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Sonic Youth are selling loads of old analogue tape… but it doesn’t contain any of their music

Sonic Youth Reverb Shop
(Image credit: Reverb)

We’ve become accustomed to seeing ‘artist shops’ on Reverb - virtual stores in which famous musicians and producers can sell off unwanted or unneeded gear. Sonic Youth’s, however, comes with a twist; it contains loads of magnetic tape, but none of it features any of the band’s music.

It turns out that, back in the early 2000s, the band were so concerned that digital recording would cause tape to die a death that they decided to start stockpiling it to ensure that they’d never run out. However, now that it’s clear that analogue recording isn’t going away and they’re unlikely to run short, they’re getting rid of it.

"We would run into Manhattan and fill up a car, literally, with 2" tape, and it's awfully heavy, so your car would be riding low on the shocks when you went back through the tunnel," Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley explains. "People were really just tossing tons of 2" tape away at that point in time."

The tape collection - which includes 2” and 1/2” reels from the likes of Ampex, Quantegy, BASF and other manufacturers - has since been sitting in Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon West studio, but it’s now so large that the band have put it on the Reverb shop in order to get rid of it.

Don’t expect to hear any undiscovered Sonic Youth gems on any of it, though; although the tape has previously been used, any recordings were made in other studios.

"There might be stuff on there - I wouldn't say cool stuff,” reckons Steve Shelley. “Whenever we were using one of these TBE reels, we would spot-check them first and make sure that there wasn't some amazing outsider music on it that no one had heard of, but it's mostly junk [laughs]."

Ultimately, it seems that the band simply want to see the tape go to a good home: "We want this stuff to be used. It's useful, we love analogue tape, and it would be terrible to throw it in a dumpster," Shelley explains. "So, it's priced to sell, it's priced to use, and hopefully someone will give it some TLC and make something awesome with it."

You can check out the collection on the Official Sonic Youth Reverb Shop (opens in new tab).

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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