The Sonics were a member of the wave of Pacific Northwest American garage rock groups in the early and mid-1960s, pioneered by The Kingsmen and The Wailers . Among The Sonics' other contemporaries were The Drastics, The Dynamics, The Regents, and Paul Revere & the Raiders. This movement is credited with founding Seattle's well-known music scene which survives to the present.
The Sonics' sound is noticeably rougher, cruder, and more brutal than that of their musical peers. Although they had a fairly standard instrumental line up for the time, The Sonics made their unique sound with wild arrangements, often disturbing lyrics, peppered with screaming and howling, and electric guitars played through amplifiers customized to achieve the harshest tones possible. Although their chief period of success was coincident with the release of Gibson's first fuzzbox, The Sonics' fuzzy sound was their own creation.
The songs they played were a mixture of garage rock standards ("Louie, Louie", "Have Love, Will Travel"), early rock and roll ("Jenny, Jenny") and original compositions such as "Strychnine", "Psycho", and "The Witch", all based upon simple chord sequences, played hard and fast.
The lyrics of The Sonics' original material dealt with early '60s teenage culture; cars, guitars, surfing, and girls (in songs like "The Hustler" and "Maintaining My Cool") alongside darker subject matter such as drinking strychnine for kicks, witches, psychopaths, and Satan (in the songs "Strychnine", "The Witch", "Psycho", and "He's Waiting", respectively).