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Ready, Set, Grow: The Seeds Get Doc’d

In Culture, Music
SHARP PSYCH: The Seeds, an early garage-psych quartet out of L.A., dressed well and inspired Iggy Pop.

SHARP PSYCH: The Seeds, an early garage-psych quartet out of L.A., dressed well and inspired Iggy Pop.

Some will remember The Seeds as the one-hit AM radio wonders responsible for “Pushin’ Too Hard,” a 1966 pop song about a girl who needs to back off. The tune is thick with the political anxieties of the time and in his new documentary, The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard, director Neil Norman attempts to demonstrate that The Seeds are much more than this one tune.

Collecting interviews from original band members and those who remember the group—including Iggy Pop—Norman explores The Seeds’ forays into psychedelia and the blues recorded with Muddy Waters’ band.

But Norman has a second aim: to honor the legacy of Crescendo Records, an independent label founded by his father, Gene Norman. Crescendo is still releasing collections and archival LPs of The Seeds. Norman will be on hand at Streetlight Records for an official screening of his rockumenary at Camera 3 in San Jose on Monday.

Sources for Pushin’ Too Hard include Norman’s old friend Kim Fowley of The Runaways, Mountain View-raised radio jock Rodney Bingenheimer, Johnny Echols of the band Love, and Iggy, who recalls that The Seeds’ urgent, gravelly sound “gave hope to a simple young musician.”

Norman films a rare reunion of The Seeds’ core, guitarist Jan Savage and the classically trained keyboardist Daryl Hooper. One way to describe The Seeds is as a quartet that sounds like a quintet. Hooper held down the bass end of the bass-guitar-free band on his distorted electric Wurlitzer. Drummer Rick Andridge, who died in 2011, phones in his memories. Norman confides that Andridge “later lost his marbles … but he could still play the drums anyway.”

Missing in action is lead vocalist Sky Saxon. Born Richard Marsh and raised Mormon, the rock star had planned to become a deacon. He moved to L.A., changed his name, and rode a short-lived wave of success. A casualty of LSD, Saxon traded away his songbook for an airline ticket to Hawaii to join his religious commune, The Source Family. Saxon did get a second act at last, touring as a revival act before his death in 2009.

Now it’s Norman who is on tour with his film, from Seattle to Brooklyn. He’s particularly pleased to make it to Silicon Valley, because of his gratitude for a handy iPhone that caught footage of the revived Seeds when a camera on scene failed.

‘The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard’
Jul 24, 7pm, $15
Camera 3, San Jose
gnpcrescendo.com/pth

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