Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil takes us inside the band's final tour setlist

'You start off with something perhaps visceral or trippy to get everyone's heads spinning -- and that includes ourselves'
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden Photo credit Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images
By , Audacy

Kim Thayil, co-founder and guitarist of Soundgarden, joins the Behind the Setlist podcast this week to talk about the songs and setlists of the band's final 2017 tour.

LISTEN NOW: Behind The Setlist: Kim Thayil of Soundgarden

Photo credit Behind The Setlist

Guitarist Kim Thayil performed with Seattle grunge rock icons Soundgarden throughout their 33-year career and played their final show in Detroit on May 17, 2017 at the Fox Theatre, with singer Chris Cornell passing tragically the following morning. In addition to helping spawn Seattle's grunge scene in the late '80s and reshape popular music in the '90s, Soundgarden had an incredible string of successful albums in the '90s, including 1991's Badmotorfinger, 1994's Superunknown which reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and 1996's Down on the Upside which reached number 2 on the Billboard 200.

Pulling from an impressive and diverse body of work, from 1987's Screaming Life EP, to 2012's King Animal, the set in Detroit just before Chris' death is the main focus of the discussion with Kim, dovetailing into a number of on-the-road stories and more from a living legend in Rock music.

"We liked to mix it up, and we'd mix it up, at least for the particular physical challenges that [drummer] Matt [Cameron] might have," Kim admits. "We might not want to do a two hour and fifteen-minute set and then finish with 'Jesus Christ Pose', I mean Matt could do it, but he's only human. Certainly, there were certain challenges for Chris' voice; some things are more difficult or demand more of his breathing and of his vocal cords, but we would tend to start off with a bang. Like, 'let's hit 'em with something energetic and fast and aggressive,' and we'll keep doing that and follow it up with something like that and then we'll do another one. Then we'll bring it down a bit, but we're not gonna do a ballad, we'll probably do something that's moody and dark, which is a lot of our set."

"You start off with something perhaps visceral or trippy to get everyone's heads spinning -- and that includes ourselves because especially in the early days we'd have a couple of beers before we went on stage so we want to be into it too, it was sort of a communal shared experience, we believed," Thayil adds. "So we might not go to anything slow-tempo right away, we would certainly change the mood but not necessarily the tempo. Slow it down a little bit, but yeah, throw some hits in there and save something for the encore."

Check out the tracks that Soundgarden performed on May 17, 2017 below, and listen along above as Kim Thayil goes behind the setlist of songs that closed the door on one of Rock music's most beloved bands.

Soundgarden setlist: May 17, 2017 - Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI

Ugly Truth
Hunted Down
Non-State Actor
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Black Hole Sun
By Crooked Steps
The Day I Tried to Live
My Wave
Been Away Too Long
Fell on Black Days
A Thousand Days Before
Burden in My Hand
Blow Up the Outside World
Jesus Christ Pose
Rusty Cage
Slaves & Bulldozers

Listen to the full Behind the Setlist episode with Kim Thayil -- now playing on Audacy -- and follow along as hosts Glenn Peoples (Billboard) and Jay Gilbert (Label Logic) talk to artists to get the stories about the songs they play live. Most artists are known best for their recordings, but they love to be on stage. That's where the music feels at home. That's where they connect with the audience. How do they pick the songs to take the audience on a journey? Why do they cover other artists' songs? How many new songs can an artist fit into a 16-song set when people want to hear the classics? We find out.

Listen to more of your favorite music on Audacy's Soundgarden Radio, The Seattle Sound, Alt Now, Rockternative, Drivin' Alt, New Wave Mix Tape, 90s and Chill, Alterna 00s, and ALT Roots stations -- plus check out our talent-hosted Kevan Kenney's Music Discovery, Megan Holiday's My So Called '90s Playlist, and Scott Lowe on the Go's Post Modern Music Box!

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images