This time around we’ll examine some of the legendary forefathers of punk, Tacoma’s own the Sonics. If all was right in the world, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame would have a section devoted to these guys, and if there was a punk hall of fame, these guys would be the cornerstone.
The Sonics were around during a time period when bands did mostly covers or songs that other people wrote through the time when bands started to do mostly originals (they formed in 1960 and broke up at the end of the decade). In this day and age, this still happens more than you would think, although in the punk crowd it’s mostly looked down on (save for a few well selected covers). The Sonics released three LPs during their existence (Here are the Sonics, Boom, and the major label stinker Introducing the Sonics) but there has been a slew of other releases to complement them. It’s best to start with and stick to the first two releases on Etiquette, re-released on Norton, as some of the other stuff can be sappy or of questionable sound quality, but once you dive in I understand if you’ve got to get everything. As with most bands the live stuff can be great to listen to once in a while but it’s also dogged by poor sound quality, which is what kills most live stuff.
Back when Tacoma was a podunk town built around mills and logging and not pills and lattes, the Sonics emerged to play local gigs. They weren’t too outrageous, but had moppy hair and a hipster look. The Beatles emerged but were bested by the Stones, but things hadn’t gotten too wild (at least not in the mainstream – Iggy and the Stooges, for example, were still years off). There had been a tradition of garage and what is now commonly called “frat rock” for a while, and this tradition is from where the Sonics emerged. Read more