Faith "Subject to Change plus First Demo"
Faith, Subject to Change EP has been expanded into a full-length with the addition of the band's first demo was reissued on September 26, 2011. It's been 20 years since this album has been available on vinyl! All tracks have been remastered from the original tapes. The Demo material was recorded in December 1981 at Inner Ear Studio and includes early versions of many of the tracks that later appeared on the Faith/Void album. The album will be available on CD/LP+MP3 and will feature a full-color album re-design, new period photos, liner-notes by Ian MacKaye and packaging similar to the Artificial Peace and Government Issue reissues that we released last Fall.
An Interview w/ Thurston Moore: Thoughts on Faith
Formed in 1981, Sonic Youth was, at least at the get-go, a product of New York City's early '80s avant-garde and no wave scenes. The band - founded by guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, alongside bassist Kim Gordon -- found its initial inspiration amidst the alternate tunings and dissonant tones favored by its peers, bands like DNA, Theoretical Girls, and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. But Moore was also paying attention to the then-emerging hardcore-punk scene, which he admired for its energy, primitivism, and relative youth. Among the records he checked out was the split Faith/Void split LP, released by Dischord in 1982, and Faith's swan song, Subject to Change. In honor of the re-release Subject to Change, now newly expanded with the band's first demo, Moore spoke with Dischord about Faith.
On listening to Faith during the early '80s:
At the time, I thought of them as the most potent distillation of what "D.C. straightedge hardcore 1980" was all about, in a way, because they were the youngest. It seemed like [in their music] that really refined minimalism was honed in a way that was really natural. They weren't trying to do anything different from the uniform of the sound that the bands had all sort of agreed on in a way. That's what I loved about the Faith/Void record; it had this dialogue on it. [On one side] there's this real staunch perfection of this uniform idea of D.C. hardcore and then you flip it over and there's this whole other bewildering, outside of the margins band. It was such a great relationship between those two ideas.
I always liked the idea of uniformity in certain genres of music, the idea of unified communal projection. People say, 'I don't like reggae because it all sounds the same.' Yeah, that's why I like it. The hardcore scene really resonated with me even though I was a bit older and coming out of a more sort of art rock scene or whatever. I liked that aspect of it.
On Seeing The Faith in Concert:
When I saw them play -- I only saw them play once -- it was at Great Gildersleeves, in New York. It was a club next door to CBGB, kind of a heavy metal club. In around '81 or so, they had some hardcore shows there. Black Flag would play there. The Faith played there with Void and two or three other bands, it was pretty remarkable show. I was just excited about seeing Void, because they were more of an outsider thing, which I really related to. They came out and played two songs and the singer [John Weiffenbach] jumped too high in the air and then landed, broke his ankle or something, so they had to stop. Those two songs were amazing, though.
[Then] the Faith came out; they were firing on all cylinders. They were amazing. Thing that was remarkable for me what that they were much more physical than I expected. A lot of hardcore bands were physical, but usually the singer would run around and the rest of the band would act sort of militaristic. But Chris Bald, the bass player, he blew my mind. He was constantly jumping in the air, standing up on top of his bass amp, jumping off of it. Alec was doing the same thing. They were just completely losing it the entire time. It was theatrical, in a way, but it wasn't like they were doing a shtick. They were just detonating on stage. I was so impressed by it.
I remember being on the sidewalk hanging out, thinking about how great it was. And I mentioned this to Alec, but he doesn't seem to remember it anymore, but there was a heap of garbage bags next to this light post and he just sort of came out and stumbled over to these garbage bags and just puked his guts out, just vomiting on this garbage. It wasn't, like, from playing or anything. I think he had the flu. But I just felt like, 'Wow. This guy just played the most intense set as a singer, and now he was just, like, super-grossed-out vomiting on this garbage in New York.' That was kind of my first impression of them.
On getting a little jealous of the teenage hardcore scene:
At that point, I was already in my 20s and I felt kind of like, 'I'm too old for this,' and was more into people like Tesco Vee, who were my age. But the scene was rampant with teenagers, 18 and 19 year-olds. For me, it's not like I felt like I missed out on anything, but I just wish this sort of scene existed when I was 16 or 17 years old. I mean, punk rock didn't even exist when I was 16 or 17. It was only sort of beginning -- that would have been '74 or '75 for me. I immediately went for it as soon as '76 or '77 went around. Even then, The Ramones weren't teenagers. They were all well into their 20s. Patti Smith was 30. People were older. The fact there was all of the sudden this whole scene of teenagers doing this music that was emotional and new, it used to bum me out a little bit. Like, I wish I had this when I was a teenager. It was hard for me to find people my age in my scene in New York -- which was more this downtown experimental/avant scene -- that were into hardcore during the early '80s. I would invariably go to all of these shows by myself.
To me, it was more about the songs, which I never hear about. Even that documentary film about hardcore, American Hardcore, they never show a complete song. It's all about everybody talking about 'how crazy we were.' Nobody ever talks about how good the songwriting was. One thing that really primarily attracted me to The Faith was that that the album was just great primal songwriting. It wasn't just about the thrash and the speed and the sound, though those were all cool elements of it. It was this kind of raw style of songwriting that I really liked.
One of the main things that really drew me to that band was their name -- there was a certain aspect of just kind of pure minimal gesture that existed in the hardcore scene. It took ideas of nihilism, yet would also sort of express ideas of unity and hope. A lot of the lyrics were nihilistic, but also kind of wearing your heart on your sleeve. It was an amazing thing for people that age to be doing. Certainly, that's what Minor Threat was doing. They were sending messages to each other, 'What happened to you? You're not the same. Alec's lyrics were like that as well. Hardcore was this emotional dialogue between young guys. It was really remarkable, really raw. It was a way for these guys to express to each other these thoughts. There was something very early-bromance about it.
-- Interview by Aaron Leitko
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Faith photo © by Tiffany Pruitt