After meeting Love in 1990, Gordon recognised a possible similar borderline personality disorder from which her brother Keller suffers. “No one ever questions the disorder behind her tarantula LA glamour – sociopathy, narcissism – because it’s good rock and roll, good entertainment! I have a low tolerance for manipulative, egomaniacal behaviour, and usually have to remind myself that the person might be mentally ill.”
Kim Gordon’s memoir Girl in a Band: 10 things we learned
The Sonic Youth co-founder has written her autobiography in the aftermath of the band’s demise. Here are 10 salient details, from how nobody likes Jeff Koons to Henry Rollins inventing twerking
Written in the aftermath of the breakdown of her 27-year marriage to guitarist Thurston Moore in 2011, and the consequent split of Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon’s memoir Girl in a Band is, perhaps not unexpectedly, not overflowing with laughs. But it does give an insight into the life of true alt-rock royalty.
1. She grew up in California, Hawaii and Hong Kong
Born in 1953, Gordon’s father taught at UCLA and she attended their progressive Lab School, built in a beautiful gully. “It flowed up into an untamed area where a covered wagon and an adobe house sat beneath trees,” she recalls. “As students we fringed shawls, pounded tortillas, and skinned cowhides out among the trees.” As an adolescent, Gordon also spend a year in both Hawaii and Hong Kong.
2. Her first band was a Fluxus-inspired art project
While studying in Toronto in the mid-70s under Fluxus film-maker George Manupelli, Gordon formed Below the Belt as a college project with friends, including two Chileans who also played in 70s cult prog band Los Blops, and a school friend who played in an early incarnation of Oingo Boingo. They split after two shows, at which point Gordon made “a silent surrealist film about Patty Hearst”.
3. A car accident ensured her survival in New York
An insurance payout of $10,000 after a car accident enabled Gordon to live in New York, where she encountered an artworld of era-defining names including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Brice Marden, Cindy Sherman (whose apartment she first stayed at), David Salle, Jeff Koons (“No-one liked Jeff”), Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince and the burgeoning No Wave music scene.
4. Thurston Moore loves DIY culture; is less fond of staplers
“Thurston was not that easy going,” writes Gordon of their earliest months together. “Amongst other things he had a temper which flared up whenever he put together an issue of his ’zine, Killer, and he would become incredibly stressed out. Once, when his stapler wasn’t working, he picked it up and threw it through the window, shattering the glass. It scared me.”
5. Sonic Youth nearly changed their name to Washing Machine
The band’s earliest incarnation had many different names including Red Milk, the Arcadians and Male Bonding. After the birth of their daughter Coco in 1994, Moore and Gordon attempted to change the band’s name to Washing Machine. “People always like to discover something new, and we’d been around a while,” she reasons. “Plus Washing Machine sounded like a good ‘indie rock’ name. Our record company thought we were insane.”