Thurston Moore

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Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore at the Brooklyn Book Festival.jpg
Moore at the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival.
Background information
Birth name Thurston Joseph Moore
Also known as Mirror, Fred Cracklin
Born (1958-07-25) July 25, 1958 (age 56)
Coral Gables, Florida, United States
Genres Alternative rock, acoustic rock, noise rock, no wave, experimental rock, post-punk, hardcore punk, black metal
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician, consultant, record producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica, synthesizer, piano, saxophone
Years active 1978–present
Labels Geffen, SST, Ecstatic Peace!, Father Yod, Lo Recordings
Destructive Industries, Arts & Crafts México
Associated acts Sonic Youth, Ciccone Youth, The Coachmen, Swans,[1] Thurston Moore Band,[2] Mirror/Dash, Even Worse, Dream/Aktion Unit, Bark Haze, Dim Stars, Northampton Wools, Chelsea Light Moving, Twilight
Notable instruments
Fender Jazzmaster

Thurston Joseph Moore (born July 25, 1958)[3] is an American musician best known as a singer, songwriter and guitarist of Sonic Youth. He has also participated in many solo and group collaborations outside of Sonic Youth, as well as running the Ecstatic Peace! record label. Moore was ranked 34th in Rolling Stone '​s 2004 edition of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."[4] In May 2012, Spin published a staff-selected top 100 ranking Moore and his Sonic Youth bandmate Lee Ranaldo together on number 1.[5]

In 2012, Moore started a new band Chelsea Light Moving, with their first track, "Burroughs", released as a free download.[6] Chelsea Light Moving's eponymous debut was released on March 5, 2013.

Early years[edit]

Moore was born in Coral Gables, Florida, but was raised in Bethel, Connecticut.[7] Although he enrolled at Western Connecticut State University, he instead moved to New York City to join the burgeoning post-punk/no wave music scenes.[8] It was here the he was able to watch shows by the likes of Patti Smith and spoken-word performances by William S. Burroughs.[9] At the beginning of his time in New York, he lived in an apartment below artist Dan Graham, eventually befriending him, sometimes using records from Graham's collection for mix tapes.[10]

Once in the city, Moore was briefly a member of the hardcore punk band Even Worse, featuring future The Big Takeover editor (and future Springhouse drummer) Jack Rabid. After exiting the band, Moore and Lee Ranaldo learned experimental guitar techniques in Glenn Branca's "guitar orchestras."[8] Moore has spoken about influences on his music tastes at this time, including British bands Wire, the Pop Group, the Raincoats, the Slits, and Public Image Ltd ("I used to have these fantasies in the 70s about leaving New York and coming to London to hang out with Public Image").[11]

Sonic Youth[edit]

Main article: Sonic Youth

Moore and Kim Gordon formed a band, appearing under names like Male Bonding and Red Milk and the Arcadians, before settling on Sonic Youth just before June 1981.[citation needed] The band played Noise Fest in June 1981 at New York's White Columns gallery, where Lee Ranaldo was playing as a member of Glenn Branca's electric guitar ensemble.[citation needed] Their performance impressed Moore, who described them as "the most ferocious guitar band that I had ever seen in my life",[citation needed] and he invited Ranaldo to join the band. The new threesome played three songs at the festival later in the week without a drummer.[citation needed] Each band member took turns playing the drums, until they met drummer Richard Edson.[citation needed] The band signed to Neutral Records, then to Homestead Records, and then to SST Records.[citation needed]

Live in the Netherlands (with Sonic Youth), 1991

Moore and Ranaldo make extensive use of unusual guitar tunings, often heavily modifying their instruments to provide unusual timbres and drones. They are known for bringing upwards of fifty guitars to every gig, using some guitars for one song only.[8] In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Moore and Ranaldo the 33rd and 34th Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

In 2011, Moore and his wife, Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon, announced they had separated; shortly afterward, Ranaldo announced the indefinite hiatus of Sonic Youth.[12]

Work outside of Sonic Youth[edit]

In addition to his work with Sonic Youth, Moore has also released albums as a solo artist. He and Gordon released a few songs as Mirror/Dash. The two also established Protest Records together but the project has since lapsed. Moore has collaborated with scores of musicians, including Maryanne Amacher, Lydia Lunch, DJ Spooky, William Hooker, Daniel Carter, Christian Marclay, Mike Watt, Loren Mazzacane Connors, William Winant, The Thing, Nels Cline, Cock E.S.P., John Moloney, Glenn Branca, Yamantaka Eye, Chris Corsano and My Cat is an Alien.[citation needed]

In the early 1990s, Moore formed the side band Dim Stars, with Richard Hell, Don Fleming, Steve Shelley and Robert Quine. Moore performed solo on the side stage of the 1993 Lollapalooza tour. Additionally, Moore also contributed guitar work and backing vocals on "Crush with Eyeliner", which appeared on R.E.M.'s Monster. Since 2004, he has recorded and performed with the noise collective To Live and Shave in L.A., the lineup of which also features Andrew W.K.. He recorded with the band at Sonic Youth's former studio in Manhattan, and later performed with them at the George W. Bush "anti-inaugural" Noise Against Fascism concert in Washington, D.C., named in reference to Sonic Youth's 1992 song "Youth Against Fascism". Moore curated the "Nightmare Before Christmas" weekend of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in December 2006.[citation needed]

Moore directed the music video for Pavement's song "Here", from Slanted and Enchanted. On June 21, 2007, Moore revealed to Spin Magazine that he would be releasing a solo album titled Trees Outside The Academy. The album was recorded at J Mascis' studio in Amherst, Massachusetts. The album is made up of mostly acoustic material and features Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and violinist Samara Lubelski. The album also features collaborations between Mascis and Charalambides' Christina Carter, who performs a duet with Moore on the track, "Honest James." The album was released on September 18, 2007, on Moore's label Ecstatic Peace.[citation needed]

Moore performing in support of The Best Day, 2014

On September 24, 2008, Pitchfork Media reported that Thurston was working on a song with former Be Your Own Pet vocalist Jemina Pearl, a cover of the Ramones song "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker." The song was recorded for the teenage drama Gossip Girl and was featured in the episode "There Might Be Blood".

Since 2008, Moore has provided narration for a variety of documentaries on the National Geographic Channel. His work includes Inside: Straight Edge and the Hard Time series about life in prison.

In 2012 Moore and Kim Gordon announced that they were working on a collaborative album with Yoko Ono to be titled Yokokimthurston. The album was released on September 25 through Chimera Records.[13]

Moore announced in 2012 that he was to start a new band called Chelsea Light Moving. Their first track, "Burroughs", was released as a free download.[6] Their eponymous debut album was released on March 5, 2013. The release coincided with the 2013 SXSW Festival where they made numerous appearances including a free show at Mellow Johnny's bike shop.

In July 2012 Nachtmystium vocalist/guitarist Blake Judd announced that Moore had joined the black metal super group Twilight.[14]

On November 24, 2013, he played guitar to "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" alongside Ron and Russell Mael in a Sparks concert at the Union Chapel, Islington, London.

In September 2014, Moore released The Best Day, a solo album featuring Steve Shelley and Debbie Googe as rhythm section, and James Sedwards on guitar.[2][15]

Work on film soundtracks[edit]

Thurston Moore performing with Sonic Youth at the 2005 Roskilde Festival.

In 1994, Moore teamed up with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, Don Fleming of Gumball, Mike Mills of R.E.M., and Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters, to form the Backbeat Band, which recorded the soundtrack album to the movie Backbeat. In 1998 Moore played on the soundtrack of the film Velvet Goldmine as a member of Wylde Ratttz. Moore composed original music for such films as Heavy (1995), Bully (2001), and Manic (2001). In 2007, Moore also appeared with noise/improv group "Original Silence" featuring Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (The thing, Atomic, Scorch Trio), guitarist Terrie Ex (The Ex), Jim O'Rourke (Sonic Youth, Wilco, Illusion of Safety), saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and bassist Massimo Pupillo (Zu). The group released the live album "The First Original Silence" in 2007, on Oslo (Norway) label SmallTown Superjazz, and a second album "The Second Original Silence" in 2008.[citation needed]

Record label and writings[edit]

Moore and other Sonic Youth members published the irreverent music zine Sonic Death. Moore runs the record label Ecstatic Peace!. Beginning in 1993, this label jointly released records with rock critic Byron Coley's label, Father Yod, as Ecstatic Yod Records.

Moore reviews new music in Arthur Magazine in a column written jointly with Byron Coley. He manages the website Protest Records, named for its protest against United States' invasions in the Middle East. Moore was the editor/overseer of the 2005 book Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture. He published a highly influential list of collectible free jazz records in Grand Royal magazine.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In 1984, Moore married Sonic Youth bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon. The pair have a daughter, Coco Hayley Gordon Moore (born July 1, 1994). On October 14, 2011, the couple announced that they were separating.[17]

On April 22, 2013, Gordon said in an interview, "We seemed to have a normal relationship inside of a crazy world. And in fact, it ended in a kind of normal way – midlife crisis, starstruck woman." She said Moore was "carrying on this whole double life" with another woman, that Jezebel claimed is art book editor Eva Prinz. Gordon and Moore tried marriage counseling, but according to Gordon, "We never got to the point where we could just get rid of her so I could decide what I wanted to do."[18]

Moore currently resides in Stoke Newington, London.


Moore is known for using a large selection of Fender guitars during Sonic Youth gigs, most frequently a Jazzmaster and a heavily modified Mustang with three Stratocaster single coils and a 5-way selector called "Astroboy". His primary stage amp has been the Peavey Roadmaster paired with a Marshall cabinet. He has used the ProCo Rat, Big Muff, Crowther Hotcake, and MXR Blue Box pedals in various combinations to achieve his unique distorted and feedback-laden guitar sound.

Since Ranaldo and Moore, together with Elvis Costello, J. Mascis, Nels Cline, and Kevin Shields, are known for being key figures in the popularization and resurrection of the Fender Jazzmaster, in 2009 Fender introduced a Lee Ranaldo signature edition of a Sapphire Blue Transparent version featuring two Fender Wide Range humbucking pickups and a Forest Green transparent finish for Moore, equipped with a pair of Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Jazzmaster single-coil pickups.[19]

Principal Solo discography and collaborations[edit]

Solo albums
Albums with Sonic Youth
Albums with Chelsea Light Moving
Limited Edition Noise, experimental, drone projects
Free Improvisation Albums
  • 2007 – The Roadhouse Session Vol.1 [Thurston Moore / Chris Corsano / Paul Flaherty / Wally Shoup 4tet]
  • 2008 – Untitled [Paul Flaherty / Thurston Moore / Bill Nace]
  • 2011 – Les Anges Du Péché [Jean-Marc Montera / Thurston Moore / Lee Ranaldo]
  • 2013 – "@” [John Zorn / Thurston Moore]
Live Albums
Caught on Tape series (documenting the free improv touring of Thurston Moore & John Moloney)
  • 2012 – Fundamental Sunshine (Antwerp-Paris-Rotterdam-Amsterdam March 20–23, 2012. Cassette)
  • 2012 – Caught on Tape (Recorded live to cassette in Europe – March 2012. Limited edition of 133 hand numbered copies)
  • 2013 – Acting The Maggot (recorded at the Beachland Ballroom 2012. Limited edition of 120 lps)
  • 2013 – Fundamental Sunshine (Cassette)
  • 2013 – Banjaxed Blues (Recorded in Baltimore, MD in December 2012 and Belfast, Northern Ireland in January 2013. Edition of 45 copies)
  • 2013 – Irish-American Prayer (Live in Brooklyn December 2012. Limited CDr)
Albums with Diskaholics Anonymous Trio [Jim O'Rourke, Mats Gustafsson, Thurston Moore]
  • 2001 – Diskaholics Anonymous Trio (Recorded at Kulturbro Ystad-Österlen, Sweden, 2000)
  • 2006 – Weapons of Ass Destruction (Recorded Live, Ystads Teater, Sweden, October 6, 2002)
  • 2006 – Live in Japan Vol. 1 (Recorded Live, Tokyo, Japan, 2002)
Albums with Original Silence
  • 2007 – The First Original Silence (Recorded Live, Teatro Ariosto, Reggio Emilia, Italy, September 30, 2005 )
  • 2008 – The Second Original Silence (Recorded Live, Brancaleone, Rome, September 28, 2005 )
Early work with Glenn Branca
Early work with the Coachmen
  • 1979 – Failure to Thrive
  • "Sputnik" 7" (1997) Thurston Moore and Don Fleming on one side, Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom on the other. Gilltery vinyl.
  • "Wonderful Witches" single (2007)
  • 1995 – The Church Should Be For The Outcasts, Not A Church That Casts People Out (7") [As Male Slut]
Split LPs
  • From The Earth To The Spheres (2004, split with My Cat Is An Alien)
  • Thrash Sabbatical (2008, Deathbomb Arc, four-way split 12" + 2x7" w/ Men Who Can't Love, Barrabarracuda, Kevin Shields)
  • Mature, Lonely + Out of Control/Alternative Hair Styles (2008, Nihilist Records, split LP with Graham Moore)
Album appearances
  • 1992 – Do You Wanna Dance (by Dim Stars)
  • 1994 – Monster (by R.E.M.)
  • 1997 – Legend of the Blood Yeti (by XIII Ghosts & Derek Bailey)
  • 1998 – Velvet Goldmine – Music From The Original Motion Picture ("T.V. Eye" with the Wylde Ratttz)
  • 2002 – Kapotte Muziek – #12 in Kapotte Muziek series (Korm Plastics)
  • 2006 – The Voloptulist [The New Blockaders, with Thurston Moore (track 1) / Jim O'Rourke (track 2)]
  • 2007 – Touch The Iceberg (by Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy)



  1. ^ "Jonathan Kane and Swans". Young God Records. Retrieved 2013-07-02. 
  2. ^ a b Young, Alex (August 4, 2014). "Thurston Moore forms new band with Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley and MBV's Debbie Googe". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ Holly George-Warren and Patricia Romanowski, ed. (2005). "Sonic Youth". The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York City: Fireside. p. 912. ISBN 978-0-7432-9201-6. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "SPIN's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time | SPIN | Best of SPIN | All Time". SPIN. May 3, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  6. ^ a b "Thurston Moore starts new band". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  7. ^ Dixon, Ken, "Music Hall of Fame proposed for state", article in Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, Connecticut, April 26, 2007 ("Thurston Moore, leader of alt-rock legends Sonic Youth, who grew up in Bethel")
  8. ^ a b c Azerrad, Michael. Our Band Could Be Your Life. New York: Little, Brown, 2001
  9. ^ "William Burroughs at 100: Thurston Moore on seeing him watch Patti Smith at CBGB, his response to Kurt Cobain's suicide and 'cut-up' songwriting – The Collected Works of Kevin EG Perry". The Collected Works of Kevin EG Perry. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  10. ^ "'H/C' by Thurston Moore". Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ "'Sound City Liverpool onstage interview". Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore Announce Split". SPIN Magazine. 
  13. ^ Young, Alex (June 20, 2012). "Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore, and Kim Gordon team up for collaborative album". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  14. ^ "Nachtmystium Interview Part 2: Fuzzy Synths, Working With Thurston Moore, And The Possibility of Happy Black Metal". The 1st Five. July 30, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  15. ^ "The Echo and Echoplex " Thurston Moore / Sebadoh – Tickets – Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA – October 10th, 2014". November 21, 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  16. ^ "SAUCER-LIKE SONIC YOUTH # ARTICLES". Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore Separate". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Is This the Woman Who Broke Up Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore?". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  19. ^ [2][dead link]
  20. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK – Update 4.06.2011". Zobbel. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  21. ^ "Thurston: New Lp ‘The Best Day’, Upcoming Shows « Sonic Youth News". March 5, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 

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