Three years ago, family tragedy thrust Sonny Vincent from being a cult New York punk legend into the role of full-time carer.
Based in Europe for two decades from where he prolifically recorded and toured, he was suddenly pulled back to the USA by a home gas explosion and fire that left his son, daughter-in-law and grandson on life support in a North Carolina hospital.
Sonny’s family has survived but his music is on indefinite hold. Day-to-day life now revolves around his 12-year-old grandson Cayden, still undergoing skin grafts while trying to live the life of a schoolboy. Sonny hasn’t picked up a guitar since that fateful night and has been existing on donations.
Ultramafic: An igneous rock with a very low silica content and rich in minerals such as hypersthene, augite, and olivine.
This is a short run of 12-inch vinyl, each copy with its own bespoke, hand-painted artwork. They were put together for a series of art exhibitions in Switzerland, New York City, Holland, Germany and France about 10 years ago. It will look great on your wall and sound devastating on your turntable.
The music was recorded by Sonny Vincent and various bands from 1976 onwards – much of it in tiny studios while on endless tours of Europe and the USA. Some of it has been heard in other versions.
The line-ups include Vincent’s Max’s and CBGB staples, Testors, as well as members of Rocket From The Crypt, Sonic Youth, The Damned, the Stooges, Dead Boys, the Velvet Underground. There’s even an appearance by Ernie Knapp, a guy who drummed for Charles Manson as well as the Beach Boys (I shit you, not.) Don’t expect polish. It’s all uncompromisingly raw, but always passionate.
Don’t let its diminutive size lull you into thinking this book is in any way insubstantial. It’s pocket-sized so you can carry it on your person - like a concealed weapon.
Punk survivor Sonny Vincent’s first formal foray into being A Published Author packs a hefty punch in its 91 pages. Is it a memoir, a collection of prose or a bunch of musings from a hyperactive, creative mind? All of the above.
It’s not just punk rock and roll. “Snake Pit Therapy” bounces from childhood rejections of authority to tripped-out excursions around a dry-cleaning shop (‘You get $100 a day and all the cocaine you can snort,” read the note on the laundromat’s bulletin board’.)
There’s a bizarre vignette (“My Evil Little Krishna”) arguing with itself in the finest post-modern style, an ode to formica and an impenetrable prayer. There’s a story of a doomed smalltown newspaper run scam.
You also get to hear about pulling one over ex-Velvets member Sterling Morrison on a road-trip around Europe and going to therapy with onetime-Replacements guitarist Bob Stinson. You find out why Scott Asheton was not just a Stooge but also one of nature’s gentlemen.
Ever wonder what it was like to crawl through the decaying underbelly of downtown New York City’s punk scene with Max’s Kansas City and CBGB as your musical playgrounds? Sonny Vincent opens the window on that and gives us all a whiff – so inhale hard. Nobody will see those days again.
Sonny’s writing is a mirror image of his music: Urgent, aggressive and propelled by a passion for music, and pent-up energy.
You can smell Burroughs in the way chapters of “Snake Pit Therapy” become an evolving stream of consciousness with bubbles of sharp humour bobbing about on top. And just when you think you have the man’s format nailed, an odd passage of abstract prose will jump out at you like a mugger on an Alphabet City alley.
Eternal punk rock outsider Sonny Vincent is re-emerging after years off to manage the fall-out of a family tragedy with a new group, The Limit, comprising members of the Stooges, Pentagram and infamous Portugese metal band Dawnrider, Their album "Caveman Logic",comprising Vincent-penned songs,will be released via Finnish labelSvart Records on April 9 and can be pre-ordeered here.
For the unitiated, Sonny Vincent is a proflific solo artist and played with culy CBGB and Max's Kansas City band Testorsas well as people like Scottand Ron Asheton, Bobby Stinson, Spencer P Jonesand Mo Tucker. Vincent is joined by Pentagram singer Bobby Liebling, singer and main-man of Pentagram, Jimmy Recca(the Stooges, and New Order),guitaristHugo Conim on Guitar and João Pedro Ventura on dums
Some would hide their earliest bands’ recordings in a dark place and hope nobody found them. Thankfully, not Sonny Vincent.
As one of the last New York punks still standing, Sonny Vincent criminally remains a well-kept secret. The music he’s made under his own name, and with a string of bands - most notably, Max’s Kansas City and CBGB graduates, Testors - is some of the best primal sound around. This collection of songs from his pre-punk bands, spanning 1969-72, does nothing to detract from that track record.