Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore: Moving on from the Chaos

 

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Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore

 

Thurston Moore is starstruck.

“I don’t even know what I’d say,” he admits with a shrug. Moore’s girlfriend, Eva Prinz, encourages him to introduce himself to Diane di Prima anyway, but another audience member steps in front of him just as he turns around. Moore recoils. “I got usurped.”

The 80-year-old woman we’ve come to see is a beat poet, known for her striking poetic voice and her personal recollections of her friends and their relationships during the 1960s in San Francisco.

We’re in the lower level auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library — a bright, illustrious cultural hub in one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods — where di Prima has been commissioned by City Lights bookstore to recite some of her recent work.

We listen to her read through some of her poems for an hour. Even in her old age, she’s irreverent and witty, like Moore.

“Live close to the edge and love it,” di Prima recites. She looks right at him when she says it. Moore shifts in his seat.

After the show, Moore is still nervous about approaching her. “Thurston, here’s your chance,” Prinz whispers. He hesitates for a second. Before he scuttles away, Moore wants to be sure Prinz autographs his copy of her recent collection, The Poetry Deal. di Prima is something of a legend in poetry circles. The San Francisco Poet Laureate has made a career of speaking candidly about personal love, loss, and coping with the changing world. She is an artist who enunciates principles of verity, faith, introspection, and artfulness.

Despite Moore’s apprehension in speaking to di Prima, he has undoubtedly gotten used to his own fame by now, or at least the attention, instead searching for solace between stanzas of poetry.

“My interest in literature was always concurrent with my interest in music from a very young age anyway, so it wasn’t a radical jump,” Moore tells me after the reading. “I think when I got more interested in the history of it — and people like Diane di Prima — I started collecting poetry books like I collected records.”

But his interest in poetry is far from casual. Moore not only teaches a poetry workshop at the Allen Ginsberg-founded Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado; it is his modus vivendi for inspiration across all his creative endeavors. “[Poetry] is either academic, or it’s really personal. I like the balance of the two. Sonic Youth was kind of like that — we had these academic ideas about playing music, but we also had these kind of unorthodox personal things. That had no real precedence before us, so it was kind of exciting in that way.”

That openness to setting the precedent has followed him everywhere for decades: through dozens of records and side projects, during a lifetime of live shows, in and out of marriage, and after it ended, facing backlash from the press.

Following last year’s announcement of his separation from longtime wife Kim Gordon and the subsequent dissolution of Sonic Youth, Moore faced media hellfire. He all but confessed to seeing Eva Prinz for years before he and Gordon called it quits, and his actions did not go unnoticed. Following Gordon’s infamous claim that Moore was “carrying on this whole double life with her … like a lost soul,” his personal life drew endless side-glances from the likes of Elle, Brooklyn Magazine, Flavorwire, and Jezebel, who penned the aggressive “Thurston Moore Confirms He’s a Dick”. To Moore, the world might have looked mighty dark, indeed, were it not for Prinz.

Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth

Earlier this year, Moore spoke out on his relationship with Gordon through the now defunct UK magazine The Fly. “I’m involved in a really sweet relationship and it really does make me happy, it truly does,” he said. “But I’ll always have that experience of sadness that a separation brings, especially one that was as important, not just to me but everybody around us.”

The fallout with Gordon was not without casualties or distress. “It’s humiliating. It affects people close to me in certain ways – my family, the woman I’m in love with,” he told The Guardian this week. “It can be really degrading, and I try to be philosophical about it.”

And he is very philosophical. At the poetry reading tonight in San Francisco, Prinz is young and chic, dressed in all black and gray. She is genuine and polite as you might expect an art book editor to be. She is friendly and accommodating, as you might expect a man like Thurston Moore’s girlfriend to be. She is also a fan of di Prima’s and took note of the unlikely relationship between the poet and her ex-husband, fellow beat poet Alan Marlowe. “They were so independent,” she says. “It’s hard to picture them together.”

Ironically, you can draw many parallels between the relationships of di Prima and Marlowe and of Kim Gordon and Moore. Both helped breed the other for success, and in the case of Gordon and Moore, they cemented their respective places in rock history by perpetually outdoing each other in and out of Sonic Youth.

Nevertheless, it was time to move on, and one way Moore did so was by using a life outlook and poetic direction like di Prima’s as a model for his writing on The Best Day.

“It has a certain sense of liveliness or humor to it, and there’s certainly a craft involved,” he says. “It’s trying to extol ideas of virtue — acceptance of existences and things like that. In a way, she’s sort of exemplary for me in the lyric writing that I do right now for a record like The Best Day.”

Thurston Moore – “The Best Day”

 
 

 
 

Band Members: Thurston Moore, James Sedwards, Debbie Googe and Steve Shelley

 

And The Best Day is very lively. The record’s aesthetic, inspired by a photo Moore found of his mother on a serene trip to a nearby lake (which now serves as the album’s cover art), is a bit unlike his previous solo efforts, though it actually didn’t start out that way.

“In a way, [the photo] was sort of the catalyst for what I wanted the focus of the record to be. It was personal, it was intimate, it was familial, and it denoted this quality of being in a place of safety and serenity with a sense of calm to it.”

Initially, the album was to be called Detonation, based on one of the record’s tracks about political unrest in London in the 1970s brought on by radical poets and writers. “In those days, there was a lot of energy around retaliation, but it wasn’t about hurting people but rather about hurting things like buildings and systems.” Moore tapped transgender poet Radiux Radio, an unpublished, underground London poet (and neighbor of Moore) to author a few songs, including “Detonation”. However, when the album began to wrap up, he opted for a softer album feel.

“I wanted the record to be this potpourri — this wild kind of grab bag of everything. I was going to call it Detonation because I wanted it to have this energy that was kind of explosive, but I wasn’t really that sold on that idea.”

Thurston Moore Band – Detonation

 
 

 
 
 

Published on Aug 15, 2014

Cafe OTO – August 14th 2014  –  Thurston Moore – Guitar/Vocals

 

Recording with Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine, and James Sedwards, an English guitarist, guided the album towards a more serene energy. “Hearing what it sounded like then, I was so excited by it. I just thought, ‘That’s what I want this record to be.’”

Moore even took the opportunity to revisit the punk uppercut “Germs Burn”, formerly a B-side to January’s 7” “Detonation”, which was originally meant to be more of a meeting of rough and euphonic elements. “It’s a weird song because it’s these things rubbing against each other. There’s a lot of friction in that song. There are these melodious lines and also that punk rock energy, just trying to meet in a weird way.”

Other elements emerge on the record as well. The album contemplates a primal energy in lyrics for tracks like “Speak to the Wild” and “Forevermore”, though it wasn’t necessarily a deliberate theme. “I noticed that there were some animal references going on in the record, and why that is I don’t know,” Moore says. “I think I got into the idea of animals being representational of a life force … I find them replete with poetry.”

It’s a theme that rears its head periodically during the album. In “Forevermore”, there are “animals that will adore you”; Speak to the Wild” is something of a warning against barbaric forces; and the Jazzmaster’s intro to “Vocabularies” even sounds a bit like bird sounds.


 
 

Thurston Moore – Forever more (live at Pukkelpop 2014)

 
 

 
 

“Usually when I write, I just start writing, and I let it come to life for me. Whatever internalized state or emotional ideas I have is coming through in the language. I’ll refine it as soon as I see what’s happening.”

For The Best Day, it seems that some of those emotional ideas stemmed a bit from the urge to draw that serenity from chaos. “A lot of the times, I’ll see there’s a lot of these kinds of really personal truths that happen, and I think that’s the magic in writing. In music, you can be more anarchistic, more messy with it and then reign it back in because it just evaporates — because it’s sound. It just disappears. It’s ephemeral.”

Moore has come a long way (in many aspects of the phrase) from his time with Sonic Youth, but particularly with his writing. At the Naropa Institute, he can devote considerable work towards thinking about the impetuses for his writing. “In a way, it has become more interesting to me now, where I feel like I can sit down and look at the work I did with Sonic Youth, which was very collaborative, as well as my own process within that collaboration as a democracy,” he says. “I feel like I can write about [all of it] as an experience and talk about it now.”

These days, finding serenity seems to be the most important thing to Moore, and The Best Day appears to be his avenue to peace.

Later that night, Moore addresses the crowd at the Great American Music Hall, recounting the reading we watched at the Library. “Diane di Prima is a very important poet in my life, and she had a lot to do with the thoughts for the positive, forward, and bright sounds that went into this record. I’m dedicating the next song, ‘The Best Day’, to her.”

But despite the reigned-in nature of The Best Day and of the prologue before his dedication, Moore can’t help but fall into a dissonant wormhole during his live show. Chaos is in his nature. He might long for serenity, but that’s not really what suits him best.

“Live close to the edge and love it,” as di Prima says. Peace and euphony, in both life and in music, doesn’t come easily after all.

LANA DEL REY, MEGADETH, PAUL ANKA, CEE LO GREEN AND OTHER ARTISTS NIX ISRAEL CONCERTS

Israel's Apartheid Wall

Israel’s Apartheid Wall

 

Singer Lana Del Rey is the latest in a list of high-profile performers to postpone her scheduled performance in Israel, following the fighting that continues in the Gaza strip. Fans will remember that she was supposed to play her first-ever gig in Israel at Exhibition Ground in Tel Aviv on August 20. However, in a sudden move it has been announced that the show has been cancelled.

Del Rey joins CeeLo Green and Megadeth in the growing list of artists who have cancelled their shows due to the dangers rising each day in this Israel-Palestine war. Hopefully, sooner than later, some sort of resolve will be found, though in this current time it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Thrash metal band Megadeth and hip hop star CeeLo Green joined a growing list of entertainers Tuesday whose scheduled concerts in Israel have been canceled amid the Gaza crisis.

Los Angeles-based Megadeth was due to play in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, but on its website the group said it wasn’t able to secure a guarantee that it could make it.

Backstreet Boys have also cancelled their shows in Israel. The reunited Orlando, Florida based boyband had three sold out dates scheduled for the end of July, but have called off the shows as a result of the Gaza conflict.

The BSB cancellation follows in the wake of numerous other scrubbed shows cancelled due to increased violence. Israel has hosted a number of high profile acts this summer, including The Rolling Stones and Justin Timberlake. But escalating violence over the past two weeks has caused the recent cancellations of shows by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Canadian crooner Paul Anka, veteran folk-rock band America, psychedelic rockers The Brian Jonestown Massacre and jazz musicians Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke.

Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda calls CHVRCHES “Disney commercial music,” CHVRCHES respond

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Back in April, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda caused a minor huff when he made comments to Noisey about the homogeneous nature of the modern music landscape. “There’s so much music out there,” he said. “There’s so much stuff that sounds like HAIM or CHVRCHES or Vampire Weekend that I’m full. The thing I’m hungry for is not that. I turn on the rock station in L.A. and it sounds like Disney commercial music.”

Not to be taken lightly, CHVRCHES have responded to Shinoda’s claims in kind. During an interview with joiz at France’s OpenAir St. Gallen festival, multi-instrumentalist Iain Cook said Shinoda’s remarks were “a pointless dig,” adding, “What does he have to gain from saying that?” For her part, singer Lauren Mayberry called “bullshit” on Shinoda’s claims, explaining that it’s no “coincidence that he’s got a record to sell and he mentions several bands everyone is writing about.”  Update: According to CHVRCHESFans, the translation is wrong and Cook actually said “pointless dig,” not “pointless dick.”

Not quite yet done drawing blood, Mayberry also explained that she doesn’t “like being called a corporate sellout by the man who wrote the theme music for the MTV VMAs.” At which point she pretended to drop the mic.

Still, don’t expect CHVRCHES to get drawn into some rap-rock/synthpop feud (unless Shinoda makes his own response). Rather, Mayberry said that Shinoda’s opinion is “not one I would worry about hugely,” adding, “It’s not my kind of music. They’ve been on the radio for how long, and I just don’t listen to that radio station. That’s a smarter move then saying something for a tagline.”

In a similar display of “wisdom beyond their experience,” multi-instrumentalist Martin Doherty said the trio just tries to ignore any outside comments, be it good or bad. “We’ve developed this near super-human ability to block out whatever people are saying about us,” he said. “From the very first day we were in the public domain, we’ve known it’s as important to not listen to the praise as much as it’s not important to listen to the negative comments. Ultimatley, both have the same affect. We’ve been remarkably focused from day one.”

Even though they released the always perfect Hybrid Theory, this isn’t the first instance Linkin Park have been a bunch of fuddy-duddies as of late. In March, the band reportedly got cops to confiscate the weed belonging to Sublime With Rome while that band was on stage. Linkin Park later denied the rumors, but it’s hard to definitively shake the tag of a “narc.”

Watch the full interview below. The discussion about Shinoda begins around the 9:00 mark:

10 Biggest Selling Vinyl Albums Of The Year So Far

1. Vinyl sales in the UK are higher than they have been since 2003. The BPI and the Official Charts Company estimate that sales of vinyl albums could surpass 700,000 by the end of 2013. Here are the top selling vinyl albums of the year so far – starting at number 10, which is Black Sabbath’s album ‘13’.

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2.  Next up – at number 9, it’s Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ record ‘Push The Sky Away’. The NME review of the album back in February described it as “a masterpiece that merges the experimentation and freedom of their side projects with Cave’s most tender songcraft.”

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3.  The National returned earlier this year with their latest album ‘Trouble Will Find You’. That’s the 8th most popular album on vinyl in the UK in 2013.
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4.   Vampire Weekend’s magical third album ‘Modern Vampire’s Of The City’ – in at number 7.

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5.  Thom Yorke may not be a fan of streaming services like Spotify but the Radiohead man has long had an affinity for vinyl releases. ‘Amok’, his album with Atoms For Peace, is 6th.

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6.  Into the top 5 now. Queens Of The Stone Age ‘…Like Clockwork’ was released at the start of the summer. At the time it lost out in the battle for UK number 1 to Disclosure’s album ‘Settle’.
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7.  After a lengthy break Boards Of Canada released their new album ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ this year. NME’s review said: “’Tomorrow’s Harvest’ is a dark, often uncomfortable affair, more nuclear winter than summer anthem”. It’s number 4 in the list.
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8.  David Bowie goes top 3 with ‘The Next Day’. The legend took us all by surprise back in January by emerging from the shadows to release his first new album in a decade.
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9.  No surprise that Arctic Monkeys’ loyal following went out and bought their fifth album ‘AM’ in their droves. It remains one of the fastest selling albums of the year. Popular on vinyl too. In the month or so it’s been out it’s become the 2nd biggest selling album on vinyl of 2013.
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10.  And… 2013’s biggest selling album on vinyl in the UK so far is Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’. Not only is the music incredible, but there’s something about seeing that artwork blown up which makes it desirable for any collector of new releases.
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UK Based Independent Label Considering New House Music Artists

Jun 26, 2013
Category: Record Labels – A&R
Type: Record Label
Genres: House
Details: Snatch! Records, UK Based Independent record label that focuses solely on house styles of music, is looking for house and tech house artists for label representation.Tracks need to have a clean and clear sound – originality is more than welcome. Snatch! Record’s focus is to push new talent and well-established forward thinking producers and artists into today’s competitive music industry.Now a year in and 15 releases under their belt featuring artists like David Keno, Donk Boys, Kolombo, LouLou Players, Thomas Schumacher, Tapesh, Maximiljan, Pirupa, Ramon Tapia, Starr Traxx, Amir and many other of the hottest house artists, Snatch! Records is always pushing the boundaries of house music.Snatch! Records will not respond to direct messages regarding this opportunity.
Deadline July 25, 2013
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How To Build A Professional Music Team

Music Team

Music Team

So you’ve recorded a cd, played some pretty big shows, and are making some noise in your local scene…now what? Do you know how to take your career to the next level? After a certain point, bands need to start looking at putting together a team to help them get further in the industry. This is where the Artist Professional Team comes in. This is your elite team of industry insiders that are diligently working to get your music and your band out to the public…or at least that’s what they should be doing. It’s important to know the role of each member of your professional team so that you can hire the best person for the job.

Personal Manager

Probably the most important person working for your band, the personal manager is essentially the quarterback of your band. They’re responsible for coordinating all efforts between the band and your record label, radio promoter, publicist, publisher, booking agent, and business manager and all other music contacts. Your personal manager should be the first member of your team that you choose, and can then help you assemble the rest of your team. The manager will also usually make some business decisions for the band, assist in the creative process, as well as working with your record label. Personal Managers usually take about 15-20% of a band’s gross income.

Business Manager

You may not be able to afford a business manager at first, but the more money you start making, the more likely it is that you’re going to need a business manager. The business manager usually collects royalty checks for the artists, takes care of their bills, and makes sure to properly handle all taxes and investments on behalf of the artist. Business managers are usually CPAs and can either take 5% of the artist’s gross income, or work for an hourly rate or flat fee.

Attorney

Probably the most powerful member of your music contacts will be your attorney. The attorney deals on your behalf with all the major power brokers you encounter during the course of your career. Your attorney should be heavily involved in negotiations whenever you sign contracts with publishers, labels, managers, and agent. Many of the most prominent entertainment attorneys are based in New York and Los Angeles, but others have been spreading to cities such as Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Attorneys can either take 5% of any deals they negotiate, or can work for an hourly rate or flat fee.

Booking Agent

Having the right booking agent can make the difference between playing a good show and playing a great show. Agents are responsible for scheduling live performances for artists for either individual dates, or regional and national tours. You want to find a talented agent that has established relationships with many of the big name venues all throughout the country. Booking agents can sometimes be the most difficult member of your team to secure because you often need to convince them that you are worth their time and effort. Agents usually take 10% of the artist gross for live performances, not including merchandise.

Publicist

The publicist’s job is to obtain media coverage for clients in print, tv, and electronic media. Their responsibilities usually include securing media coverage, mailing/emailing press kits to music writers, communicating with the manager/agent/record label, and hiring hair and makeup teams for tv and magazine shoots. Publicists can get paid anywhere from $1500-$5000 per month and usually begin work several months before major releases and announcements.

By Ryan J. Colburn

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