"I Dreamed Of Noise" Biography
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Subject: Sonic Youth Talking About the Ragged Glory Tour
From the 1994 Sonic Youth biography "I Dreamed Of Noise" written by Ignacio Julia and Jaime Gonzalo with Neil discussing the 1991 Ragged Glory Tour.
NEIL YOUNG (Guitars Magazine 92) : Obviously I like Sonic Youth. They are definitely a modern rock'n'roll band in my eyes. They make some beautiful music. Have you heard "Expressway To Your Skull"? It's unbelievably good. So beautiful! It's classic. Magnificent melody, and to hear it live, especially, it's awesome. They have several songs of that quality. So they're a great band.
KIM GORDON (-bass/vocals): Well, there were a couple of problems during the Neil young tour. We were told that we could have a certain amount of volume and we weren't getting it, and they wanted to cut our money back in the south 'cause the ticket sales were not that good, and we said: "Fine but we want the same money on the West Coast, 'cause we know we draw a certain amount there". And they weren't gonna give it to us, so we were gonna leave the tour and we just wanted to tell Neil why we were leaving, so we told him and he really had no idea about the volume. Like our soundman had always been told that was the way Neil wanted it and everyone was like that. We sort of had the feeling that he didn't know what was going on and he said we should have come to him sooner.
Meanwhile his stage manager, who he's had for years, and his production manager hated us. They thought we were just freaks, because our music was weird and we weren't like all wearing tattoos and there was a girl in the band. Social Distortion was on tour too, they were the opening band, and they were like dudes talking about getting chicks and getting laid, you know. Old fashion rock'n'roll, like Neil's crew. They just thought we were like punk brats and they kept waiting for us to show them this attitude that never really came, we were always incredibly professional, except when we were on stage. And we had done all these interviews right before talking about this, so Neil goes and talks to his manager and everything gets straightened out.
Then we get to Toronto and this interview with Thurston (Moore -guitar/vocals) comes out talking about Neil's crew and they were furious, just furious. They had the article up in the office, they were circling things and I think Thurston said something like: "Neil's a nice guy but he doesn't know he's surrounded by asshole pigs". Thurston wasn't around so they pulled Lee (Ranaldo -guitar) into the office and they were yelling at him and saying: "You guys are babies, you just go and cry to Neil, don't you know he has people like us to protect him from you!" They were just like total... and we were laughing about it. It was so funny. They really hated us! The PA people were really into us and this one guy would just come out and watch Thurston every night to see what he would do, like at the end of "Expressway" Thurston would move his amp into the middle of the stage and do like the worst shit.
NEIL YOUNG (MELODY MAKER 91) : I didn't want acts that people were going to say "Oh, I can take them or leave them". I wanted to get somebody that people were going to love or hate. And I think we did a good job there. Sonic Youth are way out there on the cutting edge with what they're doing. And it's also extremely similar to what we've been doing for a long time.
KIM GORDON : Neil has a lot of real redneck fans. In one gig, Buffalo, a very poor American city, blue collar workers, people were holding "Fuck Iraq" banners while we were playing. We also played in West Point! It was kind of funny though. It felt really like playing for the first time, you know, going out and playing to people who just really didn't know us at all, some were shocked. It was really interesting actually doing that Neil Young tour and seeing somebody who's been playing for like 25 or 30 years and, considering he's not that healthy a person and his band was sort of lame, he really put out every night. He never seemed to be bored, sometimes you'd see he was pissed off, but he has just really honed his sound and he just reeks of integrity in a way.
On the other hand, he really hasn't changed that much or grown in his music, like the songs everyone likes are the songs who sound like the great songs he wrote and has been writing for like the past twenty years and he doesn't listen to any other music. In some way it's still credible. The thing about Neil is like his fans have sort of gotten old with him so it really doesn't matter.
LEE RANALDO : I don't think Neil Young did listen to "Sonic Death" before doing "Arc". I think Thurston suggested it to him, that's the story, but I don't know. He's mentioned it in interviews. I think he should have given us credit in a way, "thanks to Sonic Youth" or something. But it's just not Neil's way, that's all right.
KIM GORDON : That was the first time (the Neil Young tour) I ever felt what it was like to be a girl in a band, I really felt sorry for like Joni Mitchell. I mean, he's very sweet and everything but he's part of that generation and that way of thinking. It sounds like it's changed, but in certain level, in rock, it's just there. That was when I really felt like we were confronting the mainstream, we'd signed to a major label, although the same kind of people more or less bought our record, and I felt we were really cast off in some really weird place. It wasn't really the kind of tour you do to help your career, it was like old people who don't buy records, you know, and we didn't make any money. We weren't doing it for that, we just did to play with Neil and see what a weird guy he is. The record company wasn't really sure we should do it, so there was no pressure from them to do it. It would have been better if it was half as long. And I can't think of anyone else we would have done it for.
More on Sonic Youth and performing with Neil Young on Ragged Glory tour.
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