The birth of punk?

by Joe Kellen

First things first: R.I.P. Tommy.

All of this talk about The Ramones is stirring up memory lane trips for music critics and authentic punkers alike. As one of the first big names in punk, the Ramones get a lot of praise for pushing the genre into the pop culture headspace. Though, like most pioneers, Tommy, Joey, DeeDee and Johnny had influences to light the way, one of the most overlooked being the Sonics.

Who the hell are the Sonics? Throw this track on and get acquainted.

Straight out of Tacoma, Wash., the Sonics played simple, loud and fast. Emerging in the early 1960s, their recordings sound remarkably ahead of their time. Taking a listen to the 1965 debut “Here Are the Sonics” feels as raw and gritty as any punk record, though it’s clear the band was taking cues from rock’n’roll contemporaries like the Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders. The Sonics conjoined pop hooks with the wild howls of vocalist Gerry Roslie to create the two-headed rock zombie that would go on to inspire groups as diverse as The Flaming Lips and LCD Soundsystem.

Since their disbandment in 1968, they’ve reunited several times, but they’ve never maintained the consistency they did in the ‘60s. Their legacy carries on, though, in the historical undercurrent that affects what punk is and will be.

Keep it DIY, folks.