Beer and Pavement

The Six Degrees of Thurston Moore

Posted in Six Degrees of Thurston Moore by SM on October 8, 2010

So, I got to thinking about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and whether there was an indie rock version. I don’t know that anyone has created one, but I thought I’d like to try. Would I use David Bowie? What about Mike Watt? Nope. The man I believe I can connect to every indie rock artist (maybe even several non-indie rockers) is Thruston Moore.

Why Thurston Moore? Besides being the frontman of the seminal and legendary Sonic Youth, Thurston also has a long history of mentoring young bands. He buys every 7″. There is a connection between Thurston Moore and every band I’ve ever loved. I’m sure of it.

What defines a connection?

Well, with the Kevin Bacon game, people are connected via films and TV shows in which they’ve appeared. So, albums would be the logical place to go with music. However, that is only a part of the equation in defining how artists are connected in this industry. There are tours, video appearances, collaborations, shared producers, etc. So, I’ve attempted to rank the sort of connections one could have that would lead them to Thurston Moore in six steps or less.

  1. Recorded an album together as a band member, producer, recording engineer, etc. is the most direct connection.
  2. Collaborated on or curated a project together might include an ATP event or a special one-time performance as a tribute.
  3. Toured together, especially in a package deal is a bit difficult to pin down as often bands play gigs together without really have much to do with one another. Plus, it’s sometimes difficult to find these connections. However, if the musicians in question played a seminal show together, it should definitely count.
  4. Friends of friends is even a shakier place to find connections, but indie rock is more of a community than anything. Also at this level, I’d consider labelmates as some bands on labels practically live in incest while other hate each others’ guts.
  5. Even sketchier is if the musicians are simply lumped together in a scene or genre. I will avoid using these connections, but I reserve my right to use the weakest of connections to prove my theory.

Those are the connections. I feel I can trace any indie rock hero to Thurston Moore in six steps or less. I will first demonstrate below and then open a challenge to you in the comments. If my first tries seem too obvious, that was not done purposely as I really believe this will be easy with any indie rocker. Also, if you think you can connect them in less steps, that’s fine as well. The real goal is to connect Thurston Moore to anyone in indie or alt circles in six steps or less.

First up: Ani DeFranco – Part-time lesbian and independent label owner who beats the hell out of a guitar and growls all feministy at ya.

  1. Ani Difranco runs Righteous Babe Records whose lineup included Andrew Bird.
  2. Andrew Bird appeared on Thao with the Get Down Stay Down’s Know Better Learn Faster.
  3. Know Better Learn Faster was released by Kill Rock Stars.
  4. Kill Rock Stars’ lineup famously included Bikini Kill who was fronted by Katleen Hanna.
  5. Kathleen Hanna appeared in Sonic Youth’s “Bull in the Heather” video.

OK. That was easier than I thought. Let’s try another.

Up next: Deerhunter – The sonically lofi P4k darlings fronted by the remarkable Bradford Cox sounds like Sonic Youth, but are they too young to be connected to Thurston Moore? Let’s find out.

  1. Deerhunter’s latest LP was released on 4AD.
  2. 4AD was the former home of the Breeders, featuring Kim Deal.
  3. Kim Deal was not only Kim Gordon and Thruston Moore’s babysitter whenever they passed through Ohio, but she also appeared on Sonic Youth’s “Little Trouble Girl” off Washing Machine.

That was even easier. I realized it as soon as I moved to 4AD. Maybe I should move outside indie rock to see if my theory can hold up outside of Thurston Moore’s circle of influence.

Super Bonus Challenge: Justin Bieber – Yes, the “musician” with a lesbian haircut and hordes of adoring female fans couldn’t possibly connect to Thurston Moore in six steps. Or could he?

  1. Justin Bieber signed with Usher’s management group.
  2. Usher was part-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers whose marquee player before this summer was LeBron James.
  3. LeBron James is close friends with Jay-Z.
  4. Jay-Z’s video for “99 Problems” featured Vincent Gallo.
  5. Vincent Gallo played bass for Jim O’Rourke.
  6. Jim O’Rourke not only produced albums for Sonic Youth, but he was considered the fifth member for quite some time.

That last one was iffy, but it works. I could have probably connected Usher to someone different or used Rick Rubin, but I successfully connected Thurston Moore within six steps.

Now it’s your turn to come up with musicians that may or may not connect to Thurston Moore in six or less steps. The only rule is that the musician or band in question has to be famous enough that their name appears somewhere on Wikipedia. I can take it from there.

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8 Responses

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  1. Steve said, on October 8, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Really enjoying this glut of posts.

    How about Aussie indie legends the Go-Betweens?

    I have some connections in mind, but am interested to see what you come up with!

    • builderofcoalitions said, on October 8, 2010 at 9:27 am

      That’s a good one and I can think of a few off the top of my head, but I’ll have to see where it goes. My plan is to address these in a future post, assuming more people make suggestions.

  2. doublewordscore said, on October 8, 2010 at 9:44 am

    The Foundry Field Recordings. I checked Wikipedia; they’re on as Billy Schuh and the Foundry. Go!

    • builderofcoalitions said, on October 8, 2010 at 9:54 am

      It will be easier than you think. I’ll save my response for the post after I get a few more suggestions.

  3. cuz B said, on October 8, 2010 at 11:13 am

    do they have to be indie/alt people? that seems too easy how about Ted Nugent?

  4. Justin said, on October 25, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Nice post. But I believe that it is a mathematical fact that anyone can be connected to anyone in six degrees or less based on laws of probability. Maybe it is actually seven. I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere. Still impressive that you are coming up with the actual connections.

    and unrelated to this post, I suppose that Superchunk would be paired with the Lawnmower ale or whatever it is called by Dogfish Head? Something about pairing Pavement with the 120 bothers me. but I enjoyed the reasoning.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on October 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm

      I believe you are right about the six degrees of separation. What makes this different (and the Kevin Bacon game) is that one can actually name all the connections.

      On the other note, I would go along with Superchunk pairing. Well played.

      The Pavement one was difficult, but I stand behind my reasoning. If you have a better one, I’m all eyes.


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