Posts Tagged ‘The Sonics’

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The Sonics were an American garage rock band from Tacoma, Washington that formed in 1960  by teen-aged guitarist Larry Parypa, with the encouragement of his music-loving parents. The earliest lineup included Parypa, drummer Mitch Jaber, and guitarist Stuart Turner; Parypa’s brother Jerry briefly played saxophone, and their mother occasionally filled in on bass at rehearsals. In 1961, Parypa’s older brother Andy became the bass player, and Tony Mabin took over as their new saxophone player.Their aggressive, hard-edged sound has been a major influence on punk and garage music worldwide, and they have been named as inspirations to Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, the Fall, and other major artists. Rich Koch (who had previously played with the Wailers) joined as lead guitarist, and Marilyn Lodge became their first singer, the band having been an instrumental combo up to that point. A new drummer, Bill Dean, replaced Jaber. Koch and Lodge left the band in 1963. Local star Ray Michelsen became the band’s singer after having sung with several other popular bands on the local scene. Larry began looking for a drummer to replace Dean, who he felt was uncommitted to the band, and found Bob Bennett playing in a band called the Searchers, with keyboardist Gerry Roslie and sax player Rob Lind. Ray Michelsen was looking to leave the band, so the Parypas hired Bennett, Roslie, and Lind, and let their previous saxophonist Mabin go. The well-known lineup was in place, but the Sonics’ career did not begin in earnest until 1964, when Gerry Roslie started singing lead vocals. With Roslie as lead singer, the band started playing gigs

The Sonics are often-cited contenders for the title of “the first punk band,” due to their wild and ground-breaking style. The band also have a clearly marked influence on American punk bands such as the Cramps and the Dead Boys in their brash, menacing style and attitude, and on 1980s grunge bands (who originated in the same area), especially Mudhoney, who adopted some of the darker themes from Sonics music, and a lot of their techniques on over-driving and distorting electric guitars. Their reach stretched beyond the U.S.; influential Manchester post-punk group The Fall covered “Strychnine” during a session for the late John Peel’s programme in 1993 and they repeatedly performed the song live around this time. As well as all these, there have been whole generations of garage rock revival bands (such as The Thingz) who make no bones of plagiarizing The Sonics and their ilk. The early 21st century saw the arrival of another garage rock band that lists the Sonics as a major influence, Eagles of Death Metal. New Zealand power-punk band Cut Off Your Hands have covered “The Witch” several times in concert.

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana said in an interview with Nardwuar the Human Serviette on CITR-FM, discussing drum sounds,”I, I have to admit... The Sonics recorded very, very cheaply on a two track you know, and they just used one microphone over the drums, and they got the most amazing drum sound I’ve ever heard. Still to this day, it’s still my favorite drum sound. It sounds like he’s hitting harder than anyone I’ve ever known.” . The White Stripes named The Sonics as one of the bands that influenced them the most, calling them “the epitome of ’60s punk” and claiming they were “harder than the Kinks, and punk long before punk”

The band performed several early rock standards such as “Louie, Louie”, and “Skinny Minnie” as well as original compositions like “Strychnine”, “Psycho”, and “The Witch”. Their catalogue is generally based around simple chord progressions, often performed with a speed and tonal aggression that was novel for the time, making the band a notable influence on later punk rock bands.

Their first single was “The Witch” (with Little Richard’s “Keep a-Knockin'” as the B-side) in November 1964. The record was immensely popular with local kids, and went on to become the biggest selling local single in the history of the Northwest despite its radio airplay being restricted because of its bizarre subject matter.

Early in 1965 Etiquette released the Sonics‘ debut “Here Are The Sonics”, which was produced at Audio Recording in Seattle, Washington with famed Pacific Northwest recording engineer Kearney Barton. It was recorded on a two-track tape recorder, with only one microphone to pick up the entire drum kit. It was here that they began to pioneer some of their infamously reckless recording techniques. A second album, “Boom”, followed in February 1966. During the recording, the Sonics ripped the soundproofing off the walls at the country and western-oriented Wiley/Griffith studio in Tacoma to “get a live-er sound.” The covers of both albums feature the moody photography of Jini Dellaccio.

Their heyday began to come to a close when the band transferred to Jerden Records in late 1966, and headed to Hollywood to record the poorly selling album “Introducing the Sonics” with Larry Levine at Gold Star Studios. Although it has been rumoured that Jerden executives pushed the Sonics into a more polished sound, the band itself had decided to follow new influences in modern music, resulting in songs that were quite different from their raucously early recordings. The band, however, was not satisfied with the material on Introducing the Sonics, calling the cleaner, slicker recordings “the worst garbage.”

Here Are The Sonics!!

Here Are The Sonics!!

At the time of its release, “Here Are The Sonics” made very little noise of the group’s home state of Washington – but within said home state, the Sonics themselves were making enough noise to blow down every brick wall between Tacoma and Torrance, California. Seldom has a group ever been better named. The youthful aggression in their music, coupled with singer Gerry Roslie’s ‘80 razorblades-a-day’ vocal attack and a selection of overwhelmingly brilliant riffs that underpinned some of the most wildly recorded music ever to be committed to tape, should have made the Sonics one of the biggest groups the world has ever known or heard. Instead they went on to become celebrated by generation after generation of collectors, and other young people with an urge to rock ‘n’ roll.

The overwhelming importance of tracks like “The Witch”, “Psycho” and “Boss Hoss” has provided a template for countless groups who’ve come up in their wake, and who have achieved a level of commercial success that they could never have achieved without the inspiration (direct or spiritual) of the Sonics – fellow Pacific North-Westerners Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana and their successor the Foo Fighters being, perhaps, the most obvious examples.

Here Are The Sonics, exactly as seen and heard 42 years ago on its original Etiquette pressing – albeit in a smaller-sized package, of course! Its tingling mix of group originals and sonic – in every sense of the word! – shreddings of Hall Of Fame rock’n’roll classics (including their recently-used-in-a-car-ad decimation of Richard Berry’s Have Love, Will Travel) remains the musical equivalent of sticking your finger in a live light bulb socket for 25 minutes. Its contents, like all good rock‘n’roll, will never date or die.

"Boom" LP Front


We follow or recent reissue of “Here Are The Sonics!” with a 180g black vinyl replica of “Boom”, the band’s second album. Originally released in 1966 on Etiquette Records in wonderful mono, “Boom” still does much more than merely deliver on the promise of their debut. Few records have ever packed as much of a musical punch from start to finish, offering a representation of what the Sonics must have sounded like at the peak of their powers. Recorded in the most glorious no-fi you could ever wish for, and with anthemic originals such as ‘Cinderella’ and ‘He’s Waitin’’ vying for attention with what is possibly the most violent version of ‘Louie Louie’ there will ever be, “Boom” is an album that has always justified the esteem in which it is held by collectors around the globe. All the modern bumph like barcodes and whatnot is on a disposable sticker, leaving your copy of “Boom” as original as possible.

Now that enough time has elapsed for listeners’ heart rates to come back to normal, we are more than merely pleased to add the Sonics second album – the entirely appropriately entitled “Boom” – to our ever expanding range of Hip Pocket titles.

Most bands down the years have tended to work off much of their initial youthful aggression on their debut album. Come album two, an amount of mellow has likely as not crept into the proceedings, along with an increased musical professionalism. Not so the Sonics. Not content with being able to play in their hometown of Seattle and to be heard in Sacramento without the aid of amplification, they upped the pressure and the volume to an extent where they could probably be heard south of San Diego without the benefit of a prevailing wind.

“Boom” still does much more than merely deliver on the promise of their first Etiquette album, “Here Are The Sonics”. Few records have ever packed as much of a musical punch from start to finish. Even more so than their first album, it offers a representation of what the Sonics must have sounded like ‘in the dance’ at the peak of their considerable powers.

Here it is, issued in its original format for the first time on a UK CD, to make the Hip Pocket series even hipper…



Back in the mid-1960s, the legendary Sonics took rock’n’roll by the scruff of the neck and thrashed it to within an inch of its sorry life, leaving a legacy of some of the most savage, visceral recordings ever made. Compiling their no-holds-barred Etiquette sessions, “Psycho-Sonic” is the ultimate Sonics anthology.
One of the best selling Big Beat releases of recent years has been Psycho-sonic , a comprehensive collection of all the sides the much-feted kings of garage rock recorded for the Etiquette label in 1964/65. Only the most cloistered of music fans would be unaware of the mighty Tacoma combo’s influence and importance, now stronger than ever thanks to young bucks such as the White Stripes, Hives, Vines etc constantly dropping the band’s name. With access to first generation tapes uncovered by Big Beat’s ongoing celebration of the catalogue of Sonics’ mentors, the Wailers, we gave this compilation a spring clean back in 2003, this month we have given the cover a refresh.

Psycho-sonic features many tracks presented in ear-blistering true stereo remixes, taken from the actual tape the band recorded onto, and mastered with Big Beat’s customarily sensitive mastering.
The set’s sequencing and flow deliver an entertaining and invigorating programme from start to finish. Track for track, the first half-hour of this disc is the wildest, most visceral rock’n’roll listen you’re ever likely to have. Also included is an in-depth overview of the group’s career by reissue producer Alec Palao, based on, first-hand interviews with the band and their associates, including the legendary Sonics’ lead singer/ songwriter/ screamer Jerry Roslie. The package also includes a feast of unseen outtakes from the band’s famed photo sessions – photographer Jini Dellaccio granted us full access to her incredible archive of Sonics pictures. Plus the usual memorabilia and label shots.

The original band fell apart between 1966 and 1968, with members leaving to attend university or join other bands; saxophonist Rob Lind became a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War. Eventually, all of the original members left, with new members continuing on with the name Sonics (later ‘Jim Brady and the Sonics’) until 1980, although it was a completely different band, at times even incorporating string and horn sections.

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“Rock and roll—it’s the only place you can scream like that without going to jail,” Sonics vocalist-keyboardist Gerry Roslie said a few years ago. That voice—sounding pissed and possessed—lit up the band’s two releases, 1965’s “Here Are The Sonics” and “Boom”, released the following year. The Sonics were uglier, louder and scarier band than anything that had floated this way during the British Invasion. They were also playing what was essentially punk rock in the small town of Tacoma, Washington. one year before bands like The Seeds and the 13th Floor Elevators had done anything, three years before the British gave us The Pretty Things or The Deviants, and almost five years before The Stooges and MC5 blew up Detroit. “Have Love Will Travel” isn’t as in-your-face as “The Witch” or “Strychnine,” but it’s still a primal slab of garage rock (the skronky sax solo rips, too). Some insist that punk rock started in the UK in the ’70s; the Sonics tell us otherwise.

The Sonics represent that raw melodic stuff that came out of garages just every so often. This track is as important as Dave Davies of the Kinks cutting up the speaker on his amp to create that raw gritty guitar sound that you find on tracks like You Really Got Me and All Day and All Of The Night.

In a fertile Pacific Northwest scene, The Sonics stood out for their dark subject matter on songs about poison, mental illness and the occult. One of these, “The Witch,” was enough of a local hit for the Tacoma, Washington., band in 1964 that they made it the opening track on their 1965 debut, Here Are the Sonics. Built around a creepy, lurching guitar riff pinned down by low moaning saxophone, it’s a short jump from “The Witch” to the campy B-movie horror imagery of bands like The Cramps.

One of Tacoma, Washington’s greatest musical exports were these five young men who added the perfect amount of danger and delinquency to their screaming, blasting compositions. Among their best is this short revved-up ode to leader Gerry Rosie’s beverage of choice—a straight shot of strychnine, the cure for what ails you. I’ll have what he’s having.

In a year studded with all-out rock masterpieces The Stones “Aftermath”, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”, The Beatles with “Revolver”,  and Bob Dylan’s Double album Classic “Blonde on Blonde”  a grungier rock offshoot of the genre was also reaching an apex.

Garage rock, which has existed since rock & roll’s advent, and will probably always exist, had exactly one year when it was a national driving force. Meaning, when you could be a teenager living under your parents’ roof, team up with some of your friends and force your way into a trend that had hit-making ramifications.

The Shadows of Knight, a band from Chicago, helped get everything rolling with their cover of Them’s “Gloria,” a hit at the end of 1965. even today, if you hear a version of the song on the radio, it’s probably the Knights version, which led to the band cutting their first long-player in March 1966, a shot heard round the carport world.

The album, of course, was named for its big hit, and Gloria was as apt a garage-rock tutorial as you’ll find.  Strangely charming, earnest and sounding not as old as they wished themselves to be, the Shadows of Knight

But pretty much just for a year. Psychedelia and hippie-dom killed off the toughs, you might say, and though garage-band careers could persist into 1967 and beyond, there was nothing like that kind of initial fervor of 1966.  Here are 10 other great garage LPs and tracks you need to check out now,.

The Sonics, Boom

Seattle’s proto-punkers were the loudest of the garage bands, and those most in thrall to distortion – to an almost erotic degree. The lyrics, too, could get a bit Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, so you wonder just what the hell they were reading. The version of Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch-Hike” out bad-asses the Stones’, whereas band original “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is like the rock & roll version of a horrifying B film featuring a cameo from the Devil himself.

The Barbarians, Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl

Ah, a garage band from the brine-clotted peninsula of Cape Cod, complete with a drummer, in Victor “Moulty” Molton, who had a hook for a hand – a misfortune the band cashed in on by having him sing a ballad of his real-life left hand’s downfall. The title track of their debut was a hilarious take on gender which would horrify the Internet-scouring militants of today ever in search of things to be offended by, but better still is “Linguica,” a greasy slab of surf-infused bonhomie that has some real instrumental aplomb to it.

The Leaves, Hey Joe

California’s the Leaves went through the garage-folk route. Quite the cool little hybrid. The title track was a grassier version, you might say, than something like Hendrix’s take on the standard later in the year, but rare was the garage band who would tackle Dylan, and tackle Dylan well, as the Leaves did with “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” a single commonly appended to the original LP as a bonus track. Their cover of Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” is Deep South American rhythm & blues, via English Northern soul, flecked with let’s-cut-class California sunshine.

The Music Machine, (Turn On) the Music Machine

Some songs, the Who’s Leeds version of “My Generation,” just make you say, “what the fuck was that?” the first time you hear them. Sean Bonniwell’s “Talk Talk,” from this Los.Angeles. band’s debut, is one of those songs. These guys come off as total nutters at times. Like on a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry,” or a version of the Beatles’ “Taxman” that sounds like the original has been forced to take Valium and then get stomped on by a group of nascent L.A. art punks.

Question Mark and the Mysterians, 96 Tears

Hailing from Saginaw, Michigan, Rudy Martinez, lead singer of this group of organ-loving oddities, claimed to be from Mars, but if you were from Mars, would you really write a song, in the title track, which inverts the 69 sexual position and turns it into a symbol for teenage heartbreak? Who knows. These Tex-Mexers were pretty foul, but sufficiently adept that they could handle a blues like T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” which betters the Them version. And hey, “96 Tears” hit Number One on the charts, which was quite the notch for the garage scene.

The Standells, Dirty Water

The title cut off the Standells‘ debut album was a catchy-as-hell . Never mind that the this L.A. band hadn’t been east of the Mississippi. The song also offers a cautionary tale: It can be easy, with a garage band known for a huge hit, to think they had nothing else. This LP, though, is loaded with irascible, edgy cuts, like the blue-balls lament that is “Little Sally Tease,” and the strangely heart-rending “Why Did You Hurt Me?”

Count Five, Psychotic Reaction

If you know this San Jose band, you might know the essay Rolling Stones Lester Bangs wrote positively drooling over the album, which got him so excited he made up a bunch more Count Five LPs that didn’t exist. The Count Five – who wore Bela Lugosi-style Dracula capes – had a touch of the Zombies about them, and some similar melodic and rhythmic panache, albeit with less flexible grooves. This record is catchy as hell, with a couple Who covers, but more highlights in terms of originals. The hit title track borrows the rave-up gambit from the Yardbirds’ “I’m a Man” but opener “Double-Decker Bus” is the real rabble-rouser. Again, the American guitar-wielding teens of 1966 loved British stuff. And the reconceptualization of everyday British imagery could be pretty heady in its new seedy American digs.

The Remains, Don’t Look Back

So this Boston boys, and Boston boys who could play. Barry Tashian and the Remains were musicians first, garage-band dudes second. The title track of this album is to this band as “Paranoid Android” was to Radiohead. Multi-part, it was the coolest vamp groove you will ever hear, with percussive guitar effects and Tashian’s vocal skipping over the beat, it is one of the great rock & roll cuts of its decade. These guys opened for the Beatles on the latter’s final American tour, and with Tashian originals like “Thank You” and “Time of Day,” they should have been set for super status,

The Blues Magoos, Psychedelic Lollipop

No garage band, back then or since, ever came up with a better, more saucily absurd album title than Psychedelic Lollipop. These Bronx kids had a hit with “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet,” a stompy organ-based number, but they were perhaps the most versatile of the first-wave garage groups. Their cover of James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy” is tighter than tight, whereas the Magoos’ take on “Tobacco Road” foreshadows metal’s birth more convincingly than anything else in the garage canon.

The Clefs of Lavender Hill, Stop! Get a Ticket

So this sister and brother outfit from Florida didn’t have an album, but this track from a compilation of their 1966 recordings, is a true garage cornucopia of sorts. The name is, of course, deliberately English-inflected, but that kind of invention – or reinvention – is what garage bands are all about. Maybe you can’t be everything you wish to be, but you can pretend and push, and doing so will get you at least part of the way there. The title track is a sophisticated outlay of melodies that are almost floral in their overtones, with a clever bass-drum part where a chorus would usually pop in. “First Tell Me Why”  in the Floridian sunshine, and “One More Time,” which might be one of the best things any garage band ever did, is a massive, bass-powered, hand-clappy song with a giant beat that makes you want to lower your shoulder and power through a wall.

The SONICS – ” Bad Betty “

Posted: April 12, 2015 in MUSIC

Former Nirvana bassist and famed regular guy, Krist Novoselic seems intent on collaborating with as many of his fellow Pacific Northwest musicians as possible. After recording with Issaquah, Washinton’s Modest Mouse and forming a super group with Oregonian Corin Tucker (best known as a singer and guitarist for Sleater-Kinney), Novoselic recently joined legendary Seattle garage band the Sonics for their hometown, 50th anniversary show. Novoselic accompanied the Sonics onstage for a couple of songs, including “Cinderella” from their classic 1966 album “Boom”.

As one of the first proto-punk bands in the Pacific Northwest, The Sonics were undoubtedly an influence on Novoselic and Nirvana. Indeed, deceased former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain mentioned in an interview that, while he did not like the Sonics, he loved the drum sound on their mid-60s recordings.

The Sonics, who recently released their first album of new material in nearly 50 years, will continue to tour throughout the summer. Novoselic’s upcoming plans are less clear, but if his recent activities are any indication, expect him to take part in a new collaboration shortly.


Decades after the release of their last album, garage rockers the Sonics are returning with a new LP, “This Is the Sonics. The group, best known lately for their raucous 1965 recording of “Have Love Will Travel,” heralded the news with a gritty, sax-powered single, “Bad Betty” Previously, the This Is the Sonics track appeared in a different version on a split seven-inch single with Mudhoney that came out on Record Store Day last year.
Three of the band’s original members – vocalist-keyboardist Jerry Roslie, guitarist-vocalist Larry Parypa and multi-instrumentalist Rob Lind, who plays sax, harmonica and sings – recorded the new album in “earth-shaking mono” with a rhythm section that has played with the Kingsmen and Dick Dale. Producer Jim Diamond recorded the band in Seattle, less than an hour’s drive from the band’s hometown of Tacoma. The album is due out on March 31st.
In addition to putting out a new album, the group will be hitting the road for a North American spring headlining trek. Mudhoney will be joining them at their record release party on April 2nd at Seattle’s Moore Theater, along with other as-yet-unannounced guests, and the band will receive support from Barrence Whitfield and the Savages from their New York City date until the end of the tour.
The Sonics were most active in the mid-Sixties, when they put out their influential 1965 LP “Here Are the Sonics” and 1966 record Boom, putting their own unique stamp on revved-up garage rock.