“He expressed being upset by my horrible remix, which made me even more proud of it!” Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore once mixed a quote from Oasis' Noel Gallagher into a Blur song purely to annoy bassist Alex James, a petty gesture we can all respect

Noel, Thurston, Alex James
(Image credit: Claudio Villa/AC Milan via Getty Images | Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for MUBI | Jon Furniss/WireImage)

Given that the Britpop movement started as a backlash against US 'alternative' rock taking over the mainstream in the early '90s, it's not surprising that alt. rock godfathers Sonic Youth weren't initially looked upon favourably by Britpop musicians.

Speaking to MTV, Oasis guitarist, bandleader and chief songwriter Noel Gallagher once said, "I hate art in music, all this pompous art-rock like Sonic Youth and all that. You couldn’t hum one of their tunes. Sticking guitars in dustbins and you know, playing them with screwdrivers and that. I mean, fuck art – let’s rock." So amused was Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore by this quote, that he recorded Gallagher's interview on a VHS cassette, later telling NME that he found it funny “because it’s such a conservative perspective of being in a band.”

Not everyone in a Britpop band was a Sonic Youth hater however. Blur guitarist Graham Coxon was a fan, and after becoming increasingly bored of the Essex band's mock-Cockney Little Englander knees-up music on 1995's The Great Escape album, Coxon started turning to US underground bands for inspiration, stating in a Blur documentary “a lot of them were doing very interesting stuff with guitars and I needed to be nourished.“ The creation of Blur's self-titled fifth album was very much dictated by Coxon, and when the group were asked to supply some additional songs for the Japanese market, Coxon asked Thurston Moore to remix the album's final track, giving him a completely free rein as to how it should sound. Which gave Moore the opportunity to indulge in a little playful mischief-making at Blur's expense.

“I’d already got into a spat with their bass player [Alex James] because he drunkenly said some derogatory remarks to me and ever since then, I hated the guy,” Moore recalled to NME in an October 2020 interview. “So by remixing their record, I took the bass player’s track completely off and deleted it – and replaced it with screaming feedback. And I opened the track using Noel Gallagher saying: ‘I don’t like bands that are clever, putting these guitars into dustbins…’ (Laughs).”

“The bass player was in a magazine shortly thereafter where he expressed being upset by my horrible remix, which made me even more proud of it!”

You can hear Moore's industrial-noise remix of Essex Dogs below: whether you can heard Noel Gallagher's voice on the track is another matter, because, frankly, we can't. But maybe Thurston stabbed his VHS recording with a screwdriver before mixing in the quote, who can say?

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.