• Image about Thurston Moore


A record-label shake-up and a new member have made rock vets Sonic Youth feel young again.


WHEN THURSTON MOORE BOARDS A PLANE
, he packs a set list rather than an itinerary. At the time of this interview, the front man for legendary rock band Sonic Youth is gearing up for the group’s first-ever concert in Chile. He says he hopes for better weather than what he’s experiencing at his home in Northampton, Massachusetts, and he is excited about performing for a new group of fans. But otherwise, he has few plans for his overseas jaunt: “Fly in, spend a couple of days there, and fly home,” he says.

If Moore wants to take a real journey, he’d rather simply walk down to his basement. Full of amplifiers, oddly tuned guitars, and distortion pedals, the subground space is where the 50-year-old guitarist and songwriter escapes by hitting record on an old tape deck and creating noisy, complex recordings by himself. “There’s an underground network of people recording and performing this music,” he says.

Moore relishes the comfortable spot he’s built at the fringe of modern American rock -- a place where he can make his outlandish noise tapes and still have a devoted mainstream following. It’s a luxury he and his bandmates have earned, thanks to decades of their redefining the word punk -- whether they were bellowing atonal shout anthems in the 1980s, winning over crazed fans at Lollapalooza in the 1990s, or putting their artistic spin on catchy, more accessible material on their 2006 album, Rather Ripped. After such an accomplished and wide-ranging career, it seems the only thing that was left for Sonic Youth to do on their new album -- their 16th, titled The Eternal (Matador, $15) -- was to start over.