Thirty years ago this month, a 23-year-old Floridian named Thurston Moore stepped on stage at New York’s influential White Columns gallery to perform with his bandmates at their own, hastily arranged Noise Fest. The nine-day festival was celebrating the city’s burgeoning ‘no wave’ noise-rock scene. It signalled the beginning of one of the most pivotal bands in US alternative rock history: Sonic Youth.
Three decades on, Moore is back with his fourth solo album proper: the glorious, string-soaked, Beck Hansen-produced Demolished Thoughts. We look back over some of Moore’s achievements.
- Famed for unusual tunings and modified instruments, Moore and Sonic Youth cohort Lee Ranaldo would often bring more than 50 guitars to a show. In 2004, Rolling Stone duly noted the pair’s services to axe-wielding, naming Moore and Ranaldo the 33rd and 34th greatest guitarists of all time.
- Moore has composed a number of film soundtracks, lending his distinctive guitar drones to Larry Clark’s controversial Bully, the Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt double-header Manic, and James Mangold’s 1995 indie flick Heavy. He was also part of the alt-rock royalty who provided music for Todd Haynes’ glam tale Velvet Goldmine, alongside members of Radiohead, Suede, Mudhoney, Roxy Music and The Stooges.
- In 2005, Moore edited Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, a collection of stories and artwork that celebrated the humble mix tape. It featured contributions from Minutemen’s Mike Watt, photographer Richard Kern, musician and producer Jim O’Rourke and essayist Mary Gaitskill among others. It also served as something of collective musing on getting older, with the Portland Mercury commenting favourably, “Rarely has being a middle-aged rock star come across as un-shameful as it does here.”
- Moore’s record label Ecstatic Peace! – a name taken from a line in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – is also now 30 years old. Its first-ever release was a split-cassette of spoken word pieces from Michael Gira of cult rockers Swans and Lydia Lunch. In the past 30 years it has put out releases from all manner of underground rock bands, and today has a distribution deal with Universal Records. Moore also ran the Bush-baiting Protest Records website.
- Seemingly as handy with a pen as he is with a Fender Jazzmaster, Moore today reviews new music for Arthur magazine in a joint column with famed rock critic Byron Coley.
Demolished Thoughts is out now on Matador Records