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Why I love The Sonics

Tom Furse of The Horrors is bewitched by the raw rock ’n’ roll of the original garage band

© Ben Rowe

The Sonics gave me my first exposure to the garage band mentality: playing other people’s songs, but crazier than they did. When I was at school I had a CD compilation of all the recordings they’d made for the Etiquette label, as teenagers in Washington state back in the 1960s. I would blast them incessantly from a computer in art class. It actually went down okay.

What I loved about it was its raw energy: a man singing for his life every time, and the band playing just as intensely behind him – even when it was a Christmas song.

Tracks like ‘The Witch’ and ‘Strychnine’ are pillars of the garage rock genre, and because the band were fairly prolific (they released two albums – a lot compared to most ’60s garage bands) there’s a lot of material to sink your teeth into. You can get the full view of the aesthetic, as opposed to the little window you get from bands with only one or two surviving tracks.

Later on, bands like The Sonics and The Gruesomes were templates for what The Horrors would become in our early days. One of the first tracks we played and recorded together was ‘The Witch’. It was just within our realm of technical ability, and it was so fun to play that you’d just hammer on through it, whatever was going on.

The Sonics actually ended up asking us to play with them at their first European shows in 2008 – it was one of those weird full circles that happens every so often. I think, like a lot of bands of that era whose careers have had a late resurgence, they were fairly bemused by the whole experience. But they hadn’t lost their fire over the years.

UPPM release the compilation ‘Tom Furse Digs’ on August 7. The Sonics’ new album ‘This Is The Sonics’ is out now.

Previously: Why I love Cocteau Twins

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