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Thurston Moore

Thurston Joseph Moore was born in 1958 in Florida and raised in Connecticut.
In the late 1970s he moved to New York City where he learned to play guitar
from Glenn Branca. He is best known as a singer and lead guitarist for Sonic
Youth, which he co-founded in 1981. A product of the ‘No Wave’ music scene
of the late 1970s, the group has its roots in abrasive, experimental music.
In addition to his work with Sonic Youth, Moore has also released albums as
a solo artist. He has collaborated with scores of musicians, including most
recently Cotton Museum, SJ Spooky, Niels Cline, William Hooker, Christian
Marclay, R.E.M. and Cock e.s.p. In the mid-1990s Moore formed a side band,
The Dim Stars, with punk legend Richard Hell. Moore has been described as
the world’s greatest and most innovative guitarist, and Sonic Youth as one
of the most intriguing and influential bands of their time.

Who are you? And what do you do for a living?
My name is Thurston. It means: ‘Thor’s Hammer’, like the
stone of Thor, Thor’s stone, Thurston. Not to be confused
with Thornton or Thurman. I play music. Pretty much

Do you trust yourself?
Absolutely not, which leads me into a weird relationship
with myself. All I think about is ecstasy, not the drug,
but the term of existence

What have you done since you woke up this morning?
I woke my 11-year-old daughter from slumber to prepare
her for school. Made her pancakes, set her on her way,
cleaned up the kitchen, wrote a cheque for the couple who
help with the housecleaning once a week, purchased a 7”
by Joe Colley on eBay, checked out what was going on
at the Hanson Records Yahoo chat list, peered at some
emails, decided to answer these obtuse questions

What is your earliest memory?
Hands and knees, pre-verbal, on a hallway floor, maybe on
some grating, looking up and laughing at my brother and
sister who were holding up a brown shoe in front of me and
saying ‘shoe, shoe’ and knowing that they wanted me to
repeat it, learn the language, but feeling I already knew
and it was just funny and I wasn’t ready to do the tongue
thing just yet

Do you believe in life after death?
Yeah, I think so. I don’t ponder it so much, but I am
a believer in metaphysics just by dint that there’s been
a history of other-world/next life interaction with this

Which historical figure would you like to take out,
and what would you like to show them?

By take out, do you mean on a date? Or do you mean
like an assassination? If a date it would be Ted Berrigan,
the late, great poet of nyc. I would like to have him over
for dinner and hang out and talk about the wild litany
of Mimeo poetry magazines of the late 1960/1970s

When was the last time you did something for the
first time?

Well that would be something as boring as learning some
move on the computer: last night I was mocking up some
CD cover concepts for a new Sonic Youth record and I had
to find out how to create a border for printing and so I did.
I learned something new. Snore

Were you a popular child?
Yeah I think so, though I wasn’t popular in any orthodox
way — not for sports or any aptitude as such. I had more
of a class clown vibe which made me popular but I certainly
wasn’t a stud, though in retrospect I think I could’ve been
more of a ladies’ man if I had the wherewithal

Do you scare easy?
I used to more. Now I figure it’s conquerable nine times
out of ten. Used to be mortified of flying but now I rest in
the hands of fate and chant that fate is in a pleasant mood
(Sun Ra reference)

If you could make any one thing free for all,
what would it be?

Free healthcare should be an essential right here in
the USA

If you could have put a stop to any one thing in the last
50 years, what would it have been?

The development of religious fanaticism into political

Which public space do you like best?
I like the park, the San Francisco Golden Gate Park,
where in 1968 you could be a hippy and smoking weed
and having sex either there or somewhere nearby

Which private space do you like best?
A bedroom where you can either sleep, fuck or watch
films in a prone position, or read

Do you subscribe to a particular belief?
No, I don’t, except maybe kindness trumps all, but that’s
a fairy hippy thought I guess, but I do find it works and
feels good

What do you like most about fame and success?
It gives access to situations where you can compare life
notes with other artists you admire from a distance.
That is always thrilling. To be watching a great film and
admiring the director’s work or the actors, and then
hearing that they in turn are enthusiastic for your work,
and then you meet and sometimes that can be awesome

What do you do for fun?
I like to collect records, cassettes and literature —
I’ve always done that for fun

What one thing would improve the quality of your life?
Oh more coin, definitely. Then I could really build an empire
of releasing great records and books without having to
worry about the return. I’d like to just lose money doing
this without the worry

Who was the first cultural figure to influence you?
Hearing rock ‘n’ roll records my brother would bring home
in the ‘60s: The Kingsmen Louie Louie definitely was where
it kind of started. That was where I wanted to be, still is

What was the first thing you produced/ participated in
that you are particularly proud of?

As a thirteen-year-old I played Bluebeard in the school stage
production of Bluebeard’s Ghost. I was nominated by an
outstanding margin. That took me by pleasant surprise and
I dove into the role, acting like I’ve probably never acted
since. It was in the local paper and everything. I think I
knew I could be excellent then, particularly as an actor,
which I never pursued coz I love rock ‘n’ roll more

What is your number one priority?
The welfare of my daughter

Why do you do what you do?
There is an ineffable quality of connectivity to an immortal life
force I get from participating in music creation. I subscribe to
the Albert Ayler title: Music is the Healing Force of the

Who do you most like to talk shop with?
Kim, Jim O’Rourke, Jutta Koether, Byron Coley, Heather
Leigh Murray, John Olson, Mike Connelly, Lydia Lunch,
Richard Prince, Vito Acconci, Dan Graham, Tom Smith,
Don Fleming, Mike Watt, Dave Markey, Christina Carter

What is your principal defect?
Uncoordination in my fine motor skills

What is your most marked characteristic?
My height

What would you like to be better at?

What quality do you most like in a man?

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

What is sexy?
Well, the two things above, modesty and intellect. Physically,
whoa — I mean, I don’t just like one aspect of sexiness,
but I am certainly more into, shall we say, Buxomity than

What is your favourite sound?
There’s a perfect electric guitar string resonance with an amp
when the strings start resonating in response to volume and
distortion that when it hits right and you can control that as
a player — that sound is the sheeit for me

In a parallel universe what are you doing right now?

What makes you tick?
PMA (positive mental attitude), inspiration, diet

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Loss of love

Do you collect anything? If so what?
Mentioned above

Which work of art do you most covet for your home?
Art from Kim and Coco

Which book do you keep returning to?
I don’t keep returning to any book — I have so many
I want to consume that to re-read something is beyond
comprehension, and for me, if anything a setback in what
I need to accomplish as a reader

What was the last film you watched,
and was it any good?

Mike Mills’ film called Thumbsucker, and yes, it was good.
I had read the book and liked that. I like the writer Walter
Kirn, and was surprised and delighted that Mills was directing
a feature of Thumbsucker — he did a good job and Lou Pucci,
the actor, was perfect in the role I think

What do you predict for America?
Either get off the course of right-wing rule or suffer stupidly

What is humanity’s biggest failing?
The ability to rationalise the art of the swindle

What is the best bit of advice you can give to
someone who wants to succeed?

Make your own records, whatever, and create your
own industry

What piece of music would you like played at
your funeral?

Little Johnny Jewel — Television

Tell us a joke?

What is love?
Life energy in its most exalted state

If you were to ask any two questions of any two people,
what would they be and whom would you ask?

Gerard Malanga: What was it like to stare into the face
of Edie Sedgwick? Keith Richards: What was it like to
stare into the face of Anita Pallenberg?


Q&A index