … Is it best to regard it with dignity and let it rest? Do you want to honor it by celebrating the work and music he’s done?” he ponders. “At this point—and this has been difficult for a lot of people in the band—I think our conclusion was that. Now I understand people are complicated and life is a bag of tricks. I don’t know. I think we reached a conclusion we thought was correct.”
Soundgarden’s last studio album was 2012’s King Animal. They released Live From the Artists Den, a live album from their 2013 performance at Los Angeles’ famed Wiltern Theater, on July 26. The band was also nominated in October for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.