"Waves of distortion crash against feedback breakers on a chill tropical night; a knife washes up on shore and some polished white stones that almost look like bone are dragged out in the riptide. Cuba Swag. It's a love song, obviously."
- Richard Schaefer
Big Nils is a Massachusetts punk band fronted by Coco Gordon Moore-- the teenage daughter of Sonic Youth co-leaders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Their steamy single, "Cuba Swag" recounts a band member's tryst with the Cuban lover, Randy.
Teenage angst is alive and well, and living in Northampton, Massachusetts, as the fledgling punks in Big Nils can attest. The quartet, composed of Coco Gordon Moore (vocals), Zoe Wardlaw (guitar), Lilly Daiber (bass), and Sen Morimoto (drums), performs the sort of no-nonsense rock ’n’ roll that has inspired rebellious kids for generations. Which is appropriate considering that the members of Big Nils are still kids themselves—all 17- and 18-year-old high-school seniors or recent graduates—and arrive steeped in the ways and means of musical dissent: Gordon Moore is the daughter of art-school mainstays Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and the members cite a range of influences that includes Bikini Kill, the Circle Jerks, and The Runaways. Taking their band name from a tall German acquaintance of Morimoto’s—it’s pronounced “Big Kneels”— the quartet self-released their debut, Sibling, early last summer. The album is an eight-song collection of tough guitars and tinny percussion, layered with fluid, stream-of-consciousness vocals on songs like “Deep Dark Death,” “Herpes,” and “Wake Up.” The lyrics have an innocent, sing-song quality (“Herpes” was written as an in-joke response to the effects of Gordon Moore banging her lip against a microphone), which fits, considering that many of them are taken from a journal the singer kept as a 12-year-old. “‘Wake Up’ was from a chapter of a story I wrote,” Gordon Moore says. “It was about a girl and her family. She has to get up and take care of all of them, but at the end of the chapter she goes to her brother’s room and screams because there’s a dead body in there.” The demands of high school prevent Big Nils from doing much in the way of touring, though they play live shows frequently in the northeast and have developed a line of merch, the centerpiece of which is silk-screened underwear—“clean, freshly ironed” underwear, they note—and are planning to record new material soon. As for whether the band will survive the obligations of college, the quartet says they haven’t given it much thought. “I guess we’ll see how it goes,” says Morimoto. Adds Wardlaw: “Definitely look forward to the reunion show in 20 years.”
Big Nils is a Massachusetts punk band that, at least for the time being, will be best known because it singer is one Coco Gordon Moore-- the teenage daughter of Sonic Youth co-leaders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Big Nils have released an album called Sibling, and it's streaming at their Bandcamp page, where it's also available as a $5 digital purchase.The album includes one track called "Herpes", another called "Screamer", and still another called "Beep Beep Boop Boop". The Bandcamp page offers "special thanks" to Coco's parents. It's all awfully adorable.
Coco Moore, Lilly Daiber, Zoe Wardlaw, and Sen Morimoto. Together, the four under-21s form a chopped-up and edgy punk-rock group called Big Nils.
Yes, Coco Moore is Thurston Moore’s daughter. No, she does not want to talk about her feelings regarding the media’s coverage of her parents’ recent split.
Big Nils started playing music together as a sort of pre-party activity one night while hanging out at Moore’s house in Northampton, Massachusetts. The teenagers realized things clicked, and that music and performing was something they loved and needed. Add a band name that references a German punk arsonist, and a musical genius (Bill Nace) as acting manager, and you get Big Nils.
The band’s enthusiasm is evident; hopefully the group won’t lose its youthful charm. Three members of Big Nils are graduating high school this spring and all members are planning to go to college either this coming fall or the next…they’re just hoping to schedule some decent tours that won’t be interrupted by educational calendars.
“We haven’t really toured–we’ve played a ton of shows in Boston and some in New York, but it’s hard for us to schedule a tour cause three of us are still in high school. Hopefully we will tour this Summer, though,” they explain.
One touring obstacle is that Big Nils can’t find enough all-ages venues in its vicinity of Western Massachusetts. The band says that the Northampton area has a “thriving scene,” but that beyond the occasional collective or basement space, there aren’t enough places for people under 21 to enjoy live music. So the four members instead make frequent treks to Boston and New York City.
“Sen or Lilly usually do the driving. We don’t let Zoe drive cause we’d all die. Sen has a fucking sick cadillac and it’s huge and awesome,” says Moore.
released April 11, 2015
Coco Gordon Moore - Vocals
Zoe Wardlaw - Guitar/Vocals
Lilly Daiber - Bass
Sen Morimoto - Drums
w/ Special guest Josh Sitron: synthesizer
Recorded by Grant Wicks