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The Seeds Documentary is Pushin’ it’s way to Streaming!

Bringing a documentary to home video as an actual independent is hard. At GNP Crescendo, it is something we have been working on for several years. We want to share with people the thing we are passionate about, independent music! Pushin’ Too Hard, The Seeds music documentary has had a long journey to home video, but it is finally happening.

I definitely don’t want this to turn into a lament about all the changes that the music industry has undergone in the last several years, because I really do think that progress and change are opportunities even though they often masquerade as impediments and headaches. Change is also inevitable: the issues surrounding streaming everything right now put the early 00’s complaints about that 70c for an iTunes download in quite the new perspective.

The Struggle of Being an Independent Label

Our independent status  makes the changes to the revenue flow difficult to work through without a parent company’s seed (heh) money to get things rolling. There  isn’t any back-up funding for extending the festival and screening licenses into full-fledged home video permissions, which is a big part of the behind the scenes in making and most importantly, releasing a music documentary. Certainly nobody around to pay for private investigators to find the guys we had lost track of over the years and really wanted in the feature and to credit in the film

Screening the documentary in person around the country (as well as the jaunt to London, UK) was a real treat for Neil. He loved getting out among the old and new aficionados of the band and hearing what they thought of what he’d done with the material. The Q&As he did, often with producer Alec Palao, would be some of his favourite moments from the last few years. Keeping that energy up around The Seeds, their music and giving the fans what they want, is why bringing the documentary to a release was a natural next step and one Neil was so excited for!

 Neil was around when his jazz icon father Gene Norman recorded The Seeds – in fact his dad asked for Neil’s recommendation on whether to sign them or not, trusting the ears of a different generation with this new-to-him sound. Which is to say that Neil has plenty of first-hand memories and stories that he loves to share, and people love to hear. It is safe to say that he’d be happy to tour this movie as his regular day job, beyond the several years he enjoyed doing so – the great turnout and response everywhere seemed to indicate it was worthwhile to keep at it.

As an independent record label, most people wear several hats and devotion to the roster of names that need attention, care, production and management can mean projects like releasing a documentary through home video can take longer than at a larger music label. However, as technology turned the industry on its head and cut the workforce all over, it also made slicker and more streamlined practices possible. We’d been necessarily downsizing for so many years that by the time the pandemic hit us all, we were well-practiced with having a small footprint and working from home. We were determined to use the isolation and extra time that came with lockdowns to bring the movie to full fruition and get it released once and for all! The cues and properties sheet for the finished product is hundreds of lines long, but we set to work shoring up, confirming and renewing. 

Hitting a Speed Bump

I was about 90% done with juggling legalese and payments which made me gulp as I mailed them off, when I logged in to my Amazon Video backend account to adjust some of the details and settings that were cued up to get the documentary published on the platform. There was a new banner at the top of the page announcing that effective immediately, Amazon was no longer accepting unsolicited submission in the non-fiction category. After digesting this not-great news I considered that possibly they had become overrun with vlogs and short format material as people hustled during the pandemic, trying to monetize any way they could, so I shot off an email asking for confirmation, and describing that this was a full-on documentary with, like, Iggy Pop and The Bangles, guys. I got a canned response that just repeated the new policy. It has affected a lot of independent content producer’s plans; you can search around and hear plenty about it from many producers. We’d already run into a wall with Netflix, and although we have a good relationship with iTunes on the music side, they wanted us to have a few more features in order to use the self-service tools we enjoy on the music side.

It’s fair to say we lost a month or three to dithering at this point, but additionally, big licensors had all their staff working from home, and responses to our last outstanding requests were getting spotty. Getting your legal straight isn’t a matter of degree – it’s the one you don’t get done right that’s going to make you miserable at some point. When you don’t have a large parent company to back you, you can’t afford to make a mistake there, that will cost you in the future.. For some, we resorted to mailing checks along with an agreement and a cover letter suggesting that cashing the check constituted acceptance of the terms. That actually worked a few times and we heard back from people – pro tip for you right there. And suddenly we’re all clear and ready to go and we just don’t have a platform! 

Finding The Right Platform

We were in talks with an aggregator who could push us out to dozens of streaming platforms all at once. It was tempting, but there were so many unknowns and very little certainty. They wanted their logo up front of the credits. We wouldn’t be able to control much of anything about where it was seen and how.

As an independent, we’re used to the double-edged sword of making all your own decisions and having all the control, and having the buck absolutely stop with you. By opting to sell direct with the help of Vimeo, we’ll keep that dualistic balance but also the direct connection to the people who are going to see and enjoy it. It’s past time, you’re not wrong, but it’s here, it’s been done right, and we really hope it was worth the wait! Watch The Seeds music documentary today!

Richrath Rocks

As part of his short tour with the documentary this month, Neil is going to be in attendance at several events featuring GNP Crescendo artist Michael Jahnz, who features on the Gary Richrath album Only The Strong Survive released on the label in 1992. Jahnz was lead guitarist and front man for the legendary Gary Richrath, former lead guitarist and song writer for REO Speedwagon. They toured together for over a decade as the Gary Richrath Band playing the songs Gary had written for REO Speedwagon as well as original Richrath tunes and songs Michael had written with Gary. Michael and his band Project 3:13 continue to honor the memory of the late Gary Richrath at concerts and appearances across the country.

Catch Neil introducing Project 3:13, and talking about what’s in the works right now, at the following events:

KEWAUNEE COUNTY FAIR
Saturday, July 13th, 2019
Kewaunee County Fair Grounds
625 3rd Street Luxembourg, WI
7:00-9:00pm

PAPERFEST
Thursday, Friday & Saturday, July 18th, 19th & 20th, 2019
Sunset Park
Kimberly, WI
7:00pm

SEEDS DOCUMENTARY SOUNDTRACK RELEASED BY ACE UK


Check out the CD on Ace Records in the UK or GNP in the US.

Songs featured in the acclaimed rockumentary The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard – classics, rarities and many previously unissued cuts. The Seeds remain one of the most iconic American rock bands of the 1960s. Once depicted by rote rock histories as the one-hit wonders behind the Top 40 placement ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, the Seeds’ powerful legacy has only grown in ensuing decades, wielding notable influence on several generations of musicians. The band’s sound continues to pack a singular punch to this very day. Directed by GNP Crescendo’s Neil Norman and written/produced by Ace’s own Alec Palao, Pushin’ Too Hard is an extensive two-hour trip through the career of the exemplary garage rock quartet and its eccentric frontman, Sky Saxon. The fascinating and picaresque rags-to-riches-to-rags story is related via extensive interviews with members of the band and their retinue, vintage footage and rare photos and memorabilia, along with compelling insights from Seeds fans such as Iggy Pop, Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys, and the Bangles.

So much for the publicity spiel. It’s been a full dozen years since I first knocked on the front door of Neil Norman’s gothic mansion – well, actually a standard, if nicely-appointed tract home – secreted in the Hollywood Hills. I was there to politely inquire about reissuing the Seeds’ recordings on behalf of Ace Records. Little would I have guessed that this was the innocuous beginning of an odyssey that would take the two of us all over the United States in search of the truth about a group whose music I had grown up with, a major quasar within that magical 1960s garage and psych firmament that had me transfixed from my early teens on.

Early on in our association, Neil related his desire to direct a film about the group, rhapsodising about his memories of the band. Pretty quickly it was obvious that my reissue plans – basically rehabilitating the band’s entire GNP Crescendo catalogue, in both sound and content – dovetailed precisely with his dream, and so we embarked upon assembling the film, while simultaneously rolling out the remastered, expanded deluxe versions of the Seeds’ five original albums on Big Beat, along with a definitive singles collection.

Highlights have been many – Iggy was a great interview, articulating the importance of Seeds music in expert fashion – but the most satisfying by-product of working on the film has been getting to know and befriending Daryl Hooper, Jan Savage and the other original members of the Seeds, musical heroes all, and in the process making sure the story was as much about their partnership with Sky Saxon as it might be about the more copy-worthy exploits of their enigmatic frontman.

Speaking of whom, not long after we got going, Sky moved on to the great gig in the sky, but I did meet with him in anticipation of a filmed interview, and he was certainly behind the project. Nevertheless, both Sky and the late Rick Andridge, whose ill-health forbade his participation in the documentary, are well represented in both sight and sound. A lot of stones were overturned in the hunt for footage and visuals, and our excellent editor Dan Schaarschmidt grappled with the raw material thrown at him with aplomb.

And now, the soundtrack to the documentary provides another opportunity to marvel at the relentless drive of the band in their heyday. Their classics ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’, ‘Mr Farmer’ and of course the title cut are present and correct, while many of the songs heard in the film, such as the fan favourites ‘The Wind Blows Your Hair’ and ‘Satisfy You’, are presented here in previously unheard alternative takes or versions. And there are further unreleased tracks, such as the ripping live version of ‘Tripmaker’, complete with deejay “Humble Harve” Miller’s intro rap and the sound of 18,000 young lungs screaming for the band at the Hollywood Bowl.

As featured in the film, we also offer some instructive non-Seeds tidbits, including an adenoidal pre-Seeds single by Sky under his real name, Ritchie Marsh, and a completely unreleased vintage live track from blues great Muddy Waters, that too lurked in the Crescendo archives. A decade later, Muddy was in the booth at RCA Hollywood when Sky and the Seeds, in a prescient move, cut a full album of Chicago-style blues with members of his band.

ALEC PALAO

Check out our event page for the premiere here.

Fall Tour Dates

A fall tour for 2016 is shaping up. The following dates will anchor hopefully many more. More details as we get nearer the dates.

September 17th, Saturday – Hollywood Theatre, Pittsburgh PA
September 18th, Sunday – Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland OH
October 1st, Saturday – Cinema Arts Centre Long Island, Huntington NY
October 8th, Saturday – Regent Theater, Boston MA

Neil is working hard to add firm dates in Detroit and Three Rivers MI, Columbus OH, Rochester NY and more.

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.

Click through to read the full article.