Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best Sonic Youth Quotes from famous authors such as Lee Ranaldo, Anthony Fantano, Sufjan Stevens, Colson Whitehead, Kim Gordon. Let’s look at these pieces of wisdom. We definitely have something to learn from them!
Sonic Youth was not a singer-songwriter band. It was an electric collective. And, whatever else people’s perceptions of Sonic Youth were, it was always about putting together a time-based composition – and that is exactly what songwriting is, in its classic form.
By the time Sonic Youth formed in 1981, my musical tastes had left the Dead behind, but I was always very proud of the fact that we had three different singers singing individually from different points of view, like the Dead.
The group disbanded prematurely in 1983, but its records made a sizable mark: Mission of Burma became a band’s band; leaving noticeable impressions on the likes of Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo.
Sonic Youth has a very democratic process for the most part. It almost doesn’t matter who brings in an initial idea; everything gets worked over by the band and kind of co-written by everyone in the end because everyone’s ideas get contributed to it.
I’ve been trying to challenge myself to be more explicit. I’ve always liked punk rock and Sonic Youth. I make that music privately, but I’ve never released it.
‘Europe ’72’ was a super influential record full of fantastic songs and amazing experimental musicianship. I always valued both of those aspects in what Sonic Youth has done through the years – being able to get very abstract and very concrete within the same song.
Sonic Youth played one show before we even had a drummer. It was just me, Kim, and Thurston. The lights slowly went down, and the set was just 30 minutes of feedback.
I take inspiration from books, movies, television, music – it all goes in the hopper. Depending on the project, I’m drawing from this or that piece of art that has stayed with me. Toni Morrison, George Romero, Sonic Youth – they are all in there.
There’s only so many small shows you can do. A lot of the smaller things are more side project things. Not everything is appropriate for Sonic Youth to do.
I never really thought of myself as a musician. I’m not saying Sonic Youth was a conceptual-art project for me, but in a way, it was an extension of Warhol. Instead of making criticism about popular culture, as a lot of artists do, I worked within it to do something.
At 18, I moved to L.A. with my heavy metal band Avant Garde, which was very much influenced by Metallica. At 19, I got a job at Tower Records, and everything started to change very quickly. I started listening to the Velvet Underground, Pixies, early Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and also earlier music like the Beatles.
Each member does whatever they want with the song and it totally changes it from whatever idea I hear around it. It turns it into a Sonic Youth song and completely away from it being a solo song.
I think that certainly, whenever you have a new band, the first record always has a certain energy to it before you know what you’re doing. I think some of the early Sonic Youth stuff was maybe like that.
I’ll always remember listening to Mark Radcliffe playing Sonic Youth. I felt this instant connection, it offered me a peak behind a curtain into this world that I’d never experienced. I wanted to be part of it.
One of the key guitars in my career has been an early-Seventies Fender Telecaster Deluxe that I had before Sonic Youth started and that I played pretty much throughout Sonic Youth.
When Sonic Youth writes music, we write everything in a very communal way. It doesn’t matter who brought something in initially; it all gets transformed by the band.
I’ve been into Sonic Youth since junior high school. I think I kind of have ADD, so it’s good music for ADD because it just throws you in different directions all the time. I really like Kim Gordon’s voice and Thurston Moore’s voice, and I like the guitars going off on tangents.
When Sonic Youth wrote music, we would rehearse for months before anybody heard anything.
Sonic Youth, for better or worse, is/was a machine that carried me along through pregnancy, motherhood, and creative opportunities I never would have achieved on my own. I’m grateful and surprised that we were listened to, loved, ignored, and overrated.
In Sonic Youth, at the end of ‘Expressway to Yr. Skull,’ we’d tap on the backs of our guitars to get this low-level feedback, and if I leaned forward, and the guitar hung off my body, it would resonate differently.
I think Thurston’s and my weird tunings lent Sonic Youth a very different sound from the get-go. In the band’s 30 years – aside from covers – there are maybe two or three songs we wrote using traditional tuning.
Pixies and Sonic Youth were so important to the eighties.