Soundgarden, a raucous band from Seattle, was in New York last week, playing the Beacon Theater. On their day off, the band members decided to go shopping.

And what do heavy metal rockers buy, you ask?

"Beer and cigarettes," says lead guitarist Kim Thayil.

Not just any kind, though.

"Budweiser and Camel Lights."

Well, at least there's something in their life that's light.

These guys are rough, obnoxious and X-rated. If Tipper Gore gets a hold of their new album, "Louder Than Love" (A&M), she'll slap one of those warning stickers on it faster than you can say "expletive."

But what else would you expect from a group of guys whose primary influence is Black Sabbath and who grew up in the punk movement? Certainly not folk.

"When punk rock started, I was finishing up high school," says Thayil. "I listened to a lot of that, and New York music like the Dead Boys and Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and Detroit bands from the late '60s and early '70s, the Stooges and MC5. They were violent hard rock. MC5 were politically involved and the Stooges were punky in some ways -- and acidic and violent.

"Our music," says the Chicago native, "has definite elements of that."

Thayil bought his first guitar when he was 16. He had specific ideas on what kind of music he wanted to make -- and it wasn't the opening bars of Yes's "Roundabout" or Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

"People always told me I had to learn other people's songs," he says, "but I wanted no part of that. I bought a guitar to play my own songs."

After he finished high school, Thayil packed up and moved to Seattle, where he went to college, hung out in clubs and jammed with other musicians.

"There is this sort of subculture with musicians," he says. "Everyone knows each other. That's how we sort of hooked up. We like the way we played together and we enjoyed each other's songs."

The band was born -- but not yet named.

Then, one day, Thayil went to a park north of Seattle, on the water. There's a funky sculpture made of pipes that, when the wind blows, makes a haunting, hooting noise. The name of the work is Soundgarden.

"So we decided to borrow the name," he says. "It's a novelty at best, I suppose."

Soundgarden is performing with Danzig at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum Tuesday night at 8. Tickets are $18.50 and available at TicketCenter. For information, call 432-0200.