Soundgarden Reveal Why Kurt Cobain Had ‘Zero Charisma’


Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil discussed Kurt Cobain lacking charisma live during the band’s early days in a new Rolling Stone interview, before he says Cobain and Nirvana developed strong confidence as performers just a year or so later. He also discussed Chris Cornell’s thoughts on Kurt Cobain.

I’m picking Bleach for this list on the strength of ‘Negative Creep,’ which would be amazing as a hardcore song or as sort of a metal-grunge song. I also love the riffs on “Blew” and “Swap Meet”; I’d listen to those over and over. That record was so popular with our band when we were touring. We’d play Fugazi, Margin Walker; Meat Puppets II; Neil Young, After the Gold Rush; and Nirvana, Bleach, all the time on a cassette player in our van.

Nivana opened up for us a few times, and we were like, ‘Shit, these guys are good.’ I remember thinking they’ve got some cool songs and Kurt could sing, but their stage presence really didn’t have that confidence or identity yet. Kurt would just stand there and not move, and his hair was in his face. He had zero charisma, except for [the fact] he had a good voice. Chris [Cornell] definitely picked up on his voice. In a year or so, they found their groove and that confidence. Live, it was pretty amazing.”