Rob Lind's pilot life was "an all-encompassing kind of occupation."
In the late ’60s, Rob Lind joined the Navy and became an aircraft-carrier pilot. He flew in the Vietnam War, and he followed his love of aviation into a long career as a commercial pilot for USAir. The service in Vietnam was mere years after a different sort of tour of duty — serving as the saxophone player for legendary Tacoma, Washington, garage-rockers the Sonics. Besides the odd moment, such as an impromptu stage appearance playing with a Filipino rock and roll band at Clark Air Base, Lind basically abandoned performing rock and roll for over three decades.
“Flying jet airplanes, whether it’s military or airline, is an all-encompassing kind of an occupation,” Lind explained. “I didn’t have any time or thought energy to do anything else other than that. Doing that for a living is almost like going to law school or something. It’s constant study. Constant rules and regulations. Constant concentration.”
So by the time promoters started poking around the Sonics camp around 2005 to see if the band would be into reunion shows, there was a bit of a problem. Besides the fact that all four of the original members lived in different cities, guitarist Larry Parypa hadn’t picked up his instrument for 30 years.
“I hadn’t touched my sax in the same amount of time. I didn’t even know where it was,” Lind said.
The Sonics on KEXP
Eventually, three of the original members devised a plan. They would practice intensively for one year, and if the end result didn’t seem like something that would ruin their legacy, they would start to accept gigs. Twelve months later, feeling confident in their ability to deliver the rock, the Sonics signed on for Brooklyn’s Cavestomp Festival in 2007. The group hasn’t let up since, and Lind is even hoping to start recording a new album this fall.
In a rather ironic twist, locals attending garage-rock shows over the years at the Casbah may have been present while a legend of the genre was guiding a 737, 727, 757, or an Airbus to a safe landing just to the west of them.
“We used to joke in the airline business that when you go down that hill in a cockpit of an airliner you go right by this parking garage. We used to say, ‘Jeez, a guy could hand you a ham sandwich from that parking garage to the window as you go by,’” Lind said.