Soundgarden Guitarist Talks Commercialization Turning Grunge Into ‘Dollar Bill’

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Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil discussed his issues with the commercialization of alternative music in a new Vice interview.

“I don’t think people were understanding or interpreting what was going on,” he says. “They were just latching onto it and trying to commodify it and turn this cultural phenomenon into a dollar bill, and I don’t think the artists from Seattle presented them with those dollar bills. But then Nirvana came along and had strong pop sensibilities and were embraced not just by rock fans and musicians but by the whole spectrum of the record buying public—children, housewives and businessmen. Those people bought the record as well and that’s how a record becomes huge, not because everyone with a guitar buys it, but everyone with a guitar and a vacuum cleaner, and a rattle buys it. That didn’t change Nirvana at all for us, they were still that great band, but it changed the understanding of the marketplace and all the weird stuff like Vogue magazine doing some grunge style thing. It was just idiotic.”

“We didn’t present a pre-packaged or pre-fab product,” says Thayil. “We were making music for nothing more than the impact of having a bunch of beer-soaked people jump around. And there are probably less school lunchboxes and vacuum cleaners engaged with Badmotorfinger and probably a few more guitars and pens and steering wheels.”