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Sonic Life
February 7, 2012 6:23 PM   Subscribe

With Sonic Youth on indefinite hiatus, the band members are keeping themselves busy with other projects. Thurston Moore is playing solo shows centered around his latest solo album, the Beck-produced Demolished Thoughts, with a band he jokingly(?) referred to this past Friday night as "Dush Krew" in honor of his crush on actress Eliza Dushku. Kim Gordon recently designed clothes for French brand Surface to Air, is currently playing shows with Bill Nace as part of the noise improvisation duo Body/Head, and was kind enough recently to share her favorite taco recipe. Lee Ranaldo is poised to release his first song-oriented solo album on Matador Records; he debuted the music video for the first single ("Off the Wall") today on his website. Steve Shelley played drums on Lee's new album, recently collaborated with Pete Nolan of Magik Markers (Sonic Youth's most interesting protégés) on Nolan's side-project Spectre Folk, and is currently drumming for Chicago's Disappears whose new album is out via Kranky records in March. Meanwhile, Jim O'Rourke is preparing to curate the All Tomorrow's Parties I'll Be Your Mirror Festival in Tokyo this April, where he will also perform his 1999 album Eureka in full with a 12-piece band.
posted by Houyhnhnm (53 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
in honor of his crush on actress Eliza Dushku

If he keeps an eye out, he can probably pick her up cheaply on ebay.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2012


Jim O'Rourke hasn't been in SY in years. And what of Mark Ibold?

Really though, this stuff is nothing new for them. Even when they weren't on hiatus, the calendar on their website was color-coded (still is) to show what all non-SY shows everyone was doing, and in the years between albums, it was pretty much all solo stuff.

For those that might like to replicate some SY in their own homes, here's the online tab archive. Cheap knockoff guitars not included; note that re-tuning yr guitar will be cumbersome, especially if you have a floating tremolo bridge.
posted by LionIndex at 6:35 PM on February 7, 2012


What's Richard Edson up to these days?
posted by cazoo at 6:38 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


How old do the members of the band have to get before everyone admits that Sonic Youth is no longer a really appropriate name?
posted by localroger at 6:40 PM on February 7, 2012


Or Bob Bert?
posted by heurtebise at 6:40 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what's Glenn Branca up to?
posted by ovvl at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree with LionIndex that these seem like normal SY off-season activities. Nevertheless, the concept of a "song-oriented" Lee solo album is enough to engage me in some aging nerd excitement, considering that a) his songs are usually the best thing off of any given album and b) most of his solo work can be described as anything but.

My favorite Lee-related story:

Around 1997 or so, I went to go see Two Dollar Guitar, one of Steve Shelley's solo project, play at some now-closed dive bar in downtown Denver. I didn't know if Steve would actually be there, but I wanted to go anyway. Right before the show started, Steve showed up in the audience, drinking a Sprite, as if someone had suddenly pushed a button marked "Steve" to make him appear. I gathered up all the drunken courage I had and went over to talk to him. He was totally nice, except for one weird part. I asked what the other band members were up to, and he went into all this detail about Thurston and Kim's activities.

After he finished, I asked, "Well, what about Lee?"

He looked at me strangely for a bit, and said, "Oh, your're one of THOSE fans...." He then shook my hand and went off to play the drums.
posted by heurtebise at 6:56 PM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


How old do the members of the band have to get before everyone admits that Sonic Youth is no longer a really appropriate name?

In the 90's, they attempted to change their name to Washing Machine, but their contract with DGC wouldn't allow them to do it.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:00 PM on February 7, 2012


How old do the members of the band have to get before everyone admits that Sonic Youth is no longer a really appropriate name?


... and may you staaaaa-aaaaay
foreverrrrrrr young
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2012


to sir with millipedes: “In the 90's, they attempted to change their name to Washing Machine, but their contract with DGC wouldn't allow them to do it.”

Really? That's hilarious. I guess being David Geffen's personal recruiters didn't give them absolute artistic control after all.
posted by koeselitz at 7:06 PM on February 7, 2012


How old do the members of the band have to get before everyone admits that Sonic Youth is no longer a really appropriate name?

And it turns out The Eagles aren't actually Eagles! What's up with that?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:12 PM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


localroger: “How old do the members of the band have to get before everyone admits that Sonic Youth is no longer a really appropriate name?”

Fuzzy Monster: “And it turns out The Eagles aren't actually Eagles! What's up with that?”

Paul Simonon used to say that the Sex Pistols weren't really pistols of sex, and the Buzzcocks obviously weren't actually buzzing cocks, but at least The Clash lived up to their name.

Anyway, wow. I hadn't heard about Thurston and Kim separating. Guess he's free to advertise his crushes now.
posted by koeselitz at 7:22 PM on February 7, 2012


What's Richard Edson up to these days?
Or Bob Bert?
So what's Glenn Branca up to?


Haha, but Mark Ibold was actually in the band when it stopped, unlike Bert, Edson and O'Rourke. Since Ibold played bass, you'd figure they could just sort of continue on without Kim if that's how it had to be, but it's probably more complicated than that.
posted by LionIndex at 7:33 PM on February 7, 2012


Yeah, I'm just enough of a girlpunk geek to point out that the tuna taco recipe is a nearly 20 year old Sassy piece. The next month, I believe they printed Evan Dando's chocolate sauce recipe.
posted by Tomatillo at 7:37 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


localroger: “How old do the members of the band have to get before everyone admits that Sonic Youth is no longer a really appropriate name?”

unlike unsonic youth, sonic youth never wanes
posted by philip-random at 8:07 PM on February 7, 2012


Anyway, wow. I hadn't heard about Thurston and Kim separating. Guess he's free to advertise his crushes now.

He totally is, but personally, it feels like my parents got a divorce, and suddenly my dad's driving a ridiculous Miami Vice T-top convertible and partying with Heidi, the blonde 21-year-old psychology major from Florida State. I mean, do what you want, but ew.
posted by chrominance at 8:16 PM on February 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


(not that Thurston Moore should ever give a shit about what I think of his Hollywood crushes, just to be clear.)
posted by chrominance at 8:17 PM on February 7, 2012


Almost everybody I know casually considers me an old guy and I am no older than the youngest member of Sonic Youth. I haven't been carded in six years.
posted by bukvich at 8:31 PM on February 7, 2012


What a great post.
posted by four panels at 8:44 PM on February 7, 2012


Just saw the Demolished Thoughts tour tonight. The ensemble was excellent and sounded great. Thurston was chatty and inclined toward anecdote, most of which were funny as hell. Demolished Thoughts is a pretty record (although I sort of hate to use that term, and the show reflected that, while also making a lot of brutal, wonderful, noise with two acoustic guitars, a violin and a harp.
posted by thivaia at 9:02 PM on February 7, 2012


I loved Demolished Thoughts. It's one of the great albums of the ‘90s.
posted by chrchr at 9:24 PM on February 7, 2012


"He looked at me strangely for a bit, and said, "Oh, your're one of THOSE fans...." He then shook my hand and went off to play the drums."

So... does ANYone have any idea what is meant by that?
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:33 PM on February 7, 2012


How old do the members of the band have to get before everyone admits that Sonic Youth is no longer a really appropriate name?

Rolling Stones? More like Rolling Tombstones amirite?!
posted by anazgnos at 9:39 PM on February 7, 2012


I had to have a tuna sandwich after that taco recipe.

I think some radish slices would make that taco recipe super awesome. I don't really like tortilla either. She should use a pita. And top that shit with sprouts.

Solid albacore, none of this chunk shit.
Mayo.
Black pepper.
Kosher salt.
Since some radishes really thin with a mandolin.
Stick tuna and radish slices in pita.
Top with sprouts.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:05 PM on February 7, 2012


You forgot the Dill, Ad hominem.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:15 PM on February 7, 2012


Ad hominem: once we replace the jalapeno with radish, and the tortilla with pita, it's no longer a taco, right?
posted by .kobayashi. at 3:19 AM on February 8, 2012



in honor of his crush on actress Eliza Dushku


Okay, I just have to say this because it's been gnawing at me. While I think I have a healthy non-investment in rock stars' marriages, it is so demoralizing that the way it always works is "famous dude dumps age-appropriate partner to pursue, like, way younger women". More is 53; Dushku is 31. It just makes me really cynical about straight guys and their capacity to love, because it seems like they kid themselves that they care about a woman until she's over 40 and then they dump her for a younger model if they have any kind of social power.

I will forever love the systems theorist Immanuel Wallerstein because when I heard him talk he brought his partner, who was, you know, also kind of old. I mean, I like his ideas and all, but the fact that he could have ditched her for a grad student and didn't made me love him more. And I have never felt the same about Eric Hobsbawm since I found out the terrible truth. (I went through a phase of getting rid of all my theory books by men who had dumped their partners for students, but then I had hardly any books left.)
posted by Frowner at 5:08 AM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Aw, the music video for the first single ("Off the Wall") link is broken now. Googling hasn't found me any replacements yet.
posted by nobody at 5:59 AM on February 8, 2012


Man, ATP this year looks to be incredible. Codeine, Afghan Whigs, Archers of Loaf...it's like the reunion fairy has granted all my wishes at once (along with MBV and Swans in recent years past). Dirty Three playing also makes my day.

I agree re: their divorce. I remember as a jaded teen who thought most guys acted like total dogs reading interviews with Thurston in like Bust etc. where he'd go on all happily worshipful of Kim and their relationship. Broke my fucking heart, that news, ugh. I thought they were really in it to win it, for keeps. Oh well.

Also, that Steve/Lee anecdote (at a Two Dollar Guitar show no less, squee) is hilarious. Can't wait to tell my husband it (he is a diehard freak nostalgia SY fan who used to keep all the members' birthdays in his wallet, followed them around the country on tour like a deadhead, eats at barbecue joints they mention in passing in liner notes, yadda yadda yadda)--he was more upset about Lee admitting recently the band is pretty much on hiatus/over than the initial divorce news.
posted by ifjuly at 6:11 AM on February 8, 2012


Saw TM in DC yesterday. He started the show wearing a suit. There was a harp and violin. It was great. People put up videos.

Ono Soul

Patti Smith Math Scratch

Seethrough Playmate (plus black flag banter)

Fun times, obligatory Ian MacKaye sighting on the sidelines.
posted by nutate at 7:41 AM on February 8, 2012


It's not even the divorce, because divorces happen. It's the perpetual "women approximately my own age are ugly and boring! I will use my social power to date someone lots younger because I should not be judged by the standards I apply to women my own age! "

Thank god I'm queer.

Seriously, this shit spoils music for me. I can't hear Le Tigre without thinking "band contains bad ideas about trans identity" and I can't hear my formerly loved Sonic Youth free jazz/noise rock side projects without thinking "band contains creepy dumb ideas about women". And that just kills it. I have to actively avoid learning anything about musicians I admire. Although Arthur Russell seems to have led an exemplary life - lots of infidelity and drama and fighting, but dang, he really loved his partner, which is what matters.
posted by Frowner at 7:43 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Kim Gordon story that no one asked for... At the SYR 4 release party at tonic in NYC I was hanging out drinking a beer. When all of the sudden a wild Kim Gordon appears in a dress holding a glass of red wine and asks "hi, why are you here?"

In my stuttering reply, I said something along the lines of "you are so great and you you had such a great influence on me and and thank you so much."

She said "thanks."

And then I turned and left with maybe a "bye".

At a disappears show I talked for a second with Steve Shelley and I could actually carry on some sort of conversation.
posted by nutate at 7:53 AM on February 8, 2012


band contains creepy dumb ideas about women

This just seems way over the top. All it says is that he has a crush, there's no suggestion that he's ever even met Eliza Dushku. Unless there's something that I'm not seeing, it seems like you're condemning a guy for thinking that a 31 year old woman is pretty.

He's been in the public eye for 25 years without any suggestion of creepy misogynistic behavior. I don't think a harmless crush should undo that.
posted by parallellines at 8:26 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I mean a lot of the articles analyzing why people were hit so hard about their divorce touch upon the fact one component is that Thurston and Kim always seemed to have an egalitarian relationship. Along with them giving people hope you could be domestic with a kid and still be a rock star and tour the world and be arty and whatnot, they also gave people hope you could marry someone and have a kid and still be an ass-kicking feminist with a husband who loved you for it, etc. From my very limited understanding no one really knows why the heck they got divorced (and it's no one's business, obviously), but I think part of me was heartbroken because I'm afraid we're going to find out Thurston isn't the awesome supportive feminist husband type we all want him to continue to seem like he is. Like, for example, yeah, it'll just be "I'm not into her now that we're old", 'cause you hope he's above that cliche.

But it's not like my fear that balloon has been popped is substantiated by any evidence or anything, and I won't assume that without information.

And actually, my real hope is that it was more that other cliche (but more palatable) of, "once the kiddo's independent enough we'll be free to start the next chapter of our lives, one we mutually are ready for" etc. OK, now I feel creepy for speculating so much when it's no one's business.
posted by ifjuly at 8:58 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


A little birdie told me Eva Prinz may have something to do with the split.

Also: Just curious, what bad ideas about trans do Le Tigre espouse?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:43 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


you'd figure they could just sort of continue on without Kim if that's how it had to be

You have enough reverence for Mark Ibold's role in the band to complain I excluded him, yet you think Sonic Youth could exist without Kim? Sure. I mean, what does a rock band need with a chick, anyway?
posted by Houyhnhnm at 11:28 AM on February 8, 2012


Oh, and here's the latest on Mark “Integral” Ibold: He still tends bar at Great Jones Cafe in NY on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays. He'll join Spectre Folk on stage for a show in April as a guest bassist.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 11:36 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


tend to agree. A band without SY is not SY, and I'd be mildly miffed if they kept the name.

This is a controversial view, I know, but I always thought the best songs were almost exclusively Kim songs. That doesn't work the other way around--I don't think all Kim songs are great at all--but the ones that happen to be great are the most great of all SY songs. I'm happy my husband totally agrees (though he's a Lee fanboy like most dudes I know into the band).
posted by ifjuly at 11:40 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


A band without *KIM, that is, oops.
posted by ifjuly at 11:40 AM on February 8, 2012


I could be wrong but maybe the Le Tigre thing has to do with the kerfuffle years back about Ladyfest Midwest or something similar, where MTF trans people were not allowed and people felt Le Tigre was ok with that policy.
posted by ifjuly at 11:44 AM on February 8, 2012


It's like saying Stereolab could exist without Lætitia Sadier. Kim is not some ornamental charlatan like D'Arcy. She was a founder and active participant in Sonic Youth, from the music to the album art. She is just as responsible for the band's aesthetic as any of the others. And yeah, her songs are by far my favorite.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 11:44 AM on February 8, 2012


Or like saying Stereolab could exist without Mary Hansen? Except the band themselves seemed to think that (which really bummed me out at the time).

ifjuly: I looked into it a bit and yes, Le Tigre played the Michigan Womyn's Festival (which is restricted to cis women and wtm transpeople, please forgive me if my terminology if off here), which caused a lot of controversy as it certainly suggested Hanna and Le Tigre were ok with the MWF's exclusion of mtf transpeople.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:58 AM on February 8, 2012


Here's my I-almost-met-all-of-Sonic-Youth story:

I was at Matador's 21st birthday party in Las Vegas. Sonic Youth were supposed to come out after their performance and sign, meet people, etc. I was all lined up and excited but wary at the same time.

After a bit of waiting and intense anticipation, this roadie-like fellow ambles over and tells us that Sonic Youth isn't coming because they wanted to see Pavement, who were on next, because it was their last American show.

Disappointed, the people who had gathered hold arms and console each other. And what does Pavement do? Put on the shittiest show ever. They were literally arguing with each other in between songs.

Seriously, fuck Pavement, is the moral of this story. I was disappointed in SY as well, and I'm not that big of a fan anymore.
posted by Fister Roboto at 12:14 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frowner, you're reading way too much into a jokey offhanded reference by a known stoner-goofy-sense-of-humor-having-pop-culture-afficianado to a little-seen-since-early-00s TV actress.
posted by anazgnos at 4:42 PM on February 8, 2012


You have enough reverence for Mark Ibold's role in the band to complain I excluded him, yet you think Sonic Youth could exist without Kim? Sure. I mean, what does a rock band need with a chick, anyway?

I'm not sure what the straw man you're arguing with thinks, but I have no idea why Kim and Thurston broke up. There's a possibility that Kim just didn't want to be a part of it any more, and I don't know how much of a factor that actually is in the whole thing. If it's actually the case and she left the band of her own volition, then there's really no reason for the band not to continue, since they've got all the pieces to keep going even if they can't recreate Kim's contribution live any more. I certainly don't think that Lee or Steve would put up with kicking Kim out just to keep the band going, and I would be pretty disappointed if they did.
posted by LionIndex at 6:28 PM on February 8, 2012


Oh, and here's the latest on Mark “Integral” Ibold:

Where did I say he's "integral"? You made a post about a band without knowing who was actually in it - O'Rourke wasn't in for the last two albums. That's all I was saying.
posted by LionIndex at 6:39 PM on February 8, 2012


Aw, the music video for the first single ("Off the Wall") link is broken now. Googling hasn't found me any replacements yet.

Hmm. It's working for me right now. Try again! All I've ever wanted out of a Lee solo album is a bunch of tracks like the "Eric's Trip" demo that was included on the fourth side of the Daydream Nation reissue. That was amazing.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 5:29 AM on February 9, 2012


Huh. At this link I still see
ERROR 404 - NOT FOUND

URLS USING THE FORMAT HTTP://70.32.78.3/SYMU/ MAY NO LONGER LINK. THESE SHOULD BE UPDATED TO HTTP://WWW.SONICYOUTH.COM/SYMU/"
posted by nobody at 9:44 AM on February 9, 2012


I saw what in retrospect I hope isn't one of Sonic Youth's last US shows, at the Williamsburg waterfront last summer, just a short while before the divorce was announced. They played an awesome set, full of great renditions of older stuff from the Confusion is Sex era. Near the end of the show Thurston Moore told the crowd "in a minute a giant snake head is going to rise up out of the East River and spray us all with LSD, and turn us all into women." I also caught one of Lee Ranaldo's solo shows, but I didn't like it as much, though my favorite SY songs are Lee songs. Partly I was just in a crappy mood, but it seemed a little noodly.
posted by whir at 3:19 PM on February 9, 2012


I guess being David Geffen's personal recruiters didn't give them absolute artistic control after all.

He was unfettered and alive.
posted by ovvl at 6:24 PM on February 9, 2012


Ah, Fister Roboto! I'm actually wearing my Matador at 21 shirt today—one, because it always takes me back to that marvelously happy weekend, and I've been having a bad week, and two, because it's soffft, and I have skin issues right now.

And the story I was going to tell is also a Matador at 21 story, albeit a bit shameful one. In terms of Sonic Youth fandom, I was completely in the shallow end of the pool until that weekend. And it caught up with me: As I was standing in the merch line to buy some shirts, possibly including this one, some guy who I could tell was someone—right age, right look, etc....I got pretty decent at picking out the actual rockers in the crowd that weekend, even when I only knew the music, not the names or faces—came and stood really close behind me in line. I kind of gave him a look and shuffled over a little to make sure he knew I wasn't giving up that spot in line to anyone, and he kind of gave me a quizzically cool look, then walked over to the side of the counter to see about what he wanted to see about.

That was Lee Ranaldo, which I realized when I saw him onstage later that evening. And I was a fool. (Albeit a young fool who never really listened to Sonic Youth until a few years ago—that's my only excuse!)

Now, of course, I know better, much better, and I plan to make it up to him by buying his album, which if the first mp3 on the Matablog is any indication, is going to be amazing. I put two Kim songs on my winter MeFiSwap mix, but make no mistake, I've become one of those fans.

Now, if only there were a way I could make it up to Arthur Johnson of Come for stepping on his foot in the crowd one night. He smiled and said it was OK, and I smiled sheepishly and said I was sorry, but... Maybe I'll buy a Chris Brokaw album and call it even.

And now you know my shame. Don't judge me too harshly!
posted by limeonaire at 8:58 PM on February 9, 2012


nobody, try this one.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 4:52 AM on February 10, 2012


Thanks! I guess the date on the original post was two days off...
posted by nobody at 5:31 AM on February 10, 2012


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