Girls in bands and Girl in a Band: Kim Gordon and Jon Wurster talk her book at the Cradle | Music
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Girls in bands and Girl in a Band: Kim Gordon and Jon Wurster talk her book at the Cradle

Posted by on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 11:00 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MARIA ALBANI
  • Photo by Maria Albani
Kim Gordon and Jon Wurster
Cat's Cradle, Carrboro
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015


When I was 14, I bought Daydream Nation, my first Sonic Youth record. I’ve been a fan since, especially by following Kim Gordon’s art and music. I have admired her energy and the way she’s presented herself. Now, at age 41, I find myself writing about her memoir, Girl in a Band, and a chat she had last week with Superchunk drummer/The Best Show co-star Jon Wurster at the Cat's Cradle's about it. Some daydream, right?

The book came out the day of Gordon's reading, so attendees—many of whom were local musicians—lined up to snag pre-purchased copies. Instead, I bolted toward the stage and found a seat in the second row. The lights dimmed, and Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books emerged alongside Beth Turner of Girls Rock NC. The audience was welcomed. People were thanked. The show was about to begin.

I worried when I first learned Wurster would be conducting the Q&A. He's so outgoing and hilarious that I feared he’d overshadow the guest, but he didn’t. Instead, their combined chemistry was great, as though I were watching two old friends shoot the shit. Wurster started reminiscing about a 10-year anniversary party for Tannis Root that took place at the Cat’s Cradle in 1997. I had just moved to Chapel Hill and attended, since I had heard Sonic Youth were playing a “secret show” to mark the occasion. Wurster recalled how excited he was to see the band and asked Gordon if she remembered the set. I did, as I had been furious about it at the time. "YOU PLAYED AN ENTIRE SET OF NEW INSTRUMENTAL SONGS THAT NOBODY KNEW,” Wurster reminded Gordon with a joking roar. 

Wurster continued asking questions based on and recounting events from the book—art school, being an assistant and receptionist in a residential gallery, her relationship with Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo, so on. The flow remained relaxed and entertaining, especially when Wurster announced that they’d soon be playing a game in which Gordon had to name snippets of songs that were either Sonic Youth or her other projects. She took her jacket off for the challenge. She started laughing and putting her hands on her forehead as the first song played over the sound system. She soon gave up, but it was "Stuck on Gum.” When the second song started, several people in the audience spotted it. (It was "Skink.") Not Gordon. After she raised her eyebrows, sipped water and offered an "I don't know" during the next number, Wurster delivered some help: “Here’s a hint: YOUR NAME IS IN THE TITLE.” The game, she said, was like a weird dream.

A little time remained for some questions from the audience: What’s it like working with Bill Nace in Body/Head? What was it like to play with Nirvana at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? How improvisational was the Ciccone Youth album? How do you describe your relationship with your fans? “People come together over music," she said. "It’s a family they have after their parents—passionate and twisted."  I liked that answer.

When asked about what it’s like to be a role model, she answered honestly: “It’s uncomfortable.” Someone then asked about music and feminism. I can’t say what the question was exactly because I tuned out when I heard the word "feminism." I’m glad I came back around to hear the answer, because it was a sentiment that's long meant a lot to me: “Music is music.” 

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