Matt Carmichael
mattc@rocknroll.net
Sonic Youth
Thurston Moore awoke with a playful snarl. The Sonic Youth guitarist yells to his wife, the bassist/guitarist/singer, "Kim, you've got an interview" and snarls "That's ok, I never sleep," in response to the writer's apology. He turns his attention to their year-old daughter. Conversation deteriorates into a series of "goo's" on his end.

"Kids are very entertaining," says Kim Gordon, "there are a lot of boring times on the road." The road is currently taking them on a tour in support of their new album, "Washing Machine." Recently, it carried them on a summer stint headlining the Lollapalooza tour. The impact of the punk rock kids was palpable. Kim describes their dressing room as "cheery with bright colored toys," in contrast to those of such bands as Pavement which were filled with smoke. And during down time, Coco Hayley Gordon Moore, could often be found playing with Courtney and Kurt's kid, Francis Bean Love Cobain.

Sonic Youth, which also consists of guitarist Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley on drums, is a New York band born and bread. Their guitar-laden sound led the take off of indie rock music in the U.S. Although they are not a chart-topping band, the success of their albums can be measured by years of critical acclaim and by the bands who have surfaced in their wake. The reception that has met the "grease-powered" "Washing Machine," is no different with critics and fans alike soaking it up. "Grease-powered" refers to the time and place it was recorded. The band took of to Memphis for a change of pace to put this record together. "It was fun going down to Memphis even though it's a barbecue. We obsessed over food -- fat, salty, fried foods. It's amazing we recorded anything," says Gordon, laughing.

This fall however, Sonic Youth is back playing to audiences a little more their style. Instead of the sprawling summer crowds numbering in the tens of thousands, they have resumed their spot in smaller, more intimate clubs and theaters. "It's weird playing inside because we'd gotten used to playing out doors. It's more intense inside," says Gordon.

Gordon finds touring to be a varied experience. "I relate to basketball a lot as a touring band ... home court and all that. Some stadiums are easier for teams than others." Yet her home court, New York audiences aren't her favorites. She finds them to be "not very vocal," but being from New York, she understands their quieter tenancies and "actually appreciates them more than other touring bands."

The tours are hard on the band, but she finds having Thurston there to help raise Coco essential. "I don't know how single mothers do it," she says.

As a mom and cutting edge female rocker, one might expect that those roles have had a profound impact on Gordon's career. Yet she doesn't see her gender as being all that relevant. "People do have different standards for women. In rock as in life people don't like women to grow old. It scares them and reminds them of death," admits Gordon before summing up in Freudian terms, "Maybe it has to do with their moms."

c1995 CoverStory