The future of Sonic Youth may remain in doubt following last year’s Kim Gordon-Thurston Moore split, but the band is working together on a host of archival projects, according to Lee Ranaldo, including a live album recorded in 1985, a previously unseen concert film shot the following year and a possible deluxe-edition reissue of 1987’s Sister.
Ranaldo spoke of the archival projects — “There’s tons and tons of stuff,” he says — in a recent interview with BBC’s Radio 5 Live about his own new solo album, Between the Times and the Tides. And while he sticks to his usual answers about the fate of Sonic Youth (“It’s impossible to say what the future holds”), the guitarist does elaborate on the band’s upcoming releases.
The 1985 live album, which the band first announced in late 2010, should be released “in the next couple months,” Ranaldo says. The group also has discovered demos for Sister “that we’re preparing on another level, maybe for a deluxe edition of that record,” Ranaldo adds. Plus: “We’ve got a tour movie we filmed back in ’86 on a U.S. tour for Sister that never saw the light of day, so we’re kind of finishing up the editing on that. There’s tons and tons of stuff in our catalog, a series of music we made for films over the years that’s never been released — all kinds of stuff.”
It remains unclear, though, whether several other previously-mentioned projects remain in the works, such as a live DVD of Sonic Youth performing 1988’s Daydream Nation that was to combine footage from the band’s 2007-2008 full-album performances with historic clips filmed around the time of that record’s release — or the mysterious Sonic Youth box set that Beck once claimed would include a cassette featuring his full-album cover of 1986’s EVOL.
Below, you can stream Ranaldo’s full BBC interview — he talks about Sonic Youth beginning around the 5:20 mark — or just read the full excerpt of that section:
Lee Ranaldo on BBC’s Radio 5 Live:
“I’m on good terms and talking with everybody, but there’s a lot of stuff shaking out right now. We’re working on all sorts of archival projects because we spent a lot of the last four years, five yaers or so getting our archive together. We’ve got a 30-year archive. We’ve been digitizing everything, working to preserve it all. Out of that, we’re working on some film projects and recording releases.
“Right now we’re putting finishing touches on a performance from 1985. It’s pretty interesting to see how that stuff existed live as a comparison to the recorded records. So that’s going to come out in pretty short order — in the next couple months, I think. We found all these demos from our Sister record that we’re preparing on another level, maybe for a deluxe edition of that record. There are other live shows from different periods that we’d like to put out. We’ve got a tour movie we filmed back in ’86 on a U.S. tour for Sister that never saw the light of day, so we’re kind of finishing up the editing on that. There’s tons and tons of stuff in our catalog, a series of music we made for films over the years that’s never been released — all kinds of stuff.
“There’s ways in which the four of us will be tied to each other for so long, just in so many ways. As far as whether there’ll be new recordings or new performances, it’s completely impossible for us to say right now. And I think it’s such a tender thing right now that none of us are even thinking along those lines. I mean, I think after 30 years, unfortunate as it was the way it came about, maybe it’s a good time for an extended break. And if we do come back together, I imagine we’ll be rejuvenated in a bunch of different ways, and maybe looking to explore new avenues at that point. You know, it’s impossible to say what the future holds there.”
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