Soundgarden Guitarist Reacts To Pearl Jam & Nirvana Feud


A new Washington Post article discussed the Pearl Jam and Nirvana 90’s rivalry. Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil discussed how both bands managed their success.

“There’s definitely different ways that a band like Pearl Jam managed their success compared to how Nirvana did. What came out of that was our understanding of how well Pearl Jam managed their situation, to keep it within the bounds of where they would like to be in their career, to not let things get ahead of them, or let the situation become unmanageable.”

Photographer Lance Mercer said, “[Pearl Jam] definitely became more guarded, like any band would when that much notoriety happens that fast. The criticism Eddie was getting, I even was critical to a certain extent, but then I stepped back, like, I don’t know how I’d be affected if there’s that many people stalking you. The fandom was skyrocketing, and everybody wanted a piece of him. Who’s to say how you’d be affected?”

Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd almost played in Nirvana. He told Westword in 2013, “Well, I was supposed to play lead guitar for them. But they stayed a three piece. I knew them before they were a band, too. Chad [Channing] never told Kurt [Cobain] that I played guitar, even though the first time Kurt and I met, we were at a party in Olympia, and we were the two loners on the end of the couch, and there was a guitar there. I would always find a guitar at a party because I didn’t like parties much. So I would find the guitar and space off by myself, you know? Kurt was the same way, so we wound up sharing a guitar that night, an acoustic that was there.

Then our paths went different ways. Chad, my old friend, we were in a band together, and I was the singer for a band. Then there was Krist Novoselic walking up to me. This was after my punk band, March of Crimes, broke up, and I was in this band called the Magnet Men. Then I went, ‘That’s a dumb name, let’s change it.’ When we were playing, we played with Malfunkshun and this band called Bliss — Krist Novoselic’s band.

I’d already known him from playing in March of Crimes, and growing up, you had to have a brother band to play gigs with you. We played down in Portland, and we got Bliss on the bill, or they got us, and we stayed with the Melvins. We’d run into Krist there because they were part of the same crowd out in Montesano or Aberdeen.

When we played with this band a couple of years later or something, there was Krist who said, ‘Hey, Ben, dude, do you think your drummer would let us use his drum set?’ ‘Fuck, I didn’t know you were in a band, Krist, cool. Sure, man. That’s Chad up there. He has those funny looking drums up there. He’ll probably loan you those drums.’

So they did, and that’s how they met Chad, and he ended up joining the band. I didn’t really roadie with them. I just went on tour with them. We all did all that shit. It was a blast to get out. The furthest East we made it was Ann Arbor; then we went back to play Cincinnati and stuff and played Denver — 23 Parish had just opened, and I remember hanging out with the owners of the place and talking to them about it.”