Thurston Joseph Moore (born July 25, 1958 in Coral Gables, Florida) is an American musician best known as a singer, songwriter and guitarist of Sonic Youth. He has participated in many solo and group collaborations outside of Sonic Youth, as well as running Ecstatic Peace! records.
Moore was born in Coral Gables, Florida, but was raised in Bethel, Connecticut. Although he enrolled at Western Connecticut State University, he opted to move to New York City instead to join the burgeoning post-punk/no wave music scenes.
Once there, Moore was briefly in the hardcore punk band Even Worse, featuring future The Big Takeover editor (and future Springhouse drummer) Jack Rabid. After exiting the band, Moore and Lee Ranaldo learned experimental guitar techniques in Glenn Branca's "guitar orchestras." He also spent much time at the University of Massachusetts and in the Amherst/Northampton area.
Moore and Ranaldo soon formed Sonic Youth, serving as the band's guitarists, with Moore on lead vocals. The band signed to Neutral Records, then to Homestead Records, and then to SST Records.
In 1984, Moore married Sonic Youth bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon; the pair have a daughter, Coco Hayley Gordon Moore (born 1 July 1994). They currently reside in Northampton, Massachusetts.
He and Ranaldo make extensive use of unusual guitar tunings, often heavily modifying their instruments to provide unusual timbres and drones, They are known for bringing upwards of fifty guitars to every live gig, using some guitars for one song only. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Moore and Ranaldo the 33rd and 34th Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
In addition to his work with Sonic Youth, Moore has also released albums as a solo artist. He and Gordon released a few songs as Mirror/Dash, a reference to their respective nicknames. ("Mirror" being an alliterative pun on "Moore," and "Dash" being a pun on Flash Gordon.) The two also established Protest records together but the project has since lapsed.
Moore has collaborated with scores of musicians, including Maryanne Amacher, Lydia Lunch, DJ Spooky, William Hooker, Daniel Carter, Christian Marclay, Mike Watt, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Tom Surgal, William Winant, Nels Cline, Cock E.S.P., Daniel Castro, Glenn Branca, Yamantaka Eye, Chris Corsano and My Cat is an Alien. Most of his solo/duo collaborations have been instrumental, and are generally improvised and/or noise based.
In the early 1990s, Moore formed the side band Dim Stars, featuring punk legend Richard Hell of the Voidoids. Moore performed solo on the side stage of the 1993 Lollapalooza tour. Additionally, Moore also contributed guitar work and backing vocals on "Crush With Eyeliner," which appeared on R.E.M.'s Monster LP.
Since 2004, Moore has recorded and performed with the all-star noise collective To Live and Shave in L.A., the lineup of which also features Andrew W.K.. He recorded with the band at Sonic Youth's former studio in Manhattan, and later performed with them at the George W. Bush "anti-inaugural" Noise Against Fascism concert in Washington, D.C., named in reference to Sonic Youth's 1992 song "Youth Against Fascism." Moore curated the "Nightmare Before Christmas" weekend of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival, in December 2006.
Moore directed the music video for Pavement's song "Here," from Slanted and Enchanted. Foot is a collaboration between Don Fleming, Jim Dunbar and Thurston Moore.
On June 21, 2007, Moore revealed to Spin Magazine that he would be releasing a solo album titled Trees Outside The Academy. The album was recorded at J Mascis' studio in Amherst, Massachusetts. The album is made up of mostly acoustic material and features Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and violinist Samara Lubelski. The album also features collaborations between Mascis and Charalambides' Christina Carter, who performs a duet with Moore on the track, "Honest James." The album was released on September 18, 2007, on Moore's label Ecstatic Peace.
On September 24, 2008, Pitchfork Media reported that Thurston was working on a song with former Be Your Own Pet vocalist Jemina Pearl. They did a cover of the Ramones song Sheena Is a Punk Rocker. The song was recorded for the teenage drama Gossip Girl and was featured in the episode "There Might Be Blood".
In 1994, Moore teamed up with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, Don Fleming of Gumball, Mike Mills of R.E.M., and Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters, to form the Backbeat Band, which recorded the soundtrack album to the movie Backbeat.
In 1998 Moore played on the soundtrack of the film Velvet Goldmine as a member of Wylde Ratttz, along with The Stooges' Ron Asheton, his Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley, Minutemen's Mike Watt, Gumball's Don Fleming, Mark Arm of Mudhoney and Jim Dunbar.
Moore also composed original music for the films:
- Extra Action and Extra Hardcore (2008)
In 2007, Moore also appeared with noise/impro constellation "Original Silence" featuring Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (The thing, Atomic, Scorch Trio), guitarist Terrie Ex (The Ex), Jim O'Rourke (Sonic Youth, Wilco, Illusion of Safety), saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and bassist Massimo Pupillo (Zu). The group released the live-recorded album "The First Original Silence" in 2007, on Oslo (Norway) lable SmallTown Superjazz, and a second album "The Second Original Silence" in 2008.
Moore is known for using a large selection of Fender guitars during gigs. Most of the time he plays a Jazzmaster through many different types of amps among which Vox AC30, Peaveys and Fenders are present. He also plays a Jaguar and a heavily modified Mustang with three single-coil pickups, but less often.
Since Ranaldo and Moore, together with Elvis Costello, J. Mascis and Kevin Shields are known for being key figures in the popularization and resurrection of the Fender Jazzmaster, Fender introduced in 2009 a special Lee Ranaldo signature edition of a Sapphire Blue Transparent version featuring two Fender Wide Range humbucking pickups together with a Forest Green Transparent one for Moore (equipped with a pair of Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Jazzmaster single-coil pickups)