Sonic Youth were an American experimental, punk rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. Their final lineup consisted of Thurston Moore (guitar and vocals), Kim Gordon (bass, vocals, and guitar), Lee Ranaldo (guitar and vocals), Steve Shelley (drums), and Mark Ibold (guitar and bass).
In their early career, Sonic Youth was associated with the No Wave art and music scene in New York City. Part of the first wave of American noise rock groups, the band carried out their interpretation of the hardcore punk ethos throughout the evolving American underground that focused more on the DIY ethic of the genre rather than its specific sound. As a result, some consider Sonic Youth as pivotal in the rise of the alternative rock and indie rock movements. The band experienced success and critical acclaim throughout their existence, continuing into the new millennium, including signing to major label DGC in 1990, and headlining the 1995 Lollapalooza festival.
Sonic Youth expressed a wide variety of influences, ranging from the influential protopunk musician Patti Smith to composer John Cage. The band was praised for having “redefined what rock guitar could do”, using a wide variety of unorthodox guitar tunings, and preparing guitars with objects like drum sticks and screwdrivers to alter the instruments’ timbre. In 2011, Ranaldo announced that the band was “ending for a while,” following Moore and Gordon’s separation.