Thurston Joseph Moore (born July 25, 1958) 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." In May 2012, Spin published a staff-selected top 100 ranking Moore and his Sonic Youth bandmate Lee Ranaldo together on number 1.
In 2012, Moore started a new band Chelsea Light Moving, with their first track, "Burroughs", released as a free download. Chelsea Light Moving's eponymous debut was released on 5 March 2013.
Moore was born in Coral Gables, Florida, but was raised in Bethel, Connecticut. 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. It was here the he was able to watch shows by the likes of Patti Smith and spoken-word performances by William S. Burroughs. 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.
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."
Moore and Ranaldo soon formed Sonic Youth, serving as the band's guitarists, with Moore on lead vocals on a good portion of the material. The band signed to Neutral Records, then to Homestead Records, and then to SST Records.
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. 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.
Work outside of Sonic Youth
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Their eponymous debut album was released on 5 March 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.
On November 24th 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.
Work on film soundtracks
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.
Record label and writings
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 , 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.
In 1984, Moore married Sonic Youth bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon. The pair have a daughter, Coco Hayley Gordon Moore (born 1 July 1994). On October 14, 2011, the couple announced that they were separating.
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."
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).
Principal Solo discography and collaborations
- Solo albums
- Psychic Hearts (1995, Geffen Records)
- Trees Outside the Academy (2007, Ecstatic Peace)
- Demolished Thoughts (2011, Matador Records) (UK chart peak: #119)
- Root - Remix Project (1998, Lo Recordings)
- Solo Acoustic Volume Five - Part of the VDSQ (Vin Du Select Qualitite) acoustic guitar series (2011)
- Albums with Sonic Youth
- See Sonic Youth discography
- Albums with Chelsea Light Moving
- 2013 - Chelsea Light Moving
- 1990 - Barefoot in the Head - with Jim Sauter & Don Dietrich, liner notes by Thomas Pynchon
- 1993 - Shamballa - with William Hooker & Elliott Sharp
- 1995 - Klangfarbenmelodie & the Colorist Strikes Primitive - with Tom Surgal
- 1996 - Pillow Wand - with Nels Cline
- 1996 - Piece for Yvonne Rainer - with Yoshimi & Mark Ibold
- 1997 - MMMR - with Loren Mazzacane Connors, Jean-Marc Montera & Lee Ranaldo (Numero Zero Audio)
- 1998 - Foot - with Don Fleming & Jim Dunbar
- 1999 - The Promise - with Evan Parker & Walter Prati
- 2000 - New York - Ystad - Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Mats Gustafsson
- 2000 - TM/MF - Thurston Moore, Marco Fusinato
- 2001 - Three Incredible Ideas - Thurston Moore / Walter Prati / Giancarlo Schiaffini
- 2012 - Yokokimthurston - Yoko Ono, / Thurston Moore / Kim Gordon
- 2013 - "@" - John Zorn / Thurston Moore
- Limited Edition Noise, experimental, drone projects
- 2006 - Flipped Out Bride 12'' (2006, Blossoming Noise), Limited Edition of 500 blue marbled vinyl
- 2006 - Free / Love EP (2006, Blossoming Noise), Limited Edition of 90 Cassettes only
- 2007 - Black Weeds - White Death (2007, Meudiademorte), Limited Edition of 200 Cassettes only
- 2008 - Sensitive / Lethal
- 2008 - Blindfold (Destructive Industries), Limited Edition of 200 Cassettes only
- 2008 - Built For Lovin (Lost Treasures of the Underworld), Limited Edition of 500 vinyl only
- 2010 - Suicide Notes For Acoustic Guitar EP
- 2010 - Schwarze Polizei (with Kommissar Hjuler, Goaty Tapes), Limited Edition of 50 Cassettes only
- 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
- 1996 - Piece for Jetsun Dolma [a live improvisation with Tom Surgal and William Winant at Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (Les Disques VICTO)]
- 2012 - Play Some Fucking Stooges Mats Gustafsson & Thurston Moore], On tour in 2009. Limited edition of 450 copies.
- 2013 - Vi Är Alla Guds Slavar Mats Gustafsson & Thurston Moore], Cafe OTO, 22 & 23 September 2012. Limited Edition of 1000 copies.
- 2013 - The Only Way To Go Is Straight Through [Thurston Moore & Loren Connors], NYC 2012. Limited Edition of 3,000 copies.
- 2013 - Comes Through In The Call Hold Clark Coolidge, Thurston Moore, Anne Waldman], the Harry Smith cottage at Naropa, June 30, 2012.
- 2013 - Last Notes Joe Mcphee, Thurston Moore, Bill Nace], Roulette NYC, May 31, 2012. Limited Vinyl LP Edition of 250 copies.
- 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, 6 October 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, sept. 30 2005 )
- 2008 - The Second Original Silence (Recorded Live, Brancaleone, Rome, September 28, 2005 )
- Early work with Glenn Branca
- 1981 - Symphony No. 1 "Tonal Plexus" (w/Glenn Branca, Lee Ranaldo, Anne DeMarinis & others)
- 1982 - Symphony No. 2 "The Peak Of The Sacred"
- 1983 - Symphony No. 3 "Gloria" - Music for the first 127 intervals of the harmonic series
- 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)
- Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture
- Grunge (with Michael Lavine)
- No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980. (with Byron Coley)
- Punk House: Interiors in Anarchy (with Abby Banks, Timothy Findlen)
- Alabama Wildman
- James Hamilton: You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen (with James Hamilton)
- - Official website
- for "Kill Your Idols", a documentary about the Cinema of Transgression featuring Thurston Moore
- published on the Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine @ Ubuweb