09/20/87 - Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald's

Sister material + "Ramones set"
  • I previously had this date as San Antonio, TX @ Woodlawn Theatre, however it was confirmed as Houston via a visitor to the site as well as an interview from Cosloy Youth (which I may as well reproduce below). I don't know if they played San Antonio on this tour. [Update: yes, they did, Sept 19th]

    Sonic Youth was gang-interviewed after their "Ramones Set" at Fitzgerald's
    September 20.  Present were:  Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and Lee Renaldo of
    Sonic Youth, Ray & Robert (Cosloy Youth), Austin Caustic (Sicko), Julie Wroble
    (KTRU), and various members of Grindin' Teeth and Nice Strong Arm.
    SICKO:  Tell me about what's different what you're doing now compared to what
    you were doing a couple of years ago, or even last year.
    KIM:  Um . . . that's impossible to answer.
    S:  That's impossible to answer?
    KIM:  That's like saying "What was going on two years ago?"
    S:  But like tonight, there were no drumsticks under the guitar strings or
    anything like that.
    KIM: That's just because we don't want to make every song a drumstick song.  It
    gets boring.
    S:  You got bored with that?
    KIM:  Yeah.
    S:  Do a lot of people that go to see shows get irritated with that?
    KIM:  They say "Hey, where're the drumsticks?", y'know, it's a circus.
    COSLOY YOUTH:  Have you noticed any bands picking up and doing the kind of
    things you're doing.  There'e Live Skull, Rat At Rat R, bands that people have
    compared to you a lot, but. . .
    KIM:  No, that's just because they're from New York also, and they don't play
    pop music, but...Live Skull has a sound that's more influenced by British, the
    British sound, like Siouxsie and the Banshees; they always use, like, heavy
    effects on the guitars, and they're not anything like us.  And Rat At Rat R no
    longer exists anyway, so. . .
    CY:  Do you see yourself influencing bands that are just starting?
    KIM:  Yeah, a lot of people say that, or ask that, and maybe we do in the sense
    of attitude or something, that because we've gone a long way doing what we do
    that it kind of shows people that they can make any kind of music and in a
    sense, if they persist at it, if their serious at it, people will take them
    CY:  The reason I was asking is 'cause I saw a local band here a couple of
    months ago and at the beginning of their set they were doing this long extended
    noisy thing, and all the guitar players were knocking on the backs of the necks
    of their guitar's. . .
    THURSTON:  Really?
    KIM:  I mean, you'll see bands who do take elements like that, like superficial
    elements like that. . .
    THURSTON:  Hendrix used to do that.
    KIM:  ...yeah, a lot of people have done it.  But lots of times those are the
    people who sound the least like us.  It's really more of an attitude thing, I
    S:  So you're not worried about there being a lot of Sonic Youth copy bands.
    KIM:  No.
    S:  So tell us about the Ramones set tonight.  What inspired that?
    THURSTON:  We had just been at sound check and it sort of,I don't know, we just
    started playing Ramones songs.
    KIM:  Like, "what's the stupidest thing we could do?"
    THURSTON:  No, it's not stupid, it's just. . .
    KIM:  It's like what you were saying before, like coverbands never play Ramones
    THURSTON:  Yeah, it's like Beatlemania, or like Crystal Ship, the Doors band.
    KIM:  Led Zep night.
    S:  So have you been doing that a while, lots of Ramones copies?
    KIM:  Every couple of days we learn a new one.
    THURSTON:  We figure by the time we get back home to New York, we'll just come
    out and do like a whole album, the whole first album.
    KTRU:  They're not real difficult to pick up, I'm sure.
    KIM:  No,they're not, but it's confusing to remember one from the other because
    they're so similiar.
    CY:  This Madonna thing.  I read someplace, don't ask me where, but some people
    were arguing that you don't really like Madonna,and it's all a big joke on your
    part, on your fans, like a big prank.
    KIM:  No, we like her.
    THURSTON:  No, we like her alot.  We just like that one song.
    KIM:  I think she's becoming a bit driven, though. . .
     . .(interruption while people come in and socialize). . .
    THURSTON:  ...no, it's like, she the kind of person who insinuates being real
    populous, and at the same time a like Lower East Side loft kind of mentality or
    something.  It's too obvious, now.  I mean, we never wanted to try to exploit
    that we like Mandonna, it just sorta happened.  We did that song . . .
    CY:  Did you ever get in trouble for that?  Legal trouble at all?
    THURSTON:  Supposedly she heard it, and said it's OK, she just won't tell her
    management.  And she's like, she used to live in New York, she went out with a
    friend of ours for a while, and I won't tell you who, because you know who it
    is.  And she was in this band called "Spinal...",  this weird Gang-of-Four-ish
    new wave band, with these kids who were in Deep Six, Circus Mort, who turned
    into the Swans.  I mean, there's a weird connection there;  so she is actually
    part of the Swans thing.
    S:  Madonna is part of the whole Swans trip?  This has the makings of a real
    underground Weekly World News story. . .
    THURSTON:  Weekly Weird News.
    S:  A real news flash:  Madonna went out with Michael Gira, we have pictures.
    THURSTON:  Why Michael Gira?
    S:  Well, I don't know, you said she was hanging out with the Swans, I mean...
    THURSTON:  Well, you can't say Michael Gira, 'cause he'd be offended.  Michael
    Gira would be very offended.
    KIM:  Yeah, he's a very private person.
    THURSTON:  Well, when she used to play around, we used to always hate her,
    'cause she's such a jerk.  She used to like... well, there's this guy she used
    to go out with we know, she used to sit on his lap, the whole time like looking
    around. . .
    KIM:  She was so much the babe on the make, always looking around,I mean, she's
    be making out with this guy one second and then looking around. . .
    THURSTON:  And when she first got signed to Sire we were just kinda like "Oh
    no", and when her first single came out we used to laugh at her.  And we never
    saw her play because we'd always be at a club and she'd like, she'd be playing,
    and we'd go "let's go before Madonna comes".  And then all of a sudden she
    started writing really great songs.
    S:  So what's the real name of that song with the chorus of "We're gonna kill
    the California girls"?
    THURSTON: What about it?
    S:  What's the real name of that song?  I mean, I've seen about four different
    names in different places.
    THURSTON:  I know.  I don't know.  It's all those names.
    S:  It just can't be named?
    KTRU:  Like tonight, "Skating on the Bowery".
    THURSTON:  It's got more names than any other song, let's put it that way.
    S:  What was it called tonight?
    THURSTON:  It was called, like "Fuck", or something.
    CY:  There's a song on Evol, "In the Kingdom", that Mike Watt played bass on.
    Wasn't that kind of weird? I mean, that's a pretty violent description of a car
    wreck, and right after D. Boon dying. . .
    THURSTON:  Yes.  Yeah, in a way.  I mean, Lee . . . those were some words Lee
    wrote years ago, and then when Mike was in New York and we were recording, he
    wanted to play bass. That song was constructed in the studio, we'd never played
    it live or anything.  And Mike was there, and he just sort of came up with the
    bass, and it was just, it what just, like that.  I mean, Lee explained to Mike
    that it was really, uh, what it was about. . .
    KIM:  That it wasn't really in bad taste, it just seems like it.
    THURSTON:  Yeah.  Mike's pretty cool.  But, I know, it sort of amplifies . . .
    implies weirdness.  It's just coincidence.
    (. . .Nice Strong Arm comes in to scam some root beer,  Thurston bitches about
    the door price in Austin. . .)
    CY:  When Iggy played with you, that time, I heard that he just got up on stage
    with you.  Was that planned, did you know that was going to happen?
    THURSTON:  Yeah, it was a total scam (big laffs all around). We paid him.  No,
    we were rehearsing that day 'cause we hadn't played for a long time, and we were
    rehearsing in a rehearsal studio, some big rehearsal studio. And when we were
    rehearsing we did "I Wanna Be Your Dog", and we were walking down the hall and
    there was another studio and we heard another band doing it.  So we sorta like
    open the door and it was fuckin' Iggy Pop, and we're like "wow".  And we didn't
    think they were playing it really well at all,  So we're like "wow, it's Iggy".
    He heard us rehearsing it, and then he came up to us, you know.  He was real
    nice.  He's like a real dude from the Midwest, he's a real ratty guy.  He's
    really a totally hyper kind of person, constantly like, I don't know, a weird
    metabolism.  But it was a lot of fun, and we didn't think he was going to come
    to the gig, but he came.  He just sorta hung out backstage, and we did "I Wanna
    Be Your Dog", and we asked him to sing and he goes "yeah!"  and he came out.
    And then people started freaking out,I don't know if they realized it at first.
     He did his whole trip, I mean, it was so weird, it was sorta like watching TV
    or something.  It was so weird.
    S:  On the past few albums, ya'll have gotten more and more structured. Is that
    a correct interpretation?
    THURSTON:  Structured?
    S:  Yeah, you're doing more and more songs, well, not songs, but they're
    shorter, and there's less long discordant jams than, say, the first couple of
    albums, or even on Bad Moon Rising.
    KIM:  There aren't any jams on this one.
    S:  Oh,there's discordant noise bits and stuff, but there aren't the long jams.
     Was that a conscious decision?
    THURSTON:  No.
    KIM:   I think it 's more of a reaction than a decision.
    S:  Reaction to what?
    KIM:  What we did before. Like, we're tired of doing long songs, let's do short
    songs.  Like on Bad Moon we did the segues.  That was the only record where we
    consciously. . . where we want it with just segues, 'cause when we were doing
    the Confusion material live we just started doing that, because it made it
    easier for transitions and stuff. And then after Bad Moon we go "well, we don't
    want to do the segues anymore."  It was boring.
    THURSTON:  No,we don't sit down and discuss what we're gonna do, we just do it.
     It's not like a conscious decision.
    KIM:  It's really like every record has it's own mood.  I think it's more
    reactions from, like, what happens when you play the last set of material, that
    kind of leads you toward doing the next material.
    KTRU:  What kind of themes are on the Sister record, would you say?
    THURSTON:  Themes?
    KTRU:  Well, moods, what you were talking about, an album having moods.
    K:  Um . . . kind of . . . Cyberpunkish.  (big laffs).
    S:  Well, explain cyberpunk to those of us who aren't familiar with that genre.
    THURSTON:  Bruce Sterling's from Austin.
    K:  Yeah, he's one of the king cyberpunks.  Although they probably don't like
    that term.
    S:  King cyberpunk?
    THURSTON:  Yeah, he's this writer from Austin.  He instigated alot of this 80's
    sci-fi kind of stuff.
    KIM:  But he put out a compilation, he edited this compilation, and it got
    reveiewed, and somebody coined the term "cyberpunk".
    S:  What compilation was that?
    CY:  Was that Mirrorshades?
    THURSTON:  Mirrorshades.  Right.
    CY:  That's a cool book.
    S:  So Sister is cyberpunk.
    KIM:  Yeah.  This is a scoop, OK?
    S:  So just for the benefit of us pigeonholers, can you describe the rest of
    your records in neat terms that?
    THURSTON:  Like science fiction philosophies?
    KIM:  It's all cyberpunk.
    S:  It's all cyberpunk.  Finally.  You heard it first here.
    KIM:  Yeah, if you want to label us, just call us cyberpunks.
    THURSTON:  Cybercore.
    S:  Now that we've got a genre going, let's hear some other bands in the
    cyberpunk genre.
    THURSTON:  Aw, man, there's like a load of 'em.  There's um . . .
    KIM:  Nice Strong Arm.
    THURSTON:  . . . Nice Strong Arm, the Ramones . . .
    NICE STRONG ARM: Wow, do you have glitter on your shoes?
    S:  Yeah.
    NSA:  Cool.
    THURSTON:  Pretty cyber, huh?
    KIM:  That earring's total cyber.
    S:  So is that gonna be a genre, eventually, like hardore, or something?
    Cyberpunk bands?
    THURSTON:  Oh, it is.
    KIM:  Yeah, when Spin comes back we'll have new cyberpunk bands.
    CY:  The Tenth Anniversary of Cyberpunk.
    S:  And there'll be thousands of people with cyberpunk hairdos running around,
    being cyberpunks, huh?
    THURSTON:  Like, Phillip K. Dick was sort of a pregenitor of that, like, all
    these young writers who came out from under him.  It's less hard science, and
    it's more sort of psychological.
    S:  Cybernetics.
    THURSTON:  Yeah, but using, like, software and cybernetics.  Like putting
    modules into the back of your neck, and plugging into the matrix.
    NSA:  Like Count Zero?
    THURSTON:  Yeah, like, stereophiles, who spend all their money on audiophile
    equipment.  Sort of this sense of pleasing your schizophrenic desire, stereo.
    S:  So, eventually it'll be like "cyberpunk is dead", right?
    THURSTON:  Well, I don't know . . .
    S:  OK, next question.  This is the first time I've seen people slamming at a
    Sonic Youth gig.  It seems to me that that could be real dangerous.  I mean,
    some of your music really feels like it's inciteful towards violence.
    THURSTON:  Yeah.  We're very violent people.
    KIM:  But, people do pretty organized things, like they do at hardcore gigs,
    like the pit, the forearms, and all.  I mean, the most psychotic audiences I've
    ever seen I think have been at Butthole gigs.
    THURSTON:  We're pro pit bull. (laffs)
    KIM:  Like, people don't form a pit at Butthole shows.  They're more like . . .
    total anarchy.
    S:  Well, that's interesting, 'cause the Butthole gigs I've been at, the
    slamming's looked wild, but, it's ... I don't do that any more since I cracked
    my head open . . . But the stuff I've seen at Buttholes gigs has looked wild,
    but hasn't been that rough.  It's not like DRI where people are trying to kill
    each other.
    THURSTON:  Do you stage dive?
    NSA:  Always, like in my bedroom,I start bouncing till I can get my head to the
    ceiling, then I dive off.
    S:  Well, does that happen a lot at Sonic Youth gigs anymore, people slam
    dancing, and thrashing?
    THURSTON:  Yeah, sometimes.  It always kinda freaks you out, sometimes at the
    start of the song, people start slamming, and you know it's not how the song
    goes, and they're gonna get bummed out.  You, like, change into non-slam.  I
    always feel sorry for those people who start slamming.  'Cause you know their
    gonna stop, because it's not . . .
    KIM:  Yeah, usually we do the Ramones songs at the encore, but we felt bad for
    CY:  You didn't feel bad for us.
    THURSTON:  You were up at the front going "no, please don't play thrash, no".
    S:  What about the song "Kill Your Idols"?  I've heard a lot of versions on
    different records, and I've seen you play it twice, but you didn't play it
    LEE:  I think you've heard the same version on different records.
    THURSTON:  There's only one version of that, what are you talking about?
    KIM:  Well, you've heard live versions.
    LEE:  Yeah, there's two versions.
    S:  I've heard there's another version on the Communicate comp.
    LEE:  Oh, fuck.
    THURSTON:  That's just live crap.
    S:  You're bored with that song?
    THURSTON:  Sure.
    S:  What do you do with songs you get bored with, do you put 'em on the shelf?
    THURSTON:  Yeah.
    LEE:  We just use the guitars for another tuning.
    THURSTON:  We just sort of cancel 'em out.
    S:  Do you think comparisons between yourself and the Grateful Dead are fair,at
    (. . . much disagreement . . . )
    LEE:  Being the only one who knows anything about both bands, I think it's
    fairly apt.
    S:  I would have to agree with that.
    LEE:  I'm not saying that's good.
    THURSTON:  I don't get it, myself.  I've heard that.
    S:  So you all dislike the Grateful Dead.
    LEE:  No, not at all.  I like them again, recently.  I hadn't liked them for a
    long time.
    KIM:  I like some of it, but a lot of it I don't like.  I don't like the long,
    jazzy jams.
    THURSTON:  I like their really bad records, like Shakedown Street.
    LEE:  He's really into the shitty Dead.
    CY:  I read an interview once where you said that rock&roll was your religion.
     Were you kidding?
    THURSTON:  Oh ,God . . .
    CY:  It was in Option, so . . .
    LEE:  Yeah, so that's a lie, you can tell.
    THURSTON:  Yeah, but . . . that's . . .
    LEE:  (to Thurston) Did you guys really say that?
    KIM:  He stole it from Patti Smith.
    THURSTON:  That's a pretty gay thing to say, I guess.  I can't believe I said
    CY:  Never mind.  Next question.
    KTRU:  I read something today about when you were in England, people avoided
    talking to you because they generally stereotype women in rock and you didn't
    fit the stereotypes.
    KIM:  I don't think that's what I said.  I think, like, there were a couple of
    times when they would describe the band, (this was early on when we were there)
    and they would describe everyone in the band except for the me, and I just
    generally got the feeling that they don't know how to deal well with women
    unless there's a really specific stereotype, like a conventional stereotype.
    S:  There are certainly some English bands, though, that are active
    feminist-type bands, like Poison Girls, Lost Cherrie . . .
    KIM:  I don't know them.
    S:  You don't know Poison Girls?
    THURSTON:  Yeah, they're like, Crass kind of . . .
    LEE:  The Poison Girls, are they the ones with, like, the hillbillies?
    ( . . . lots of talk about women, Beverly Hillbillies. . .)
    KTRU:  So do you think women need to take a more active role in projecting some
    kind of image?
    KIM:  In England?
    KTRU:  Just anywhere.  In rock, in general.
    KIM:  Well, I don't know, I think it's difficult to project an image that's
    different, that's also honest.  It's hard to project something that's more
    personal, you know, that's . . . I don't know, it's hard to explain.  It's hard
    to project something that's different because something that's not stereotypic
    involves something more personal, and therefore you're putting more of yourself
    out, in a way.  You're not protected.  I mean, there's a good reason why people
    have their style so stylized, it's to protect themselves.
    S:  But that goes on in all aspects of music and entertainment, not just
    mainstream.  Certainly in a lot of underground music.
    KIM:  Sure.
    S:  It seems to me that you have always tried to stay away from that sort of
    THURSTON:  That's the good thing about cybercore, is that males and females are
    totally equal.  It's totally happenin'.
    LEE:  It's a unicore thing.
    S:  Just dealing with it on a whole-hearted and cybercore basis?
    THURSTON:  We deal with a definite cybercore basis.
    LEE:  We jack into the matrix.
    KIM:  It's just a temporary illusion anyway.
    S:  You stay centered all the time.
    KIM:  In a temporary sort of way.
    S:  What did Sonic Youth do for the harmonic convergence?
    THURSTON:  We slept in.
    KIM:  We took a plane ride.
    LEE:  We blew up a van.  That would be great if people were blowing up cars all
    over America in honor of the harmonic convergence.  That's what we did.
    KTRU:  I'd like to hear about "Tuff Gnarl" too.  Who came up with the words for
    CY:  It's a skate song.
    THURSTON:  A skate song.  That's all pretty much what it is.
    KIM:  Most of our songs are skate songs.  Skate is a big part in cyberpunk.
    THURSTON:  Actually, they're lines from record reviews.
    KTRU:  Really? Your records?
    THURSTON:  No, I used to put out a magazine, and there was these record reviews
    for this fanzine that I did years ago. 2 or 3 years ago.  And we needed lyrics,
    so I just sorta took lines sporadically from each review. That's what all those
    lines mean.
    KTRU:  "Fatal erection home in bed"?
    THURSTON:  Fatal Erection is the label that Poison Idea recorded for.  They're
    like a Seattle hardcore band, and they put their records out on Fatal Erection.
    CY:  What do you think of Swanic Youth?
    THURSTON:  It's kind of silly.  I don't know.
    LEE:  I wish I could hear it.  I haven't heard it.
    THURSTON:  Really?!  The only thing I don't like about it is that some people
    say they hear it on the radio and the DJ says it's us and the Swans together.
    They actually believe it's like a compilation.
    S:  One last question:  what's New York like anymore?
    LEE:  It sucks.
    S:  Is the scene fucked up?
    KIM:  No, it's growing, it's thriving.  Lots of bands.
    THURSTON:  People just, like, kill each other in the streets.  It's really
    S:  But the scene's OK?
    THURSTON:  It's strong.  (sarcastically)  The scene is very "strong".


  • Das Damen

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