Sonic Youth

2.24.2008

By Jason Lamphier

But you do make out?
Yeah. I can put it to you very simply: All the boys I've ever been attracted to have been straight, emotionally confused, codependent, and available.

Available sexually?
I wouldn't say sexually because that's too much information. I could tell you details, but I think that's kind of tacky. It's kiss and tell.

You identify yourself as gay?
I can't.

How would you if you had to choose a category?
Asexuality. I understand now what I used to make fun of about Morrissey.

I was going to say it's a very Morrissey-esque response.
I'm not a Smiths fan, but I understand. When you grow up and all the people you've ever been in love with were in love with you back but unable to really dedicate themselves to it because they also liked girls, it's really difficult and starts to make you feel insanely bitter and jealous. I was glad to make this record and dedicate it to Lockett, but let's just say I don't ever look forward to going home after trips like this. I'd rather just stay in NYC.

Do you think you're a masochist?
I think everyone is.

You seem so serene in these relationships, or non-relationships, or complicated relationships. Do you think you're fixated on the chase, the impossibility, the quixotic notion of love?
The quixotic notion, exactly. I'd rather chase something that's unavailable and be filled with an energy that's my own. I can exploit it by turning it into music. It's like turning oil into gasoline. I refine the basic feelings I have.

Are you still a virgin?
Yes.

And you're content with that for now?
Yeah.

Do you think you'll ever find 'the one'? Do you think 'the one' exists?
I don't. And that's why I've retreated into aesthetic distractions. It's very clich'd and simple, but I don't love and respect myself enough to be able to accept that anybody could like me, and nobody can love you if you don't love yourself. A basic psychological notion.

Do you think you're looking for men who like women?
I'm definitely more attracted to boys.

Boys, meaning...
Meaning, who are still in the state of adolescence I'm in. I have so many happy gay friends who live with their boyfriends and have the nicest, most therapeutic relationships with each other. It's great for them. [But] I think it's a little bit sad, the gay community that I've explored and known -- how incestuous it is, how everybody's dated everybody. It's not like heterosexual dating, where the sea is wide open. I've always resented heterosexual culture.

Talk to me about your experience in the gay South. Is there a southern gay sensibility?
What I remember hearing when I was growing up was this mythology of the 'Athens gene' -- that's what I associate with the South. It was like you've been with a boy one week and a girl the next. It was awkward and experimental. And then, it was very much about punk rock. People were trying to be transgressive. They were trying to find something through tearing down all the moral structures they'd been raised by.

Why do you think that was? Do you think it was some kind of retaliation, like they felt stifled growing up?
Not retaliation. I think it was trying to find truth as you get older. Some people try to find truth just fucking as many people as they can. Some people, like me, try to find truth through complete inactivity.

You didn't get very involved in that experimentation and promiscuity growing up in the South?
I was intrigued. I wanted to know the emotional after-effects. I'm not really attracted to gay culture in a sensual sense. I'm interested in people that are not like me, who are not extroverted and flamboyant. I'm interested in finding people that are confused and in need of something.

Wouldn't you say you're confused and in need of something yourself?
I guess I would say that. I would say we are all. Some people do it more quietly than others. I do it very loudly.

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