Thurston Joseph Moore
Also known as
Mirror, Fred Cracklin
July 25, 1958
Coral Gables, Florida, United States
Alternative rock, noise rock, no wave, experimental rock, post-punk
Singer-songwriter, musician, consultant, record producer
Vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica, synthesizer, piano, saxophone
Geffen, SST, Ecstatic Peace!, Father Yod, Lo Recordings
Destructive Industries, Arts & Crafts México
Sonic Youth, Ciccone Youth, The Coachmen, Swans, Mirror/Dash, Even Worse, Dream/Aktion Unit, Bark Haze, Dim Stars, Northampton Wools, Chelsea Light Moving, Twilight
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.
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. 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.
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, a reference to their respective nicknames. ("Mirror" being an alliterative pun on "Moore", and "Dash" being a pun on Flash Gordon.) 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, Tom Surgal, William Winant, The Thing, Nels Cline, Cock E.S.P., WRONG, Daniel Castro, Glenn Branca, Yamantaka Eye, Chris Corsano and My Cat is an Alien. Most of his solo/duo collaborations have been instrumental, and are generally improvised and/or noise based.
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, Moore 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.
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.
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.
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, along with The Stooges' Ron Asheton, his Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley, Minutemen's Mike Watt, Gumball's Don Fleming, Mark Arm of Mudhoney and Jim Dunbar.
Moore also composed original music for the films:
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 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.
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, someone who had orbited the band for a time, and whom Moore continued to see even after he and Gordon sought marriage counseling. The "other woman" is widely believed to be art book editor Eva Prinz, 20 years his junior. Gordon described Moore then as "a really lost soul."
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).
Solo discography and collaborations
Limited Edition Noise, experimental, drone projects
Free Improvisation Albums
Albums with Chelsea Light Moving
Albums with Sonic Youth
Albums with Diskaholics Anonymous Trio [Jim O'Rourke, Mats Gustafsson, Thurston Moore]
Albums with Original Silence
Early work with Glenn Branca
Early work with the Coachmen