Soundgarden: 'Bands With One Guy Calling the Shots Are Going to Suck'

Grunge veterans also bash Billy Corgan. "You've got one jacka-s that runs the whole thing and a bunch of yes-men."

Ultimate Guitar

While discussing their comeback record "King Animal," grunge veterans Soundgarden were in a bit of a fighting mood as they bashed anyone from cynics and "di-khead critics" to musicians who are dominantly in charge of their bands, specifically Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. "You have four guys that are pretty self critical and critical of each other," guitarist Kim Thayil told Gigwise about the band. "How can a bad record come out of that? I mean how can anyone come up with a bad idea when there's two or three other guys laughing, saying 'What the f--k is that?' It's just not possible for us to have a bad record." The axeman then lashed out at over-controlling mainmen. "You know when it is possible [to have a bad record]? You've got one jacka-s who runs the whole thing and a bunch of guys they hire around him." "You mean the yes-men?" asked bassist Ben Shepherd. "Yeah, exactly," the guitarist continued. "Now you can make a bad record 'cause your bad ideas are going in the ether and end up on the record. We're not a band of yes-men, we're a band of no-men." Thayil elaborated further, "If you've got a band with one guy who calls the shots, that band's gonna suck, cause the guy might have bad thoughts in his head. 'I've just came out of sobriety and I've got this idea for a rock record,'" he jokingly said. When briefly asked about Smashing Pumpins frontman Billy Corgan and his pessimistic stance on the state of rock music, drummer Matt Cameron said "I think Kim just addressed that point."

Do over-controlling frontmen really make their bands bad? Let us know in the comments.

45 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I hate when the video auto-plays and you have multiple tabs open. That frantic-search for the tab making the noise is pretty irritating.
    Queens of the Stone Age.... the list could go on and on. I think the point that they're making is that having one person calling the shots simply ups the POSSIBILITY of making a bad record, it doesn't guarantee that it will happen, as these examples obviously show.
    The thing with QOTSA is, I only like 2 of their albums, RR and SFTD, ever since then there's not been much variety in the albums, with those 2 albums, you could go from a pop-rock song to a punk song to a sludge metal song, now it's all just gloomy stuff, just my opinion though.
    SFTD rivals their debut album for least variety in the music. If you're looking for variety, Era Vulgaris and Like Clockwork should be the records you're looking for. Apart from that, I don't think you know what you're talking about.
    cheers mate, you don't deserve downvotes just for sharing your opinion
    His opinion is fine. If he only likes those two albums, that's fair enough. That's totally cool. I know loads of people who only like those two. But he's incorrect in saying that SFTD is more varied than Era Vulgaris or Like Clockwork for example. I'll give him Rated R though, that's varied enough but no way is there loads of variety on SFTD. You're right though, the downvotes aren't necessary.
    Both Devin Townsend and Mikael Akerfeldt write and choose the direction of the vast majority of music in the respective projects they're involved in, and the results are usually incredible.
    Nirvana, the White Stripes, and Nine Inch Nails
    yeah but NIN was kinda always synonymous with Reznor and he started off writing and recording everything himself. i never really thought of them as a true band
    There are exceptions of course, but in general what they are saying is true. Having people shoot down crappy ideas lead to better songs generally.
    well, nirvana was a shaky group socially, and there were troubles, white stripes disbanded, nin is on and off all the time, so the dynamics do effect, if not the product, then the group itself.
    Nirvana had Dave, but he admits he didnt bring anything to the writing department cause he just loved Kurt's stuff so much. i think the article is more pointing out the guys who just write and have people playing the instruments I think if he lived on and dave eventually showed him all his writing chops he would have loved to use them in Nirvana. we would have seen dave's stuff with kurt's. now that would have been awesome.
    It all depends on the actual person who's calling the shots. You can have a great musical mind like the bands you mentioned and Weezer or Big Wreck, but generally, more minds are better than one.
    Actually the best music is formed by one mind with a vision, thats why classical music is so amazing. the more opinions and slices of the pie you get the more diluted the music becomes...
    There has to be some sort of leadership in a band, or nothing will ever get done
    Death was pretty much a one man show (Writing wise, not skill wise) and that went pretty damn well. I really think it depends on the people involved, some people work better alone other work better in groups, Soundgarden is obviously in the latter catehory while a lot of other previously mentioned bands falls in the latter.
    Queens of the Stone Age have been going on for 10 years now, and they're really only hitting the high road now. Musicians and music fanatics have been aware of them, but QOTSA didn't get anywhere near the hype they have now until this last record. Trent Reznor is also much more widely known for his soundtrack work, singles, and live shows than ALBUMS. To throw around those two bands shows that the opinions on this website sway drastically based on who's putting out an album any given year. Soundgarden is one of those great bands, but it isn't like King Animal was amazing. It is not bad, but I think I listened to it for a week after I bought it, and now I only play it for my friends to show them what it's like. 90's bands seem to think music stopped progressing after the mid-nineties for whatever reason. If they're thinking Billy Corgan...they really are kind of out-dating themselves. All of the big musicians are led by one guy. Mumford and Sons, The Black Keys, Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, Tame Impala, the Jack White family of bands, Florence + the Machine, Edward Sharpe...these are the bands who have consistently put out the best albums of the past five years, and they're for the most part one-man acts creatively.
    I understand your point, but I do have to point out that aside from the stripes and his solo bands, Jack whites other projects are more collaborative, I'm pretty sure thats the whole reason why the raconteurs started in the first place.
    I get what you're saying, but I get the vibe they're collaborations with Jack White's direction. I think he's the only one with any sole writing credits on any of the Raconteurs or Dead Weather albums. I could be wrong.
    Try close to 20 years, bud.
    15, but it only proves my point even more. Queens of the Stone Age have put out a lot of stuff with almost 0 recognition. By your dating, it's taken them 20 years to get the kind of praise they have with this album.
    I'd rather listen to Billy Corgan whining about how he's not appreciated for an hour than endure one Soundgarden song.
    I don't think acts should use a bandname if ea,h memner isn't a controlling actor. For example, who are the other Queens Josh? How about the other Guns, Nails, or Pumpkins?
    It doesnt matter if its a guy running the band or guys running the band.There are examples when it works and when it doesnt.Even if it seems that the band is managed by 1 guy its not the true- at least musically. The Beatles,Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd,The Who.All had their 2 men in the front for the public but in the studio everyone worked their asses off and contributed to songs even if they didnt get the credit(JPJ and George are good examples of other robbing them of credit they should have had on songs).
    Maybe musicians instead of picking at others simply focus on providing good music themselves? Just a cheap, effortless trick to remind they still exist. And I don't mean Soundgarden here, but any musicians choosing griping over making music.
    It depends on the kind of people you're working with. There's lots of different ways to go about writing music with other people.