I’ve been on a mental Gabber tip recently, but the sun is making the occasional appearance and summer always gets me back on the punk. Takes me back to my yoof. So inbetween some kicking Dutch hardcore and dirty Terror, I remembered a band I used to quite like in my teens, namely, the New Bomb Turks. I remember that around the time they and some other bands, like the Backyard Babies and Groop Dogdrill were being described as “punk ‘n’ roll”. I can see why they were desperate to coin a new genre, firstly because this stuff isn’t in the rockabilly tradition, other bands had that covered quite nicely and secondly, everyone wants to be the smart-arse who coins a new phrase. Look at Brit-Pop for an example.
It all made sense to me, however, upon discovering The Sonics.
The Sonics were an American garage band mostly active in the sixties, and good God did they make a racket. Listening to their music now, it is of its era, but still feels vital. Like it’s a secret seven-inch put out last week. Some people have credited The Sonics as being the first punk band, they beat Iggy and the Ramones, but if you think about it, they were actually just continuing the Delta Blues ethos, albeit with the new technology of amps and Fuzzboxes.
What I mean by that is that The Sonics had the same attitude as the original blues acts. It was all about the music. It was only about the music. Which I think is the reason they wrote songs like no-one else at the time. They just wrote what they thought about, what they knew, they weren’t trying to be subversive, they just were. Listen to that last link. That’s a dirty, sludgy sound….exactly what you hear on early Delta records, and what you then hear on proto-punk recordings.
The Sonics were obsessed with getting a live sound down, so much so that they ripped the sound-proofing off the walls of one studio they recorded in.
You can hear the influence of The Sonics right up to this day. I’ll bet my bollocks to a barn dance that The Hives have a few Sonics records around the house. Jack White without a doubt. Other bands that have a touch of The Sonics in them, maybe not musically but certainly in “general feel” are Zeke and the awesome, awesome Turbonegro.
Get hold of some Sonics. But don’t trust me, trust Kurt Cobain who said The Sonics “had the most amazing drum sound I ever heard”.
Mind you…it would be wrong to end an article on garage without this.