NY rockers Sonic Youth return to indie ranks

Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:34pm EDT
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By Jonathan Cohen

NEW YORK (Billboard) - After a two-decade stint with Geffen Records, Sonic Youth has signed a new deal with indie label Matador Records.

The veteran rock act's label debut is due next year. The one-album deal is worldwide except for Japan.

"They have a tremendous amount to do with why I'm actually involved in this stuff," said Matador co-owner Gerard Cosloy, who previously worked with the band in the 1980s at Homestead Records. "The number of bands on Matador who they've made an indelible impact on, both musically and personally, is a pretty long list."

Sonic Youth's final album for Universal-owned Geffen, "Rather Ripped," peaked at No. 71 on the Billboard 200 in 2006, and was followed by a rarities collection, "The Destroyed Room."

Guitarist/vocalist Thurston Moore told Billboard the band never seriously considered releasing music through its own SYR label and not signing with another label, because "the amount of work it would entail, I don't think we could really handle it."

"Matador is a super strong, high-profile label with an indie distribution system that is exactly what a band like us in this current climate needs more than anything," he said.

Having already unveiled two new songs at a recent Brooklyn show ("One was a real sort of weird boogie rocker and the other was this no-wave noise pop tune," Moore said), Sonic Youth will hit the studio this fall to record the next album.

"The last two or three albums, I focused on making concise, avant-garde pop/rock songs that had some accessibility factor," Moore said. "But Universal wasn't really able to work them beyond critics. So I told our manager, 'Maybe we should make a longer-form record of more experimental music,' and he's like, 'No, no! Now you can put that record out of songs, songs, songs, because Matador can really deal with them."'   Continued...