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The Sonics' Rob Lind Gives Us The Skinny On Their New Album

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 22, 2015 4:00PM

photo credit - Merri Sutton

The Sonics broke new ground with a raw and aggressive sound when they released their first single, "The Witch" backed with "Psycho" back in 1964. It laid the groundwork for garage, punk, metal, grunge and any other hard-hitting, gut-punching form of rock 'n' roll you can imagine. The band from Tacoma, Washington released two subsequent LPs, Here Are The Sonics (1965) and Boom (1967) before splitting in 1969. Now The Sonics are back, heading to Thalia Hall Friday night hot off the heels of their new album, This Is The Sonics.

After The Sonics split, they performed just a handful of reunion shows in the 1970s. It wasn't until 2007 when original members guitarist Larry Parypa, keyboardist Jerry Rosalie and saxophonist Rob Lind put The Sonics back together with Dusty Watson on drums and Freddie Dennis on bass for a showcase at the CaveStomp Festival in New York City. Soon after, the band got gigs booked in London and they have been touring Europe regularly since. The Sonics have played a few shows in the states, but this is the band's first coast to coast U.S. tour—ever. We caught up with Rob Lind to talk about the tour and the new album.

"In the '60s we were kind of trapped in the Northwest," he said. "In those days we were pretty much restricted to four states and British Columbia."

"There were a lot of bands in the Northwest in those days," Lind continued. "Everybody wanted to be in a rock band and everybody was putting bands together. The biggest hope you had was to get a gig, maybe at the Episcopal church for like $50 and free burgers. We were all trapped in Northwest. The only ones to really get out and go national were The Ventures and to all of us they were just huge."

"So for us, this tour is the first legitimate U.S. tour we've done," Lind told us with excitement. "We've played the U.S. since we got back together in 2007. We've played New York three or four times. We've played Seattle, L.A., San Diego. Last winter we went to Chicago, Minneapolis and Cleveland and those were fun shows."

The new album is pretty much what you'd expect from The Sonics. It's raw and rocking and has a lot of the same urgent intensity and fire from the band's previous efforts.

"It's funny you use that word, 'fire,'" Lind said. "That was one of the first things [producer] Jim Diamond said to us when we met. He came out to Seattle about week early. Jim was taking notes when he said his goal was capture the energy and fire from those early records without copying it, so that's a real testament to Jim."

2015.04.22.sonicscvr.jpg Lind said as The Sonics continued to tour Europe and find success there, the show was getting a little stale while playing the same old material. So the band decided to record a new album to breathe new life into their live set.

"We got a new manager and when we told him about our plan to make a record the first thing he said was, 'Well, we've got Jim Diamond,'" Lind said. "I'll be honest, I had never heard of him before. I had no idea who the guy was."

They teamed up and got together at Jack Endino's Soundhouse Studio in Seattle, Washington and Lind said making this record was a completely new experience.

"We were in the studio and Jim worked for two hours just picking out microphones," he said. "I had never seen anybody do that before. He'd say to the engineer, Jack Endino, 'Do you have any more mics in the house?' The studio is right behind Jack's house, so he'd go in the house and came back with a blue milk crate full of microphones and Jim started picking through those."

It was a far cry from the band's studio efforts in '60s, where record label managers kept the band moving through the songs to crank out an album.

"We'd do a take and they'd say, 'O.K. let's move along.'" Lind said. "We'd say, 'Well, we could play that better,' but they didn't care. "Have Love, Will Travel" might be one of best-known songs, but what you hear is what we did in one take. We played it once and kept moving along."

Although the attitude in making an album changed, Lind said a lot the techniques were the same. The band laid down a track live in the studio with Diamond, then went back and added vocal tracks and solos just like they did in the '60s.

"That was Jim's idea," Lind said. "Most of the album, other than the creative aspects of it, was Jim's idea."

But Lind said he enjoyed working with Diamond on the album.

"Not only is he a great producer, but he's a great musician as well," Lind said. "He's a great guitar player and a good keyboard player, so he can talk the talk and walk the walk, too. When he told you to do something, he really knew what he was talking about and did a little to make all of us, individually, better musicians. He'd always say, 'We've got to make this nasty. It's got to be nastier,' and he'd show us how do it."

The Sonics legacy continued to grow after the band split up, but when it was time to make a new album, Lind said there was no trepidation of tarnishing that legacy that had been built. That hurdle already had been cleared.

"Well, now you're taking us back to 2007," he explained. "We were pressed to play New York in 2005 but initially we said ,'No, we don't play anymore.' Larry was in insurance. I was a US Airlines pilot. We all had our own thing. But Larry, Jerry and I started talking and relearning playing and singing the songs and we made a deal. We kind of circled the 2007 CaveStomp on the calendar and said, 'We've got a good legacy, so if we can do it and do a good job, then let's play it.'"

"We didn't want to get on stage and look pathetic," he continued. "We didn't want people folding their arms, looking at us and saying, 'This is sad. This used to be a really good band.'"

Lind said the band is playing with a lot of energy and is in top form, ready to take on the world again.

"This is something Larry likes to say, so I've got give him credit for it," Lind said. "Sometimes we get - not sarcasm or a sneer - but a little agism when people ask, 'How can guys at your age still rock?' Well Larry will tell them, 'You come backstage after the show and ask me then. Go ahead.'"

"We just go out there and play hard, man," Lind said. "And doesn't matter where we're playing. We could be playing for 25,000 people in Barcelona or to a 200 capacity club in Tokyo. We're going to play the same way. We're just going t take those songs and play 'em hard."

The Sonics perform with Barrence Whitfield and the Savages on Friday, April 24, at Thalia Hall, 1807 S Allport St, 9:30 p.m., $25 advance, $28 at the door, 17+