The Sonics are seen as one of the early punk bands in the United States. Though they did not last long their music did make an impression and influenced many other musicians. Jordan Albertsen (The Standard), who, along with his father, is a fan of the band, has put together this documentary illustrating their beginnings, short time together and how fifty years later they have become popular again.
In 1960 in the smaller city of Tacoma, Washington, which has been dubbed the Pittsburgh of the Northwest, five friends got together to start playing music. Bob Bennett (drums), Rob Lind, Andy Parypa, Larry Parypa (guitar), and Jerry Rosalie (keyboards/vocals) started playing gigs. Then as they went on they wanted to record some of their material. For this, they turned to Etiquette Records. There they recorded their first single, “The Witch”.
The song began to be played on radio. Having a different and heavier sound than most people were used to hearing some called the music devil music. While many more really enjoyed what they heard. People gravitated towards The Sonics because their music was like nothing they had heard before.
As their popularity kept growing they looked to recording a second album. Like many bands, personalities began to clash and fighting amidst the members began. Bob left the band and then Rob left to join the Air Force. Larry left to work in insurance. So the Sonics ceased to be.
Even though their time together was short lived, The Sonics had quite an impact. They are credited with beginning a rock movement in Seattle. They were cult heroes in the Northwest. Younger musicians from that area were influenced by their sound. Bands such as Pearl Jam and Mudhoney cite The Sonics as an influence. The Sonics, even though their music was not distributed there, also became popular in England. So bands like the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and Beatles even mentioned them.
All this was going on without the band members being aware of it. The five were all still friends, but not as close as they had once been. A fellow Seattle musician named John “Buck” Ormsby was insistent that the world know about The Sonics. So he brought them to England himself. Super fan? More like determined man. Due to his push reunions offers kept coming in to the members in the 1990s and 2000s. The Sonics ended up touring for eight years. Then due to health issues Jerry could no longer tour. Unfortunately buck died in 2016.
Amazing story which will appeal to music fans of all ages. The underdog type story of a band which had an amazing influence on music itself. They helped to bring a different sound, a sound which would go on to be called punk rock, to the world.
This is not your typical rock music documentary. It is one imbued with a ton of emotion and is rather intimate. Jordan’s personal connection to the band really comes through. It really illustrates how music is not just about the music, but about the communities it forges.
Another great aspect of the documentary is the father-son link. How director Jordan Albertsen and his father bonded over their love of The Sonics. A father bringing music he loved to his son and them being fans together is a rather heartwarming subtext to what is going on here. His love for the band and their music inspired him to make this film. To get their story told.