© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Your local backstage pass to Northeast Ohio’s music scene. Get to know the talented musicians and community influencers in our backyard.

Shuffle: What Do You Get When You Blend Ukulele With Rock? The Sonder Bombs' Uke-Punk

The Sonder Bombs
Alisha Uguccini
The Sonder Bombs are a "uke-punk" band getting ready to record their first debut album

A young band is introducing a new sound to Northeast Ohio. The Sonder Bombs’ ukulele-driven rock songs are attracting a growing fan base in the Cleveland area. For this week’s Shuffle, WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz talked to lead singer and ukulele player, Willow Hawks. 

The Sonder Bombs formed in 2015 when 21-year-old Hawks met guitarist Jimmy Wilkens at a concert. And for a while, it was just the two of them.

"We jammed a few times and just clicked. It was a connection that we never really had with other musicians." Wilkens helped Hawks record her song End of My Daze. They posted it to their Facebook page and started getting interest.

Early last year, Hawks and Wilkens added bassist Jake Stephens and drummer Eric Heald.

The Sonder Bombs' unique sound is driven by Hawks on the ukulele. She says she took up the instrument in high school. As a result, the band describes its sound as "uke-punk" -- punk alterative music that's written by Hawks on ukulele. 

Hawks says she's received a lot of criticism for playing the instrument.

"When I was first starting, especially dudes would be like, 'You have to pick up a guitar if you want to write real songs.' I feel like there is a stigma around it not being a serious instrument."

In December, The Sonder Bombs released the single Switzerland, that Hawks says is about escaping to a safer place. 

"It's about personal at-home problems combined with the social and political climate of the 2016 elections. And, Switzerland is a neutral country," Hawks says. 

In the next couple weeks, they'll be recording the rest of their first full-length album.   

A welcoming music scene
Hawks says she has no plans of escaping Northeast Ohio anytime soon. She says she likes the welcoming vibe of the music scene here. 

"It's constantly growing with new artists coming in and out, so you get to meet a lot of people. There are a lot of cities that are pretty exclusive and me and Jimmy have had a pretty easy time. I think we're definitely very lucky that people have responded the way they have to our music."

The Sonder Bombs have a handful of concert dates over the next month, including Jan. 13 at Wax Bodega and Brite Winter Festival Feb. 24. 


Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.