Back from the garage

Sonic Love Affair returns for another fling

Garage rock’s odd ducks are still in.

Garage rock’s odd ducks are still in.

photo courtesy of sonic love affair

Catch Sonic Love Affair at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Hideaway, 2565 Franklin Boulevard. Tickets are $7. For more information, visit

There was a time in the ’90s and early 2000s when being in a garage or surf band most likely meant you wore wacky, themed outfits and played an amped-up tongue-in-cheek homage to the slew of ’60s lo-fi, teenage psych-rock bands.

Locals Sonic Love Affair jumped into this scene in 2002 and played nearly every weekend in either San Francisco or Sacramento for about five years; still, they always felt like odd ducks.

“We didn’t wear matching pants or boots. It was more like T-shirts-and-jeans-rock,” says drummer Jerry Fiore.

Other area garage-punkers admired the band’s explosive, high voltage, punk-tinged sound, including Rob Alper, who joined Sonic Love Affair in 2004 as its lead guitarist.

“SLA shows were unhinged, in-your-face, straight up fuzz ’n’ roll,” says Alper.

The band reigned as local headliners, and in San Francisco often opened for bigger garage acts—old and new.

In 2007, however, the band took an extended hiatus, playing only the occasional reunion show—including a 10-year anniversary show in 2012 that drew a packed house to Luigi’s Fun Garden, a feat that surprised even the band.

“We had no idea if anyone still even cared,” says the SLA bassist Rudge of the commemorative gig. “We didn’t promote it, but people came out.”

Now SLA’s got another show, this one scheduled for Saturday, April 4, at the Hideaway, which marks another special event. This time it’s for the release of a new compilation the band is featured on: Sweet Times—Volume 3. The collection, released via the German label Who Can You Trust? Records, is a four-band 7-inch compilation that also features the San Diego band Wild Honey, who will open the Hideaway show.

The SLA song for this comp was taken from a 2007 recording session that got shelved when the band took a break. The hiatus was logistical: singer Dylan Rogers had moved to San Diego and Rudge moved to Seattle.

The band members’ far-flung addresses proved challenging when it came to playing shows, much less practicing. SLA was, after all, used to rehearsing a couple of times a week. A little sloppiness may be part of the shtick for many garage bands, but the musicians in Sonic Love Affair say they always wanted to sound their best.

“We covered a lot of the same songs [as the other garage bands],” Fiore says. “If we did a song … that traditionally had a one-guitar-string solo, our [version would] have much more layers.”

It wasn’t just ’60s garage that influenced them. The band’s always been open to various groups: the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bo Diddley and the Flamin’ Groovies.

If Sonic Love Affair follows a single creed, it’s just to play it loud.

“I just think of the MC5, just how loud they were and how it just sounded good. I think if we played it at a lower volume it wouldn’t have that same impact,” says guitarist Curtis Franklin.

The group approaches its upcoming show with excitement, but also with a little bit of nervousness. Rudge has since moved back to Sacramento but with Rogers still living in San Diego, it hasn’t been easy to get in a fair amount of rehearsal. All the same, they’ve played so much over the years, the songs remain ingrained in their minds.

“SLA is pretty much the same band that it always was: a group of friends who love to play loud rock ’n’ roll together,” Alper says. “We’re like a family; a family that drinks beer, screams about love and pain at top volume.”