Switching labels and playing its 1988 masterpiece "Daydream Nation" in its entirety two years ago got Sonic Youth "excited" about making its just-released new album, "The Eternal," according to guitarist Lee Ranaldo.
Ranaldo tells Billboard.com that while the decidedly non-nostalgic group "had to be dragged kicking and screaming" into the "Daydream Nation" idea for shows celebrating the 2007 deluxe edition reissue of the album, the endeavor had a profound effect on he and his bandmates.
"In the end we all enjoyed the process," Ranaldo says, "and more than that we were really kind of astonished by the ferocity of the material we were writing back then. It was really balls to the wall, from start to finish. The energy level we discovered by replaying that record made quite a substantial contribution to ('The Eternal'). We wanted to up the pace a little bit in terms of excitement, to be a little wilder musically than maybe the last couple (of albums) have been."
Sonic Youth's departure from the major label world after 16 years at Geffen Records to return to the indie ranks with Matador also put a bit of juice into the band for "The Eternal," Ranaldo acknowledges. "We were just excited about moving to a new label and a new situation," he notes. "Our contract with Geffen was up; they wanted to do more, but...the last couple records we felt a bit of diminishing returns from what Geffen was willing to do to work those records and felt less and less involved with anybody at the company.
"We figured maybe it was a good time to try something different, and Matador...is a situation where everyone at the company is super-psyched to be working with us and every much more tapped into where we stand historically and what the band means in a larger sense. We're very happy to be there."
Sonic Youth -- with touring bassist Mark Ibold joining the sessions -- recorded "The Eternal" at the band's Echo Canyon West studio in Hoboken, N.J., and in Northampton, Mass., where Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon reside. The group hits the road to promote the album on June 27 in Chicago. The group will tour North America during the summer, finishing at the Austin City Limits festival on Oct. 4, and plans to return to Europe in the fall.
The band celebrated the release of "The Eternal" with a nearly 40-minute live performance for an intimate group of fans and media at the Apple Store Soho in New York City. The concert was recorded for a future iTunes Store exclusive release.
Meanwhile, "Sensational Fix," an art exhibition built around visual works by the group members and friends, has opened in Sweden, and its curator is currently looking for museums to display it in London, New York and somewhere on the U.S. West Coast.