Interview: Sonic Youth
12-12-05 Revista de Prensa
Publicado originalmente en
Story by Julianne Shepherd
Sonic Youth's Goo. Originally released "6.26.90," according to the liner notes. The day a noise-rock band made a back-door entrée into the world of music-industry suits to get their work better heard 'round the world. It was a risk; at that time, only a few bands had peeked out from the indie world to dabble in the mass-marketplace-- corpo chequebook, recoupables, A&R guys, and all. But SY had just released the most influential album in independent rock music to date (Daydream Nation), so they joined up with the David Geffen Company; they reasoned that within indie-rock's as-yet-limited strata of opportunities, they had nowhere left to go but down.
Prophecy gives our gizzards a little thrill. In 1990, upon Goo's release, Thurston Moore told Spin magazine, "Why should Geffen force-feed anything down anybody's throat? Guns N' Roses are easy because it's a path that's already been paved by all the lame rock classics. But us-- who are they going to feed us to?"
The next year, Sonic Youth starred in a tour video called 1991: the Year Punk Broke, which documented the burgeoning "alternative nation." Some underground gatekeepers groused about the band's "selling out," and those voices would bloat as SY cronies Nirvana ascended over the next coupla years. But most of their peers would, as they say, "sell out" and give in to the maje-labe champagne flute, to varying ends; in retrospect, "the breaking of punk"-- or rather, the '90s rock underground digging itself up for proliferation and profit-- was bound to happen sooner or later in this weird-ass world of 24-hour capitalism. But more importantly: Thanks to the distribution Geffen afforded SY, America's farthest reaches were finally able to access Sonic Youth's music-- which, in those pre-internet dark-ages, certainly rescued thousands of alienated teens from alternate fates as vaguely dissatisfied suburbanites and/or small-town tragedies.
So, with Goo, the Youth's fractured, opaque squalls ran free like a pony, stamping its fumble hoofs all across earth's soil. From "Dirty Boots"' haunting whine, to the Karen Carpenter reliquary "Tunic", to the punk-as-fuck screeches of "Mildred Pierce", to the electrifying and historical meeting of Chuck D and Kim G on "Kool Thing" for some Weather Underground-echoing spoof on race & patriarchy-- Goo forever marked rock 'n' roll with minor-key dirges, pop songs greased with distortion, pop-cult flags (L.A. artist Raymond Pettibon,