The Sonics are currently in the midst of an unprecedented resurgence that’s seen the legendary Northwest rockers return to action after a 40-year hiatus. Since reforming in 2007, the fabled Tacoma, Washington-bred outfit has decisively reestablished itself as a vital recording unit and as a peerless, in-demand live act. In the process, they’ve earned a fanatically devoted audience of new fans too young to have heard the band during its original ’60s heyday.
The Sonics recently entered an exciting new chapter in their storied history, unveiling a retooled band lineup that teams original member Rob Lind (saxophone and harmonica) and longtime Sonics Freddie Dennis (bass and vocals) and Dusty Watson (drums) with a pair of new 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). Founding members Gerry Roslie and Larry Parypa have chosen to step back from the rigors of touring, but remain a part of the Sonics family, and plan on continuing to contribute to the Sonics’ future recordings.
The new-look Sonics already have a good deal of stage experience under their collective belt, and continue to thrill old and new fans with the same raw, raucous intensity upon which the band’s reputation is built. They’ll continue their ongoing roadwork in March, with eagerly anticipated performances in Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto and Detroit.
Reflecting upon the Sonics’ recent evolution, Lind comments, “As anyone in a touring band will tell you, touring is an arduous undertaking. When you get to be our age it’s a constant battle to get enough rest and learning how to perform when completely exhausted and then getting up the next day and doing it all over again. About eighteen months ago, Gerry decided he just couldn’t do it anymore, and he reluctantly stepped away. It was basically the same story with Larry; he just didn’t want to leave home and travel any longer. But they’re working on material for our next album and will join us in the studio.
“Dusty and Freddie have now been in the Sonics longer than the originals, and I’ve come to think of them as originals,” Lind continues, adding, “We were so incredibly lucky to find Jake Cavaliere and Evan Foster. They both were brought up on Sonics music and have been playing it since they were young boys, so they didn’t have to be taught anything. They already knew the sound that was required to be in this band. Jake and Evan were Sonics long before they ever played with us, and their transition has been easy and totally seamless.”
In their original 1963-1967 run, the Sonics — who were recently named the best garage band of all time by Time Out New York — won a reputation for their primal, propulsive sound, exemplified by 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, but their local popularity kept them from touring much outside of their home turf, limiting their national exposure. But their recordings — including the now-classic albums Here Are the Sonics and Boom — have remained a key influence for multiple generations of younger combos, and the Sonics’ mystique only grew stronger in the years that the band was inactive.
After turning down countless reunion-show offers over the years, the Sonics finally agreed to reform for a pair of revelatory shows in New York in 2007. Since then, the band has toured throughout the United States, headlining their own shows as well as a pair of tours with high-profile Sonics fan Robert Plant. They’ve also been rapturously received on a series of overseas jaunts, performing for adoring crowds in the U.K., Europe, Australia, Scandinavia and Central America. They also reactivated their recording career, recruiting noted producer Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Dirtbombs) to record This Is the Sonics, their first album of new material in nearly half a century.
Fans and critics alike have enthusiastically embraced the Sonics’ new lineup, noting that the band’s original sound and swagger are still fully intact. For instance, a reviewer for Rock NYC noted, “The energy got to the roof at the first song ... the youthful exuberance was intact and the rawness and explosion of rock and roll that followed was simply astonishing ... All the songs were played with a furious and sweaty energy.” Australia’s I-94 Bar said, “The Sonics as we saw them tonight held their own and were a powerful representation of the original ... There’s a wealth of power and talent up there.”
Thu., March 23 CHICAGO, IL Reggies
Fri., March 24 CLEVELAND OH Beachland
Sat., March 25 TORONTO, ONT Danforth Music Hall
Sun., March 26 DETROIT, MI El Club
Thu., April 6 HOUSTON, TX The Continental
Fri., April 7 DALLAS, TX Gas Monkey
Sat., April 8 AUSTIN, TX Rod and Custom Round Up
Sun., April 9 AUSTIN, TX The Continental
Thur., May 18 ATLANTA, GA Masquerade
Fri., May 19 CHARLOTTE, NC Neigborhood Theater
Sat., May 20 NASHVILLE, TN Muddy Roots Fest