Sonic Youth

 
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Sonic Youth were an American rock band based in New York City, formed in 1981. Founding members Thurston Moore (guitar, vocals), Kim Gordon (bass guitar, vocals, guitar) and Lee Ranaldo (guitar, vocals) remained together for the entire history of the band, while Steve Shelley (drums) followed a series of short-term drummers in 1985, and rounded out the core line-up. Sonic Youth emerged from the experimental no wave art and music scene in New York before evolving into a more conventional rock band and becoming the most prominent of the American noise rock groups. Sonic Youth have been praised for having "redefined what rock guitar could do" using a wide variety of unorthodox guitar tunings and preparing guitars with objects like drum sticks and screwdrivers to alter the instruments' timbre. The band is considered to be a pivotal influence on the alternative and indie rock movements. After gaining a large underground following and critical praise through releases with SST Records in the late 1980s, the band experienced mainstream success throughout the 1990s and 2000s after signing to major label DGC in 1990 and headlining the 1995 Lollapalooza festival. In 2011, Ranaldo announced that the band was "ending for a while" following the separation of married couple Gordon and Moore. Thurston Moore updated and clarified the position in May 2014: "Sonic Youth is on hiatus. The band is a democracy of sorts, and as long as Kim and I are working out our situation, the band can't really function reasonably." Gordon refers several times in her 2015 autobiography Girl in a Band to the band having "split up" Shortly after guitarist Thurston Moore moved to New York City in early 1977, he formed a group, Room Tone, with his roommates, who later changed their name to the Coachmen. After the breakup of the Coachmen, Moore began jamming with Stanton Miranda, whose band, CKM, featured Kim Gordon. Moore and 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. The name came from combining the nickname of MC5's Fred "Sonic" Smith with "Youth" from reggae artist Big Youth. Gordon later recalled that "as soon as Thurston came up with the name Sonic Youth, a certain sound that was more of what we wanted to do came about." 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. Their performance impressed Moore, who described them as "the most ferocious guitar band that I had ever seen in my life", and he invited Ranaldo to join the band. The new threesome played three songs at the festival later in the week without a drummer. Each band member took turns playing the drums, until they met drummer Richard Edson. On October 14, 2011, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore announced that they separated after 27 years of marriage through a statement by Matador. Matador also explained that plans for the band remained "uncertain", despite previously hinting that they would record new material later in the year. In an interview on November 28, 2011, Lee Ranaldo said that Sonic Youth are "ending for a while". "I'm feeling optimistic about the future no matter what happens at this point", Ranaldo said. "It was a pretty good tour overall. I mean, there was a little bit of tiptoeing around and some different situations with the travelling – you know, they're not sharing a room any more or anything like that. It remains to be seen at this point what happens. I think they are certainly the last shows for a while and I guess I'd just leave it at that." Ranaldo also suggested there are no plans for Sonic Youth to record new material. "There's tons and tons of archival projects and things like that still going on," he said. "I'm just happy right now to let the future take its course." In November 2013, Ranaldo said in response to the question of a possible reunion, "I fear not. Everybody is busy with their own projects, besides that Thurston and Kim aren't getting along together very well since their split. I think you can put a cross behind Sonic Youth, same as you can put it behind the names Mike Kelley and Lou Reed. Let them all rest in peace." In her 2015 autobiography Girl in a Band, Gordon refers several times to the band having "split up" for good.
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