The Sonics

8pm, Emo's Main

The Sonics

"We liked to get nasty," testifies Gerry Roslie, the wicked howling wolf and keyboardist behind the Sonics. "We were so forceful. Everyone in the band played each song like it was the last time they were going to play it – just killed it."

That sums up the Sonics brief but blistering tenure for Etiquette Records. From 1964 to '65, the Tacoma, Wash.-bred quintet was perhaps the definitive American garage rock group, channeling the fiery soul of Little Richard and Chess Records into a proto-punk buzz saw of teenage raunch and rebellion that ran counter to the budding flower power of the day.

The Sonics parted ways in 1967 and, aside from a one-off reunion in Seattle in 1972, never looked back. That is until Brooklyn's Cavestomp! festival persisted, giving the band nearly a year's notice to prepare for a reunion engagement. 2007, November, the band – including original guitarist Larry Parypa and saxophonist Rob Lind, with the newly acquired rhythm section of bassist Don Wilhelm and drummer Ricky Lynn Johnson – performed for the first time in nearly four decades.

"We had butterflies the size of buzzards," recalls Roslie. "Here we are, senior citizens, and you look out on all these young kids singing the words, and right off the bat they started a mosh pit. We were thinking: 'Oh my God. This is not quite like the old days.' It was great."

The legacy of the Sonics, captured by singles such as "The Witch," "Psycho," and "Strychnine," not to mention the group's essential second album, 1966's Boom, has reverberated through successive generations, as evidenced by modern revivalists on the order of Black Lips and Austin's the Strange Boys, but none more so than in the Pacific Northwest heyday of the early 1990s.

"I thought that was cool," Roslie says of the year punk broke. "It was a compliment, 'cause some of them said we were an influence, like that one fellow from Nevermind. What's his name again?"

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More The Sonics
Phases & Stages
The Sonics
This Is the Sonics (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, May 1, 2015

More by Austin Powell
What We’re Listening to This Week
What We’re Listening to This Week
New, local platters from Brazos, Fuvk, Discreet, and Eric Hisaw Band

Dec. 30, 2022

Watch This: Balmorhea’s Gorgeous Concert Film, Free for Three Days Only
Watch This: Balmorhea’s Gorgeous Concert Film, Free for Three Days Only
Live in Marfa breathes new life into The Wind

Dec. 1, 2022


The Sonics

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle