Formed in 1984, innovative Sonoma County punk band Victims Family is a cornerstone of the North Bay hardcore scene. Their eclectic, genre-bending sound and politically charged lyrics inspired a generation of music lovers, and though the band only performs sporadically these days, they’re never far from the minds of their legion of fans.
For Victims Family drummer and Petaluma native Tim Solyan, who joined founding members Ralph Spight and Larry Boothroyd in 1990, the band’s music “is timeless. The old fans want to hear every inch of every song, and we give every inch of every moment. It’s always a joy.”
On Sept. 9, Victims Family plays a benefit concert for longtime Sonoma County resident and musician Guthrie Lowe at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. Lowe is best known in Sonoma County music circles as the guitarist for punk band Insanity Puppets, whose heyday in the late 1980s and throughout the ’90s coincided with Victims Family’s rise in the U.S. and Europe.
“Insanity Puppets were awesome, they were super–punk rock,” Solyan says.
Over the course of Insanity Puppets’ 12-year run, the band moved from an aggressively punk sound to a more melodic groove-based aesthetic, not unlike Victims Family’s diverse range of rock.
“They used to play gigs all around Sonoma County, and Victims Family and Insanity Puppets really bonded in that time. Guthrie’s just a good old friend of mine,” Solyan says.
Last year, Lowe, who now lives in Sacramento, suffered a major loss when his wife died suddenly due to complications from lupus. In the wake of that heartbreak, he is faced with financial hardships while raising his two teenage children.
Funds from the Sept. 9 concert will go directly to Lowe and his family. “This is 100 percent the finest example of Sonoma County musicians helping each other,” Lowe says. “It’s a testament to this special scene of exceptional bands and exceptional people.”
Joining Victims Family at the show is a slew of other veteran local bands, including metal heads Skitzo, who turn 35 this year, and Santa Rosa hardcore outfits Slandyr and Snag. Also on the bill is Black Sabbath tribute band Electric Funeral and Judas Priest tribute band Judas Thieves.
“The Phoenix Theater is where I grew up,” Solyan says. “For me, any time I can set up my drums on the stage at the Phoenix and play for people it’s a special moment. To be able to do it to help a friend out is going to be even more spectacular.”