Three words: My … Bloody … Valentine

I only started hearing about this a few days ago, and then a friend sent me the link last night, and now it’s, well, real.

Tickets are on sale in the UK as of this morning for the return of My Bloody Valentine. The word in from Pitchfork:

People, it’s on. Dust off your tremolo pedals, don your best pair of kicks, and get ready to gaze like its 1991. The time has come to announce a return to the live stage for a little band called My Bloody Valentine.

The news comes fresh off Kevin Shields’ confirmation that the massively influential shoegazers are indeed back together, and follows months of speculation about a MBV live return ….

…. And if Shields wasn’t pulling a fast one last week, we have plenty more to look forward to from the Valentines in 2008. Actually, we’re supposed to get a new album this year, but seeing as it’s mid-November already, we won’t be too terribly shocked if that doesn’t happen. Apparently another disc is in the works too.

It’s too early, as I understand it, to speculate about when or if this reunion will bring MBV across the pond to save us all from … er, uh … you know, most days I like the fact that I don’t pay attention to the Top 40. But it really sucks when you’re left pulling for a joke. Save us from … uh … Daughtry? Sure, okay. Um, seriously, I only know that name because I saw it on the Puyallup Fair marquee in September. And I was dumb enough to be curious about who that was. Ye gads. Shite, he was on American Idol? Well, that explains it. (See? There are advantages to not paying attention to what’s popular.)

So, yeah. With at least one new album on the way—I hear it’s been waiting to be finished for a while—we can at least hope.

More on The Sonics

The verdict appears to be in. The Sonics unquestionably rock. Many thanks to Peg, whose note reminded me that there is no time like the present to follow up on the potential return of one of garage rock’s pioneer troupes. I’m so late to the party that all I can do at this point is tick off potential venues and wait for the good news.

Ernest A. Jasmin is tracking the return of The Sonics over at Bring the Noise (@, including some interviews, notes on band history, and video from Cavestomp. There is also a great picture of Jerry Roslie, circa 1968.

After my A1 reunion story ran last Friday, I started getting calls from the friends and family of drummer Mitch Jaber saying he should have gotten a mention. The guy’s sister pointed out that the album cover for the album “The Savage Young Sonics” was shot in their Lakewood home. And she alluded to other band members that had come and gone before the lineup we all know and love solidified around 1963. So I went straight to the source for clarification.

“If you wanna go back far enough, my mother was our first guitar player,” Parypa said with a chuckle.

No way. Really? Your mother? Awesome. (Take that, Kenny Loggins!)

So … right. Um … come on, guys … please? Larry, if I have to, I’ll come track you down and get on my knees and beg. Get up there and kick our asses.

The Sonics

This is interesting.

Forty years. That’s how long it’s been since Gerald “Jerry” Roslie left Tacoma’s most cryptic – and some would argue most influential – garage rock band.

So it was understandable when the 63-year-old rocker – the sole Sonic who still lives in Tacoma – admitted to having butterflies about this weekend’s comeback gigs.

The reunited Sonics will play New York’s Cavestomp festival Friday night and Sunday, with Roslie rekindling the fiery howl that powered “The Witch,” “Boss Hoss” and other oft-imitated garage classics. And during a recent phone interview, the reclusive singer sounded just a tad apprehensive.

“Oh man, you have no idea,” he said, chuckling heartily. “You know, it’s been a long time, and you just don’t know how people are gonna take it. Maybe after we do the first few songs some of the butterflies will leave.”

Roslie will be joined at Brooklyn’s Warsaw music venue by guitarist Larry Parypa, sax player Rob Lind and possibly drummer Bob Bennett from his band’s original lineup. Northwest journeymen Ricky Lynn Johnson and Don Wilhelm will play drums and bass, respectively. But original bassist Andy Parypa – a teacher who lives in Seattle – will not participate because of carpal tunnel problems, according to brother Larry.

And it’s about damn time. I actually used to work with Larry Parypa. It’s not like we were close, or anything. But I did ask him once about a picture at his desk, and he told me it was him with The Sonics, and so the first thing I did when I got home after work that day was dig through my brother’s enormous record collection in search of these albums I’d never heard. And, of course, my first reaction was, “Why have I not heard more of these guys over they years?”

This was around 1999, a couple years after Sam Machkovech‘s scare–

I’m talking about the return of the best thing to happen to Tacoma since glass-blowing—The Sonics, the band whose “Psycho” and “The Witch” rekindled my interest in rock ‘n’ roll right around the time of The Great Electronica Scare Of 1997. Thank you, Nuggets sampler CD at the used music store down the block. You saved me from Decks and Drums and Rock and Roll.

–but I share the sentiment. Listening to The Sonics for the first time, and I mean actually sitting down and listening to the record, instead of ripping a bong at a friend’s with the music turned low and not paying attention to the tunes, really was a strange, and, yes, refreshing experience. Every once in a while, we get these sorts of reminders. Some who followed the post-Nirvana freakout that happened in the early and mid-90s missed the fact that there was at least a decade’s buildup to that point, and if you follow the sounds back far enough, you run into some pretty strange coincidences. One of the first times I sat and listened to a Motorhead album all the way through, I thought I’d discovered the secret influence that nobody ever talks about. I discovered, naturally, that the reason nobody ever talks about the influence is because it’s just that obvious. Nonetheless, listening to a Sonics album eight years ago, two thoughts struck me. First was that I had, indeed, heard these songs before. The other was that I was suddenly confused as to why nobody ever talked about this gem of Northwest musical history. It could not be that, somehow, nobody knew. Because it was like hearing something I didn’t understand about a bunch of the music from before “grunge” broke big.

Or, as Ernest A. Jasmin‘s article notes:

“They really were this kind of proto-punk rock band,” said Experience Music Project curator Jacob McMurray. “I can imagine at the time (their music) came out, parents of kids that were fans of the Sonics being scared of the Sonics.”

McMurray sees an even more blatant connection to grunge.

“You could listen to (Mudhoney’s) ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick,’ and you compare it to ‘The Witch’ and you know – wow – this could be the same band,” he said.

Still, it took years for the Sonics themselves to realize just how much influence they had.

“We just started seeing stuff a long time ago – Patti Smith and then the Sex Pistols and then Nirvana,” he said. “All these major Seattle groups that are millionaires – and we’re not – they all said that one of their primers of rock ‘n’ roll was listening to the Sonics.”

Roslie said he gets a kick out of checking his royalty statements and seeing where Sonics music is being played – increasingly, places like England, Germany, France and Japan.

“The whole thing has just blown our minds,” he said. “When we quit I thought, ‘Well, that’s it, and (we’ll) go do other things.’ It is really mind-blowing because it’s such a rare thing that somebody’s been out of business for 40 years. So needless to say we’re really pleased, and we realize what a lucky break that is.”

Yeah. It really does run that deep. Once you start hearing it … well, it’s kind of scary. You really should check ’em out if you haven’t already. The Sonics rock.

Or, at least they did. As to the rest, we’ll see. Hear. Whatever.

Welcome back, gentlemen, and good luck. Get up there and kick our asses. Please.