Sonic Youth Guitarist: Theft Could Force Band In New Direction

Lee Ranaldo speaks of group's reaction to recent loss of uniquely modified instruments.

Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo said Wednesday that the recent theft of the band's

equipment could steer the group in new creative directions.

"A line has been drawn for us in the sand, and thankfully at the beginning of a new round

of recording," Ranaldo wrote in an e-mail message to Dead C guitarist Michael Morley.

"We are dragged into the future kicking and screaming," Ranaldo, who forwarded the message to SonicNet Music News, continued. "We'll have

to find new instruments and look forwards instead of back."

The New York avant-garde rock band lost two dozen customized guitars, a bass, drum

kit, synthesizer and other gear July 4 when a Ryder rental truck containing the equipment

was stolen from outside a hotel in Orange, Calif. The truck was discovered empty four

days later in downtown Los Angeles, according to Detective Clark Smith of the Orange

Police Department.

Smith said he expects to receive information from America Online on Thursday (July 15)

about a possible lead in the case. Earlier in the week, however, he cautioned that the tip

could prove to be a prank. None of the stolen instruments has been recovered, he said.

Though the loss of so much equipment would hurt any band, the theft hit Sonic Youth

harder than most. The group, known for such arty and experimental work as

"Schizophrenia" (RealAudio excerpt) and "The

Diamond Sea" (RealAudio excerpt), has spent

almost two decades customizing its gear with significant electronic modifications that will

be almost impossible to duplicate, the band has said.

Nonetheless, Sonic Youth played several previously scheduled gigs in the wake of the

incident.

"Our subsequent four shows went very well anyway, on borrowed and hastily purchased

replacement gear (mostly not likely to be long-term possessions), so there is hope,"

Ranaldo, 43, wrote.

Sonic Youth recently completed recording a collection of music by modern classical

composers such as John Cage and Pauline Oliveros. The disc may be released later this

year as the latest in an ongoing series of works on the band's own Sonic Youth Records

label.

Bassist/guitarist Kim Gordon recently said the noise-rock band had also written one song

for the follow-up to its most recent full-length album, A Thousand Leaves (1998).

In an e-mail to another acquaintance, Ranaldo said the sound of the Sonic Youth's next

album could be determined by how the group responds to the theft.

"Some guitars are left behind in our studio which we will take a new look at, and we will

replace others," he wrote. "In other cases we will find new things, and that might lead to

new directions, so that is a promising result of all this bad news."