...the direction of our material is more or less dictated by our instruments. After we got back from Europe the last time, we decided we were tired of doing the old set, so we took all the strings off the guitars, threw them around a little bit, put some new strings on them, and hammered them a little so that we had to write all new songs. The tuning on the guitars once we got through with them was so different that we killed our old songs.Thurston Moore / Sonic Youth interview, SPIN, 1985
When we wrote a new batch of songs, they turned out to be more subtle. They were a little more laid back physically...more cerebral.
My brother had a girlfriend who was killed by the Manson family. Today there are a lot of people running around who look like him and even have Christ complexes. We became pre-occupied with that period in history. It was the end of this Utopian ideal. Meanwhile, the Utopian idea of suburbia lives on. 'Death Valley' is our re-interpretation of history as opposed to the media's projection of it.Kim Gordon / Sonic Youth interview, Melody Maker, 1985
"Death Valley '69" was first released in December 1984 as a single b/w "Brave Men Run (In My Family)"; both songs demo versions. A 12" version - with the Bad Moon Rising recording - was released in June 1985. The b-side included four additional songs, three from previous records plus "Satan is Boring" from the Bad Moon Rising sessions.
It's about these teenagers who listen to Ozzie Osbourne and AC/DC. These groups adhere to this comic book, heavy metal, Satanism kind of thing. There were these kids in Long Island doing Satanic rituals under the influence of these trash American drugs. They actually sacrificed and killed a bunch of their friends. Eventually they were caught. You see these kids on the six o'clock news and some of 'em look like your kid brother being led into the police station in this suburban town wearing Ozzie tee-shirts, smiling.Thurston Moore / Sonic Youth interview, Melody Maker, 1985