Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo hosts ‘guitar clinic’ in New York

Special event sees Ranaldo using a violin bow to play a guitar hanging on a bungee chord

Lee Ranaldo, co-founder of Sonic Youth, last night (October 28) hosted a ‘guitar clinic’ at the Other Music store in Manhattan, New York.

The event consisted of a half-hour long demonstration of experimental guitar techniques, followed by a question and answer session with the audience, who packed into the East Village shop.

The event took place to promote Ranaldo’s 10th solo album, ‘Last Night On Earth’, which was released earlier this month, and saw Ranaldo playing an extended version of the album’s opening track ‘Lecce, Leaving’. The song featured a half-hour jam session, during which Ranaldo strung the guitar from a bungee chord on the ceiling and swung it about the room, playing the strings with a violin bow and hitting the back of it with a drumstick. He also rubbed the neck of his guitar against a fan’s guitar and used an array of effects and delay pedals. Ranaldo told the crowd that the event was to show the “range of possibilities for the guitar”.


Ranaldo said the performance was partially inspired by his friend, the late Lou Reed, and his 1975 solo album, ‘Metal Machine Music’. “I was thinking about him a lot during that, because it was very ‘Metal Machine Music’, he said after the song.

“It’s good to treat them like a tool,” added Ranaldo when asked for guitar advice. “You don’t cry if you drop a hammer,” he said, telling the attendees not to be precious about their instruments. “It’s got a lot of possibilities if you’re not worried about damaging the damn thing.”

When speaking about making experimental music with Sonic Youth, who went on hiatus in 2011, following the split between formerly married members Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, Ranaldo said: “It’s not for shock value – that was never, ever the point. We were trying to do something we related to.” He added that Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground were trying to do something similar with their music. “They were just trying to do something they felt was beautiful.”

Reese Crispin, 22, from Florida was in the audience. “I saw Lee Ranaldo was going to be doing a free guitar workshop which I didn’t exactly know what that entailed – I didn’t know if was lessons or something, it sounded kind of weird. I’ve been a longtime Sonic Youth fan, so I thought it’d be interesting. It was really cool.”