The Seeds

Q&A: 60s Legends The Seeds

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California’s legendary garage-rock/proto-punk band The Seeds, a band most famous for their hit “Pushin’ Too Hard” and for coining the term “Flower Power,” are making a little bit of a comeback these days. The band that’s been credited with influencing artists like Iggy Pop and The Ramones, are currently enjoying a new wave of success in part thanks to their song “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine,” which was featured in the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things.” They’ve also had a documentary made about them entitled “Pushin’ Too Hard,” which was greeted by a sold out audience on its opening night at The Egyptian Theater.

Because of the renewed interest in the iconic band, The Seeds recently reformed with founding member Daryl Hooper and Seeds alumnus, drummer Don Boomer along with Alec Palao on bass, seasoned session guitarist Jeff Prentice, and vocalist dynamic Paul Kopf. They’ll be performing a special show in San Francisco at the DNA Lounge on Sept. 15, and in between rehearsals their drummer Don Boomer took some time to answer a few questions for us.

The Seeds have been credited by many as being the originators of psychedelic garage rock. Did you guys set out to do something different or did the music just come out that way?

Both really. We knew we wanted to make music that wasn’t like anyone else was playing. We wanted it to be entirely our own. There was certainly some influence on us from surf music but mixed with that was the formal musical training that Daryl brought to the band. His keyboard style was probably the most influential element to the Seed’s unique sound. His ability to play left handed keyboard bass really set us apart.

What was your original vision for the band?

Truth be told, probably just like everyone’s vision for their band … have some fun, get some girls and smoke some pot.

How did people first react to the band?

Our first gig was thrown together at a small bar in Santa Monica. We each got paid $7 and all the spaghetti we could eat. Do you remember that scene from “That Thing You Do”?  Well, that was us. Everybody started dancing and the owner hired us back before we finished the night. So we said “Hey, this might just work. Let’s do it again”

After the band broke up, your singer Sky Saxon  joined a commune called “The Source Family.” What did the rest of you do?

Daryl escaped from Hollywood and headed out to live in the country. He had always wanted a little farm where he could have lots of animals (although truth is, they’re all really pets). He started giving kids music lessons and still teaches keys, guitar, and drums in NorCal.

Jan became a real estate salesman in the Los Angeles area but later moved to an Indian reservation in Oklahoma.

Don continued on in music production and had a concert PA company.  He eventually became an engineer and a product designer for some major musical instrument manufacturers.

The Seeds
The Seeds play the DNA Lounge on September 15

You recently came out with the documentary about the band. Were you surprised at the number of people that attended the premiere, and the interest that you guys still generate?

Very gratifying to sell out the theater of course. Rock historian Alec Palao, along with Neil Norman from our old record company, was really the driving force behind the movie. The premiere was the first time we had all been together in decades and it somewhat caught us by surprise. We all started hearing from lots of our friends as well as a number of people in the business pushing us to reform and give the music a voice again. Frankly, we were unprepared and it took a couple of years to put it all together.

Sky and Rick had unfortunately passed but we have an amazing new singer in Paul Kopf from San Francisco, who Sky had actually hand picked years before. Sky caught one of Paul’s shows back in Austin and told him after the show … “If anyone ever had to replace me in the Seeds, it should be you!” If you never got a chance to see the band live but know the music through our records, we always had a bass player on them. So we added Alec to the band so that our stage show could incorporate that element.  Jan currently cannot play with the band for health reasons but we found a great guitarist, Jeff Prentice from LA, who was a big fan of the band and already knew all of Jan’s signature lines so that was a slam dunk.

San Francisco just celebrated the Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary. For people that never lived it, how would you describe it?

If you weren’t there, an explanation just falls short. Rock bands were really coming into their own and San Francisco certainly was one of the greatest contributors in that regard. We played shows in the Bay Area with the Airplane, Quicksilver,  Moby Grape and Country Joe among others. All the kids were into rock bands and music. We had transistor radios!  But it’s hard to put into words the combination of coming-of-age in the late 60’s … a mash up of living in a Cold War world, birth control pills and pot. Wow!

Is it true that you guys coined the term “Flower Power”? If so, can you tell us a little about how that came about?

Well, a lot of people take credit for it, so who really knows. For us, it was a natural progression that started when a group of girls would show up at every one our shows with flowers. Sky dubbed them the “Flower Children.” So when we showed up for a show we became the band with “Flower Power”. It was really just an inside thing and we didn’t think much about it. But then some of the disc jockeys picked up on it and started calling us out over the radio. Once that happened it took on a life of its own.
 
You’re playing the DNA lounge next week in San Francisco. What can fans expect at the show?
 
Well if your a fan of the music, all the songs we’ll be doing are from out first four albums. No drum machines, no pitch correction no backing tracks. We just intend to put it all out there, raw and alive. And while it is no longer for the complete 60’s band to be on stage, our current show is probably the best and most exciting Seeds music that has ever been played. We picked the DNA lounge, where we’ll all be packed in on top of each other, so we could capture as close as possible what a 60’s show felt like if you’d been to Bido Lido’s. We’re gonna sweat for sure so bring flowers.

When you look at the number of bands that have covered and been influenced your music; bands like The Dwarves, Johnny Thunder, The Ramone, the list goes on. In the end, what would you like the band’s legacy to be?

That is really unexpected and humbling. Who knew?  But I think the honesty of the Seeds music, as well as a big number of other 60’s bands, is a big factor in that. We really produced all our own records and that totally changed in the 70’s when music became really a big money business and producers took that power away from the bands.

What do you think of the state of popular music today?

Well, art is still art, business is still business and fun is still fun. We were in it back before it became a big money machine so a lot of us musicians from the 60’s never made big bucks. We’re not big fans of the big production, computer assisted big money acts that are out there. But if you hear something you like then like it. There’s still lots of great new music being made but you may have to search out of the mainstream a bit to find it.

The Seeds play the DNA Lounge Friday, Sept. 15 – Doors @ 8 pm; Show @ 8:30 pm; all ages; $20

An avid Drummer, Photographer, and Blogger whose discography includes albums on Digital Nation (a Steve Vai imprint), Raphael has always kept a pulse on the music in San Francisco. Music in SF serves as an outlet to share his photography and writing for anyone interested in the local San Francisco music scene.

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