Sonic Youth is an American alternative rock band formed in New York City in 1981. Since 1985, the band's line-up has consisted of Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo (both vocals and guitar), Kim Gordon (bass guitar, guitar and vocals) and Steve Shelley (drums). From 2000 to 2005 Jim O'Rourke became a full-time member as a multi-instrumentalist. Before Shelley, Sonic Youth went through several drummers, including Bob Bert, Richard Edson and Jim Sclavunos.Source
In their early career, Sonic Youth were associated with the No Wave art and music scene in New York City. Part of the first wave of American noise rock groups, the band carried out their interpretation of the punk rock ethos throughout the evolving American indie underground that focused more on the DIY ethic of the genre rather than its specific sound. They have found moderate mainstream success, and are generally seen as one of the leading alternative rock groups of their time.
Sonic Youth are inspired by the guitar symphonies of Glenn Branca (with whom most of the band have performed), the heavy protopunk of The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, and MC5, the punk poetry of Patti Smith, the Krautrock of Can, the psychedelic garage rock of The 13th Floor Elevators, as well as avant-garde composers like John Cage. The band were often praised for "redefin[ing] what rock guitar could do" using a wide variety of unorthodox guitar tunings, and preparing guitars with objects like drumsticks and screwdrivers to alter the instruments' timbre.