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The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard – Santa Fe Pasatiempo

Steve Terrell

Richard Marsh, better known as Sky Saxon, was the singer of the Seeds, one of most important ’60s-garage, proto-punk (and don’t forget flower-power) bands in rock ’n’ roll history. This documentary, directed by Neil Norman, traces the history of Saxon from his early days in Hollywood making quasi-doo-wop singles as “Little Richie Marsh” to the Seeds’ glory days as young gods of Sunset Strip,  and through Saxon’s sudden decline, which former bandmates attribute to a harsh combination of ego and massive ingestion of LSD. But this film is more of a celebration than a behind-the-scene cautionary tale. Former Seeds as well as major fans like Iggy Pop give context to this ultimately heartbreaking, if somewhat predictable rock ‘n’ roll portrait. Norman appears at both screenings.

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RIVERSIDE: The Seeds documentary will take root at Mission Tobacco Lounge (The Press Enterprise)

Article by: VANESSA FRANKO

Film director, musician and record label head Neil Norman spent years looking through people’s attics, poring over tapes, photos and bits of 8mm films, searching for anything he could on influential Southern California rock band the Seeds.

“We took all of the pieces and made a puzzle out of it,” Norman said in a telephone interview earlier this week.

In 2014, seven years after Norman and producer Alec Palao started, they released the fruits of their labor in the form of the documentary, “The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard,” which chronicles the band’s meteoric rise in the 1960s and its influence as well as its demise.

Norman, who directed the documentary, and Palao will be on hand for a screening of the film on Saturday, June 6, at Mission Tobacco Lounge in Riverside.

After the film, there will be a Q&A session and then there will be music from the Sloths, the Woolly Bandits and Vicky and the Vengents.

Growing up, Norman had a front-row seat for the ride of the Seeds. His father had signed the band to record label GNP Crescendo, which Norman now runs. The director remembered hearing the Seeds for the first time when he was 10 or 11.

“I was his adolescent A&R man,” Norman said.

While the first song his father released wasn’t a big hit for the Seeds, there was potential there and “Pushin’ Too Hard” became the band’s signature song, cracking the Top 40. Soon the band landed on “American Bandstand” and ushered in the flower-power movement.

“I saw the girls go crazy,” Norman said.

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‘The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard,’ a documentary about a forgotten mid-’60s rock act, screens May 9 at the Fremont Theater (New Times)

Article by: GLEN STARKEY

Oh, rock ’n’ roll, you never cease to amaze me! From all your pretty 27-year-old corpses to your excesses to your plane crashes to your classic rise and fall stories of ambition, fame, hubris, and the slow spiral into irrelevance, you seem to have an endless supply of cautionary tales.

A new film by musician, composer, actor, and director Neil Norman tells the fantastic, gleeful, tragic tale of 1960s garage rock wunderkinds The Seeds, a band credited with creating the idea of flower power, whose frontman Sky Saxon is the prototypical rock god, who like Icarus, flew too close to the sun and plummeted back to earth in an inglorious heap.

This Saturday, May 9, at 9 p.m., the historic Fremont Theater will screen The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard, a full-length rock ’n’ roll documentary that through archival footage, photos, and recordings—along with contemporary interviews with music biz notables—tells the story of a quartet of young men who spent about 18 glorious months in the spotlight. It’s mostly the story of Sky, née Richard “Richie” Marsh, a sweet Utah-born Mormon kid who went to Hollywood and became bigger than life. It’s also the story about how sometimes personality is enough to transcend marginal talent and launch someone into fame. As Iggy Pop (one of those interviewed) said, like a lot of the best rock performers, Sky couldn’t really sing. He was bigger than mere vocal talent.

Director Neil Norman had a front-row seat to the rise and fall of The Seeds.

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Garage Band Confidential: Watch The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard (Independent.com)

 

Article by: D.J. PALLADINO

If you’re searching for a director with street cred to make a rock-and-roll film about the 1960s garage rock scene, it would be harder to beat Neil Norman’s qualifications. “I used to walk down Sunset Strip with Lenny Bruce when I was a little kid,” said Norman, who recently finished a film about the California proto-psych band The Seeds. I phoned Norman in his “very pastoral” Moorpark home last week to talk about the screening of the film this weekend in Carpinteria. How did Neil rate such a walk on the wild side? “Because of my dad — you know my father had basically five careers,” he explained about his famous papa Gene Norman (93 and still active, thank you very much). Gene’s list of accomplishments spans actor, disc jockey, record producer, label chief of GNP Crescendo Records, and owner of two of the hippest nightclubs in pre-longhaired Hollywood, the Crescendo and the Interlude, where, among other pleasures, son Neil got to see Jimi Hendrix playing as a sideman for Joey “Peppermint Twist” Dee. “I knew even then he was going to be a star,” said Neil. And most of that happened before he got a driver’s license.

If you’re searching for a director with street cred to make a rock-and-roll film about the 1960s garage rock scene, it would be harder to beat Neil Norman’s qualifications. “I used to walk down Sunset Strip with Lenny Bruce when I was a little kid,” said Norman, who recently finished a film about the California proto-psych band The Seeds. I phoned Norman in his “very pastoral” Moorpark home last week to talk about the screening of the film this weekend in Carpinteria. How did Neil rate such a walk on the wild side? “Because of my dad — you know my father had basically five careers,” he explained about his famous papa Gene Norman (93 and still active, thank you very much). Gene’s list of accomplishments spans actor, disc jockey, record producer, label chief of GNP Crescendo Records, and owner of two of the hippest nightclubs in pre-longhaired Hollywood, the Crescendo and the Interlude, where, among other pleasures, son Neil got to see Jimi Hendrix playing as a sideman for Joey “Peppermint Twist” Dee. “I knew even then he was going to be a star,” said Neil. And most of that happened before he got a driver’s license.

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Documentary: Revisit The Seeds Nov. 8 at La Paloma in Encinitas (Seaside Courier)

Article by: Jen Van Tieghem

While Millennials may not recognize The Seeds’ band name on sight, current generations of music-makers and fans undoubtedly feel their effect. Contemporary rockers ooze with the influence of garage and psychedelic rock, two styles The Seeds pioneered throughout the 1960s.

As the seasons turn back to these classic genres there could be no better time to revisit a band of that original era. Thus the documentary, “Pushin’ Too Hard,” named for The Seeds’ Top 40 hit, premiered earlier this year at The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood—and now it’s coming to a venue near you.

The legendary music and story of The Seeds will arrive by way of La Paloma Theatre, 471 S. Coast Highway 101, in Encinitas, with a screening of “Pushin’ Too Hard” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.

The 110-minute film, narrated by author Pamela Des Barres, explores The Seeds’ rise to popularity and eventual decline. Their intriguing story is told through vintage concert footage and audio, rare photos and new interviews with surviving band members and fans, including Iggy Pop and Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys.

Neil Norman, an award-winning producer and performer, who now owns the 60-year-old record label, worked with many others to bring The Seeds legacy to the silver screen.

“As my father, Gene Norman, signed them [to GNP Crescendo Records] in the ‘60s, I was able to witness their evolution firsthand,” said Norman, director and producer of the film. “Their music is as vibrant and important today as when it was first recorded. This is why I knew I would make a film about them.”

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PUSHIN’ TOO HARD: THE SEEDS DOCUMENTARY! (Please Kill Me)

Article by: Amy Haben

“I’ve never liked the idea of putting on some music before sex, but if I was gonna put on some music to have some sex with, I’d put on The Seeds.”             —Iggy Pop

 

This March, my good friend Gary Farley, took me on a late night rock n’ roll mission to Neil Norman’s GNP Crescendo archives. His father Gene Norman had started the label in 1954 signing talent such as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. In 1965, the garage rock group The Seeds couldn’t get signed by anyone in Los Angeles, but Norman decided to take a chance on the shaggy haired rockers, even though he was mainly a jazz enthusiast.

Neil walked us around the treasure trove of master tapes by many well known musicians from the 60’s, but when Gary and I laid our eyes on ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’ by The Seeds, we were in awe. The music geeks inside us came squealing out. We asked if we could touch the master tape that Sky had held.

After we finished gushing, Neil told us about The Seeds documentary he was almost finished working on. Gary, who owns Third Eye Records in Long Beach, sold the tickets and helped set up the Long Beach screening. The premiere was set for The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

So this month I went to see the premiere, and was delighted by the comic relief and garage rock nostalgia that exploded on the screen. Not to mention Sky Saxon, Jan Savage, Rick Andridge, and Daryl Hooper’s far out style. Sky had the most unique voice– combined with sexy moans, as featured in ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine.’ He was a favorite amongst the girls and had a star presence that everyone noticed. His shaggy bowl cut and full lips made Sky quite the heartbreaker. In one scene, a fan was saying that Sky preferred dating bigger girls so she and her friends tried to gain weight, hoping for an extra hundred pounds. He was THAT sexy.

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‘The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard’: Film Review (The Hollywood Reporter)

Review by: Sheri Linden

Sixties L.A. hitmakers the Seeds are the subject of a documentary by music producer Neil Norman

Punk has long been associated with New York, and flower-power psychedelia is synonymous with San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. But some rock historians, purveyors and artists trace both genres to mid-’60s Los Angeles and a garage band called, appropriately enough, the Seeds. In the engaging documentary The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard, first-time director Neil Norman pays tribute to the quartet and the city where it flourished. His affection for the musicians is firsthand and tinged with family pride: The indie label that was the band’s recording home was founded by Norman’s father, and it’s the company that produced this film.

That relationship notwithstanding, Norman’s chronicle of the group’s brief heyday and the long, strange aftermath for frontman Sky Saxon is no mere lovefest, although a more robust critical discussion would have enriched it. Passages of eloquent but overwritten narration, delivered with verve by Pamela Des Barres, too often smack of PR and, rather than smoothing transitions in the narrative, make them clunkier.

Though it runs out of steam and would have benefited from a tighter structure, the doc compiles terrific archival clips and stills, and draws energy and sharp insights from new interviews. For the road beyond its world premiere in the American Cinematheque’s L.A. Rock on Film series, the elements of nostalgia and discovery will be strong draws among rock fans. It should hit a sweet spot for older Boomers especially — those who remember the L.A. underground scene the film evokes, with its long-gone nightspots like the Barn and Bido Lito’s, and those who experienced it secondhand, through the music.

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Pushin’ Too Hard: Recollections from Former Seeds Drummer Carl Belknap (American Cinematheque)

Article By: Carl Belknap

In anticipation of our world premiere of a new definitive documentary on The Seeds, “Pushin’ Too Hard”, frequent Egyptian Theatre-goer Carl Belknap talked to us about the year he spent as the punk pioneering band’s drummer. Here are his recollections in his own words: 

When I first heard The Beatles on the radio, I knew I had to be in a band. It became an obsession. Not being able to carry a tune & not knowing an A from an E, I decided to become a drummer. In 1963, at age 15, I taught myself to play the drums. One year later, I was a founding member of The Eliminators surf band. We changed our name to Glass in 1965 & in the next few years, opened for The Box Tops, The Standells and Booker T & The MGs.

Richard France, whom I had known from my high school days, had become The Seeds road manager. He invited me to come to a couple of their recording sessions in Hollywood. In early 1968, at about the time Glass was sort of dissolving, Rick [Andridge] left The Seeds. Richard, knowing that I could play most of The Seeds’ songs, arranged for me to have an audition at Sky’s [Saxon] house in Malibu.

He lived in the Big Rock area, in a house overlooking the ocean. As I walked down the very long driveway, I saw the garage door was open. The first thing I noticed was Rick’s drums with The Seeds on the bass drum head. Then I saw Sky, Daryl [Hooper] & Jan [Savage] waiting for me. It was then that it set in that I was about to audition for what had been my favorite band for the past two years.

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Seeds ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’ Documentary Set to Premiere Aug. 16 (The Hollywood Reporter)

Article by: Roy Trakin

Directed by Neil Norman, the film about the seminal ’60s L.A. garage band will bow at Egyptian Theatre at the American Cinematheque.

The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard, the longform documentary about the classic L.A. garage-punk band, directed by Neil Norman, will have its premiere Aug. 16 at the Egyptian Theatre at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood.

Using vintage footage, rare photos, memorabilia and audio, and fresh interviews with bandmembers and associates, as well as notable fans and observers, Pushin’ Too Hard relates the bizarre rags-to-riches tale of the rock quartet who took Los Angeles by storm in the mid-’60s.

The Seeds — led by charismatic singer Sky Saxon, along with keyboard player Daryl Hooper, guitarist Jan Savage and drummer Rick Andridge  — were all emigres to early ’60s Hollywood. After building a reputation in underground clubs such as Bido Litos, the group busted out in late 1966 with the classic anthem “Pushin’ Too Hard,” which went Top 40 nationally in early 1967.

Said director Neil Norman: “I’ve made this movie because I really love the Seeds music and was lucky enough to hang out with them as a young teenager and was inspired. They achieved true stardom.”

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The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard Documentary (Ace Records)

Article by: Ace Records

LOS ANGELES, JULY 7th:  A long form 110+ minute documentary The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard,directed by Neil Norman for GNP Crescendo, is scheduled for debut theatrical release on August 16th2014. The Egyptian Theater at the American Cinematheque will premiere the movie.

Using vintage footage, rare photos, memorabilia and audio, plus fresh interviews with band members and associates as well as notable fans and observers, Pushin’ Too Hard relates the bizarre rage-to-riches-to-rags tale of the rock quartet who took Los Angeles by storm in the mid-60s.

The Seeds – keyboard player Daryl Hooper, guitarist Jan Savage, drummer Rick Andridge and charismatic singer Sky Saxon – were all emigres to early 1960s Hollywood. After building a crack reputation in underground clubs such as Bido Litos, the group bust out in late 1966 with the classic anthem of frustration, “Pushin’ Too Hard,” which went Top 40 nationally in early 1967.

The group enjoyed other regional hits such as “Mr Farmer” and “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine,” and recorded five best-selling albums for the GNP Crescendo label, but despite a huge and partisan fanbase in southern California, the Seeds could not capitalize on their initial chart success. The growing ego and drug-fueled eccentricities of frontman Saxon alienated the other members, and led to the original quartet’s fracture in the summer of 1968.

After 1970, Saxon renamed himself Sunlight, embarking on a strange odyssey that took him from life as a street person in Hollywood to a commune in Hawaii. Sky returned to performing in the late 1980s and, using several different sets of musicians, performed Seeds music the world over until his untimely death in 2009.

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