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Oldies 08/08/2018

The Sonics, Garage-Rock Icons, Gear Up For U.S. Tour And Film Documentary

The Sonics, Garage-Rock Icons, Gear Up For U.S. Tour And Film Documentary
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) The return of The Sonics has been an unexpected treat and an undisputable triumph. Since reforming in 2007 after a 40-year hiatus, the legendary Tacoma-bred outfit has firmly re-established itself as vital purveyors of authentic, no-frills garage rock. Their dynamic live shows, in particular, have rekindled the rabid excitement of their devoted long-time fans while awakening impassioned reactions in those just discovering them.

The band's current incarnation features original member Rob Lind (saxophone, harmonica, and vocals) and long-time Sonics drummer Dusty Watson joined by two recent additions, guitarist Evan Foster (of Tacoma's own Boss Martians) and keyboardist Jake Cavaliere (a member of L.A. garage-psych upstarts the Lords of Altamont), as well as the return of one-time bassist Don Wilhelm.

2018 represents an especially exciting time for the Sonics. The group has already done a five-week tour in Europe, which was so well received that they'll be back in October to play the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany, where the group will also film a session the famous TV music program WDR Rockpalast. September, meanwhile, finds them heading into the studio to record their next album; then there's the documentary Boom: A Film About the Sonics, a decade-in-the-making project for filmmaker Jordan Albertson that should be hitting the film festival circuit later this year.

Their new U.S. tour features stops in Texas and California, including a date at the Power of the Riff Festival Opening Party in Los Angeles. The Sonics will also play a festive homecoming show August 28 at Tacoma's Alma Mater, which was known as the Carpenters Hall when the band played there in the '60s.

Named by Time Out New York as the best garage band of all time, the Sonics have the same appeal today as they did during their initial heyday back in 1963-67, cranking out primal, propulsive sound packed with raw power and joyous energy. Rob Lind compares attending a Sonics show to experiencing an earthquake, because they "rattle the liquor bottles on the wall [and] make the floor move." They put everything they have into their live performances. "We're not five guys just staring at our shoes," Lind says, adding that "it was never about making a buck" — they just love making music.

In their original '60s run, the Sonics grabbed attention for their riff-based rock 'n' roll as exemplified on such howling anthems as "Psycho," "The Witch," "Strychnine," "Boss Hoss" and "Have Love, Will Travel." The Sonics' assaultive, over-the-top performances made them regional stars throughout the Pacific Northwest. In fact, their huge local popularity kept them from touring much outside of their home turf, limiting their national exposure.

The Sonics' mystique, however, has only grown stronger in the years that the band was inactive. Their recordings — including the now-classic albums Here Are the Sonics and Boom — have remained a key influence for multiple generations of younger combos. You can hear the Sonics' sound in pioneering punk and grunge bands like The Cramps, The Dead Boys, and Mudhoney. Nirvana, The Hives, and The White Stripes have all extolled the importance of the Sonics, and Sonics fan Robert Plant has had them open on a pair of Sensational Space Shifters tours. Sonics' songs have been covered by acts ranging from Bruce Springsteen to the Eagles of Death Metal; the Flaming Lips to The Fall. Their tunes have been used several TV ads and films too, while Dave Grohl highlighted the group in the Seattle episode of his HBO series Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways.

For years, promoters had been asking the Sonics to reform. In the 2000s, Lind along with two early band members, keyboardist/vocalist Gerry Roslie and guitarist Larry Parypa, decided to give a shot. They spent several years rehearsing before making their 21st century "debut" at the 2007 Cavestomp in Brooklyn. The performance proved to be such a success that they were immediately contacted to play in Europe, so they crossed the Atlantic to do their first overseas shows — and have been playing in America and abroad ever since.

In 2015, the Sonics released This Is the Sonics on their own Revox label. It was their first full-length album in nearly half a century, which stands as one of the longest (if not the longest) interval between albums by any rock band. Produced by noted producer Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Dirtbombs), the record seamlessly picked up where the Sonics left off decades before. Pitchfork's Jason Heller exclaimed that the album "spits, snarls, drools, honks, wails, and screams as it were 1966 all over again, while Benjamin Shapiro in The New Yorker hailed This Is the Sonics for exuding "the same primal intensity of their previous albums."

To support their new release, the band took to the road, delivering scorching shows that revealed, in the words of Rock NYC, their "youthful exuberance was intact and the rawness and explosion of rock and roll that followed was simply astonishing." Following these acclaimed tours, Roslie and Parypa decided to retire from live performances, although they are still part of the Sonics universe. Lind reports that both men will be participating in the new album as will producer Diamond.

While it is always notable when a fabled band reforms, what makes the Sonics reunion truly extraordinary is that the group still is playing with the raucous fervor and gritty swagger that made them legends all those years ago.

U.S. tour dates:
Sun., Aug. 26 TACOMA, WA Alma Mater
Thur., Nov. 8 AUSTIN, TX The Parish
Fri., Nov. 9 FORT WORTH TX Ridglea Theater
Sat., Nov. 10 HOUSTON, TX White Oak Music Hall
Sat., Nov. 17 LOS ANGELES, CA The Echo (Power of the Riff Festival Opening Party)
Sun., Nov. 18 SAN FRANCISCO, CA The Independent

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