Kim Thayil"s Uneasy Pedal Alliance

March 5, 2013

“I’M NOT A BIG FAN OF EFFECTS pedals,” says Kim Thayil—whose band, the recently resurrected and still potent Soundgarden, released its first full CD of original studio material in 16 years, the ferocious King Animal [Seven Four/Republic]. “The less decisions I have to make, the better. If you get too involved with a pedalboard, you end up married to the damn thing, always kicking one effect off and kicking another one on. Sometimes, I’ll be standing by my amp thinking, ‘I’m here, my beer is right here, and I’m playing this riff, so I’m staying here. I’m not running over there to hit that pedal. Forget it— no one is going to notice!’

“Another thing that bugs me about pedals is that I’m right-handed, but I’m left-footed. When a tech sets my pedals up from right to left, it really screws me up. I have to put my Dunlop Cry Baby wah and Dunlop Rotovibe— which are the two pedals I use most—over on the far left side of my pedalboard, but it still feels weird.

“Admittedly, I was known for using a Boss chorus pedal on the first three Soundgarden albums. Even though our early songs were heavy and fast, we’d pick out three- or four-note arpeggios, and the chorus sounded great on those. It also made feedback kind of turnaround and spin— which I liked. But I got excessive. I started using chorus on parts that didn’t call for it. I had to stop. And once we started playing meatier riffs, the chorus would just get in the way. I went away from the chorus pedal, and I never came back.”

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