Kim Thayil Wanted to Gather All Soundgarden’s “Loose Ends” for New Rarities Collection

Image Courtesy of Mike LavineSoundgarden's newest release, a rarities collection entitled Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path, has been in the works for quite a while. Guitarist Kim Thayil has been talking about releasing a compilation of hard-to-find Soundgarden songs since the mid-'90's, but the idea of a rarities collection has been something he has been attracted to since childhood.

Thayil tells ABC News Radio that as a kid growing up in Chicago, he had always felt frustrated whenever, for example, a band would write a song on a soundtrack and then never give it a proper album release. He felt that it was way too difficult for fans to track down every single piece of music from their favorite bands. Thayil envisions Echo of Miles as an antidote to that annoyance for Soundgarden fans.

"I didn't want our fans to have to experience that same frustration of wanting to hear a song and having to track it down, or to have a lot of this material in a number of different places in one's record collection," he tells ABC News Radio. "I always wanted to gather all these loose ends that we were producing and releasing into one package."

Thayil does name The Beatles as one of the bands of his childhood that did it get right in terms of compiling hard-to-find songs. He remembers Hey Jude -- which he says was the first rock album he ever got for Christmas -- as a great example, even if his high school friends didn't agree.

"Later on in high school I had friends tell me that, 'Well, [Hey Jude]'s not a real Beatles album. That wasn't released conceptually like Revolver or Sgt. Pepper, rather it's a collection of un-compiled singles,'" Thayil recalls. "And I thought, 'Well, that's kind of what an album is.'"

Hey Jude wasn't the only piece of Beatles material that helped form Echo of Miles. The collection contains two Beatles covers -- "Come Together" and "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" -- and the track "One Minute of Silence," which was inspired by John Lennon's "Two Minutes Silence."

"I thought, 'Well let's do like a heavy version of ["Two Minutes Silence"], sure!' So we just plugged in an amp and put a mic in front of an amp that was on standby, just kind of humming," explains Thayil. "We couldn't make it the whole minute, we have short attention spans. So someone went over and kicked the amp or unplugged the cord and that's it. That's a pretty strange one."

Echo of Miles is divided into three discs -- "Originals," "Covers" and "Oddities." Naturally, "One Minute of Silence" falls into the third category, but Thayil names the track "Night Surf" as the oddest of all the "Oddities." He tells ABC News Radio that they song only existed in live concerts in 1994 as the soundtrack to a short film shot by bassist Ben Shepherd's brother, Henry Shepherd.

"We would show that film and play the song, which was the soundtrack for the film, and at the end of it, the scrim, or curtain would fall and we'd come out and start playing," Thayil says. "I know there's tens of thousands of people from that period of time who might remember that and probably wondered 'What the hell was this track?' Well, here it is, it's 'Night Surf.'"

Now that Echo of Miles is released, Soundgarden has set their sights another archival project: a re-issue of the band's debut album, Ultramega OK. Thayil tells ABC News Radio that the remixed and remastered version of the record will come out in the next year.

For Soungarden fans craving new material, Thayil also says that the band will return to the studio after their Australian tour in February 2015.

"When we come back, we'll probably take a little bit of a break, and then get in the studio with [drummer] Matt [Cameron] and Ben and myself and [lead singer] Chris [Cornell] and start sharing demos and jamming and coming up with new ideas, and that will be the work for the next album," he says. 

Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path is out now.

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