Following the 2011 separation of alternative rock’s First Couple, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, Sonic Youth played what would be their final concert at the SWU Music and Arts Festival outside São Paolo, Brazil. However, as Moore recently revealed in an interview with Collide, he didn’t think of that performance as the band’s last. In fact, he never considered the band formally disbanded.
“I find it really strange that I get [demonized] for the break-up of Sonic Youth when I myself had no intention of breaking up the band,” he said when asked how he reflected on the SWU show. “That was a real surprise to me. I get the reasons behind the band not existing at the moment – everyone has to be on the same page – but there was never any announcement. Well, I never made one.”
While Gordon intimately discussed her own feelings during that South American tour and consistently referred to the band as having split up in her book Girl in a Band: A Memoir, Moore used far less definitive terms in the interview. He said the bond with the group “goes on and won’t end.” When he addressed the fact that Sonic Youth is currently not working together, he added the caveat “at the moment.”
Read his full response below.
“Well I never thought of it as the final show! In my mind we were going to take a break as things got worked out in our personal worlds. I find it really strange that I get demonised for the break-up of Sonic Youth when I myself had no intention of breaking up the band; that was a real surprise to me. I get the reasons behind the band not existing at the moment – everyone has to be on the same page – but there was never any announcement. Well, I never made one.
Sonic Youth was a bond that existed between four of us. I have a tattoo that says ‘SONIC LIFE’ and it’s something that defines me forever. For me, it goes on and won’t end. I write songs now and people say “It sounds kinda like Sonic Youth” – well, that’s my vocabulary, you know. What you’re not hearing is Lee and Kim because they’re not playing the music with me, so it’s a different situation.
With the new music, there will never be a democracy like Sonic Youth. I certainly allow musicians that I work with to do what they do, but I do make the final decision on how things are going to sound. Sonic Youth was not that way – it was 8 hands. The band will be forever with me; the fact that we’re not playing at the moment comes down to what happened in our personal lives.”
Despite these remarks, the future of Sonic Youth remains firmly in doubt, and Moore isn’t waiting around. He disclosed that he’s recorded a new album called Rock & Roll Consciousness with producer Paul Epworth, known for his work with Adele. Moore connected with Epworth after his friend Mark Stewart of The Pop Group said they’d recorded at London studio The Church, where Adele and Epworth worked on 21 and 25.
“I couldn’t figure out why a band like The Pop Group would work in that situation, but it turns [Paul Epworth] is from the same place as The Pop Group (Bristol),” Moore said. He added, “He has these two beautiful analog mixing boards – one is the board Pink Floyd used and the other was used by The Rolling Stones. So I worked something out with him, brought the band in and we recorded 9 things in 4 days.”
The album is awaiting mixing from Randall Dunn, who has previously worked with Sunn O))), Marissa Nadler, Boris, Earth, and others. “It should be a really interesting mix,” Moore promised.