Iconic Washington State garage rockers The Sonics are back with a new record, and are hitting the road after nearly five decades.
Hailed as precursors to punk, grunge and heavy metal as we now know it, the Sonics single-handedly defined the genre of garage rock with their debut single “The Witch” (1964) a stark contrast to the doowop and poppy ditties of the era. The new album, This is the Sonics, stays true to these roots; this album is delightful because of how anachronistic it feels. It may as well have been recorded in the early sixties, and that’s why Sonics fans are going to adore it.
Produced by Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Dirtbombs and Electric Six) of Ghetto Recorders at Soundhouse Studios in Seattle, This Is The Sonics will be released on the band’s own Tacoma-based label Revox Records on March 31. The record marks the reunion of original members Jerry Roslie on keyboards and vocals, Larry Parypa on guitar and vocals and Rob Lind on sax, harmonica and vocal, and backed by a powerhouse rhythm section, bassist Freddie Dennis (the Kingsmen, the Liverpool Five) and drummer Dusty Watson (Dick Dale, Agent Orange). Diamond chose to record the album as life sessions in mono with minimal overdubs. The result? A heart pounding, high energy album from start to finish that sounds just as rad and raw as you’d imagine the Sonics to have sounded in their heyday. Except that heyday is now just today.
This Is The Sonics follows the legendary Here Are the Sonics (1965) and Boom (1966) albums whose gritty, revved up and previously unheard of sound changed the course of music history. While the band may have broken up in 1967, the band’s legacy lived on to inspire generations of now iconic musicians, including the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, who featured the Sonics in the Seattle episode of the HBO series “Foo Fighters: SonicHighways.”
Listening to This is the Sonics, I was struck not only by the breakneck speed and pure rock and roll soul of it, but by the stark contrast between the seemingly upbeat feel of the music and the dark, aggressive and sometimes desperate tone to the lyrics. Roslie declares, confesses and despairs in his guttural howl. Inimitable (though many will try) and unmistakable. Accusing rants like “I’ve got your number”, masculine confessions “Be a woman” and admiring like “Bad betty”. Saxophone and keyboard hearken back to the time of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, but those screaming guitars, pounding drums and vocals are timeless.
The Sonics sound just as good on this album as they must have then. You can check them out for yourself as the band will be taking their trip down musical memory lane on the road. The Sonics will kick off their headlining tour on April 2, 2015 with a special record release party at Seattle’s Moore Theater. If the Sonics alone weren’t enough of an awesome blast from the past, Seattle legends Mudhoney will be joining them for that show, among other special and surprise guests. I’ll be biding my time salivating over that Seattle show while I wait for the Sonics to come around to Toronto at the end of April.
4/2/2015 Seattle, WA – Moore Theater (record release party with Mudhoney & special guests)
4/4/2015 Las Vegas, NV – Viva Las Vegas Weekender
4/5/2015 Las Vegas, NV – Viva Las Vegas Weekender
4/8/2015 New York, NY – Irving Plaza*
4/9/2015 Asbury Park, NJ – Stone Pony*
4/10/2015 Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall*
4/11/2015 Providence, RI – Columbus Theater*
4/12/2015 Philadelphia, PA – Theater of Living Arts*
4/23/2015 Cincinnati, OH – Woodward Theater*
4/24/2015 Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall*
4/25/2015 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick*
4/26/2015 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace*
5/8/15 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore*
5/9/15 Los Angeles, CA – Regent Theater*
5/10/15 Solano Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern*
* support: Barrence Whitfield & the Savages