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Sonic Youth Bring Seventies Rock

Sonic Nurse follow-up inspired by Blue Oyster Cult, "Friends"

March 6, 2006 5:08 PM ET

After spending last fall and early 2006 in the studio with John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Son Volt), New York's favorite avant-garde rockers Sonic Youth are now mixing the follow-up to 2004's Sonic Nurse, set for release on June 13th. The band's latest, as-yet-untitled studio album, says guitarist/vocalist Thurston Moore, drew upon some surprising sources.

"What was that band -- the Rembrandts? We're inspired by that!" says Moore with a laugh. This according to his daughter with singer/bassist Kim Gordon, Coco, when she first heard their new song "What a Waste." "Our eleven-year-old said, 'Hey! That's the theme song from Friends!'" he confesses. "And we're like, 'Oh, yeah!' So we're inspired by that -- and [the short-lived NBC comedy series] Freaks and Geeks, which is totally awesome and also early, thrash-era Go-Go's."

But overall, the tracks -- which include the titles "Rats," "Lights Out," "The Neutral" and "Turqoise Boys" -- take cues from Seventies efforts by Long Island hard rockers the Blue Oyster Cult. "Like their third, fourth album," Moore explains.

Sonic Youth plan to tour America in support of the effort from June through September, pairing up for a handful of dates with pals the Flaming Lips. "We like each other," Moore says. "We've played together -- but it's always at some festival in Brazil or something. So we thought we should really cut across the U.S. together."

Before that happens, the band will also release a host of reissues on March 14th: Moore's "only above-ground solo record," Psychic Hearts; the group's 1989's experimental side project Ciccone Youth; and Sonic Youth's 1982 self-titled debut EP, packaged with seven extra songs.

"The first EP is really exciting because we actually unearthed a cassette recording from when we were actually first getting onstage somewhere," Moore recalls. "Most of the material was never recorded beyond playing it live. We sound completely different -- we were coming out of this New York No Wave atonal guitar world."

Moore himself will follow up the reissues with a handful of solo live appearances, beginning with an experimental guitar set on March 16th at the Table of the Elements record label show at Austin's South by Southwest Music Festival. He'll wrap things up March 18th at Brooklyn, New York's No Fun festival, alongside one of his favorite guitar hopefuls, Ohioan Leslie Keffer.

"She's part of this whole burgeoning Midwest subterranean noise scene," explains Moore. "It's great -- you can really see very intense displays of noise music by women there."

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