As I mentioned in this recent post, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sonic Youth in the summer of 1990, and during our conversation, I sheepishly whipped out my cheap-o instamatic camera to take some pics.
Inspired by that post the other day, I decided to go foraging in my closet for them and wha-hey guess what?...I found them.
I now realize why these photos were still in my closet and not, say, in any of the photo albums on my bookshelves. Why? Well, it's because they pretty much suck. That said, I do like keeping them as a document of the day.
Overall, it was a pretty bizarre experience. I'd started doing some editorial work for this little start-up indie `zine called The New York Review of Records only a few months earlier (my experience at NYROR ultimately deserves a post of its own -- watch for that maybe sometime soon), but when news broke that Sonic Youth were doing press in advance of the release of their major label debut album Goo, the NYROR's editor graciously said I could tackle it.
There was a catch, though. He wanted to come along.
The plan was that I'd interview the band (whom he'd met several times already) and we'd divvy up the resulting copy between us. In turn, I would write up my version of the interview for a weekly newspaper I was doing music stuff for called NYPerspectives (long gone), and he would use whatever quotes I didn't for a cover story for The New York Review of Records. It was an unconventional approach, to be sure.
In the grand scheme of things, interviewing a whole band at once isn't always that preferable. People talk over each other and a cohesive thread can be hard to establish. Were that not enough, Sonic Youth kinda already knew my editor and, well,...as a result, weren't entirely serious during the course of proceedings. As the Brits say, for most of our time with the band in a plush conference room at Geffen Records, they were "taking the piss."
By contrast, I was this doe-eyed kid, earnestly taking the assignment DEAD SERIOUSLY, and trying to glean as much credible information as I could (while not being star struck at the same time). In all honesty, it was beyond frustrating. I believe I actually pleaded, at one point, for some sincerity.
The band eventually conceded, and I was able to piece together enough good stuff to forge a proper story for NYPerspectives. In retrospect, I can't actually tell you how good a story it was, as I no longer have a copy of it. It couldn't have been too bad, in any case, as I kept writing for them for at least another two years.
To his credit, my editor also pieced together a story with what quotes I'd left him for The New York Review of Records. Goo came out a week or two later. While it didn't exactly set the world on fire, Sonic Youth would continue to grow in popularity. I'd go onto see them perform live a few more times -- most memorably at a July 4 show in Central Park in 1992 (with Sun Ra opening). I'd chat with guitarist Lee Renaldo on a subway ride years later, and I'd occasionally spot members of the band around town, but I never again got to interview them.
In any case, that's my little, stupid backstory. I've just finished Kim Gordon's book this evening and thoroughly enjoyed it, however bittersweetly. During the course of it, I found myself dog-earing certain pages with choice quotes on them. Here are a couple of my favorites...albeit somewhat out of context..
On New York City...
"Any place I depended on once to be deserted now teems with bodies and long black cars and faraway accents all day, all night."
"And these days the Mudd Club is just a throwaway line in an old Talking heads song."
"Before Daydream Nation cam out, we did a shoot with Michael Lavine, and I remember walking around New York with the rest of the band in the hot, spongy summer. Michael had a panoramic camera, and in the photos he took I can still feel the dank, dirty moisture of the urban August."
Here's their suitably New Yorky clip for the Goo track, "Titanium Expose."