Sonic Youth is known for their unconventional use of rock and roll. They created a new definition for rock and roll in the 80s, sampling from the Velvet Underground mixed with a post-punk style. They experimented with the rock guitar and found that it had the potential to still make music previously unheard. The band, including Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo on the guitar and Kim Gordon on bass, got together in 1981 in New York. Though their experimentation with the electric guitar have sometimes led to what might be described by some as an unbearable sound, their creations are usually revitalizing.
Moore grew up in Connecticut, while Ranaldo grew up in Long Island, but both guitarists made it to Manhattan during the progress of post-punk and started playing with Glenn Branca, who was a major influence in the area of experimental music. Gordon was Moore's girlfriend and joined the group when they made their live debut at The Noise Festival in 1981. Ann DeMarinis played the keyboards and Richard Edson was the drummer at the time. Edson left the band, and Bob Bert replaced him as drummer and, a short time after, they recorded their first album, Confusion Is Sex on Branca's Neutral Records in 1983. They successfully toured all over Europe and later released Kill Yr Idols on the Zensor label.
Rough Trade picked them up in 1984 and they released the live album Sonic Death: Sonic Youth Live. Bad Moon Rising was released shortly after on Blast First Records in 1985. This was the album that gathered the attention they needed from the underground music press, and it was apparently the start of their infamous experimentation with rock and roll. After they released their next record, Death Valley 69, Bert was let go and replaced by Steve Shelly, their new permanent member.
Sonic Youth's recordings gave them noteworthy attention in America and they were offered to sign on many major labels, but decided to sign with SST and released EVOL in 1986. Their follow-up, Sister, in 1987, gave them permanence in the rock and roll fan world and praise from Rolling Stone magazine. A year later they released The Whitey Album, which was perhaps a criticism of the pop culture of the late 80s. The double album Daydream Nation was released on Enigma Records in 1988, with hit singles like 'Teenage Riot.' The band decided to move in with DGC in 1990 and released Goo, their 1st album off a major label. They got into the top 100s and were invited by Neil Young to open for the tour for Ragged Glory. Their second album with DGC, Dirty, created numerous hits including '100%,' 'Youth Against Fascism,' and 'Sugar Kane.'
In 1994, Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star entered the charts at 34 in America and number 10 in the United Kingdom. The same year, Moore and Gordon had their first daughter, Coco Haley. They joined the Lollapalooza tour in 1995, released Washing Machine the next year, and made a healthy comeback in 1998 with A Thousand Leaves; with new member Jim O'Rourke they released NYC Ghosts and Flowers in 2000. They toured and then produced Murray Street in 2002 and Nurse in 2004, which they are currently promoting through their U.S. tour.