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10 April 2018updated 28 Jun 2021 4:39am

Thurston Moore Q&A: “I was happiest when I was poor, trundling through the world“

The musician talks the rock’n’roll music programmes of the 1970s, the advent of idiot Trump and the hate agenda of Brexit.

By New Statesman

Thurston Moore was born in 1958 in Coral Gables, Florida. After dropping out of college to move to New York, he met Kim Gordon (his now ex-wife) and they formed the rock band Sonic Youth. He lives in London.

What’s your earliest memory?

I’m a baby on hands and knees in a hallway in McKenzie, Tennessee, in 1959. My brother and sister, five and two years older respectively, are holding a brown leather shoe in front of me and saying, “Shoe! Shoe!” It was somewhat obvious to me that their wish was for me to repeat the word after them. They are laughing, and I can see my parents sitting smiling on the couch behind them. I just laugh as there’s so much fun and love in the room.

Who are your heroes?

My childhood hero would have been any one of the superheroes in the comics I devoured: Spider-Man, Aquaman, Plastic Man. As an adult, my heroes were artists and musicians, which is what my father was, so he was my hero. Besides him, I’d say Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Patti Smith and Johnny Rotten. Today I have a whole set of new heroes.

What was the last book that changed your thinking?

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. I’m not sure how it came my way but I tore through it, as it elucidated all I imagined the real and irreal truths of human and spiritual existence were. It clarifies Buddhist texts into an approachable perspective. I would gift this book to my family, hoping it would assuage their unease of mortality.

What political figure, past or present, do you look up to?

The radicals who call for resistance to political agendas fuelled by greed. Angela Davis certainly, Bernie Sanders.

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In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I would have loved to have been born ten years prior to have experienced more of the 1960s, particularly in New York City, San Francisco and London.

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What TV show could you not live without?

The rock’n’roll music programmes of the 1970s such as Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, In Concert and the UK import of Supersonic.

Who would paint your portrait?

Even though he focuses primarily on females, I’d suggest Duncan Hannah.

What’s your theme tune?

“I’m a Man” by Muddy Waters: at stun volume.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The “life is but a dream” lyric from “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. I do follow it.

What’s currently bugging you?

The complacency of intellectual liberalism making way for merchants of greed and division to come into positions of power. Hopefully the advent of idiot Trump and the hate agenda of Brexit will have woken up the angels.

What single thing would make your life better?

A smile.

When were you happiest?

Poor, and trundling through the world playing music.

In another life what job might you have chosen?


Are we all doomed?

Not while I’m here, you’re not.

“Thurston Moore: 12×12 – Music for Twelve 12-String Guitars” is at the Barbican, London EC2, on 14 April

This article appears in the 04 Apr 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Delusions of empire