Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore picks 5 seminal records from his collection (Exclusive)
Exclusive Interview: the Sonic Youth frontman chats music and more.
Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth fame is widely considered to be one of the greatest guitarists to ever walk the earth.
His riffs recognisable, his licks sublime, Moore and his bandmates fundamentally changed the face of rock music throughout the mid-’80s and '90s. The sound they produced was a scuzzy, bold mass of noise, one that formed the foundation on which today’s thriving indie rock arena is built upon.
Voted the greatest guitarist of all time by Spin alongside bandmate Lee Ranaldo, Moore continues to uphold his axeman tendencies. Alongside unleashing 2019’s Spirit Counsel, an experimental three-track EP with offerings stretching for up to 63 minutes, his latest venture involves his other great love - vinyl.
“I live in Stoke Newington,” declares Moore fresh off stage, having just handed over the award for Recording Studio of the Year to Church Studios at the Music Producer’s Guild Awards. “I used to stay there in the 80s and it was quite a different time then, particularly in that part of North London.”
“There’s this revolution of record stores all opening up around Hackney. In fact, we’ve just opened up a store called Ecstatic Peace Library,” declares Moore.
Located at 96 Church Street, the venture was set up as a collaboration with comic artist Savage Pencil (Edwin Pouncey) and Soho Music and Zippo Records head Pete Flanagan. Named after his record label Ecstatic Peace!, “It’s a pop-up that we hope to maintain - and I think we will.”
“It’s been a dream of mine to have a situation like this. To work with different record dealers and some artists - it’s more like a community meeting place but just happens to have plenty of vinyl.”
It goes without saying that we took the opportunity to uncover some of the seminal records in Moore’s collection. “I think the records that are pivotal to most musicians are the ones that they discover at a fairly young age,” he reflects, “they’re always the most memorable ones.”
So, without further adieu, it’s time to uncover the pivotal records that shaped Moore’s (and Sonic Youth’s) musical journey.
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1. Horses, Patty Smith
"I think for me it’ll always be Horses by Patty Smith. It hit all these spots in my youthful, intellectual world. It’s the idea of somebody who was both a poet and a rock writer - who still is a poet and a rock writer. Patty Smith was writing for rock magazines and I’d see her byline and her writing was always this prosaic, all lower case, beatific exposition of the music.”
“She was such a mystery. And then she made a seven-inch - Piss Factory - and then she made the record Horses. So for me, it was this idea that this writer became a rock song writer, because this writer loved rock and roll so much. She had to fully engage in it. That was really special to me, because I was really interested in writing, I was a young kid interested in journalism and poetry. How do you do something that’s both devotional and puts equal importance on both these art forms as she was doing that? She was also this astounding character, personality and she remains that way.”
2. Ramones, Ramones
“Of course there’s the first Ramones record. In a way it was at a time when it was almost an extension of glam rock. These four people with the same last name all dressed the same - but they stripped all the colour out of it! And they were just doing the street-side thing and so that was a super important record.”
3. Never Mind The Bollocks, Sex Pistols
“And Never Mind The Bollocks - it’s just impeccable! The thing about the group was that they were this exploited sound. But when the record came out, every song was just incredible. So the thing about all these Brit rock records is that the songwriting was amazing.”
4. Marquee Moon, Television
“It was more expansive than most of the other musicals going on around it. The guitar interplay between Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine was just really informative for me. It was really dry and super poetic whilst still being really unpretentious.”
5. Man Ah Warrior, Tapper Zuki
“So it would have to be a reggae inspired track for this last one. Tapper Zuki had a track called Man Ah Warrior which I discovered because Lenny Kaye had a label that he and Patty were doing and I just bought it because of that. It had a Robert Mapplethorpe album cover and everything about it was cool. That record was a really, really minimal, stripped down reggae record. It was almost as though the guitar was a click track. It was really odd and for me, it was almost this spur music - it was a really affecting record, and so I identify with that, even now.”