Kim Gordon, bass player for the pioneering alternative rock band Sonic Youth, hasn’t spoken publicly much over the years since she and guitarist Thurston Moore formed he now-legendary band in New York City back in 1981. But her days of silence come to an end in February next year, when HarperCollins publishes Gordon’s eagerly-awaited autobiography, Girl in a Band: A Memoir.
Sonic Youth formed in the gritty Ed Koch period of New York City, shortly after the city’s punk rock era of the late 1970s generated such groundbreaking groups as The Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, and Television.
But with the New York punk scene waning and giving way to the more radio-friendly “New Wave” genre, a new, more extreme type of music took hold among New York’s avant garde, earning the label “No Wave,” and that movement is what inspired Los Angeles native Kim Gordon upon her arrival in New York City.
“When I came to New York, I’d go and see bands downtown playing no-wave music. It was expressionistic and it was also nihilistic,” the now-61-year-old Gordon recalled in an interview last year. “Punk rock was tongue-in-cheek, saying, ‘Yeah, we’re destroying rock.’ No-wave music is more like, ‘NO, we’re really destroying rock.’ It was very dissonant. I just felt like, Wow, this is really free. I could do that.”
Inspired by “No Wave” bands such as DNA and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Sonic Youth went on to serve as inspiration to an entire generation of musicians who created a new genre, still known today as “alternative” rock.
Bands such as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies and Jane’s Addiction — all today considered among the founders of alternative rock — based large elements of their sound on the music of Kim Gordon and Sonic Youth.
Gordon and Moore, who married in 1983, were looked upon as the “first couple” of alternative rock until their split in 2011 over an affair between Moore and a much younger book editor.
“It ended in a normal way,” Gordon, who gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Coco in 1984, later explained of the marriage. “Midlife crisis, starstruck woman.”
Gordon has maintained a whole separate career as a respected visual artist, as well — a career that will also be a topic of Girl in a Band.
The Kim Gordon autobiography promises to tell “the story of her childhood, her life in art, her move to New York City, her love affairs, her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, and her band.”
But according to the book’s advance publicity, the divorce between Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon will also be a major subject of the book.