I SAID NO TO REPUBLICANS
A Spotlite on THURSTON MOORE
Thurston Moore by Anita Marie Antonini
Thurston Moore is the man that does everything we wish we did. In his own words, he “moved to New York to marry Patti Smith.” If only we all had such lofty ambitions upon moving to the city that never sleeps. Though he may not have married Patti Smith, he instead went on to form one of the greatest and most influential bands of alltime–ever heard of a little band named SONIC YOUTH?–and marry fellow bandmate and hot “rock chick” par excellence Kim Gordon. For three decades Sonic Youth has been one of those bands that you just aren’t “cool” if you don’t like. They haven’t lost it. They remain not just icons of the past, but arbiters of the present. As one might imagine though, Sonic Youth is only one facet for the output of Thurston Moore’s talent and genius. Besides being a solo artist as well, he also runs a record label (Ecstatic Peace!), reviews new music with Byron Coley in Arthur Magazine and, with Eva Prinz, formed a publishing imprint called Ecstatic Peace Library. Anita Marie Antonini interviewed him about Ecstatic Peace Library and their new book featuring the photography of James Hamilton, You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen.
Anita Marie Antonini: Congratulations on your imprint, Ecstatic Peace Library. Both publishing and editing books are labors of love no matter how time consuming, how do you find the time? Is it a project that you go to take your mind off of something else in a way?
Thurston Moore: Thank you. Since the late-1970s I felt the need to publish something. I used to publish a zine called Killer. Kim and I love books.
AMA: You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen is an intriguing title for a photography book about musicians. What is that from? Please tell me a little bit about how and why it became the title.
TM: James came up with the title and we asked for permission to use it. It is a lyric in the Bo Diddley song, “Who Do You Love?”
AMA: The book looks like this is the work of many different photographers because the style is journalistic (everything from the street, parties to performance ) but there are also so many studio portraits. It’s interesting to see the range that James Hamilton has when it comes to capturing people either on stage or in a sitting. Can you elaborate on that at all?
TM: James has a great way with people. He photographed us (Sonic Youth) when we first started out. I remember he asked me to remove my trucker cap that I was absolutely determined to wear. I immediately removed it. There was something about James Hamilton’s voice and nature.
AMA: How did you choose what made it into the book? There is everyone from old school jazz musicians to Lou Reed to Lionel Richie. Did you have many Sophie’s Choice moments while editing?
TM: Lionel Richie is in the book? I said no to Lionel Richie! He was republican. I said no to republicans.
AMA: I particularly like the photo of Rick Rubin at home with his parents and the one of Russell Simmons and Kurtis Blow at the Rush Offices – and so great next to each other. Any personal favorite photos from the book?
TM: Juxtapositions are fun, we often paired those serious musicians with very fun ones. I also like the Pointer Sisters next to Beastie Boys.
AMA: Love the photos from the White House Jazz Festival, they give a historical quality that makes me feel like I wish the Obamas would bring that back. Should we start a movement?
TM: Yes! Activism is hot. Dear Mr. President, Please bring back the White House Jazz Festival! Signed, Ecstatic Peace Library.
AMA: Any upcoming projects in 2011 that you can tell us about?
TM: Yoko Ono’s kites will be flying near you. FLY ME is her book of kites coming out this spring. It’s a Fluxist kind of kit with a book of kites.
Thurston Moore is the founder of, and guitarist and vocalist for, Sonic Youth. He also runs a record company Ecstatic Peace! and a publishing imprint Ecstatic Peace Library. Ecstatic Peace Library’s new book, You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen, which features previously unseen rock photography by James Hamilton, is available now from the Ecstatic Peace Library website and in a bookstore near you.
Thurston Moore interviewed by Anita Marie Antonini
Photography by Nick Hunt, Shaun Mader and Will Ragozzino for PatrickMcMullan.com
Design by Marie Havens
Thurston Moore, Rodarte Opening Cocktail Party Sponsored by Nordstrom and Vogue, at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, NYC, February 18, 2010, Photography by Will Ragozzino for PatrickMcMullan.com
Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Haunch of Venison “Your History is Not Our History” After Party, at 48 Lounge, NYC, March 5, 2010, Photography by Nick Hunt for PatrickMcMullan.com
Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Sculpture Center Gala Honoring Dan Graham, at the Sculpture Center LIC, NYC, December 10, 2009, Photography by Shaun Mader for PatrickMcMullan.com
Cover of You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen, Photography by James Hamilton, Courtesy Ecstatic Peace Library
Ecstatic Peace Library Peace Sign Logo, Courtesy Ecstatic Peace Library