Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil spoke in July about the existence of enough unreleased recordings to create an entirely new album, noting that conflicts on how to handle the original audio files was at the center of a heated debate. TMZ has now reported that Vicky Cornell — the widow of the group's late singer, Chris — has filed a lawsuit against the surviving band members over the rights to seven disputed tracks, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties she believes the group is withholding.
"We tried to get this going two years ago," Thayil explained of the recordings. "But we're not in possession of any of the demos that Chris was working on with them ... there seems to be some confusion amongst various parties as to what that would entail and how that works, and who that would benefit. And it's been tiring, you know."
As for her stance, Vicky Cornell states in legal paperwork obtained by TMZ that the seven songs were "solely authored by Chris; contain Chris' own vocal tracks; and were bequeathed to Chris' Estate." She also claims to have offered to work with the band in a way that would honor Chris' wishes but was rejected, and that Thayil's public comments have misled Soundgarden's "loyal, rabid fan base" into believing that she is blockading a future album from the group. Additionally, the documents describe the alleged withholding of royalties as an "unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris' Estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away."
While the court papers describe the unreleased songs as material that Chris created and recorded solo, Thayil has disputed that, stating that the group had been "working on the files in a collaborative effort." As reported by TMZ, the surviving Soundgarden members wrote in a letter to Vicky, "The entire band was feeling very positive about their rekindled artistic energy and creativity" before the singer's death. The letter also lists various members as co-songwriters on five of the seven disputed recordings.