LEE RANALDO with LARYAL at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Wednesday (September 5). $15. 416-532-1598.
unless you're surgically alteredand strutting around like you're still 21 or reinventing yourself album after album, two decades together seems like an impossible target for a band to hit.But Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo is unimpressed with the fact that the New York noise pioneers have been playing edgy art rock for 20 years.
"A lot of bands make it. The Stones and the Arkestra made it," he says over the phone from his home in New York. "The weird thing is that the people who are still around after 20 years are people like the Stones and the Dead, bands that made a lot of money.
"Little groups like us always seem like we're holding things together with thread. We've managed to keep some kind of commitment to it moving forward, and that's what's saved us."
Don't look for any extravagant celebrations or boxed-set anthologies to cash in on the milestone, though.
Between solo gigs like Ranaldo's set at Lee's Wednesday (September 5), the commitment in the Sonic Youth camp these days is to recording.
The band keep office hours in their Echo Canyon studio Monday to Friday, where fans can watch recording progress on a webcam (www.sonicyouth.com). There is no timetable for a release or even completion, but right now time is being split between work on Sonic Youth's next album and a film soundtrack.
Last winter, the group completed the score for Alison Anders's new Things Behind The Sun film and are now working on the unusual interactive soundtrack for French director Olivier Sas's new flick.
"Olivier hasn't even finished shooting," Ranaldo explains. "We're trading rough images for rough tapes of sound. Our tapes play on the set while the actors are acting, and we're watching his rough cuts as we write and record. It's more like theatre than typical soundtrack work."
The project has pushed Sonic Youth into new territory, but don't expect the foursome's next record to turn into a long-winded invisible soundtrack. Ranaldo is quick to distance himself from Thurston Moore's recent remarks about now preferring soundtrack work to songwriting.
"Sometimes we're really focused on a song and concentrating on getting it right," he says. "Other times, we're just playing and it evolves into a chaotic 20- or 30-minute noise jam. Anything's possible."