Thurston Moore is set to grace the stage of The Lantern this June. As an integral force within Sonic Youth and as a solo artist today, he’s remained a character of fierce intelligence and sophistication. With that in mind we caught up with the definitive hero.
You’ve been playing ‘The Best Day’ for a while now – how have you grown with the album over the last few years?
The Group are my friends Deb Googe on bass who is also the bassist of My Bloody Valentine and James Sedwards whom we’ve renamed “Shred-wards” (on guitars) and Steve Shelley my drummer from Sonic Youth. ‘The Best Day’ was the first album we made with this line-up after I moved over here to London. I wrote all the music and Radieux Radio wrote the lyrics for several of these songs. I showed the songs to the group in the studio and the material has definitely evolved since we began playing them in concert.
It’s almost a miracle you found the time to make that record, how do you remember the recording period a few years on?
We usually lay down tracks pretty quickly, often the group learn the songs in the studio. We’re not precious about it and are able to spend our time improvising inside of some of them whilst touring together to add layers and keep them interesting for us to do in concert every night of the week. Whilst making the new album ‘Rock n Roll Consciousness’ at Paul Epworth’s The Church Studios I think we startled the engineers by our long days and nights recording. They were pretty stunned at how many tracks we completed in the amount of time we spent there in less than week.
The band you assembled for it are just flow so naturally in the live setting – did this take some work or did you click naturally?
The vibrations with this group are absolutely wonderful, so positive, even blissful. Deb Googe and James Shredwards are my adopted sister and brother in the UK. Steve Shelley is forever psychic. I could carry on about the joys of working with them. It was truly meant to be, and a blessing beyond anything I had imagined moving so far away from home.
How does the creative process work between you all – is there a certain freedom there for everyone?
Although I write the music, there is a great deal of freedom with every one. I like to think they’re mind-readers, and they’ve definitely proven as much. As we are becoming more acquainted with each other’s styles, I find it sweet to notice how Deb will be the clever one who’ll suggest a rehearsal or meet up to listen to my ideas before we record them. She is the organised one, the sister.
How do you work on lyrics these days?
Lyrics usually come from poems and from my own notebooks. Sometimes I will play guitar at home and get lost in it, daydreaming and imagine what those sounds would translate to in English words. This afternoon I was messing around on a 12-string acoustic guitar while my girlfriend was playing the piano. We improvised a sublime piece that was so specific to the midday. I suppose if I were to pen lyrics for that song it would have to describe and capture the absolutely perfect sunlight that pierced our room. Here’s a photo to give you an idea. Improvisers capture these moments – they were born to catch the now.
You’ve been a busy man lately with lots of shows lined up – has this left much time to work on new material?
Its astounding what can be accomplished during the time our band is meant to be soundchecking. Perhaps at times puzzling to the venue managers and our sound engineers when we shred for hours while we’re supposed to be testing the amplifiers and P.A.s and /or imbibing the tea and cucumber sandwiches in the venue’s Green Room.
How does the touring lifestyle compare to the days of Sonic Youth? Has much changed or stayed largely the same?
I don’t compare, but I appreciate that everyone in this group has seen it all before, they’re professional and know what to expect with the schedules and life on the tour bus. We’re not a young starry-eyed band. Oh, I guess we’re still starry-eyed…. It’s a requirement.
Oh and if you ask anyone in My Bloody Valentine they will agree with me that being on the road with Debbie Googe is the most fun you could ever have with your clothes on! I especially love our longer European tours in our clubhouse-on-wheels with this specific group. The Brits especially are polite, well-dressed in their proper pajamas robes and slippers, brilliant at making tea. And I love when our girlfriends can join us, my love grew up in a large family and understands how to keep the whole family in good spirits; she brings the love, the champagne, and the perfect films for longer stretches.
We’ve been enjoying the Sonic Youth reissues lately – is it rewarding seeing those classic albums on the shelves?
You still manage to change the way people think about music after much industry experience – is that the goal with future releases?
These are simply records of our lives, my times, expressions of the heart. It is a blessing to have been invited to share that in the past, present and future. My hope is that future albums will record a modern society, more utopian.
Check out ‘Speak To The Wild’ right here: