Thurston Moore: ‘I was a nerd and a dork at school’

The musician, 61, talks about hanging out in record stores, meeting his heroes and why he wants to write a 24-hour song

I was not a cool guy at school. I was always the tallest, skinniest kid. I was a nerd and a dork. The cool guys were into sports. I did geeky things like read books and look in the Captain Beefheart section of the record store. That’s how I got into playing music in New York, making friends with another geek who was hanging around the Velvet Underground bin in the record store.

I live in Stoke Newington. When I first came here in the 80s, it wasn’t hipster at all. Now it’s all wholefoods and prams. London reminds me of 80s and 90s New York, with all these different lifestyles. It’s a lot safer than the USA, with its gun culture. I don’t see myself leaving any time soon, unless Boris Johnson boots me out.

I think I was a good dad. My daughter is 25 now. Growing up, she balanced what she saw on her parents’ kitchen table – the Kinks, Bikini Kill, the Ramones – with what her compatriots at school were listening to. She would wear Pavement T-shirts to school when other kids were wearing Spice Girls T-shirts.

The editor of Uncut described Britpop as “knuckle-draggers”, which I think was a little unfair. I found Blur more interesting than Oasis because they were willing to take more chances. I knew Graham Coxon a bit because he was trying to introduce the American underground scene to Blur, probably against the best wishes of some of the other band members.

You’re not supposed to meet your heroes. I once asked Eric Burdon of the Animals to sign my Animalism LP and he just scrawled all over the top in what I thought was a bit of a “Fuck you”. I thought, “Thanks for that.”

I’d like to write a song that goes on for 24 hours. It’d be a succinct piece of music with compositional changes, like chapters in a book. Maybe it’s my frustration at having not become an author. I’ve always had this fantasy of writing novels.

I don’t make claims like: “There is no God.” I have a strong belief in divinity, that there’s some sort of divine reality in our existence that is spoken through nature in a language for us to contemplate. My belief in science doesn’t dispel my interests and beliefs in spirituality and metaphysics. It doesn’t really matter what anybody says, as we have no control over what is happening in the cosmos outside of our knowledge. I allow the reality of a God belief to exist. I believe and I don’t believe at the same time.

The worst question you could ask me is: “When will we see Sonic Youth on stage again?” I’ve run out of answers for that one.

Thurston Moore speaks at this year’s Louder Than Words festival in Manchester, 8-10 November. See


Rich Pelley

The GuardianTramp

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